Cause of Death: BWS and Psychopharmacology

Cause of Death: BWS (Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome) and Psychopharmacology

When a death occurs, depending on the status of the human life at the time of death, either the attending physician or a coroner are required to list the Cause of Death. There are very specific rules for determining the cause of death. The causes are listed in order of occurrence. Nowhere on this list do you see the term “BWS and Psychopharmacology”.
Over the course of the last two weeks, two valued and loved humans have died of this cause. There may be more I am unaware of, but both of these beautiful women were active in support groups for those suffering from an iatrogenic illness caused by psychiatric pharmacology.  Rather than the true cause of death I have suggested, we likely will learn that their death certificate lists Suicide or Neuropsychiatric Disorder or maybe on a far reach, Substance Disorder.
Those three causes of death put the blame on the injured and sick human. If the doctors were honest about what really occurred, the most correct of those listed would be Poisoning. These women were poisoned by following their doctor’s orders and taking medications as prescribed for symptoms that were unable to be confirmed by any labs or imaging. These women believed and trusted their doctors that the medications would not hurt them.
The most recent loss just last Friday was a woman I met, not once but twice, while both of us were inpatient in psychiatric crisis centers. When we were reunited the second time a friendship was forged. We both were in the throes of brutal withdrawals from psychotropic medications including benzodiazepines and anti-depressants. We also had become aware prior to our hospitalizations that it was the medications themselves and the withdrawal from them that was making us so sick.
This beautiful young woman was the mother of a 5-year-old daughter. She was the beloved daughter of caring parents. She was quiet spoken, sweet as southern tea, and had a heart that held enough love for all the world. And, she was tormented by the ravages of withdrawal off medications like Zoloft and Klonopin.
Whatever the method of death, the cause was the symptoms associated with BWS and Psychiatric Pharmacology. Prior to the medications, she had been a vibrant hopeful full-of-life twenty-three-year-old and the world was open to possibilities. Shortly after beginning the medications and taking them as prescribed by her doctors she started suffering from multiple horrifying symptoms. She knew it was the medications, but no one would listen.
She was hospitalized against her will, having the most terrifying physical and mental torture imaginable, and drugged more and more and more throughout her hospitalization. She had been brought from another psychiatric unit where she had been for a couple weeks to the hospital I was in. She was like a zombie yet still beautiful, in a haunting ethereal way. She cried a lot. We both cried a lot. Over the course of a week, we shared a few conversations while coloring. She drew and colored. Her art was just like her, warm and bright and beautiful. In spite of both our horrible conditions, we saw a light in one another.
Not even two weeks later, having had yet another significant run in with suicidal ideation, I was admitted to another psychiatric crisis center. Less than a week after my arrival, here comes Marrisa. Still crying, still broken, still shaking, still breathing and still beautiful. Inside and out.
We talked a lot more in this environment as it was only women and a very small setting. We both had been struggling with chronic suicidal ideation. We both knew it was because of the medications. We both agreed we really wanted to be well and live and love our families and our lives. Yet suicidal ideation is a hallmark symptom common for those who suffer from the withdrawals from benzodiazepines and other psychotropic medications.
We shared so many stories and fears and even things we were really ashamed of because of how the medications had changed us to behave in ways that weren’t in alignment with our core values and beliefs. We talked about how the medical community treats us as if it’s our fault for being sick, yet all we had done was take medications that the doctors told us to, in spite of black box warnings for suicidality for her Zoloft and for my Effexor XR. We took the benzodiazepines for months, or in my case off and on for 3 decades, as our doctors prescribed, in spite of the warnings against use for longer than 2 weeks.
The end of this month will be two years since that first meeting. My heart is absolutely shredded to bits by the news of her passing. The reasons are all over the spectrum. My heart aches for her family who may never fully understand what really happened. My heart aches for my friends who are all reeling from this devastating news. My heart aches because it could have been any one of us. It could have easily been me. I too have been in a horrifying wave of symptoms the last month. My heart aches because it feels like no one outside our groups is listening.
This is NOT due to a psychiatric illness. This is due to an iatragenic illness. The suicidal ideation and depression and bone pain and brain pain and ruminating and intrusive thoughts and akathisia and unrelenting insomnia are all symptoms because of how those medications altered our GABA-receptors and neurotransmitters. But no one that is prescribing them is acknowledging this. They want to blame it on us, the patients.
Please, whatever the listed cause of death is for my friend and the other recent loss in our support groups, please share the truth. That this was caused by medications that we did not get the full disclosure on of how they could destroy our lives and maybe even kill us.
Please reach out to those who are trusted administrators and moderators in the groups during this time of grief.  Find a partner in pain and commit to one another through the bad times to call in and give encouragement. We cannot do this alone and those out in the world aren’t ready to face the truth that we didn’t cause this ourselves and we aren’t a psychiatric label. If it is a bad day and you are in a bad wave, do NOT be ashamed to share that pain with another! It is by sharing the pain that we learn the strength we have for one another and for ourselves.
There is no one to blame for this except for the medical community. That is the truth. RIP my friend. RIP to all our friends who have lost this battle. You will not be forgotten! You fought hard and we all watched. Memories of you will always make us smile.

