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Change Through Unity

Wow! I just received word that one of As Prescribed’s supporters was fleeing the scene after reading my pro-Bernie words in a blog post. A promise to help raise funds for the film was abandoned. I was judged to be some kind of leftie miscreant who should not be trusted. I suspect this person was not the only deserter based on a few choice messages I have received recently. The presidential campaign grows more intense. People are feeling polarized and afraid. Discord abounds. Indeed, this presidential election is not bringing out the best in us. Can we agree on that?

To tell the truth, I find the negative reaction to Bernie from some members of the benzo community a tad strange. Why is it that the one candidate who spoke in favor of single-payer healthcare would scare off anyone who knows about benzo harm and the need for change? Granted, back in the 90’s Hillary was all in favor of a more equitable universal healthcare program that targeted the power of the insurance industry; and it would not have been out of character for Trump to have spoken in favor of just healthcare in his earlier oft Dem-leaning days. But today, in 2016, when the insurance industry and Big Pharma have a solid hold over our medical care, I have to ask why we are supposed to celebrate the wonderfulness of the Affordable Care Act. It leaves too many in the benzo world with little or no access to quality healthcare. Let me elaborate. Point #1. With the financial losses that most benzo victims sustain, the idea of paying a deductible, even a small one, is difficult, and for some, impossible. Point # 2. The care that is covered under most healthcare policies is rarely what is necessary for benzo healing. How many have coverage for yoga therapy? You laugh? How did you heal, may I ask? For those who have recovered, valuable lessons about healing and maintaining health have been learned. Meditation skills? CBT? Craniosacral? EFT? Or coverage for what is so often the best medicine — fresh, pure, clean food? Not covered, right? Point # 3 — and possibly the most deadly. Our current system encourages doctors of all stripes to prescribe drugs for all maladies and mysteries. Courtesy of Big Pharma, the insurance industry, and the FDA, there are reams of CPT and DSM diagnostic codes with a pharmaceutical drug that can be prescribed aplenty for most, if not all, of them. This is the prevailing model for our current healthcare system, the one that we’re supposed to be so excited about. The thing is, for too many, they take the drug or drugs as prescribed, grow sicker, and end up suffering with far more complicated sicknesses. Like iatrogenic benzodiazepine illness and injury. Yes, that one.

Doesn’t it make sense that those who care about the benzo cause would support (at least partially) any candidate who supports a right to quality healthcare as a basic human right in a civilized and compassionate society? But who will pay, you ask? A valid point. I’m happy to continue this discussion elsewhere. But I hope that my point is taken in the spirit it is meant to be given. I want healing and support for those who suffer, for those who crave health, for those who believe that the pursuit of good health is a human right. And if you disagree, please don’t judge too harshly and at a cost that undermines the bigger picture — the struggle for benzodiazepine awareness and change.

Also at issue here is how often I observe the benzo community turning on its own, hurting both well-meaning individuals and the larger benzo effort. Once judgment is declared, the conversation can turn so, so vicious. I think of Baylissa Frederick and Jennifer Austin Leigh, who have both given so much of themselves over the years to help people get through their hellish benzo journeys. They are positive, healing voices; both are highly knowledgable about patterns and methods involved in each person’s unique benzo journey and recovery. They both offer one of the few legitimate services for benzo discontinuation counseling and coping skills available. Yes, they do charge fees; but the costs are barely enough to sustain them. They do their work from a sense of purpose and need, with zero intent to exploit a vulnerable community. Yet over and over they are judged and attacked. And they always forgive and return because they are wonderful, deeply committed people who represent what is best about the community. But I worry; what if the day comes when one or both of them throw up their hands and say, Enough! ? Let’s protect our protectors. Let’s honor our warriors. All of them, which means all of you too —all who have or are experiencing benzo hell.

World Benzo Day is coming on July 11. I love the WBD motto: Change Through Unity. It does not allow for harsh and misdirected judgment within the community. It is inspiring, and gives me hope that the global benzo community will indeed join the fight for the cause year after year on July 11 until it’s done. Until the benzo beast is vanquished. In unity. Together. Mark your calendars!

In unity,