Seems that the secure erase I performed using Parted Magic worked and my PNY SSD is running like normal again. I was able to use the Crucial provided software to secure erase my BX100 and that fixed the performance on that one as well.
In response to Klyith, I'm aware of the reasoning behind the drive freezing. I did manage to unfreeze the drives using the hotplug thing you mentioned when I attempted to use hdparm program in the linux bootable I downloaded. However, when I attempted step 2a from this tutorial page linked by jbi https://ata.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/ATA_Secure_Erase
I simply couldn't get the command to be recognized. It gave me two errors: "invalid number 'ser-master'" and "invalid option -- -". I simply couldn't find a workaround for this (I have a feeling the linux bootable I was using - http://www.giannone.ch/rescue/current/
- was the issue) so I gave up. I could have tried another linux distro but that would have involved me learning from scratch how to install hdparm to it and making it a bootable image so I could run it from a USB drive. I then tried HDDErase but that program is quite old and I couldn't find a way to write it to a USB drive and have it work. I tried a number of programs to make it a bootable USB and they all failed to provide me with a working bootable USB. Some couldn't recognize the image file, others would try and fail. I got one to "succeed" but it simply wouldn't boot when I tried it, even though I set my BIOS into legacy/compatability mode for IDE. I probably could have gotten it to work if I wanted to spend another 2 hours screwing around with it but at this point I had already sunk at least 5 hours into this horrible adventure.
I went down an absolute rabbit hole of programs and everything either didn't work or was a paid product. It was an extremely frustrating nightmare, especially in hindsight because I know now that the secure erase was indeed the fix I needed yet it was so hard to achieve. In the end I gave up and purchased Parted Magic which really pissed me off because the program (which is actually a linux-based bootable OS) used to be free just a few years ago. I just don't understand why it's so difficult to initiate a secure erase on a drive without jumping through a ton of hoops or spending money.
If anyone wants to know more about the specific issues I was having that are finally fixed, I have another thread here: https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=121477