The Treasure: Pioneers With A New Perspective, Purpose And Paradigm (Part 2)
(original post January 26, 2014)
In December I had written the first part of this two-part post. That part ended with the observation that, once we heal from benzo withdrawal, we find that withdrawal has altered our perspective of others and ourselves. This has been very true for me. I don’t perceive myself as “superior” to others who have not endured withdrawal but rather as one who, because of the withdrawal experience, is stronger mentally and emotionally than they and possessing much greater endurance and resilience mentally and emotionally. I was “pushed to my limit” (although it felt like I was pushed far beyond my limits). That has given me a vigor that few others have or even understand. It has also given me an almost inanely positive outlook on life overflowing with hope. Healing has fueled and fanned that tiny spark of hope that got me through withdrawal into what seems like an inferno of endless hope. Because of that, I feel as though I have literally received a gift or treasure that only a comparatively select few have been given (although it admittedly required a substantial payment).
Both the value of the gift and magnitude of the effort to obtain it are so profound that it now affects how I perceive life – what is truly important in life and what my place in it (my purpose) is all about. How can I any longer settle for the “same old same old”? How can I return to the former status quo? My “way of thinking” has been profoundly altered, and I also have something that, if used properly, could be priceless to others who are right where I was a few years ago. I would have given my entire life then to possess what I now have. (In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined that this was possible.) For a certainty, that is true of everyone now making the same journey through benzo withdrawal and all who will follow them. How can I not use this gift to see others through the torture? How can my life not have a whole new purpose – one that would not be possible had I not survived the struggle?
It’s easy for me to write about a life with a new purpose. After all, I did not permanently lose any meaningful relationships in my life. My family and friendships are intact and are actually stronger than they were before benzos and withdrawal. I did lose my job, but I had already experienced an entire career and was able to retire. Many are not that fortunate. So many have lost relationships, careers, finances, and more. This is where the concept of a new paradigm enters the picture.
This paradigm is a new way of looking at or doing things – sort of a prototype. It is no secret that the “mental health” system, as we know it, is an abject failure. We have lost the capacity or ability (largely because of our culture) to talk to and listen to each other. That is a very basic human need. When that need is not met, problems (which we all have) that could have been resolved by simply sharing them in face-to-face relationships fester and become insurmountable obstacles that wreak havoc on us – depression, anxiety, and all manner of ills resulting from them. We may attempt to resolve these problems by talking them out with a therapist, counsellor, or someone else. More often than not, we don’t want to take the time required to be well again. So, we go for a quicker fix. We get ourselves ”medicated” (drugged). For millions of us, the game of trying to get well is then over, and we are in the world of psych drugs asking the question “Why am I getting sicker?” We spend years in the poly-drugging trap – millions of us.
As the years go on, we keep looking for that elusive “fix” to be well again, but we often get even more securely ensnared. We may try some sort of talk therapy or counseling, but it is typically futile simply because our brain is trying to adapt to the toxic assault that the drugs have mounted against it. The brain simply can’t figure out how to heal itself because the drugs will not allow it to function properly. Even when we try to rid ourselves of the drugs, we often begin to have withdrawal symptoms which we may mistake for our original malady. So, we go back on the drugs and maybe even add more. Those who escape this wretched and seemingly hopeless scenario are comparatively few and far between. There are few individuals available to help pull others out of the pit of poly-drugging with all its misery and hopelessness and then lead them toward an un-drugged life of hope.
This is where the new paradigm exists. As psych drug survivors, we have the answer of healing for millions. Others in our sphere of influence who are being drugged (and we all know several) will see the gift that we have (and it is very noticeable) and want to know where we got it – because they want it very badly. They will ask us how we escaped. We all know the misery that they are experiencing. We have been there. We are very fluent in their language of suffering. We are their source of hope. We are the experts.
The paradigm simply is a shift from a “mental health” system managed by those who “medicate” and have never “been there”  toward a “mental health” system staffed by psych drug survivors who are expert in providing hope and compassion – the greatest “drugs” available for and essential to withdrawing from synthetic psych drugs.
Of course, the ramifications are many. Staffing costs money. Many of us have spent thousands of dollars at rehabs trying to get off benzos and other psych drugs only to find ourselves even sicker after parting with our money. I suspect that, once there are enough survivors, others will want what we have and would be willing to pay for a “treatment” that works. That treatment is simply feeding them the same hope that got us through withdrawal. We are the experts…and we have no adverse side effects. This could be a way for those who have lost financial viability because of psych drugs to re-enter the world of employment doing something profoundly gratifying – something very few others are sufficiently “credentialed” to do. 
My concept of healing houses includes, first and foremost, a requirement that all ”staff” (if that is an appropriate term) be psych drug survivors or some other sort of survivor. We have knowledge, patience, wisdom, and experience which are needed to fuel the hope of those going through withdrawal.
The healer is still time. The paradigm is simply that survivors help those in withdrawal to also become survivors.