120: Melissa Bond, Journalist & Author of Blood Orange Night: Overcoming Benzo Dependency: A Journey to Healing & Restful Sleep

In today's episode, we are honored to have Melissa Bond, a gifted writer and narrative journalist, joining us.

Melissa's life took a challenging turn when stressful events triggered her insomnia. Determined to find relief, she explored different natural remedies and eventually turned to prescribed medications like Ambien and high-dose Benzodiazepines. However, she found herself facing the harsh realities of drug dependency and its deleterious side effects. 

Out of her courageous struggle and ultimate triumph, Melissa penned her remarkable memoir, "Blood Orange Night." Within this powerful book, she recounts her personal journey of overcoming a profound addiction to prescribed benzodiazepines.

Join us as we gain invaluable insights from Melissa's experiences and delve into the complexities of drug dependency and the path to recovery.

This episode serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of understanding the risks associated with medication use and the resilience it takes to emerge stronger on the other side.


Melissa Bond is a narrative journalist, poet and matriarch to Salt Lake City’s Slam Scene. The Salt Lake Tribune and the New York Post have both done features on Bond's book Blood Orange Night, her memoir about becoming dependent upon and then withdrawing from benzodiazepines. Blood Orange Night was published by Simon & Schuster in June 2022 and was selected by the New York Times as one of the best audiobooks of 2022. Bond has been featured on PBS Story in the Public Square, Radio West, the podcasts Risk!, Endeavors, Psychology Unplugged, The New York Times Podcast, RadioWest and Mom’s Don’t Have Time to Read Books.

Learn more at MelissaABond.com.

In this episode, we discuss:

💊 Journey through adversity and sleep insomnia for Melissa Bond

💊 What led Melissa Bond to her passion for writing her book, “Blood Orange Night

💊 Pros and cons of sleep medicine

💊 How do high doses of prescribed benzodiazepines impact Melissa's physical and neurological well-being?

💊 What did Melissa do to overcome her benzodiazepine dependence?

💊 Melissa highlights the importance of recognizing the potential risks and side effects of long-term benzodiazepine use

💊 Support and information: Benzodiazepine Information Coalition is a valuable resource for help and information on benzodiazepine withdrawal

💊 What are the self-care and nutrition that support the nervous system during benzodiazepine withdrawal?

💊 Guiding principles for benzodiazepine withdrawal

💊 The mindset perspective of gradual healing

💊What we could learn from Melissa's sleep-night habits


📈 If you want to raise your HRV AND get a free HRV consultation...​

​Mode + Method - HRV+      Code: SLEEPISASKILL15

💊 And More!

🎢 If you're waking up at 3 am & suspect blood sugar...Good Idea
Code: SLEEP10



Instagram: @melissabauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelissaABond


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Welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin, and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing Worldclass experts, ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.


Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.


Welcome to the Sleep As a Skill Podcast. If you have listened to any of these episodes so far, you might have gathered that I went through my own sleeping struggles, which led me to the creation of sleep as a skill, when at some of my lowest points, I went to the doctor's and was. Given benzodiazepines, and that's a big concern for me.


I have many family members that have gone down the path of pharmaceuticals, particularly benzodiazepines, and I've seen how damning they can be when given for the long-term, there might be short-term efficacy, but they are not approved for long-term use in the same way that we might see people utilizing them, particularly for.


Sleep. Very, very concerning. Some of the impacts that long-term use can bring about for sleep, and I'm quite passionate on this topic, which is why I'm really excited for you to hear from Melissa Bond. Now, this is kind of a different interview. In previous episode or many of our episodes, we are interviewing different doctors or experts in the field of sleep, looking at kind of specialized sleep technology, et cetera, et cetera.


But this is a personal story, and Melissa is a writer, a narrative journalist, and she has written a book called Blood Orange Night, and it's her memoir about becoming dependent upon and withdrawing from benzodiazepines. So I'm gonna read a little bit about Melissa's background so you understand a bit more, but she really does a great job of.


Explaining and then going to the source and some investigative journalism to understand just why this is such a problem in the sleep community, but also from a larger concern of this long-term benzodiazepine use. If you are interested in this topic, we also have some great episodes that I would encourage you to take a look at.


One with Benzo Information Coalition and the other with Dr. Anna Lemke from Stanford. So those are two great resources to further go down the rabbit hole on this very, very concerning topic. So if any of you are taking benzodiazepines for your sleep, I really, really encourage you to get educated. There are now black box warnings on benzodiazepines, and it's really, really important to align yourself with a benzo literate doctor so that you are both.


