Saga of the Ponderosa: Manslaughter guilty verdict forces prison cold turkey

Waner drove out of Reno
headed back to the Ponderosa
loaded on pills and booze
f-u-n times
had a little, err trouble, driving
and crash! like that
He killed someone, someone innocent
did three years in the pen
Xanax cold turkey
hallucinated he was living in the Bonanza TV show
got out of the pen
wasted what was left of his life
then died
life's a gas
Re: Jon in California
« on: March 15, 2007, 02:03:23 am »


Quote from: nixnay on March 12, 2007, 11:51:52 PM

Hey, J.W., I think you think like a snuggly ole bear. lololol. or a little puppy dog, what do you think liz?

hey, jon, can you tell us all how you came out of your c/t? it is rather amazing! I think it is rather inspiring and may give some of us who have been off for a while some hope. you might have to make a song out of it just like Johnny Cash. lol.

Quote from: dave on March 13, 2007, 11:54:00 AM
Quote from: Jon in California on March 13, 2007, 11:24:46 AM
Hi Everyone.

Jay, I’ll be happy to relate the HELL I went through for 8 mos. getting off the Xanax. I’ll do it tonight after I get home, Savvy?

Y’all have a nice day

I’d really like to hear your story as well.



OK, I’ll try to give you the short version. (LOL, It won’t be short).

After I took the plea bargain (I didn’t really have a choice), it was about 9 mos. ’till I had to show up for the sentencing. The judge told me to get my “affairs” in order because I was going straight from the courtroom to jail.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I thought the state put you as close to your house as possible to allow for visiting…. Wrong! They put you anywhere in the state system that has “bed space”. I also thought that the judge could order the continuation of my meds…. Wrong again! Once you’re in prison, they “OWN” you.

I spent 3 days in the county jail before I was transferred to state prison. They did keep me on my Xanax there.

When the prison bus showed up I had papers from my doctor telling them what I was on and how much per day. Before I got on the bus I was strip searched and the guards told me I couldn’t take ANYTHING with me… They tore up my doctors papers.

First they took me to DVI in Tracy (a prison referred to as “gladiator school” because of the number of stabbings). That’s where I was “processed”. I was given an orange jump suit, 3 feet of toilet paper and a blanket. Then I was thrown in a cell. The next day I was taken to the prison “doctor”. He asked me if I had any medical problems so I told him about the Xanax. He said that I wasn’t going to get any there. I was already starting to have w/d symptoms… The doctor saw me for about 30 seconds and sent me back to my cell… 3 days later, I couldn’t even walk. The guards said, “you don’t walk, you don’t eat”…. I kept writing notes to the warden and sending letters to the wife asking her to contact the judge who sentenced me and see if he could do something…. I never got any mail back. (I later learned that the staff does this to EVERY new convict as a “game”. They hold the mail for about a month before you get it)..

About a week into this, I started hallucinating (auditory and visual), I thought I was on the Ponderosa (Bonanza) and was standing in line waiting to get my $0.25 for the days work… I knew where I REALLY was but it seemed real to me.

I hadn’t eaten in about 2 weeks by then and couldn’t stand up. The guards just laughed and said, “looky here, we got ourselves another nut”.

I finally got a reply from the judge saying that he had spoken to the warden, was told that I was getting “appropriate” medical care and not to contact him again. I also got a paper signed by the prison shrink saying that I’d been “evaluated” by him and was appropriate for “Mainline” placement. (General population)… I had never seen the guy.

I was “wired for sound”, couldn’t eat or sleep and really thought I was going to die. The guy in the cell next to mine didn’t get into his cell fast enough for the guards liking so he was thrown in by the guard. This kid was 24 yrs. old and had severe asthma. His inhaler was crushed when the cell door was slammed on him. His cell-mate was screaming, “Man down, man down!!!!” No-one came. They found him dead in the cell the next morning…. I guarantee you that his family wasn’t told the REAL reason for his death… Everyone around him was either shipped to another prison or moved out of the cell-block.

By this time I had been there about 2 and a half weeks… Oh yeah, I also got a copy of my medical “examination”… Gee, it had a blood pressure reading on it as well as a negative TB test, heart rate, Etc… NONE of these tests were ever done.

21 days in and I was just fading in and out, laying on the floor and my cell-mate told me that I’d had several seizures (I don’t remember that). I was starting to pee blood and told one of the guards who said he’d tell the doctor. I guess he forgot.

26 days in and I was carried out onto the tier by my cell-mate, who dropped me on the floor and told a guard that I was “sick”…. They took me to the prison hospital and was told that I had kidney stones and my kidneys were shutting down… The doctor tried to get me into an outside hospital… An associate warden who’s name was Schmidt said that I’d written too many letters and they didn’t want any outside institutions to know what was happening…. They put a lot of saline solution into me, shot me up with Morphine and sent me back to my cell. The warden ordered the staff to bring me 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a day. By this time, I didn’t even remember my name.

I’d try to eat, throw up, eat some more, throw up again and so on… Then I went before the “classification committee”. They decide your custody status and what kind of job you’ll be assigned to… They took one look at me and transferred me to Vacaville (CMF), another prison as a “cat-J” (Mental case). I got there and was thrown into another cell… I got lucky, my cell-mate had some food and I was able to eat a little here and there. My wife was denied visitation rights because the warden told her that I was a danger to myself and others and was in a PCU (Protective Custody Unit). No visitation allowed. This was a complete lie.

