Dr. Oz segment, critical of Big Pharma, yanked off show’s site within 24 hours of being aired.

This screen capture from The Dr. Oz Show's website was taken after the show was removed, but while it still showed up in search results. Now, even this much is missing.

On May 12, 2011, a segment aired on The Dr. Oz Show entitled “The 4 Things Drug Companies Don’t Want You To Know.” The piece was about business practices in the pharmaceutical industry that have a lot more to do with earning profits for the shareholders than they do with helping patients. As most of us who’ve encountered the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome feel that we’ve been harmed by these practices, I was delighted to see the issue getting some coverage on a well-respected mainstream television show. Publicity like this is a good first step.

Sometime in the wee hours between May 12 and 13, once again suffering from benzo withdrawal-induced insomnia, I saw a link to the segment which one of my benzo friends had posted on Facebook. I began watching it, but tiredness finally got the best of me. In the morning, when I tried to resume watching it, Dr. Oz’s site kept giving me the error message “Access Denied.” I didn’t think much of it. It was likely a popular segment and too many people were trying to access it at once … so I told myself. I quickly found out that no one could access it. The segment had been taken down.

From what little I had seen the evening before, it hadn’t been an earth-shattering exposé of Big Pharma. Rather it was mostly just about pharmaceutical industry practices which most of us who are prescription drug-damaged already know about. Still, I was delighted to see the subject being covered where family and friends (many of whom doubt both the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and the things I have to say about Big Pharma) might actually get to see it. When I realized that wouldn’t happen, my reactions ranged from outrage to not-terribly-surprised resignation.

Finally realizing that the segment had been yanked, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine a phone call from a large pharmaceutical advertiser to the Fox network’s advertising sales department: “Take it down or we cancel our multi-million dollar advertising campaign with you.” I can’t prove this is what happened, but it’s a perfectly reasonable assumption given the circumstances. Having worked in media and advertising for over 20+ years, I know for a fact that things like this happen.

Determined to see the rest of the segment and, if at all possible, share it, I began looking for the piece elsewhere on the Internet. At first there was nothing. But then, on former pharmaceutical sales rep and current author Gwen Olsen’s Facebook fan page, someone posted download links for it. A friend uploaded them to Veoh. The segment, in two halves, is here and here.  If you watch it, feel free to leave comments below.

Posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Benzos In The News | 13 Comments

If you’re only going to sign one benzo petition, this is the one to sign.

A friend of mine and a former moderator at the first benzo support group that I ever belonged to devoted a year of her life to preparing this Citizen Petition to the FDA. It’s well researched and has the support of Doctors Heather Ashton, Ray Baker, Jim Berry, Peter Breggin, Neil Capretto and Daniel Rapport …

“We are pleased to announce a formal benzo petition is now on the docket of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is open for public comment from everyone (not just US citizens). This document is not the older benzo petition some may have signed in the past.  In this Citizen Petition we have asked the FDA to require more accurate prescribing guidelines and side effect information for all benzodiazepines.

“Public comments will affect how the FDA rules on our requests—this is your chance to be heard. Please make the FDA aware of how benzodiazepine withdrawal has impacted your life.  This is not a classic signature petition where you just sign your name. On this petition you can give a short statement of support to the FDA, or a more in-depth comment on the benzodiazepine issue; this is all done on-line and is an easy process.”

http://www.benzosupport.org/fda_pe.htm

Please take a moment to let the FDA know how benzodiazepines have affected your life.

Posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Useful Information | 6 Comments

‘Make It Go Away’ by Holly Cole


Most of my “Songs That Speak To Me” will be hopeful and uplifting. This song, which is simply beautiful, isn’t one of them. It’s about someone who’s going through a difficult time and just wants a shoulder to cry on because she’s had it up to here with trying to see the silver lining.

Make it go away or make it better
Isn’t that what love’s supposed to do
Make it go away or make it better
Cause I would do either one for you

This is not the way you should see me
This is not the face I recognize
Could I lay my head down here for a moment
Would you sing to me like I’m your child
Cause I’m not angry I’m not crying
I’m just in over my head
You could be the angel that stayed on my shoulder
When all of the other angels left

Make it go away or make it better
Cause I am waking
This more then one should have to take
If you do this for me then I will promise
I’ll make it go away for you someday

There are reasons silver linings
There are lessons but I don’t care
Cause I just need a hand that I can hold onto
When it’s darker then death out there

I’m so cold
And so far away from my home
But tonight you’re
You’re where I belong
You’re everything right
When I’m everything wrong

Make it go away or make it better
Isn’t that what love’s supposed to do
Make it go away or make it better
Cause I would do either one for you
[repeat]

Posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Songs That Speak To Me | Leave a comment

Report at eight months out

5/6/11—April 24 was my eight months off anniversary. I began writing an update on that day, but never finished it. Lately I’ve been having an excess of  “mini waves,” days or a couple of day where my symptoms are higher than what passes for normal nowadays. I make it a policy not to write my updates when I’m feeling either better or worse than normal. My goal is to report my baseline. That being said, if I continue to wait for a string of normal days, I’ll be at my nine months off anniversary before I get this eight months update posted. It’s just been up and down like that. So here it goes.

