I found this butterfly dragging herself on the road this morning. There was a slight rain. I was walking fast because I dropped my dose of benzodiazepines last night. Five milligrams. And the drop has made me feel like the butterfly. She was the width of my hand. Stunning yellows, tangerine threads and tan ovals. Her fuzzy little legs dragged. Perhaps she’d been hit by the wind of a rushing car. Perhaps it was simply her time. I placed her on a leaf and lifted her to the side of the road where she’d have the shade of trees.
I am nearly two-thirds of the way down this path of benzo detox to freedom. And most days, the sky looks blue and gorgeous and I feel gratitude that I’ve escaped the slow chemical lobotomy that often happens with long-term benzodiazepine use. I am lucky.
But today, everything hurts my heart. As my acupuncturist, Brent Ottley said, “Perhaps you’re just seeing the varnish removed from reality. You’re seeing the Matrix that benzos cloud. And sometimes, that ain’t pretty.” And he’s right. The Matrix. The web of delusion that’s so easy to get caught up in, the belief that the healthcare industry has our best interests at heart, the belief that consumerism is freedom, that democracy exists in this country, that corporations are people and that they act for the good of everyone.
This is my Butterfly day. Fragile. Crawling across the road. Trying to fly. Unable to fly because yes, the Matrix has got me so bummed out I can barely walk. I’ve been reading Unhinged, a book written by Daniel J. Carlat, a psychiatrist who claims he was a “hired gun” for the pharmaceutical industry. He explains the Big Pharma Matrix as a combination of endless clinical trials to get drug approval, slanted science, and a marketing machine that involves getting doctors and other health care practitioners to join the speakers’ bureaus of drug companies.
In essence, these hired doctors get gifts – financial and otherwise – to hawk whatever drug the
company wants them to. Carlat became a “hired gun” for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Pfizer. He became an expert speaker, selling Effexor, a dual uptake antidepressant, to other doctors. He was paid $750 an hour for his talks. Wyeth flew him and his wife to New York City and put them up in a swanky hotel. They saw Broadway shows. They were treated like royalty. All business as usual, as long as he held the company line. After a doctor questioned him on his statistics surrounding the drug’s efficacy (all provided by the company itself), he began to question himself. He saw the lie that he was living. Disgusted, he began to question his own shift from treating a patient clinically, to treating a patient with drugs. He stopped being a hired gun and wrote about how psychiatry has become unhinged, pulled apart by the move toward treating everything under the sun with drugs.
So, today hurts. My body feels hot, shivery. I can’t sleep. And this is simply how it goes. Detoxing from benzodiazepines can take months. The Matrix does not tell you this. The FDA does not tell you this. Your doctor will not likely tell you this. Detoxing from benzos hurts so much sometimes, you want to crawl into a corner and sob and kick the walls. You want to kill the person who told you they were benign. You begin to wonder how many other people are on such drugs, how many are alone, sobbing, kicking the walls, how many are facing the slow crawl toward a shut down of their body and brain.
My Butterfly day. There will be more. But, the more I see the Matrix, the more I want out. I very nearly had a chemical lobotomy. It crept up like water creeping to a boil. I only noticed the weight dropping, the crying jags, the legs that would crumple underneath me as I picked up my daughter.
i can only hope that today’s butterfly finds relief. I know it will. I know I will. And I’m tearing the Matrix apart with my bare hands. Thread by thread. I will get out of this fabricated cocoon. I will, no matter how many days I’m kicking the walls. And the sky will be so blue, so very blue, I may very well fly.
- Benzos in 30% of NYC’s Overdose Deaths; ER Visits Soar (madinamerica.com)
- Benzodiazepine information page: risks and safer withdrawal info (beyondmeds.com)