I saw the prison psychiatrist and told him what was going on… He said he had no choice but to reject me as a “cat-J” and sent me back to Tracy. I went before the same classification committee and they sent me down south to Solidad… Even though I was a minimum security convict, the prison did what they call a “population over-ride” and set my custody at “MAX-A” (The highest custody there is). I was in the same cell-block as Sirhan, Sirhan (Not sure if I spelled that right but he’s the guy that shot Robert Kennedy)… Again, I got lucky and got a good counselor who lowered my custody to “MAX-B“. He read my case and told me he would do what he could to get me out of there.

About 7 weeks had passed by then… My symptoms were, dizziness, vomiting, blurred vision, tingling all over, bleeding from my nose and ears, stiff muscles, ringing in my ears, insomnia, lack of appetite, muscle twitching and involuntary jerking, complete loss of bladder control, couldn’t walk, metal taste in my mouth, dry mouth, heart pounding, breathing problems, and complete depersonalization, cramps. I really thought I was going to die.

About this time a guy approached me asking if I wanted any drugs? I said yeah, get me some Xanax or valium… He couldn’t but got me something called Doxepin. This stuff put me to sleep and I slept for 4 days. At 2:00 AM a couple of guards came into my cell, grabbed me and took me to a prison bus heading for San Quentin. My counselor had arraigned my transfer. I hit S.Q. in early June.

I managed to smuggle some Doxepin in there in the bottom of a deodorant stick. It did take the edge off a little, not much.

I was placed in North-block one floor below death row. I was managing to keep some food down by then and some of the really severe symptoms started to subside. I still had trouble remembering my name and still couldn’t walk without assistance.

When I went before classification committee, they lowered my custody level to “MIN-B-ORWD” (The lowest custody level there is). At that point I was able to “front myself off” as just a regular convict… I spent 6 weeks in North-block and was transferred to “H’ Unit (Medium security) awaiting transfer to “The Ranch” (Minimum security). Drugs were rampant in there and I started snorting heroin… I could eat and function OK that way. I was also taking the Doxepin for sleep… I hadn’t seen my kids or my wife in over 3+ mos. by then.

At that point my symptoms were dizziness, muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, twitching, depersonalization, mild hallucinations, severe agoraphobia (I hardly ever left my cell), ringing in my ears, drooling, severe nightmares, blurred vision, Anxiety through the roof, and shaking all the time… I could remember my name and prison #.

I lucked out again and met an old acquaintance from my younger days who happened to be the head of the Aryan Brotherhood (AB)… That’s the “gang” that “con,ed” the prison… Now the Aryans are supposed to be NON Jewish and what they do is to control all the drug trafficking. They’re called “skinheads” on the street here. “Red” (The guy I knew) and I go back to grade-school. His last name is Rosenzweig. He passed that off as a German name but he knew that I knew in reality He’s a full blooded Jew… He obviously didn’t want this getting around… He made me a deal… I keep my mouth shut about him being Jewish and he’d put out the word to protect me… I agreed and he kept his end…

Red told me who was who in there and what I could get from them… He also got my visits approved in a couple of days (I didn’t ask how). He also set me up with some of the guards that brought in drugs. Between him and my wife smuggling drugs to me, I now had all the Xanax and Valium I wanted. After almost 8 mos. of pure HELL, I started to feel “normal” again. Once the warden found out that I had a state smog inspection and repair license, I was “set”….

This is getting to be a “book” so I’m going to cut it short. I spent my last 22 mos. livin’ pretty darn good in there. I NEVER ate in the chow hall… I did so much work on the correctional officers personal cars and all the smog checks for the 250+ vehicles in there + the Golden Gate Transit authority vehicles + the wardens personal car, I always had a breakfast burrito on my smog machine in the morning, Pizza or burgers for lunch and believe it or not, steak, asparagus and mashed potato’s for dinner almost every night…. Not to mention the food I had that the staff looked the other way on…

The first 8 mos. were HELL! after that, I did pretty much as i pleased in there. I even had a vehicle assigned to me so I didn’t have to walk so much and only had to present myself once a day for “count” instead of every 4 hrs…

Also had all the conjugal visits I wanted whenever I wanted them (You’re only allowed to have ’em every 6 mos)

Well if ya’ took the time ta’ read this “book”, I hope it answered your questions… If not, let me know specifically what you want to know and I’ll be happy to answer you

Good night all!

