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Who would have thought, one tiny decision could not only nearly kill you but take 9 months of your life away. 

 

This  was what   thought would be  a painless, ultimately beneficial decision made November 19th 2006.


I decided to quit taking my 2 1/2 mg of Valium.   I had been taking it nearly every night at  bedtime for the last 3 years.   My first  BIG MISTAKE!    I, in my naivety didn't have the slightest clue that  I was totally  dependent on the little yellow pill.    Who could ever have thought something so small could be so powerful.
 

Let's just say 2 weeks later I ended up having to dial 911.  I was alone, it was nighttime and I thought I was dying.  I ended up in the emergency room, the doctors not having a clue what was wrong with me. 

 

I had told the paramedic I had stopped taking my Diazepam. He either didn't think it was important, or didn't tell the doctors in the ER. For 3 hours I was hallucinating and going literally insane all alone in that ER surrounded by a curtain that was breathing and moving. 

 

I thought I had slit my wrists when I looked down and the doctor was trying to take blood.  My brain wasn't working properly. Finally I was able to call my husband and he told the attending that 2 weeks prior I had quit taking Valium.  I had to convince the doctors to talk to my husband, since I wasn't making much sense anymore.  They finally spoke to him. 

 

I still remember the female attending saying" Oh, why didn't she tell us that."  Well try thinking clearly when everyone around you is speaking Russian and the curtains are alive and breathing.  Try thinking when the staff are treating you like a common junkie.  The Doctor quickly gave me  a shot of something and my world came back. Literally 10 minutes later they were talking about discharging me and I was calling a taxi.

I though the worst was over.  My second BIG MISTAKE.

I went with the ER doctor’s advice of reducing my pills by 50 percent every 2 weeks.  This took 6 weeks.  I extended it to 8 weeks because I didn't feel great. 

My family doctor sent me to a neurologist who agreed with the reduction.  I basically got worse and worse the longer I was off the pills. 

I had to go on an emergency Xanax prescription because I had been nominated for an Oscar and wanted to go to the ceremony.  Oh ya, didn't I mention this, while all this hell was going on... I got nominated for a Oscar.... Stressful......Oh just a little.
 

I wanted to go to the ceremony and had been feeling worse since quitting the pills.  I went on the Xanax for about a week, made it thru the ceremony, then 5 days later I crashed again.  Not as bad as the time before, no 911, no hallucinating, but very scary. I had to go back on the Xanax. 

 

Ok,  I was in  trouble again.   I didn't  understand why... what was going on?  Why wasn't I better?  How could I be getting worse?  None of it made sense.
 

Back with my neurologist, he thought I was feeling bad because I didn't win the Oscar.  Dear god, you must be joking... that was it for him. Time for a new doctor.  He thought I was under stress, which I was, but wanted to put me on Buspar.  I didn't want any more pills. Couldn't anyone understand that, look where pills had gotten me.
 

My husband and myself spent hours on the Internet looking for help and advice.  I was now back on the Valium but didn't feel well.  Didn't feel myself anymore.  I felt like I was constantly falling into myself.  It's hard to describe, but I literally felt like I was
imploding.  Headaches, breathing problems, depression, anxiety, chest pains you name it I was experiencing it.  I was now on over 3 mg a night and still no relief.  What was happening, why didn't it all go away and I feel better like my GP and neurologist said it should.  

Why was I feeling worse and worse?

Then something happened... Independently, but on the same day, both myself and my husband came across the Road Back on the Internet. Finally, something that made sense, something that actually spoke to me, addressed my problems, acknowledged this was happening and had been happening to thousand and thousands of other poor souls.

Nirvana!  I had found my road back. 

I called one of their recommended doctors and went to see her within a week.  She spoke my language, she understood, I wasn't invisible. There was hope.  This was at the end of March 2007. 

I immediately went on the program, the Essential Protein Powder helped immediately.  The Body Calm capsules I had to get used to, I was afraid of anything that might have power over the body. I felt I had lost control of.  I had to trust the doctor and let go.  All the other powders and pills came and I started to feel a bit better.  A bit stronger.  It wasn't some over night miracle, it wasn't a flash of lightning.  But, it was working.
 

I realized how dangerous all this had been, I realized the dangers of the drug from the Road Back Web Site, and now I had to come to terms with the fact that I was still taking the evil Valium. The pill I had felt nearly killed me. I was having not only to take every night but increase it. 

 

I  finally  got to  4 mg  per night.   Why  wasn't  I able  to stabilize?   Why wasn't I getting  better  quicker.   Basically,  I  had  to  stabilize before  I could  start  to reduce the Valium.   It  just wasn't  happening.   I wasn't stabilizing.   Sure, I was feeling better, but I wasn't coming to the place where I could start to reduce.
 

I made my 3rd BIG MISTAKE! 

 

Through the advice of a friend, I went to see a pharmacological psychologist.  The doctor basically told me this all was a sham and I needed to go on multiple drugs.  Anxiety pills, antidepressants and god knows what else.  She basically told me I wasn't still having problems from the Valium,  I was the problem.  It couldn't still be from the pill, because I was taking it every night. I had psychological problems and needed to take more pills!  Are you kidding me?  More pills?  I was mentally sick?  I was the problem?
 

I went to see the doctor again, I was a mess.  I was now freaked I was going insane.  She was wonderful, she hugged me and held me, she said how sorry she was that I had to hear those things.  She was disgusted with the psychologist who told me those things. 