These are my symptoms, listed in order of severity (most to least), each rated with a number 0-10 (0 = nonexistent, 10 = unbearable) …

Muscle symptoms & resulting pain—6 (at six months off was a 6)
This symptom, for me, is rather like “an evil little capelet.” It has a high neck reaching up towards the base of my skull. It surrounds my neck and covers my shoulders, upper back, collarbone and upper arms. What I wouldn’t give to cast this particular garment off! This is the symptom that stands between me and functionality.

I considered giving it a 5.5 this time around, but it really hasn’t reduced enough to justify that rating. Still, there’s something up with it. Sometimes, instead of sensing this symptom as a whole, I can feel it in parts. Maybe the “capelet” is starting to unravel?

Muscle tension headaches—4.5 (at six months off was a 4)
This is the first time that a symptom has actually gotten worse for me. It’s noticeably worse, but not dramatically worse. I can see no reason for this, so just chalk it up to the vagaries of benzo healing.

Insomnia—4.5 (at six months off was a 4.5)
No change here.

Internal pressure & heaviness—3.5 (at six months off was a 4)
I had to check in with this symptom to see where it was. Yawn. Ears pop. Check. The heaviness is almost gone. By next month, I’ll probably only list it as internal pressure.

Dizziness, light-headedness & poor balance—3.5 (at six months off was a 4)
I’m surprised at how good my balance is in the water exercise class I’m taking. Sure, I’ve got the water to hold me up, but I’m still doing better than a lot of the other ladies in the class. On the other hand, the number of clumsiness-induced bruises on my legs doesn’t seem to be going down any. The other day I dropped the metal lawn sprinkler on my foot. Ouch!

Tinnitus—2 (at six months off was a 2.5)
This one will be gone soon. I never notice it unless I’m specifically looking for it.

Posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Progress Reports | Leave a comment

‘Better Than’ by John Butler Trio

All you want is
What you can’t have
And if you just look around man
You see you got magic
So just sit back relax
Enjoy it while you still have it
Don’t look back on life man and only see tragic

Because you could be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
You can be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better

All the time while you’re looking away
There are things you can do man
There’s things you can say
To the the ones you’re with
With whom you’re spending your today
Get your gaze off tomorrow
And let come what may

Because you could be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
You can be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better

All I know is sometimes things can be hard
But you should know by now
They come and they go
So why, oh why
Do I look to the other side
‘Cause I know the grass is greener but
Just as hard to mow

Life’s not about what’s better than

All you want is
What you can’t have
And if you just look around man
You see you got magic
So just sit back relax
Enjoy it while you still have it
Don’t look back on life man and only see tragic

Because
You could be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
You can be better than that
Don’t let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life’s not about what’s better than
[x2]

Posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Songs That Speak To Me | Leave a comment

Report at seven months out (or LLW’s common sense guide to defeating depression)


3/23/11—Tomorrow is my seven months off anniversary. What I’ve been noticing lately is precisely what I encountered the first time I quit Klonopin. During the first several months (the acute phase), progress is really noticeable, but then it slows down dramatically and grinds to a halt.

The first time I did this, not being aware of how long nerve healing can take, I assumed that I was as healed as I was going to get. This (along with other factors) eventually lead to my reinstatement onto the drug as I was desperate to regain a reasonable quality of life. I know better this time, but this part of recovery still presents a significant challenge for me.

Assuming that I’ve once again reached the part where I’ll no longer have the satisfaction of seeing my symptoms lessen (and that’s by no means a given), it’s now a waiting a game: my resolve to overcome this thing versus its resolve not to loosen its grip on me. Fortunately, I know I can outwait it. I have all the success stories of those who’ve gone before me to carry me through. And the prize of my eventual health and happiness.

What I recall from my last go-round was how much depression contributed to my eventual reinstatement. I wasn’t suffering depression as a withdrawal syndrome-related symptom, but rather situational depression. Understandable given the circumstances. So, keeping depression at bay is crucial this time around. Not that I would reinstate. That will never happen again. Still, while I’m waiting to turn that corner symptom-wise, I’d prefer not to be drowning in depression. So I’ve constructed a plan to defeat it.

Nowadays, most people in the Western world attack depression with pills and talk therapy. As far as pills go, I’m still on a small amount of Celexa (which I plan to taper). It does nothing for me. And I’m certainly not interested in adding more drugs. That’s how I ended up in this fix to begin with. Talk therapy is out of the question too. My insurance doesn’t cover it and, even if it did, I couldn’t even afford the co-pays. So, the traditional options are closed to me.