Metheral66’s Story: Booze, pills, marijuana, cocaine, hallucinations, ECT, the madhouse and a rope

My Story - A Trip away from me
« on: June 18, 2012, 08:55:57 am »


Hi. I’m a 27 yr old male from Vancouver B.C. I was 18 years old when I had a bad anxiety attack from smoking weed. I saw a psychiatrist who put me on 0.5mg of clonazapam. I was told to take it indefinatly. I got my life back…… for a while. I finished high school, went to work for a year, then went to university. All the while I began to drink more and more and more. I was drinking everyday and smoking weed, doing coke, and poping t 3’s. My life lead me down to a dark path. I was hanging around the wrong people and ended up having a tramatic event happen to me at the age of 20. My anxiety kicked it ten fold. I fell into a horrible depression. I quit the drugs but kept on drinking and taking benzo’s. Eventually my depression and anxiety sx got so bad I attempted suicide by taking a handful of asprins and 2 bottles of wine. I ended up in hospital, they pumped my stomach, and put me in the psychward. I couldn’t move or get out of bed for 2 months. I was given lithium, serequel and effexor. Eventually through alot of hard work I came back to life. I had to learn how to walk again and how to talk again. I went to rehab for 4 months and felt about 80% back to normal. I went back to school for a year. Then one day I got the idea that a drink or two wouldn’t kill me. I had one drink at my buddies cabin. By the next day I couldn’t stop. I drank around the clock for the next 3 months. I ended up back in rehab. This time though they cut off my benzo’s c/t. I ended up going insane. I lasted about a month or so then I slit my wriste, they immidiatly put me on an even higher dose of clonazapam then before. I was now on 1.5mg. Things were shaky after my failed c/t. I never felt right. I suffered from depression, dp/dr, anxiety, dizzyness, intrusive thoughts, suicidal thinking, and restlessness. I got involved in A.A. Everything was going smoothly. I was going to a meeting a day, volenteering, working here and there and going to therapy. However those sx’s lingered. No matter how hard I tried I just never felt right, I never felt I was getting any rewards for the work I was putting in.

FINALLY I talked to a therapist who informed me about benzodiazapeins. I was shocked. But at the same time my situation finnally made sence. I was suffering from benzo tolerance withdrawal! AND THE SOLUTION WAS TO GET OFF THESE MEDICATIONS!.

So thats exactly what I started to do. I found informatin on the net about how to withdrawl. I tried to follow the ashton manual but my tapper became very scattered. I would cut down from 1.5 to 1.2 then back up to 1.3 then down to 1.1 then up to 1.2 and on and on and on. My sx’s became unbearable. I could no longer leave my house. I locked myself in my room. I was in isolation 24/7. My mind started playing tricks on me. I had horrible depression, dp/dr, panic attacks, aggression, insane thoughts, I would think I was someone else, I didn’t know who I was, I lost my identy, I was suicidal, constently tried to figure out life, terrified of death, lost faith in my faith, my self, my life, life became pointless, I was utterly hopless.

I remember when the day when I went to a friend/adviser. She is an amzing person, someone who has overcome many many obsticals in her life and full of advise. I told her I could no longer go on. She kept telling me “don’t stop, don’t quit your taper, you’ve come so far” But to my regret I didn’t listen. I was taking to the psychward where they uped my dose. They put me on 2.5mg’s, a full mg over my original dose.

We all waited. My family, my friends, myself waited for me to feel better. But I never did. My sx’s never improved. I thought I was hopless before, now I knew I was hopless. I couldn’t come off benzo’s and couldn’t be on them. There was no way out. I was admited once again to the psych ward

I escaped the nut house 2 times, and staggered back to the arms of the secuirity gards a few house later drunk from alcohol I had stolen from the liquore store up the street. It must of been quite a sight to a guy in a hospital gounde with two bottles of wine running down the street.

When the psychiatrist got word of this he told me I had ran out of options. I was simply not getting any better. The only thing left to do was Electro Shock Therapy. The nurses brought me into a small room and showed me a video of the ‘miricals’ of E.C.T. I was more than horrified. When I told my parents, they came to get me immidiatly. Before I left I had to talk to the head of the psychiatry at the hospital. I clearly remember him telling me that I was a hopless case. Over and over he repeated these words to me “you don’t want to get well you want to die” those were is exact words and he repeated it about five times. I left his office in tears. For someone who is suicidal those arn’t exactly the words you want to hear.

I became a full time job. My parents, more than once, found suicide notes I had writen. Luckily they found me before I could do anything. They decided I couldn’t be alone so they constently watched over me. They got tired of doing this and sent me to a trusted family friends house. There I had to sign a contract saying that if I tried suicide or if I felt like it I would tell her.

Over the next 3 months I was admited to the psychiatric ward 8 times. Either for suicidal behavior or cutting my wriste. Eventually they stoped taking me. I will never ever be able to express the hell I felt at this time. I wanted to die. It was all I thought about. The pain was so over the top it was unbeleivable. I found out that it is absolutly impossible to discribe Hell.

I was sent to another facility for the severly mentally ill. I stayed the maximum lenghth of time and forced to leave. I tried 5 different anti depressents, 2 different mood stabalizers, and had my benzo’s switched, decreased, increased, you name it. I was given the diagnosis of major depression, bi polar, boarderline personality disorder, ptsd, and even scizophrenia. I started to hear voices and see things that were not there. The voices came on as a rare side effect of a medication. They stoped once I got off it.

During this time alot things happend. I got stories for days, it was just insane. There was a month were I ran drugs for a ‘friend’ in exchange for money and booze. I had an incident with a clint that had me pinned to the floor with a knife to my neak. All I remember was screaming at him to do it, but he never did. Another time I purposly drove my truck into a telephone pole going 70 km/h. I was completly unharmed. I often wondered how I managed to stay alive.