Taking these as prescribed on a short-term basis, and if you found yourself in a long-term use of benzodiazepines, that you are aligned with professionals that can help support you there. So Melissa's backstory, Melissa Bond is a narrative journalist, poet, and a regular at the Salt Lake City Slam scene, the Salt Lake Tribune and the New York.


Posts have both done features on Bond's book Blood Orange Night, her memoir about becoming dependent upon, and then withdrawing from Benzodiazepines Blood. Orange Night was published by Simon and Schuster in June, 2022, and was selected by the New York Times as one of the. Best audiobooks of 2022. Bond has been featured on P B S Story in the Public Square, radio West and podcast risk endeavors, psychology Unplugged, and New York Times Podcast Radio West and moms Don't have time to read books.


Learn more@melissaabond.com. If you've been listening to The Sleep As a Skilled podcast, you know how passionate I am about understanding the metrics that impact our sleep. Well. I've got some exciting news to share. I've recently started testing a unique product from our newest partner mode and Method Mode.


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Sleep is a skill, all one word, and join in on the mission of revolutionizing our sleep. And welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast, Melissa Bond. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here. We were just, uh, going back and forth before we hit record. All kinds of similarities and things in common cannot wait to get, dive in even deeper with you and understand more of your backstory and how you came to write such an important book in the world of.


Benzodiazepines and their impact on our health and wellbeing and certainly in this conversation on our sleep. So thank you so much for being here. Oh my God, it's a pleasure. And it has been so fun already. Yes. Already amazing. The sky's the limit and you know, you really stand as such a shining example for me, and I hope for the listener.


Of what can be possible, even if we do find ourselves on this path unintentionally, for most people of suddenly having this particular relationship. And you can explain your relationship with benzodiazepines, but I'm really on a mission to help spread the word of real concerns around. Long-term benzodiazepine use, taken as prescribed, and yet the real deleterious effects that can really come about, certainly on sleep and for health in general, and mental health and otherwise.


So really, really passionate about this topic and you have. Really taken on a leadership role in sharing your story and getting your book out. So if you can just share a little bit about that and help us understand what happened and what had you be so passionate about this To write a book. Yeah. Oh my gosh.


Well, so, um, I love that you said that it's, you know, it's, it's something that we all share. We all want good sleep. We all want good health. We want good mental health, and, and we hit these times in our lives where things can just crash. So for me, You know, I called it my personal Fukushima. You know, there was this like earthquake tsunami, nuclear meltdown.


Yeah. And what that looks like in my life was I was editor of a magazine. Things were going great. I was married, I had had my first child. When I had my second, or when I got pregnant with my second child, um, in short order, I, um, oh, and my first child also has special needs, so, mm. Yeah. What I'm, what I'm describing are these series of stressful events that I think Sure can relate to in their own lives.


So, of course, um, got pregnant with my second child really quickly after my first. Lost my job in the recession. Um, the magazine, I was working foreclosed, and then my marriage was really crummy. Mm. Yep. Those stressors. All of a sudden I woke up one day, I. Or no, I was going to sleep one night and I felt as though someone had like hit my heart with a shot of adrenaline.


Like I burst up physically and was like, and from that point forward two, you know, I was, I don't know, two to three weeks pregnant. I started sleeping maybe 1, 2, 3 hours a night. Like I was barely getting enough sleep. You know, so my story is like very, very like pathological, insomnia. But I think a lot of people have something that's a little less but still really debilitating.


Sure. And you know, one or two nights without sleep, you start losing cognitive function. You start like having lots of physical symptoms. So that began this sort of desperate path of, for me, looking for everything, you know, natural that I could do. I was seeing shamans, I was seeing naturopaths, I was doing alternate nostril breathing.


Nothing was working. Yeah. So, um, so I ended up, I was so desperate. I finally, the nurse practitioner, after my first trimester, she gave me Ambien, which was really kind of awful. But I slept four or five hours a night. Yep. After that, I just cold turkeyed the Ambien, which I now know you are not supposed to do because really it's called kindling in the brain.


It sets the brain up for, um, potential like easier addiction to the medications later, also rebound insomnia. So yes, my daughter was born. Rebound insomnia happened and I was like, you know, in that state of desperation, like, oh my gosh, I have two infants now. I'm sleeping a few hours a night. I will do anything.


So I saw, I. Um, an MD who also had like a, you know, he, he billed himself as an alternative medical practitioner, as an MD as well, and he gave me high dose, um, benzodiazepines, which are sedative, hypnotic people are familiar with them. Like, um, Xanax, Klonopin are the two really big ones. Yeah. Um, the one I was on is called Ativan.