 

The psychologist didn't understand withdrawal and obviously wasn't part of the Road Back.  The doctor wanted me to speak to Jim Harper, the founder of the Road Back.  I talked with him the next day.  My world changed that day and again 2 days later.
 

Jim was very gracious and very understanding.  He listened and then said he thought he could help.  He was going to send me a new herbal product he had been testing.  It was made from the Passion Flower plant. A plant? 

 

Great, I'll give it a shot, as long as it doesn't come from a pharmaceutical company.  He talked with me for over an hour and made lots of suggestions and just listened.  The Passion Flower arrived the next day.  I took my first pill that night around 5 pm. That was when I  had been having to take a 1/2 mg of Valium. 

 

I hadn't been able to wait until bed time, my brain felt like it was falling out, I had been taking Valium during the day since my visit to the psychologist.  She really freaked me out.  Now I was anxiety ridden, I was a mess. 

 

The passion flower arrived and I took it at my usual brain falling out time.  Something happened!  Well, more accurately nothing happened. My brain didn't fall out.  I felt normal....The passion flower 100% worked. 

 

It calmed me down without making me feel drugged.  It acted as a  natural Valium in a way.  It completely relieved my withdrawal symptom!  My god, a miracle! 

 

Over the next few weeks I tweaked the pill size and amount of times I took it.  I had to find the balance. Jim was there for me on the phone or our preferred way, via email the entire time.  He wanted to know how I was doing, how my symptoms were and my anxiety levels.  I was his lab rat.  Oh what a happy rat I was!
 

For the first time in 6 months I felt like there was hope for me. Hope that I would again be normal, hope that this wasn't going to last forever.  Jim gave me that hope back.  He saved my life.  I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it's true.  The road back saved my sanity and my life.  I no longer cried everyday, I no longer thought every pain would end up with me in the hospital.  I was no longer afraid.
 

I have been taking the Passion Flower now for a about 2 months.  I began to  finally stabilize.  I could finally start reducing the Valium.  The day I was waiting for: 6 months came a few weeks ago. The day I could go to a compounding pharmacy and start reducing the pill I had come to call Satan.  The passion flower; now known as Body Calm Supreme, is now available thru Neuro Genetic Solutions.
 

Don't get me wrong.  It's not all happy shiny clouds and little newborn kittens.  I still have bad times.  But that's just it now. They are times.  Not full time. 

 

When I first started reducing I got a little over zealous and reduced too much.  I slowed down after talking to Jim.  Then I reduced every week, again, it was too much for me, and after talking to Jim I am now reducing every 2 weeks.  Sure it's slow, sure it will take me the rest of the year.  It will take me 8 months not 8 weeks.  But you know what, when you feel good again, when you feel hopeful, time doesn't really matter so much. 

 

When you have come so close to the edge, when you have given up all hope, what's a bit of time?  What's a few months when you have been given those months back. You can actually live those months out in the real world, not at home shut in and invisible.
 

I can't stress enough what life is like now.  How precious every moment is.  How all that really matters is your health and well being. How much love you have in your life can actually save your life. 

 

For months I was angry, I was angry because unless your some crack addict or celebrity drunk, you don't exist. I was angry because I felt invisible.  There just wasn't any help out there for me. 

 

Valium isn't a trendy drug, no one cares if you’re dependent on it.  I was a functioning addict without even knowing it.  The film business is so stressful, I took the Valium to relax and be able to slow my mind down so I could sleep.  I have had trouble sleeping my entire life.  I was an accident waiting to happen.  Now, I'll take the  Body Calm and  the Body Calm Supreme, thank you very much.
 

Jim listened to me when I needed it most. The doctor cared for me when I needed it most.  My husband stood by me the entire time.  My family never judged me.  My friends listened and offered their support.  I have seen a new way to deal with stress in the future.

 

You have to realize it's a slow, slow battle.  As Jim always says, slow and steady wins the race.  You can't forget that even though you feel as if your not getting better quick enough, or you don't even feel you'll ever get better.  You will, just  follow the plan, stick to the rules, listen to your body.

 

I'm sure the route I chose to go, the non-multiple drug route cost me time in the end.  I'm sure the drugs would have been a quick fix, I probably would have felt better quicker.  But that wasn't my way.  No more drugs, no more pills.  I wanted to do it under my own steam, for better or worse.  I didn't want to swap one addiction for another.  It's what everyone seems to do.  Just take another pill.  Not me, no way!
 

No film is worth this stress.  An Oscar nomination doesn't take the pain away.  I will manage my stress better in the future.  I will take my health more seriously from now on.   I will never take any prescription pills again.  I will listen to my body.  And, I will always listen to Jim.

J.O.

Note from The Road Back - The Body Calm and Body Calm Supreme mentioned in this story are still made by Neuro Genetic Solutions. However, with new research by Jim Harper formulated the Body Calm was replaced by a supplement called Body Calm Daytime Relief and the Body Calm Supreme was replaced by Body Calm Supreme. Both of the Relax supplements still have the same amount of Body Calm and Body Calm Supreme that is found in the capsule form of the product but the Relax products include a few additional supplements to quicken the time it takes to promote sleep and relaxation during the daytime. The Road Back Program does not sell supplements. These products are available at Neuro Genetic Solutions. Click here to visit Neuro Genetic Solutions.