Eventually they put me on lithium which I must say is the best medication I have been on. It definatly stoped the suicidal thoughts.

I moved back to my parents place and was on the waiting list for a mental health and addictions center. Unfortuanatly I started to drink again. I have a history of alcoholism. I was on 60mg of valium a day along with effexor, serequel, and lithium.

I drank and drank and drank. I had six months to kill while I waited to get into this treatment center. During those six months I was sober only 3 times. And that was for days when I was so physically and mentally sick I feared I would have a heart attack. My weight went up to 260pds from 200pds only a year later. I had trouble breathing, constently sweated, and delerium tremers.

One night I had attempted to go out with some friends. It had been months since I had ventured out of my house. I got so drunk I made a fool of myself. My social skills were obviously out of wack. Everyone, including myself, had difficulty understanding me. I stole as much liquore as I could find and made my way home. I drank all that I could. I found a rope and made a noose. I hung it from the roof of my garage, wraped it around my neak, and jumped. I was so drunk that instead of hanging my head sliped out of the noose and I landed flat on my ass. I dusted myself off, drank some more and passed out.

My drinking continued on until finnaly a bed opened at the recovery center. I found out later that this was place were people were sent who were to sick to get into regular rehab centers. I remember calling alot of other rehabs and being told I was to unstable to be accepted. They said I was a danger to myself and others.

When I arrived at the treatment center I quickly found out that this is not so much of a treatment center than it is a mental hospital. The only remain insane assylm had shut down and alot of the patients were sent here. About half of the patients are scizophrenics. There is fights almost everyday, people trying to escape, and drug use almost every where you look. I often walked in the bathroom to find people shooting heroin. Many people smoked crack or meth in right in there rooms. People often talk to themselves. Cursing the voices in there head. The halls are narrow and the rooms small. We have small activities through out the day to keep us busy. Thats helped me out a lot with my benzo withdrawal.

I have gone from 60mg of valium to 16mg in 6 months. Its been far from easy. I have countless stories about the facility I’m in and the journey through this hell that I’ve been on.

I just hope that I can somehow someway find a way back to me.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 09:12:43 am by Metheral66 »


Wayne’s Benzo Story: (UK)

I suffered from social anxiety that started as a result of a work presentation I completely messed up and muddled all my words. The social anxiety progressively got worse, and I eventually got counselling for it after around six months. The counselling mainly involved exposing me to situations I wasn’t comfortable with, CBT, etc. Over the span of a few years I was out doing normal things again, enjoying life.

It was mid-2010 when I developed a constant urge to urinate. I didn’t go to the doctors until November to get “help.” It was then that I was diagnosed as having an “overactive bladder” and was prescribed Ditropan XL. I started the pills and within a few days I felt severe nervousness, shaking, dizziness, a dry mouth to the point I couldn’t open it to speak, and just generally feeling awful. I stopped the pills in late December, right before Christmas.

Christmas morning 2010 at 3am I was awoken with the most intense panic attack I had ever felt in my life. (I had previously experienced panic attacks because of the social anxiety but this was different.) I was begging my girlfriend to kill me; I wanted to die; it felt like I was going to die any second. It lasted around one hour before passing and I went back to sleep. Unfortunately this continued to be a daily occurrence for the next two weeks: Constant panic attacks, and if I wasn’t having those, I would be in a constant state of fear. I couldn’t take it anymore and told my girlfriend I was going to kill myself.

That is when the real hell began. I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to go to the emergency room where they gave me 5mg of Valium. I felt almost instant relief. I sat in the waiting room and they then contacted the “Crisis Team” to help me. They sent me home and within a few hours I was back to having the intense panic attacks again. The next day the Crisis Team arrived at my house, and they had a talk with me about my “anxiety” and prescribed me Zyprexa 5mg and Effexor 75mg, telling me that these drugs would “sort out all my problems.” I had never heard of any of these drugs and trusted them completely.

(At this point in my story, I think it is important to note that only in retrospect, I realize this entire nightmare was happening due to a reaction to the Ditropan XL. Upon researching it, I learned side effects and reactions of Ditropan XL included everything that I was experiencing. Had I been advised of this and waited it out, I would have avoided this entire hellish experience.)

Anyway, I started the Zyprexa the same night that the Crisis Team left and slept for hours. It literally knocked me out cold, but woke up feeling so groggy, almost hung over-like. I started the Effexor the next morning and a few days later all hell broke loose. I was screaming, writhing about all over the floor, and the panic attacks got MUCH worse. I felt like I was losing my mind, going completely crazy. The Crisis Team would come round every day and tell me this was “normal” for starting these meds and that it would go within a week or two. They kept telling me to go for walks every day (I couldn’t) but still I trusted them. This went on every day, getting worse and worse for two weeks until I told them I couldn’t take it any longer. They stopped the Effexor and replaced it with Remeron 15mg, and also added 15mg of Valium (5mg 3 x day as a “sticking plaster” to “get me onto the Remeron”).