marissa and daughter

I believe this photo on her page was soon after we met. I found it on her public page.


5 thoughts on “Cause of Death: BWS and Psychopharmacology

  1. I have no idea who you are, but thank you for understanding Marissa’s pain and offering insight that gives legitimacy to what she said was going on. Your words are profoundly valuable and I hope you recognize how important your message is. Blessings to you, kind soul. ❤️

    • Marissa and my journey had many similarities. I ache for her loss, for her family and for all who cared for her. I wish for this story to reach far and wide to show people that the suffering that occurs from these medications is real and needs to be addressed…… without more medications!!! As I am still healing myself, it is challenging to share all I want at this time. I refuse to let this situation be passed off as being her fault! It wasn’t her fault!!! She was doing all she could to be a mom, a daughter, a provider for her home and a good human being. But the side effects of these medications are life altering for a population of people that are prescribed them.

  2. I have a loved one that struggled through benzo withdrawal. 5 years and he’s finally able to go to the store and go to work. He still has alot of anxiety, but all of the other symptoms have disapated. He had a long hard struggle that many people never make it through with no trust in doctors to help ease any it’s the issues he was facing. After the first year of withdrawals passed I never thought we could make it to where we are now. But amazingly and through God’s grace he is now a lot better and we have a beautiful baby girl. I feel so bad for anyone that has to go through benzo withdrawal because nobody else believes or understands that that medication can cause such withdrawal symptoms for such a long time. I can’t believe that medication is still prescribed to people, it is literally poison and should be banned and every Dr that prescribed that medication should have their license pulled. I have lost all trust in the government, fda, and pharmaceutical companies knowing that this medication can do this to people yet it’s prescribed so easily and given to so many people. If they’ll do that then how can I trust vaccines? How can I trust anything the FDA approves it any medication that is prescribed for any reason. My husband made it through benzo withdrawals unlike so many others but he will never be the same. He will always have to struggle to feel normal and I think the companies that make that garbage should be sued and closed down possibly even arrested.

    • Hi I’m so sorry for your loss.. I have been on zanax now for about 11 years, in that time my doc would just switch me from one benzo to another, zanax, kalanpin ,valium but most of those 11 years it’s been zanax 3 1mg a nite, after being on them for so long they no longer work, so I’m now being switched to kalanpin. The withdraws from these meds are horrible, if I knew then what I know now I would never of takin them. After 11 years of takin this med every day if I don’t have it I’m unable to function at all. I’m just now finding out since I’ve been going to mental health for 2 years now and my doc there is shocked about how long my pc doctor has been giving them to me. I want off of them so bad. But I’m am afraid of what will happen to me just going through the withdrawal. Thank you for sharing your sorry and again I’m sorry for your loss. God bless you

  3. I BURST in to Tears & then after a while, experienced a CALM. I know, that I Love with My Genuine Heart, so I give with my Pure SOUL. R.I.P. All those whose lives (Beautiful SOULS), that have been taken, through Medicines, that HARM.

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