What does that leave me? Well, how about good common sense and deductive reasoning? Why am I depressed? Yes, I feel bad physically and I’ve lost quite a bit as a result of this journey through hell. No doubt, that’s depressing. But I think it’s more basic than that …

Human beings have certain needs beyond air, food, water and shelter. We’re social creatures. We need to be around and communicating with other people. The Internet can ease the enforced isolation that some of us encounter, but it’s no substitute for being out there in the world. Also, we need a sense of purpose. Most of us find that in our jobs, our education, our families, our friends, our social activities, in volunteer work and in spiritual observances. We need to feel like our lives make a difference. It’s hard to feel that when you’re holed up long-term, passively waiting to recover. And, finally, we need hope. I know I can get through anything if I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The thing is, the tunnel has some curves, so the light isn’t always visible. But it’s there.

So, to combat depression, I need to acquire these “ingredients.” Here’s how I plan to do it …

Social contact. On most days I would prefer to not leave my home. Having to fake normality is draining. Hell, just making myself presentable to leave the house can be daunting. However, my new rule for myself is that I’m not allowed to say no to invitations unless it truly isn’t feasible. Additionally, if invitations aren’t forthcoming, then I have to come up with things to do on my own. Also, I’m now enrolled in a water exercise class. That’s somewhere that I have to be two times a week. I notice that because I paid for this, I’m less likely to cancel. (Bonus: There are numerous articles citing the benefits of exercise with regard to depression.) And, I’m looking at going back to school to train for a second career. (Hey, I’ll need to earn a living once I’m recovered.) All of this should provide me with significantly more social interaction than I’ve been getting up to this point.

A sense of purpose. I wish I could derive some satisfaction from cleaning my house, but Suzy Homemaker I’m not. And it shows. But that’s a whole ’nother blog entry for some future date. My biggest goal is To Get My Life Back. With capitals and italics. And maybe some flashing lights. (Luckily for your eyes, I don’t know the code for that.) Recovering from this thing is essential to that, but so is having a worthwhile job once I’m healthy. And to that end, I’m going back to school (also a future blog entry). I also find a lot of purpose in doing this; in reaching out to others who have encountered the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and in attempting to bring greater awareness of it to others outside of our circle.

Hope. A lot of my friends find their hope in their faith. I’m agnostic, so I don’t really have that. Still, I do pray. To the God who might or might not be there. To the universe. Or to nothing at all. I find that the internal verbalization of it can sometimes be as helpful as unloading on a flesh-and-blood listener. I also find hope in the success stories of those who’ve come before me. (All of the benzodiazepine withdrawal support forums online have sections devoted to success stories.)  And I find hope with my fellow sufferers. Inevitably, when I’m having a bad day, one of them is having a better day and is there to remind me that “this too shall pass.”

I’m tempted to leave off the symptom list/rating section this month as none of the numbers have budged, but have decided to stick with the format for now …

These are my symptoms, listed in order of severity (most to least), each rated with a number 0-10 (0 = nonexistent, 10 = unbearable) …

Muscle symptoms & resulting pain—6 (at six months off was a 6)
This is my most hated symptom.

Insomnia—4.5 (at six months off was a 4.5)
I could probably do better with this one if I would make some simple concessions to good sleep hygiene. Ah, something to work on.

Muscle tension headaches—4 (at six months off was a 4)
Many of my “benzo friends” report having “a tight band around their head.” I often have that too, but include it with this symptom.

Internal pressure & heaviness—4 (at six months off was a 4)

Dizziness, light-headedness & poor balance—4 (at six months off was a 4)

Tinnitus—2.5 (at six months off was a 2.5)
It’s possible that this symptom has lessened since last month, but not enough to rate a 2.

Posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Progress Reports, Useful Information | Leave a comment

‘Save It for a Rainy Day’ by The Jayhawks

I like this song because the woman is used up and beat down, which is pretty much how I feel. But the song reminds her that she has another part to play. So do I.

Pretty little hairdo
Don’t do what it used to
Can’t disguise the living
All the miles that you’ve been through

Looking like a train wreck
Wearing too much makeup
The burden that you carry
Is more than one soul could ever bear

Don’t look so sad, Marina
There’s another part to play
Don’t look so sad, Marina
Save it for a rainy day
Save it for a rainy day
Save it for a rainy day

You never make your mind up
Like driving with your eyes shut
Rough around the edges
Won’t someone come and take you home

Waiting for a breakthrough
What will you set your mind to?
We stood outside the Chinese restaurant
in the rain

Don’t look so sad, Marina
There’s another part to play
Don’t look so sad, Marina
Save it for a rainy day
Save it for a rainy day
Save it for a rainy day

Posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Songs That Speak To Me | Leave a comment