Yeah. And, um, You know, so what, so I'll just finish the story. What happened was he prescribed really high dose within a couple of months. I was at six milligrams of Ativan per night, which is a really high dose. Yeah. Doctor prescribed, I always took, um, as he stated, I fell apart. Like I literally started, you know, I couldn't walk across a room without sort of stumbling or falling.


I was having all kinds of weird neurological issues. I lost 20% of my body weight. I had been like a rock climber and like a yoga and world traveler, and all of a sudden I'm like, I can't walk down the street without falling over. Yeah. And, um, I finally, to just great luck, I found out that it was actually, I was in what's called withdrawal withdrawal tolerance.


Mm-hmm. So I was the, the drug itself metabolizes so quickly that you can hit withdrawals in between your doses. And I was in withdrawals while I was actively taking six milligrams of Ativan. Wow. So that's the start. That's a big start. Okay. Take us through the timeline of this. At what point you're taking the six milligrams a night, you're having these withdrawal symptoms, it sounds like, not realizing that now you're able to know this now, but unaware about this, and you've been taking it as prescribed as it was given to you by your doctor.


At what point did you say something is not right here? Uh, paint that picture for us. Yeah, so, so I think the decline was so quick. Okay. And I have to, you know, speak to anyone who's been a parent. Um, you go through that phase where you're not sleeping anyway, so everything becomes kind of blurry. Like, what's normal parenting exhaustion and what's something that's really concerning?


Sure. So I was in that kind of intermediary state probably for a year, taking the same dose every single night. But what happened was I was getting my daughter out of the tub one night and had put her in her towel, was walking out, and I literally, like, my muscles worked one second, and the next second it was like all my muscle tone had just disappeared.


And I'm suddenly falling towards this corner wall and watching my daughter's little nubby head like, shoot towards this corner wall that's gonna split her, you know, skull open. Mm. And I flip and I hit my shoulder so I could protect her. And I'm laying there, Molly, and I was like, okay, I've got a brain tumor, or I've got multiple sclerosis or.


Some kind of undiagnosed neurological disorder. Like we have got to figure this out. This is totally not normal. And then like within 45 seconds, boom, all my muscle tone came back and it was like nothing had happened. And so that was the moment and I got up and I thought the only thing that has really changed besides being a mother yeah, could potentially point to something this severe is the medication.


And I went and I looked online and I found. This surplus, it was amazing. Mm. Of information, most of the really reliable information coming out of the uk. Um, a doctor named Dr. Heather Ashton, who is now deceased, but just has served us tremendously. Yeah. And I realize all of these symptoms were, were clearly symptoms of benzodiazepine, um, withdrawal.


Mm. I would've never put those pieces together. You know, I just lucked out and I, that's what I worry about the people. That's part of why I wrote the book, because yeah, it's not this like correlative thing like you have with a lot of other medications where you overdose, respiration stops and you die with benzos.


There's this kind of bizarre series and huge number of possible symptoms that can come out that don't. Makes sense. Yeah. And that sound like a number of other things, like Lyme disease or GI disorders, Crohn's disease. And so people start chasing their tail, like you know, all of these symptoms. And they don't think that it's actually the benzos that have been prescribed by their doctor.


Ugh. Well, I'm so glad you wrote the book because I think that this is such an epidemic. I mean, just numbers alone, so many people that are taking these drugs over the long-term, and we understand that even they were designed or thinking is for short term and certainly not long-term, and yet, unfortunately, many people are and didn't have that interruption or didn't take that path that you took after a year in change, and instead they've got.


20 years on them or more, right. Oh, of taking these things. And it is alarming once you do start going down the rabbit hole of the number of stories that are out there of people just their entire lives uprooted. And I often share about for my story of going down difficulty with sleep and insomnia. And I also feel really grateful that mine was only ended up being about.


Mm, four months or so of taking benzos during that period. So I'm really grateful that I was able to get off of those. But in the process, even in that short period of time, I remember writing out a list of, and I've actually never talked about this on the podcast, but I wrote out a list. You're making me think of it, of it was something, I counted it out.


It was like, 36 bizarro symptoms that I never had before taking these things. And it was strange thing like jerking of the nerve, like of the hand, right? And almost like kicks. And I remember thinking, do I have ms? That would be one of the things that would come out and you nailed it. That many people will try to troubleshoot what is going on with me.


And you land in these different paths of. Bizarre hypothesis on what could be at play. And thankfully from the sounds of it, you were able to discern, all right, this one variable shifted. I started taking this high dose benzodiazepines and here I am now a year and change later with these symptoms. So help us then walk through so that for people that are listening that maybe are taking these or they know someone that's taking these cause I think it's so important.