I started both the same day they gave it me, Remeron at bedtime along with the Zyprexa. From there I got worse, MUCH, MUCH worse over the next two weeks. The weight was falling off me, I had no appetite, panic attacks all day long and felt completely crazy. Next they upped my Valium to 22mg, but it had no effect on me – it didn’t do anything for me. I started to notice that I was doing things that I’d never done in my life before: I would shower and not know what I was meant to be doing, what to use to wash my hair, and just a general confusion with doing everyday tasks. I told this to the Crisis Team and they brushed it off as nothing. Things just kept getting worse and worse, and I started searching for anything in the house to cut myself. My sister had to bring her office to my house or my girlfriend had to take time off work to watch over me. Any chance I could get when they weren’t looking I would run and search frantically for anything sharp (they had hid all knives), and I just wanted to end this suffering. I’d grab my belt from my robe and tie it around my neck as tight as I could trying to strangle myself, my sister and girlfriend fighting with me to stop me. All the time I would be screaming at them, “Just let me do it, let me die!”

The Crisis Team said I needed to go into a Psychiatric hospital. I arrived there and hated it. I didn’t belong there. I lasted one night and told my sister to come pick me up the next day, and when I got back home the hell continued on and on. A few days later, I ended up in another psych ward for three days this time. Again I discharged myself. The next visit I had with the Crisis Team I told them, “I want off all these meds, they’re making me much worse.” The lady (not even a doctor) said, “Okay, we can take you off everything within a week.” I had been on Valium and other psych meds for two months at this time. I agreed, not knowing any better, and they dropped the Valium from 22mg to 10mg and stopped the Remeron dead.

I thought I’d been through the worst, but had NO idea what was about to happen. I started to have episodes of shaking intensely, tremors, falling over, and eyes rolling into the back of my head, no idea where I was or who my family members were. I would look at them and shout at them “I don’t know who you are!!!!!!” I would convulse on the floor, “come around” and see my mom standing over me, and she would say the words “Get up, you’re just making this up now!” I wasn’t. I couldn’t control what was happening to me at all.

The insomnia started, and since I couldn’t sleep they prescribed me Zopiclone 7.5mg. Akathisia started and I would pace from the moment I woke until I’d take my Zyprexa and Zopiclone and eventually collapse on the bed from sheer exhaustion. This went on and on, constant pacing all day long. I would pace from my bedroom to the bathroom, touch the taps, then back into my bedroom and touch the wall, almost OCD-like, getting faster and faster, collapsing into a heap on the floor screaming, then get back up and do it again. I simply couldn’t stop it. I started to reach for sharp objects again, cords, robe ties, anything I could get my hands on to stop this torture. I would find some scissors and hack away at my wrists. They were blunt so I’d have to dig deep for it to do anything. Felt no pain doing it whatsoever and I had no fear of dying because it was a way out from this constant torment. Weeks were passing by and nothing was improving. Things were getting worse and worse.

End of March 2011, all my family were round for my 30th birthday with gifts. I didn’t recognise any of them, they were strangers to me. I didn’t care about presents. I didn’t even know what year it was, let alone what day. I just went out of the house and walked for what seemed like forever, alone in the dark, not knowing where I was going, and I didn’t care. I eventually found my way home and got a hold of a knife and held it to my wrist in the kitchen. My sister (she tells me) stood in front of me watching her former happy, funny, fun-loving brother about to cut his wrist in front of her. I went to drag it across my wrist and she snatched it from my hand and hid it from me. I collapsed on the floor crying, begging to die, to let me do it, to end this. I couldn’t cope anymore living like this.

My sister phoned the Crisis Team and they said I had to go into another psychiatric hospital. The only one available was two hours away, and I got picked up in an ambulance. My mom packed my bag for me, but nobody could come with me. I was absolutely terrified and had no idea what was happening, no idea who I was, where I was going. I was screaming at the ambulance driver and paramedic that I was mad and to kill me. I got there and waited at the check-in desk with the ambulance crew, shaking, sweating, falling on the floor, begging to let me die. They checked me in and got all my details and wished me a belated “Happy birthday.” I wanted to kill them. It was 4am so they showed me to my room and shut the door. I paced around the room all night crying, screaming, rolling on the floor, but nobody came to check on me. Finally I passed out and woke to a doctor standing over me. He led me to a room where they did blood tests, all the time asking me questions that I couldn’t understand, let alone answer. I paced constantly in the psych ward. Other patients would just be standing in one spot, or doing the same as me. I was sure I was mad, and this was now my life.

A doctor came to me again and said there was a place at the psych ward close to my house, again a two-hour ambulance journey to get there with me pacing the whole time around the back of the ambulance. I arrived there and it was the worst place I had ever seen in my life: Cold, dingy, horrible staff that just stared at me like I was crazy. Once again patients were standing in one spot for hours on end, and others staring at me. They showed me to my room and I put my bag in the corner and went off pacing again. All day I would pace and nurses would shout at me to sit down, and I would scream back at them “I CAN’T!!!” They started to give me Lorazepam 1mg “when needed,” and it would calm my mind a little from the constant looping thoughts, but never the pacing, the pacing never stopped.

