The bad side of benzos


I will be the first among many of you who I hope will follow, and admit that I am benzo dependent. It started 6 years ago when I had a major mixed hypomanic episode and didn’t sleep for longer than 15 minutes at a time for 4 weeks. I ended up in hospital on a string of meds. One of them was Dormonoct, a sleeping tablet. I was also prescribed a massive dose of Xanor SR as well as Urbanol. Things didn’t go well for me for the larger part of the next 5 years. I was a nervous wreck, but drowsy as hell. Some of you might know what I’m talking about when I say I was so doped up I couldn’t keep my eyes open but I couldn’t sleep either and my stomach was in knots most of the time.


At night I would wake up atleast once an hour at night from pure nerves. The plan was to only drink the range of benzo’s I was on for 6 months max, but I wasn’t okay after 6 months, I was getting worse… 6 Years later, I’m still on Dormonoct and Rivotril.

Okay wait, what are benzos? Let me give you a quick overview. Benzo’s or benzodiazipines are psychoactive drugs that enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter, GABA, receptor. Benzos have a sedative, sleep inducing, anxiolytic, anticonvulsive and muscle-relaxing effect… okay okay, in short it is most of your calming and sleeping tablets. It helps with anxiety, insomnia, agitation and even seizures. A few of the most common ones are: Xanor, Urbanol, Dormonoct, Rivotril, Xanax, Valium, Klonopin.


Now that we’re all on the same page. Let me return to my story. I’ve got a bad case of treatment –resistant bipolar disorder type 2. I suffer from extreme mood dysregulation and cycle daily between hypomania with mixed features and plain ol’ depression. If that is the cake then the cake topper is the insane insomnia. My biggest trigger is lack of sleep. One bad night and I’m in tears, two bad nights and I’m looking for a blade, three and I’m in hospital. Due to this, no doctor has had the balls to start the slooow process of taking me off the sleeping tablet, in fact, when things get tough my dose gets bumped up to two pills, plus some calming tablets. I’m in a good space now, so at the moment I can fall asleep and remain in bed (I won’t call the time in bed sleeping because that would be misleading and I’ll get to why in a minute) with one Dormonoct and half a Rivotril.

The reason why I don’t call my time in bed at night sleeping is because I constantly wake up, for brief periods and usually I fall aleep again but I don’t ever complete a REM cycle. Here is a fun fact, prolonged use of a sleeping tablet, decreases the quality of sleep. Hmmm, so this sounds like a bit of a catch22 sitiuation doesn’t it?


This leads me to my next blog in this series: Benzo dependency where I will talk more about building up resistance to benzo’s (leading you to need more to get the same effect) and the ensuing misuse of it. In this series I will also cover how to recover from such a dependence as well as alternative treatments for insomnia and anxiety. So there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hold on, take this train ride into the night with me…

benzo train in tunnel.jpg

PS. Please feel free to comment on your experiences with benzos or what you are using at the moment.

19 responses to “The bad side of benzos

  1. I’ve been taking Klonopin for a few years now at the same dosage. Before that it was lorazepam. Before I was diagnosed I had to suffer with the feeling of being on a roller coaster and wanting to vomit 24 hours a day from the age of 10. I would start dry heaving every morning before school. No one should have to live that way. I refuse to live that way. I tried to drink that feeling away for 20 years but only made it worse. I didn’t know alcohol blocks the chemical that makes you feel that way temporarily until the next morning when it all comes flooding in 100 times worse. Let the puking begin! It’s a miserable existence. Hopefully I can keep the anxiety at bay the way it is for just a little longer.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! I get so much from what other people write. There is no wrong or right everyone is so different but the same in a few areas. The area we are the same in is compassion.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The biggest problem with benzos I had was tolerance. I was at the maximum dose they would prescribe and they weren’t doing any good, but if I missed a dose, wow. I decided to get off them 6 years ago, it was very slow and unpleasant. After I was totally off, it was months before I could sleep and the withdrawals just kept coming. It was worth it, one less med and I’m more alert this way. Anxiety is still a big problem, but the benzos had stopped working, so…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am not manic at the moment, rather, I am bone crushingly depressed. No matter what, even stable, I have the worst sleep hygiene. What works for me I have found is a very small dose of an antipsychotic (Seroquel 25 mg). Otherwise I manage relatively well on an anti-convulsant so I’m lucky (as long as I don’t stop taking it again), but if I accidentally miss that tiny Seroquel pill my sleep is fractured all night. I have tried other sleeping meds with awful reactions so I guess this is one is my fate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. From time to time, I have to take Valium or diazepam for a spastic muscle I have in my side. I take it only at night and only for three days max. After that, I fall into a horrible depression. Wish it didn’t happen; the relaxation that comes with taking the pills is very welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely have a benzo problem. I go back and forth between klonopin and valium for my nerves (when one stops working, it’s usually been long enough for the other to have gained back some power) Ativan and Xanax are useless to me. At night I take 10mg of Ambien to put me to sleep and 150 mg of Trazadone to keep me asleep.

    I’m trying to rid myself of the valium and ambien. My nerves are always bad and if I go to bed with bad nerves then obviously sleep is a stretch. And the Trazadone doesn’t work if I can’t get to sleep in the first place. It’s not good enough to get me to sleep.

    This med-resistant crap is for the birds. I’ve been on nearly every mood stabilizer and most of them have done nothing for me except present a host of horrible side effects. I’m currently on Lithium, which is working better then the others, although it, too, is not without annoying side effects. My fear is that I’m coming to that time period where stuff starts to not work. I don’t want my anxiety of my Lithium starting not to work to actually cause it.

    What a mess. Why can’t someone just come up with a procedure to fix the damn problem in the brain and let us live our lives without 13 pills a day??? Frustrating.

    Great post by the way!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: More on benzo addiction | Our Lived Experience·

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