Then when we have examples of people that are on the other side, And I feel like you stand as one of these examples that is so inspiring. So how did you get out of that situation? You know, you're on the ground with your baby. Yes. And how did you get to where you're at now? Right, right. Which is the, the really important part.


So identifying it was huge. Yes. And then for me doing, first of all, doing the research that I should have done in the first place. But you know, when you get to a place where you're really desperate Yep. You kind of just trust your doctor. You're like, yeah, okay. I'm putting my faith in you. So, um, I did a bunch of research.


I looked for a doctor that would work with me. The biggest thing that I have to, um, illustrate to your listeners is that, yeah. You never go cold Turkey? Yes, it is. Like, the way I describe it is these are like fish hooks that are in, in the fish of your brain matter. And if you pull those out really quickly, you can do damage that may be irreversible.


You can have so important, can have a fatal um, seizure. You can have psychotic break. Um, at the, at best you'll have much more severe withdrawal symptoms. So, Um, it took me four months. This is what's so crazy. Four months to find a doctor that was qualified and had a lot of experience in a d in a patient led taper.


Yeah. So what's recommended? There's a great organization called Benzodiazepine Information Coalition. The best. Yeah. Anyone that's looking for support, look to them. They have a lot of great information. They recommend you reduce like five to 10% of your dose. Like per, um, week. And then you just see how your, your brain and your body respond and if you re-regulate.


And so that's what I did. It took me, honestly, I would say a total, we tried, I tried with one doctor for about four months. We didn't have the right information and I was having seizures. Um, I was just go, you know, I was going downhill even worse. And she finally said, I can't get you off these things, which is why I found an, an expert.


Yeah. So we did that reduction and it took me about a year and a half to get off with like acute withdrawals. Mm. Almost the entire time. But it was manageable. Like I was able to know like, okay, these are withdrawals. They will get better after a couple days. Mm. Stabilize you go back down it again because the brain is just so sensitive and gentle and you have to just know like, Slow is, is the grace that you give your brain when you're doing this.


So, yeah, so it's slow, that slow taper, knowing you never, ever, ever, I love that analogy. I've never heard of that too. The, the hooks in the fish that's really said because it can be so, so dangerous. And I, I've shared often that I have a family member, close family member who unfortunately did do a cold Turkey from three milligrams daily of Xanax and nearly died.


Dealt with a psychotic break and a number of things. So certainly have seen what that can look like firsthand. And then with many, many clients that come our way that are either downstream from this or in the process or exploring. And there's so many different stages that people might be at, but. Hearing your story I think is so important that it can, it gets better.


Yes. Brain can heal, I think is the message I'm hearing, and that you, when you have a plan and you have partnership with people that are really educated on this topic, it can make all the difference. So the first person couldn't really manage this process, so you kept. Looking, kept advocating for yourself, partnered, you know, or in partnership or awareness from the information that comes up from Benzo Information Coalition, you find this other practitioner and you're able to together get off eventually after around a year and a half, I think you said or so?


Yep. A year of working with him. Yep. Okay, amazing. And so now on the other side of that, do you feel like it's the awareness of what to expect, what's coming down the pike? Having that partnership, knowing that. This too shall pass. What are some of the things that you share with people so that they know that they can indeed get through this and they're not gonna just keep falling back, you know, to how it was for them?


Right, right. I mean, there are a number of things that are gonna be crucial. Right? Okay. One of them is I establishing. A really, really solid support system of people that, you know, can support, like whatever your lifestyle is. Like. I had two infants. Sure. That was brutal. Figuring out how to make sure they had support that I didn't want them to see me in active withdrawals.


So I had a friend's house that I could go to during the day to like, because I, you know, I would, I would have, um, muscle tremors, I would sometimes seizures. So I had to, I wanted to protect them so, Really looking at this like this is a major life effort. Yeah. This is gonna require, um, a structure that can support, like if people are working mm-hmm.


They have to figure out how can I do this while I'm working? And that will even make it slower. Um, and then figuring out what is gonna support my nervous system and that that is gonna be like all of the basics, you know. Just immense focus on nutrition exercise if you can. Sometimes you're so weak just walking.


Yeah. There are gonna be no good chem. This is what my doctor told me, the one I worked with, he's like, you're gonna have no good chemicals in your brain, so exercise is gonna be the only thing. Endorphins is all you've got. Mm. So I was like, okay. I would even, I would have to have a, a meta awareness of like when I would have these emotional swings where I would be like, either in like the depths of despair, Yeah.