They left me in this condition for a week and told me I had “anxiety” that was getting worse. I knew what anxiety was and this wasn’t it! Finally after a week, a doctor saw me. She diagnosed me with “agitated depression” and prescribed me Klonopin 3mg and Lexapro 10mg and said, “You’ve tried it your way, now try it our way,” and made me sign an eight-week agreement to stay on these meds. All the time they were giving me up to 3mg Lorazepam a day too. I was so desperate I was willing to try anything, all along not knowing it was the very drugs causing all of this. Doctors would follow me around asking if I was hearing voices, or if I felt people were following me, trying to diagnose me with something. I would shout at them “NO!!!”

I would pace constantly, wake up, go and get breakfast if I could face it, but could never sit down to eat it. I would pace around the table grabbing the spoon and shoveling cereal in my mouth and pace again, same with lunch and dinner. There was a garden where you could smoke anytime you like. I would spend almost all day out there, pacing in circles, other patients telling me to sit down. I couldn’t. I would talk to people in the morning, and they wouldn’t know who I was by the night. They were completely different people after “med time.” There was a woman there who when we were smoking outside, she would come stand next to us, laugh her head off and pull her pants down and just take a shit or pee in front of everyone. She would do this on the sofas that people would sit on too! That was the only time I would laugh – not at her, just at the fact that someone would do that. I had never seen anything like it in my life. She would regularly get held down and injected with something that I have no idea what it was, but you wouldn’t see her until the next day.

I would wear the same trainers every day and noticed the soles wearing down. I would take them off at night and have blisters on every toe, bleeding. I resorted to wearing slippers all day that my mom brought in for me. She visited everyday along with my girlfriend, but I had no clue who they were. I would look at them and they would say “Hello” to me, and I would reply and say, “I don’t know who you are” – My mom who I had known for 30 years, my girlfriend who I was madly in love with for 13 years, I didn’t recognise either of them.

Mondays and Thursdays were “smoothie-making day.” They would get us all in a tiny room filled with fruit and blenders, and hand us a huge knife to cut the fruit up. Patients with huge knives who weren’t stable. Many a time I looked at it and thought how easy it would be to just slice my wrist. I was completely suicidal the whole time, wanting it to end.

One day out in the garden that was covered in small pieces of slate, I searched for the perfect piece. I found one and picked it up and would sharpen it throughout the day against the wall. It was razor sharp by the end of the night, and I said to myself in my head, “If I wake up the same tomorrow, that’s it, I’m doing it.” I went to my room and hid it under the bedside table and went to sleep. All night the nurses would walk by and shine a flashlight in my face, waking me up, every hour to make sure I was still in my room. Finally it was morning. I knew this because the cleaners would bang around, and doors would be slamming around me. I felt the same so I reached under the bedside table and started hacking away at my wrist, crying, but there was no pain, I felt nothing. Blood was pouring from my wrist and it started opening up wider and wider. I felt myself going faint, but also panicked and stumbled out of my room into the main area and started screaming, “I’M DYING, I’M DYING,” blood pouring out everywhere all over the floor, and then I blacked out. Next thing I know I’m being bandaged up by a nurse offering me 1mg Lorazepam. I took it and felt a little calmer. The nurse called me “silly,” and I looked at her and wanted to kill her. It hadn’t worked, I was still alive.

The pacing continued and the weight continued to drop off me. I would shower and look at myself in the mirror and could see my ribs sticking out. I looked so sick. Every day my family and girlfriend would visit me, and every day I wouldn’t recognise them. I was in a constant state of major derealisation. I would pace in the tiny visitors room around them, and they would just look at me, not saying much. I would obsess to them saying I was mad, that I wanted to die.

I realised I needed to get out of this place, and would beg to see a doctor only to be told they would assess me at the end of the week. Again I was out in the garden and a girl was sat on the bench holding her wrist. Walked over to her and she had a razor blade in her hand, so I asked her where she got it from and she told me her boyfriend had brought it in for her. (They never once checked anything my family would bring in to me.) She slashed her wrist right in front of me and blood was everywhere. She got rushed off somewhere and returned within hours a completely different girl, drugged up to the eyeballs, couldn’t even talk, didn’t know where she was. I spoke to her the next day and they were discharging her, a girl who the day before tried to kill herself.

I got to see the doctor along with five to six other people in the room, doctors and nurses. I tried to look and act as normal as possible to get myself out of there. All the time in the assessment I was pacing around their chairs in circles. They asked me if I thought I was ready to go home and I replied, “Yes.” I was nowhere near feeling normal but I had to get out of that place. They said I was ready but wouldn’t be giving me the Lorazepam to go home with. They had been giving me this daily, up to 3mg a day for three weeks. They called my mom and I gathered all my stuff together and was out within ten minutes, I got home and nothing felt real, the house didn’t feel like mine. I would pace constantly. Occasionally I would be able to lay down and try to listen to a relaxation CD, but I could only face it for ten minutes at most be-fore having to get up and pace again. I couldn’t be left alone for fear of killing myself, every day I told them I was going to kill myself.

I was then under the “care” of my GP who would prescribe me 100 0.5mg Klonopin pills at a time. I decided it was time to get off these drugs they had put me on. My girlfriend had researched on about what was going on with me and people had told her it was the drugs. I later found out she knew this while I was in the psych ward before they put me on all the meds, but my family told her she wasn’t allowed to tell me and to “leave it to the doctors.”

