Welcome to the first blog entry of My Benzo Journey.  While my journey began a couple of years ago, I am still in the middle of a slow, turtle-paced taper off of Xanax.  If you are interested in hearing the entire back story of how I landed here, the first three chapters of my book The Waiting Room(available for purchase under the ‘my products’ tab up above) go into great detail about that process. I also go a bit further into a description of my entry into the world of benzodiazepines on my YouTube channel (jenniferswanphd; or click on the YouTube tab in the ‘About Jennifer’ up above).

This blog will document the remainder of my taper and healing process.  I was initially quite hesitant to be so transparent and public about this process as I feared it might somehow work against me in my professional life.  After a great deal of deliberation, I was able to settle into the decision to share this process for a couple of reasons.  First, I have always asked my clients to risk being vulnerable and transparent with me in their work, so it is only fair that I am willing to do the same.

Second, I want the word to get out about medication injury and benzodiazepine withdrawal.  Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed for a myriad of issues ranging from anxiety and insomnia to gastric issues and perimenopause and many other reasons in between.  They are not intended for long term use, and yet are often prescribed in that manner. Many people develop life altering symptoms while taking them as prescribed and others experience debilitating symptoms while attempting to come off and post cessation of the medication. My life has been turned sideways in my attempt to taper off of Xanax, a medication I was put on to counteract an adverse reaction I had to an antibiotic.  So, I made the decision that I needed to share my story. If it can help one person, then it was the right decision.  It’s like the story of the young boy walking along the beach with his grandfather.  The beach is clustered with hundreds of starfish that have washed up on shore, unable to get back into their habitat.  The boy starts picking up the starfish and throwing them back in.  The grandfather says, “Boy, there’s no way you can possibly make a difference, there’s too many and they will simply wash back up on shore tomorrow night.”  The boy looked at his grandfather, picked up a starfish and threw it back into the sea and said, “It made a difference to that one.”

So, this is my attempt at throwing the starfish back into the sea.  If I can help just one person push the pause button and ask for full informed consent about the risks of a medication before putting it into their mouths, then it has been worth it.  If I can help one person not feel crazy when they are told there is no way the depression or anxiety, they are experiencing six months after rapidly tapering off a benzo could be withdrawal, then it has been worth it.  If my sharing about a bad morning or a better weekend helps just one person feel normalized or hopeful, then it has been worth it.

I will be using this blog as well as my YouTube channel to continue to increase awareness, discuss important relevant topics and offer support.
You are welcome to reach out to me by using the contact page up above with any questions or topics you would like me to address via video or blog.  Thank you so much for reading and keep swimming!
Jennifer Swantkowski

Disclaimer: Please know that I am not currently coaching or seeing clients at this time.  All of the information in my blogs, videos and books are not meant to provide individual clinical or medical advice and are not meant to be a substitute for your own clinical/medical care.  They are simply my ponderings, experiences and thoughts. Hope they are helpful and thank you!