Or in rage. And I would be like, okay, I'm gonna go walk the benzo dogs right now because I am so enraged and there's no one in particular, but I would have to have an outlet somehow and have that meadow awareness that you're gonna have. All of these things happening, and yet it is your path to healing.


Yeah, like as moving forward, those will slowly, slowly, you know, slough off. There will be these windows that are like, wow, I feel normal. They'll get bigger and they will get bigger. And the more you really take on and advocate for yourself and your own health, All the way across the board, it will, it will get better and your brain just continues to heal.


So important. Wow. Okay. So that's such a fantastic way to look at it and having that awareness and setting yourself up for success. And to your point, certain considerations that might be a play. If you are going to a nine to five, what that looks like, maybe you have adjust your taper structure mindfully with your practitioner that is in this conversation with you.


Leveraging things like exercise, some of these mindset perspectives knowing that this too shall pass or, or maybe not. This too shall pass, but the windows will augment over time and you'll actually get to experience life from that new perspective of feeling normal. Imagine that on the other side of it.


So it is worth these, these steps that we're going through. Now, I wanted to ask you cuz a number of people will, Send our way, you know, links to rehab facilities or different places where there's the promise of we can get you off of your benzos in a particular structure or methodology. Do you have any, uh, callouts for people that are in that place and they are just kind of desperate and they want to get off of these things?


Or any cautionary concerns? I'm gonna throw out the cautionary flag on that. Yeah. One of the things that was actually the biggest asset for me was doing acupuncture, and I'm gonna call out an organization called Poka. It's People's Organization for Community Acupuncture, and they have a model that allows you to pay basically what a co-pay would be per acupuncture session.


Oh, wow. So I was going three times a week, paying $15 per session. So about one copay. For my insurance and it began to re, um, rewire my nervous system. So that's one thing. Wow. Um, and that was just, they're, they're all over, especially the western, um, United States, but I would definitely look them up, um, and see if they're anywhere near your state.


Great. Also what my acupuncturist told me, which I will just repeat because it makes so much sense, is when you do those rehab facilities, they are only, they're paid by insurance. Insurance will only pay for a certain num, um, number of days. Sure. So their job is to get you off so that you don't die. Yes. Or have a psychotic break, it does not set your brain up for optimal healing.


Yeah. So unfortunately we do not have a model in the United States that can support a very long taper, which is the most healing for your brain. So, you know, when I, I, I ended up saying to myself, I've gotta create this for myself. Cause there's nothing long-term. I've gotta make sure that I'm eating well.


I've gotta make sure I have the support, I've got the doctor. What are the things that are gonna support my nervous system while I'm going through it so I don't lose my squash? Yeah, you, you know, and that unfortunately, that's where we're at in this country right now. We're, I think, advocating for something more robust because so many people struggle.


But I, I think those short term. Actually will set you up for a more difficult healing, um, trajectory. Oh, so smart. Okay. And in alignment, if, if anyone missed, uh, your recommendation too for the Benzo Information Coalition again, you know, just to underscore, and we've done an episode with them in the past as well, just tremendous, you know, resource support and can, you know, potentially help you just, uh, connect with some of these, you know, benzo literate doctors and you know, a path so that you're not just trying to figure all this out on your own, which can just.


Be maddening. So having said that, then I wonder if you can share a little bit for us about your sleep, kinda what you experienced along the way, and what your sleep's like now help kind of guide us on your relationship with your sleep, both with benzos and without. Yes, absolutely. So, um, one of the things with benzos is that, you know, my sleep would get better for a period of time, which, which we know in the clinical trials, efficacy starts waning after about four weeks.


Sure. And so that was my experience. So I was kind of in this catch 22, which a, I think a lot of people listening, if they're on anything like this, they know what that's like. So now, you know, I mean, I had to kind of do this. Support my nervous system as much as possible. Lean really slowly, make sure that my, my sleep was my, my Achilles heel.


So, um, if I stopped sleeping, I knew I was going too fast. So for me, um, the thing, my sleep now is great. Like I feel like I'm kind of have the normal thing. I'll wake up sometimes at three Sure. And, but then I go back to sleep. Yeah. And if I don't, like, I have techniques now, like my sleep toolkit involves, um, kind of the things that you would expect.


So really, really good nutrition, really, um, you know, exercise that is really consistent. Um, that helps me kind of get all of the good, you know, um, Endorphins moving through. Um, also, you know, I, I still do acupuncture at least once a week. Um, I do meditative practices, I will call out. There is one that you can just YouTube.


It's called Open Focus. It was developed by a Dr. Les Femi. And his interest. He was really a, a biofeedback researcher, but he was interested in how do we get people to, um, move through various, um, brainwave states and how do we get, you know, someone to a state of really, really deep relaxation in a quick period of time.


