How I Healed, Chapter 2

Experience has a cripser texture, more simplicity and clarity after getting off of two of my psychiatric medications.

In March of 2024, I heard on a podcast that benzodiazepine use can blunt our alertness, and can lead to lack of clarity and cognitive decline. I knew this to be true from my own experience and from neurobiology studies. I was one of the over 30 million Americans who take benzodiazepines (in my case, clonazepam). Out of curiosity and wanting more mental clarity, I decided, with my psychiatrist’s help, to taper off to zero benzodiazepines.

Now, no longer taking clonazepam, the main difference in my experience is that I am much more often seeing things as they are, rather than with so many stories and add-ons. There is more mental clarity, less noise, and the texture of experience is crisper. In the process of tapering off, there was a lot of sadness and fear as well as anxiety, but within I felt an okayness.

I never thought it would be possible for me to live without clonazepam, and now here I am, benzodiazepine-free.

I suppose in some ways being on clonazepam was more pleasant than being off of it, but there was also more suffering and more delusion. As the add-ons have diminished greatly, I feel more in tune with reality, with things as they are, not spinning off into stories about how this means that. The years of mindfulness practice also, I think, enabled me to look at the process of tapering off and now being off, with less judgment and craving. I feel accepting of things as they are, even though the soft blanketing cloud that previously held experience is much diminished.

A few days after I was off of clonazepam, my psychiatrist and I decided to that I could taper off of another of my medications, ziprasidone, an antidepressant and antipsychotic. I returned to a new baseline after being off of ziprasidone faster than I did with clonazepam. There were challenges in tapering off of ziprasidone as well, but now, clear of two of my medications, I feel a new stability. It feels like being on earth instead of floating in a soft billowy cloud.

I now feel like at I am less at the mercy of my medications, with more say in my life. Experience these days feels no-nonsense and simple, phenomena coming and going, a clear awareness holding it all.

Chapter 3: Clearing Away Modafinil

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