I first started tapering the Zopiclone. I hated the way it made me feel on waking: Drunk, confused, hung over. I did this over four weeks and the insomnia was awful. For four days straight I had no sleep. I would scream at my girlfriend to kill me, clawing at my skin, rolling around on the floor. Birds would be chirping outside and I would scream at them out of the window to shut up. I thought I was going crazy.

Next was the Klonopin. My girlfriend had researched but I still phoned the doctor on how to come off and she told me to cut 0.5mg a week, so I did. I went nuts, grabbing pills trying to shove them down my throat, grabbing knives again, anything to end my life, all the time still pacing, crying, screaming. I made three cuts so I was down to 1.5mg of Klonopin but felt absolutely crazy.

My girlfriend got in touch with BATaid, an organisation here in the UK, and they were horrified to hear how I had been treated. Una Corbett from BATaid said I needed to do a crossover to Valium using the Ashton Method. I did this over the course of six to eight weeks and the depression was horrific, so intense! Like a deep despair I had never felt before. The crossover to 30mg of Valium from 1.5mg of Klonopin was completed in September 2011.

At this point, my girlfriend suggested we get a dog to help me have something to focus on and to try and help get me out of the house. So we went dog shopping and came back with a little rescue Border Collie called Angel. She did help distract me and gave me something to do with my day. I would walk her but couldn’t go alone. I always had to be with my girlfriend, but could never walk far because of sheer exhaustion.

I held for a while at this dose and then made my first cut, as the Ashton Manual said, 2mg. I went absolutely crazy again. I would climb out of windows only to be dragged in by my girlfriend. The rage was unbelievable and I would feel it building inside me and punch holes in the doors of the house, had a fight with the fence in the garden and put holes all over it, knuckles covered in blood. I have never been violent in my life. I was always a calm laid-back man.

I was losing my mind completely and I couldn’t function at all. I’d spend all day in bed, not showering, barely eating, and when I did it was meal-replacement drinks, only getting up to go to the bathroom or lash out at doors or walls. The pacing had finally stopped, but now I was barely able to move. Angel would lay on the bed beside me and she was literally the only thing that I had any interest in whatsoever. I would hold her and talk to her.

I lasted two weeks and phoned Una again and she told me to immediately updose. I did and went back to 30mg and got worse, because it had the opposite effect on me. I literally couldn’t move now and was bed-ridden with the worse fear I’d felt. I’d also started to vomit in the mornings along with the complete and utter terror. I held for three weeks and started making cuts again, at a rate of 0.5mg a time every three to four weeks, but then the depression hit me big time at the two-week mark of each cut. I didn’t know what to do so arranged an appointment with a different psychiatric doctor. Her words to me were “If you were my son, I would put you into the psych ward and take you off all drugs right away.” I knew that was wrong, so ignored it and just asked for dissolvable Zyprexa tabs to tackle that. She told me there would be no withdrawal from it at all.

I would slice slithers from the Zyprexa tabs every few days, still continuing cutting the Valium every three to four weeks. I thought I’d been through the worst of everything by now, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I would vomit every day, throughout the day, while reducing the Zyprexa, literally eating, vomiting, then eating again, I had to force myself to eat because I had lost so much weight. I was at my lowest weight by this time – 140lbs and I’m 5’11”.

Slowly things were getting worse and worse. I would still go out and walk Angel, always with my girlfriend. Then one day while we were walking she dropped something on me that I was not expecting. She told me she didn’t love me anymore and was breaking up with me. I went absolutely crazy, crying my eyes out. I walked home and got in the car. I’ve never driven so fast in all my life. I was doing 70mph in 30mph zones, not a care for other people on the road, all the time looking for walls to just slam into. I eventually got round to my sister’s and knocked on the door in complete hysterics. The girl who I had been with for 14 years now was leaving me, because I was sick, because she couldn’t cope anymore. I was completely crushed. I drove back home and spoke with her, and she said she would stay and take care of me, but it was over.

My now ex-girlfriend, who was sleeping in the other room would come to me in the mornings with break-fast, and I’d be screaming under the covers that people were after me, chasing me, I could hear the wind outside and was terrified of it. I was terrified of everything. I would wake up and hear monster noises, they felt so real, sometimes saying my name, sometimes just making horrible noises. I would cover myself with the bed sheets and cry, then suddenly I would have the urge, it was almost like something taking over me, but to throw myself against the wall repeatedly, over and over. It was then that the visual hallucinations started. I looked towards the door and a lady was standing there, not threatening, just standing there. I covered my head, looked again and she was still there, just looking at me, not saying a word. I was positive I had gone mad now.

By this time I was managing to go into a chat room online that my girlfriend had found. I’d go in there during the day and chat with other people going through withdrawal. Some days I was unable to type out words, but somehow they knew what I was saying, it made no sense to me. I was typing one day and felt a presence next to me. When I looked to the side, a man was stood next to me, clear as day, wearing a hat. I was absolutely terrified. I told them in the chat room and they said I was fine, and to ignore him. How could I ignore a man stood next to me?!?!?!? He never moved, he never did anything. But he stood there for around half an hour then just disappeared.