And so I would listen to him talking. Um, there's a guy, Jonathan faus, who actually does a lot of them on YouTube. And I, if I am having like a more stressful day or. I will do those during the day, and they actually do a really good reset of getting my brainwave activity to a much slower, calmer state. So that's part of my toolkit as well.


Those are, those are the things that have worked for me and um, I think, yeah, I think everyone will develop their own, but it's important to have those and to use them consistently. Sure. Absolutely. Okay. That's really amazing. And we mentioned that you wrote this book about your whole experience Yes. And Right Blood Orange Night.


Yes. Yes, exactly. So Blood Orange Night is the book. And so for anyone listening, what could they expect out of that book? Would we. See more, um, about your journey, more details, get them to understand that they're not alone. Um, some of the practices that you went through, did you talk about the sleep component?


Let us know what they might get. Yeah, I think, okay, so the book goes through basically the point at which I was healthy enough to kind of go out on my own. Like I ended up, my husband and I split, but it it, what I had wanted when I designed the book was I thought, you know, there are a lot of like, Hopeful books out there on how to get off of benzodiazepines or how to sleep well.


But I wanted a book that would really, from like a first person narrative. Yeah. Take people through the journey of what it felt like. Mm. Because you know, sometimes there are people that you know their partners experiencing, but they don't understand what it's like. So, so it is a pretty, um, I've heard people say it's kind of a rough read, but it's also really funny.


I hope. Good. But it's, you know, there are times where it's just like, Hard to even believe that. Yeah. Be like you were talking about your symptoms. Mm-hmm. So it gets to the point I actually, the paperback is coming out this June and I have an additional chapter. Um, Where I, I talk about actually giving the doctor that gave me the benzos, the book, and he and I talking about insomnia.


Wow. So that was a really huge thing. Like I was so scared to give him the book. I was just terrified. But it ended up being an amazing experience. And so I think I talk about the sleep, but I don't necessarily, I think maybe in a couple of other chapters, I definitely talk about acupuncture. But you'll have the experience and you will definitely be a little scared of benzos after.


Yeah. Well, I think it's important for us to have a healthy dose of, you know, really understanding what it is that we are taking on and being informed, you know, participants in this, uh, process. Because unfortunately, I think so many people, your story is so relatable to many listeners that they, you know, just it happened.


By chance or you know, casually or innocently and all of a sudden years look very different on the other side. So I think this is super, super important. So again, thank you for the work that you're doing and I think what you, I love that you included this chapter around giving the book to your doctor and it cuz it really believe that this is a systemic problem where, for instance, on the sleep piece, we often mention how.


The average, the primary care doctor has gotten around two hours of training in sleep, which is alarming. I mean, that's out of Harvard Medical, you know, some of the best and the brightest, and yet two hours on average. And so we've got a systemic problem where there's just unfortunately not, there's a lack of awareness in some of this steps they're taking that think that they're, you know, making a difference or helping to support a problem.


You know, here's a problem, here's a solution, here's a pill. And yet we now are unders. Standing and no pun intended, hopefully waking up to the concern that is on the other side. So, yeah, and really appreciate with your skillset of your gift of, you know, their ability to write and be a journalist in this area is just so needed.


Really important. So we do ask of every person that comes on the podcast, four questions on how they're now managing their sleep. So maybe we can learn what life looks like for you now and anything pertinent that the listener might be able to take away. And also just envisioning, oh my gosh, okay, this person was on high dose benzos, and look at them having, you know, a normal life.


So I think this is really important too, for that framing. So for you, what would we see on your nightly sleep routine nowadays? Right, so, so the one thing that I'll say about this is that consistency is, is everything. Yeah. You can't, you can't like treat your body poorly and then expect like, okay, I'm gonna do sleep hygiene tonight, and then have it work.


So yes. So it's an all day, like my nutrition is always really good. I just got off coffee. I'm super proud of that. Wow. I'm proud of you with that too. Amazing. So I was super excited about that, but I always, you know, it's all the typical stuff. I go to bed at the same time. I make sure that I'm not on a screen at least several hours before.


Sure. You know, cause I do a lot of work and I'm right on the computer. Um, I make sure that, um, I have like a breath work practice that I do, and if, you know, if I kind of gauge like how stressful was the day and if I need something to kind of calm my nervous system, I'll do a meditation or, you know, I'll do sort of some stretching.


And really, I think having, and, and the acupuncture, like, I, I can't say enough like. For me, that really keeps, I really feel like it does rewire the nervous system to a state of like greater paray, Paray sympathetic. Yeah. So, um, so that is a crucial part. And then, you know, just consistency. Um, You know, I, I think those are the main things and I have a lot of books on my night stand, so Yeah, same.


