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Bradley's Story
I had an anxiety disorder !!!

I was a police officer for 12 years but had to leave the job due to panic attacks. The police doctor said that I had an "anxiety disorder" and put me on Xanax. That was the worst mistake of my life!

I stayed on Xanax for the next 12 years while going to therapy to find out why I had this "anxiety disorder". During these 12 years I tried, by myself, to taper down and go off of the Xanax without any success. Each time that I decreased the dosage I felt like I was going to lose my mind. I would run to my doctor and tell him all my symptoms and he would say that I had this "anxiety disorder" and that I "needed" the Xanax. He would instruct me to increase the dosage and, sure enough, my symptoms would disappear. What he never told me was that I was experiencing a severe withdrawal reaction and not some "anxiety disorder". I never abused this drug or exceeded the dosage but I did take it faithfully for 12 years.

My family noticed a gradual change in my personality. They noticed that I didn't laugh anymore or show much emotion about anything. They said I would just sit there like I was frozen. I felt I was a vegetable! I continued to see therapists, thinking that one of them could cure me of this "anxiety disorder", but I was only getting worse. I was barely leaving the house, and when I did, someone had to be with me. I was so afraid and still suffered from panic attacks, depression and paranoia.

Thank God that I met a Christian doctor, and after 2 years of therapy and getting nowhere with me, he said that I would never improve until I got off of the Xanax. I could not go on living like this anymore and somehow made it into a rehab. They took me off "cold turkey" and put me on phenobarbital so that I would not have a seizure. I then became allergic to the phenobarbital so they put me on Klonopin and sent me home. After I stopped the Klonopin ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE! My wife called the rehab doctors for help but they said that I would have to come to their office. I could barely walk, talk or sleep, much less travel. So with the help of my wife I dug myself in at home and stayed there for the next two years, waiting for these symptoms to leave. I felt that all my doctors had abandoned me and I was totally on my own. All I had or knew about withdrawal was what I read from a book by Shirley Trickett called "Coming off Tranquilizers".

At first I thought that I was losing my mind and wanted to be committed but I was too paranoid to leave the house. I kept my wife prisoner in her own home pleading with her to stay with me and she did for the next 2 years. My nerves screamed out at me from every part of my body. All I wanted to do was die but was too afraid to kill myself. I cursed God, neighbors and family members. I was in so much pain that I didn't care who heard me and screamed out loud. I busted up furniture and threw chairs. I made holes in the walls and floors. It wasn't fun for me or my family to watch. I cried for months. The tears just wouldn’t stop. While being sedated for 12 years I had never dealt with anything and now everything that I had buried was coming to the top. I weighed only 149 lbs and my family thought I wouldn't make it. They pleaded for me to see a doctor but I refused, believing that more drugs were not the answer if I was ever to recover. After 2 years I was able to leave the house and I learned to drive all over again. Little by little I started to get my life back.

This month I will have four years of being TOTALLY DRUG FREE! Most of my troublesome symptoms have left. Mentally, I feel great. I exercise daily and eat a very healthy diet. Physically, I still have nerve pain and get fatigued once in a while, but I have confidence that this to will go away in time. I am working again and have gone back to school to take computer classes. Oh, by the way, I don't suffer from any more panic attacks or depression. Looking back at my rehab I feel these doctors didn't know what they were doing by taking me off "cold turkey". They also suggested that I take anti-depressants and BuSpar which I refused. I felt that the only way that I was going to make it was to NOT swallow any more pills but let my body heal on its own. Thanks for letting me share my story.

April, 2001

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