At this point I did a slight updose on the Zyprexa and had a seizure. My ex-girlfriend phoned an ambulance but filmed me while waiting for them to arrive. Again I got taken to the ER. The doctor there watched the video and agreed it was a seizure. She then walked away (I later found out she spoke with the Crisis Team), came back and said it wasn’t a seizure and was my anxiety!! They were covering their backs!

I returned home and had an episode of tardive dyskinesia. I couldn’t control my tongue and would make gurgling sounds that I’d never heard before in my life. My arms and legs would move on their own. I ended up at the ER yet again. They checked me over and sent me home again saying this can happen when you start an antipsychotic and may have happened because of the slight updose. I got home and it got worse. I screamed and suddenly my jaw felt like it was being ripped open. I was screaming forcing it closed, but I couldn’t, it wouldn’t close. “Luckily” that only lasted two days. The withdrawal from Zyprexa went on for six months, though, and I would have blackouts, and come round on the floor not knowing what happened. And when my ex-girlfriend went away for a week on holiday, I was forced to walk Angel on my own. I walked her one day and started to feel really faint and dizzy, and the next thing I know, I’m lying on the floor in mud with Angel lay beside me. I had blacked out but she didn’t leave my side. Every day this went on: Vomiting, hallucinating, living in complete terror. I really didn’t think I was going to live through it. Every day I felt like I was either going to die, or I would kill myself. But I made it, the withdrawal from Zyprexa finally ended.

By this time it was mid-September. I was at 20.5mg of Valium as I had been cutting the whole time while in withdrawal from Zyprexa. I sped things up, too, because of the depression hitting at the two-week mark, and others telling me to try going faster. The cuts were getting easier that way, and I would cut, “feel it” around day four or five, then settle again until I was ready to cut on day 14. It was never tolerable and every day was hell, but I wanted off. Have been cutting this way ever since. I went to cutting every ten days, to speed things up, to get off faster, but eventually I would get a massive wave that was telling me I was going too fast. I would get on Skype with friends I have found along the way and just cry, begging to die. They’re invaluable to me and I couldn’t have done any of this without them! No way!

I have been continuing to cut, changing how often as my body tells me, anything from 10-14 days, but never longer unless I get really slammed. I changed my sleep schedule to sleeping through the mornings. I go to sleep anywhere between 6-8am and wake at 1-3pm. Luckily, because I got approved for disability, (no way could I work in this condition) I can sleep this way, and it has been a massive help in reducing/avoiding morning terror and anxiety.

I still suffer daily with anxiety, extreme fatigue, derealisation, etc., but things have gotten so much better now. I no longer want to kill myself every day. I now live alone, with Angel, and I see hope for the future. I see myself getting off these drugs that have ruined my life, my relationship with my now ex-girlfriend who I imagined spending the rest of my life with, relationships with family members – they have ruined every-thing, but they aren’t going to beat me.

I’m at 11.5mg Valium now and plan to titrate or use a gram scale when the cuts become too much for me. Hopefully I can get to 10mg before I have to do that, but I know I can do this now. I know I still have the Lexapro to come off of after the Valium, but I’m confident I can do that, too. I look at life completely different now: I value friends more, real friends who are there for me no matter what, who don’t judge me, who get this, who will never leave my side, and I will do the same for them. I wish it didn’t take this experience to make me realise all this, but it has. It’s made me a better person. I’m more confident in myself, I value every little thing more now, but most of all I want to live. I want to live to show others that it is possible to do this. I want to live to bring awareness of what these drugs are capable of and to stop it from happening to others if I can. I want to live to live life to the fullest – and I WILL!!

Whoopsie Doodle

Wayne, I read it, the whole drug fiasco/nightmare you’ve been thru. It’s a true miracle that you’re still with us fighting the good fight to get your life back on track. I’m so glad you were able to write it all down, this is a record of your battle for life. Amazing warrior you are to take good from this experience and grow as a man. My thanks to Angel for helping save your life and thanks to all those you talk to and don’t judge and just listen. I bow to your strength and courage. 

Kelli Barrett

Hi Wayne. I just finished reading your story and it touched me so deeply. I’m so sorry you went through all that. I’ve been in one of those places 4 times in my life. It was a long time ago but your story brought back the memories. It’s horrible that they basically have not changed in 30 years. They pumped me with thorazine because I cried and screamed when I found out my friend died. As Whoopsie said it’s a miracle that you’re still here. But you are very strong and you’re a fighter. I wish you the best as you ditch these horrid drugs.

Glen’s Story: Oprah’s piano man talks about putting a plastic bag over his head

The stigma of the madness.
« on: Yesterday at 11:49:25 pm »


Hi everyone.

One of the things I’ve struggled with, personally, over the last few years is communicating to friends and family just what the addiction was all about. Why did I “choose to become addicted”, and looking at all sorts of misconceptions and a general inability to understand withdrawal unless you’ve been through it. So I made a document.. a pdf.. a ‘letter’, of sorts, that I think does a good job of allowing a non-addict to at least understand what some of the hell is like, and exactly why we can flail so much and in such a self-desctructive way.

Hopefully my experience and words can help someone else communicate just what it’s all truly about.

It’s called “To Breathe or not to Breathe”.

This is about my own personal experience, but I hope it can be in some way helpful to others.