I'll just sit there and read and that'll just put me out. Ah, that's amazing. Oh, fantastic. And I like your checking and engaging, how stressful the day was, and then taking action in alignment with that to support, you know, whatever's going on. Cuz of course, life is dynamic and something that might work one night.


You know, we might need a little bit more T L C than other nights, so really important. Oh, and magnesium baths. Oh, sure. Mag baths, magnesium baths. Oh, they're good. Ugh. Fantastic. And you're making me also wanna check out bringing in a bit more acupuncture into my life. I appreciate that. Call out. Amazing. So you do those processes by night?


Mm-hmm. What might we see by day? So we make the argument that how we set up our day or our mornings, Can support our sleep. Any important, uh, rituals or routines? Um, I think I feel pretty lucky that I can wake up naturally just because I'm a normal, I wake up really early, so I don't have any kind of like alarm clock.


Yep. You know, I get up. Um, I actually write in my journal every morning, which is kinda Oh, nice. Really good practice for me to kind of figure out. Anything that might be like on my mind or stressing me, and it kind of lays everything out. Um, I have my mushroom tea in the morning and then I do like a nice walk in the morning to just kind of, I also think that, like, what do they call it?


The cross when you're doing, uh, any kind of exercise that you're crossing the meridian. Yes, I'm thinking of things that will help me neurologically. So I'll just do like a quick walk on the treadmill around the block and that sets me up for like real like sort of calm start to my day where I've attended to myself and like what I am feeling.


And then I've filled my bucket enough that I can really like get my kids ready and attend to the day. So smart. Okay. Fantastic. And then what might we visually see on your nightstand or proverbial nightstand if you're traveling? I know you mentioned books. Any other call outs that we might see there? Um, I have earplugs.


Nice. Okay. Fantastic. I do have a bottle of melatonin. If there's like a night. That's tough. Yeah. Sometimes use that. Um, and then I have, um, I do have my cell phone, even though I only use it if I need to do an open focus meditation. Okay. I'll have something that has an app that can help me if I'm, you know, if it's been like a really stressful day and I have teenagers, so let me just tell you like if there's anything that's testing my, you know, nervous system.


It's having teenagers. Oh, totally. Yes. So that's part of your nightly gauge. Yep. How intense the teenagers. Yep. Okay. Fantastic. And then I'm curious, I mean, I feel like I might know the answer to this, but maybe not. So our last question is always, what has made the biggest change to your sleep game? Or said another way, maybe the biggest aha moment in managing your sleep?


Honestly, I think I'm going to say, Naps and acupuncture. Oh yeah. Great. Yeah. Say more so the acupuncture. Yep. So the acupuncture, because while I was in withdrawals, I could not nap at all. It was the only place I would actually get to such a deep state of rest that I would nap. And so now, When I take, I try to take naps during the day if I can, and it kind of, it really does do that neurological reset of like, oh yes, this is what it's like to get to that stage of rest.


Yes. And your body, you've got to think of it as like you're building muscle in this, you're building the sleep muscle, and you want to continually remind your body of what it is like to get to that level of rest. Absolutely. And that takes consistency and practice. Wow. Really cool. Well, it's interesting. I love that you found this modality around the acupuncture and that it really made a difference for you because we do hear, uh, real quick, I know.


Tangenting us. But many people when they are going through benzo withdrawal, they might look to different types of supplements that they could take or various things, but there are concerns right about, and you can, um, help educate us on maybe layering into a brain that's already been dealing with some of these things.


Adding more things in. Um, were there any call for you around that? Like did you take besides, I know you mentioned the magnesium baths now, but was there anything else in the melatonin? But is there anything else that you did take or would caution people from taking during those times? I know some people talked about taking GABA or melatonin while you're withdrawing and I.


The analogy that I use is it's your brain is almost like an open wound at that point. Yes. And so you really cautious about adding anything that will affect the brain in a big way. So I did feel fine about, um, magnesium minerals, making sure that my nutrition was healthy. But it's almost like you, you, you're almost in a burn unit.


Like you've got to be extremely cautious and gentle and, um, Um, if I, I think jumping into the supplements would confuse the brain Yes. More than support it. Yes. Uh, so well said. Okay. So much wisdom, and I know that we only need to scratch the surface on the topic of your story. And I know this is, you know, we're wrapping up in a nice little pretty bow, but I'm, I'm sure there was so many layers and I know there's so many layers that we didn't even get to.


So, one, was there anything we left out that you wanna say as it relates to, you know, benzodiazepines or anything that's there for you that we didn't cover? I think I'll just quickly say two things. One thing please is I'm not, like, I'm not anti benzo. I think they're appropriate as, as needed. Yeah. But, but they're, I mean, they're in emergency medicine.


I call them like the hammers in the pharmaceutical toolkit. Like you do not need a hammer for everything. Yeah. If someone's giving a grand mal seizure, you need a hammer. Yeah. Or if, you know, perhaps even in sleep, like I, I, I don't necessarily think I would recommend it because it's. You just need it the next night.


Yeah. So, you know, but in surgeries, things like that, like, yeah, sure. I think we have to be very cautious. The, the other thing I want to really clarify is that I think what a lot of people experience with benzos is this sort of stealth, you, we've touched on it, but this stealth. Number of, um, symptoms that come up Yeah.


That you're unaware of are related to the withdrawal. So, you know, they can be GI issues. Some people think that they've got Crohn's disease or you know, i b s or something. Or you can have muscle twitches. So just being really conscious that these drugs were never meant to be used long term and that mm-hmm.


The FDA is now saying that they can be addictive within as early as like a week or two. Ugh, so important. I'm so glad you put it that way too. Stealth symptoms. Yeah. Really, really huge because for anyone listening now, they might not even factored in the prescription that they've been taking for years as being a part of some of their health concerns, or maybe they've been taking a small dosage.


I have a lot of people say that they're over 70, over 80, and they've been taking these small, what they call, you know, their baby doses of their Xanax or Klonopin. For years and really don't think too much of it, and yet now might be dealing with some of these symptoms and certainly some of the impacts that we know can show up in sleep architecture and other things.


So I appreciate you saying that and just being a bit of a journalist, uh, to take you as a example in this area of your life and really auditing what are the things that you're taking in, what are the impacts Now there are real labeled warnings on benzodiazepines over the long term, thanks to some of the work done by Benzo Information Coalition and other.


Really sounding the alarm. So really, really important. And just the work you're doing is crucial. So your book, how can people get the book? How can they learn more about you? The, the whole world of it. So you can get the book, I think, I mean it's on Amazon. You can get it at your local bookstore. Yeah. I mean, it's in Barnes and Noble.


The um, one cool thing New York Times selected it as one of their favorite Audi, um, audiobook of last week. Oh really? Yeah. And I read it so me more if you want. That's great. Yeah, so you can get it on Audible. I think it would be cool if you haven't gotten the book to wait until the paperback comes out.


Cause the additional chapter in there, I think, um, I, I just felt like it was such a like, you know, good closure to the whole thing. Sure. You should be able to find it just about anywhere. So, um, and then you can also, if you go to my website, it's melissa a bond.com. You can buy it off of there. So it should be pretty easy.


Amazing. Ah, well really, really thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today and share your story and put pen to paper on this important piece. I mean, so many people, unfortunately, you know, there are the sad tales where people don't make it through these, this journey or don't have the support system, or if they do get to the other side of, they're just.


Washing their hands of the whole topic. And so for you to take, you know, the time and the emotional wherewithal to sit and help bring us along for your ride, really, really important. And I hope that for anyone listening, cause I, I have a lot of people come my way that are just so desperate with their sleep that they are really, there's an allure.


To the concept of, you know, just, just knock me out. Just I wanna be asleep. I can't tell with another night staring at the ceiling. Right? And so this also shows us that while that might, on the short term feel appealing, there are so many other paths that we can take and there's so many other. Things that you can be set up with, whether it's sleep specialists, whether you know, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, different approaches and modalities that we can explore besides this one.


So thank you. Thank you, and I appreciate you too. Just not, we're not trying to sit and, you know, vilify or be, you know, black or white. We know that there are times where some of these things can be important and useful, but there is a time and a place so. Just really thank you so much for taking the time to be here.


It means the world. Oh, it's just been a pleasure talking with you. I so love what you're doing. I mean, it's like sleep is a core pillar of, of, of joy in this life and Yes, not enough people are, are helping, you know, so thank you so much and you are just a delight to talk with. Oh, well, the feeling is mutual.


So more to come. We'll definitely have to connect more and you know, and I know we chatted before we hit record, so maybe we'll be seen in Utah or something in the future, so we appreciate it. Thank you so much, Melissa. Yeah, thanks Molly. You've been listening to The Sleep Is A Skill Podcast, the number one podcast for people who wanna take their sleep skills to the next level.


Every Monday, I send out something that I call Molly's Monday Obsessions. Anything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep, head on over to sleep as a skill.com to sign up.


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