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i haven’t been on line for a very long time. being able to pay attention and put even a few words together, focusing on a topic has been out of my reach for a while. i finished taking the klonopin and all of my meds april 25, ’08. it hasn’t been long. but the withdrawal, rebound…what was going on…not a good time.

but, knock on wood, i think things are getting a dab better. i do have some pretty “normal” days that all my senses are intact, my mind seems to be working well but i guess the best feeling is just not feeling “me”…my body or mind. no, i’m not saying i’m numbed out. it was just the constant bombardment of symptoms, side effects, psychological stuff…i was just too aware of me. it’s nice to walk around and be able to see, smell, hear, pay attention to other things that are going on. withdrawal began to feel like the worst prison i could imagine…trapped in my own, very sick and going crazy body!

i like feeling like i’m in touch with the world around me. usually i say that and hear that from others when they’re recovering from alcoholism and addictions! been down that block. this was worse…way worse. but i can cry and sometimes laugh…i do some creative things and have really gotten into cleaning out and organizing my sinfully messy home…i had lost all emotions but had anger, depression and severe anxiety. those bad ones are still with me, but they are much more quiet. i did decide to take some very low doses of two meds that are pretty weak in the spectrum of psych meds, but i’m sure they’re still not great for me. i just needed a break and those tiny doses of neurontin and wellbutrin have given me a holding place i think. i think i’ll rest here for a few months and then regroup and reassess.

so…i’ve been running a support group for fibromyalgia for all these months that i’ve been absent. i will also start yoga teacher training in september. let’s hope i can maintain…i think i can if i just believe.

after all…faith is all i really have. i have to believe.

peace!

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sorry about the formatting. i can’t seem to get this to flow correctly.

i was sharing online about my fibro and of course my history as a person recovering from substance abuse and…what happened when i was treated long-term for pain management. bits of this story are strewn through out my blog. but this is a bit of how my fibro and addictions interacted. again, this is my story and my opinions…remember this is a blogg page and what i say may not work for, or be relevant to you.  this information is not to be used in place of seeking professional help. please, always discuss your situation with your practitioners. please, always do your own research.

…so i guess that leads into the substance addiction/dependence discussion. i
don’t mind sharing about it. i think it’s important to talk about
considering how many of us (fibro patients) are faced with chronic pain and often
accompanying depression. the two can often be a recipe for disaster for
anyone. keeping the issue on the front burner in the open may be people’s
best insurance. i don’t believe genetics are the only reason that dependence/addiction happens to
people. life’s circumstances can be overwhelming and with doctors often
being too willing and reckless with their prescription pads…well it can be
sad. fibro patients can be particularly vulnerable finding many of the
people closest to them pulling away or making them feel as if it must be in
their heads…”if you would just get out and do something”, “stop spending
all of your time in doctors offices and reading about it”…ughhhh with often no
where to turn, all the symptoms beating you down on you. oh, it’s
easy to understand how dependence or addiction can become an additional
issue for even the “strongest” and “most knowledgeable” of us. it happened to
me.

i was in the middle of studying for my masters in counseling. i was
interning in CA at a maximum security facility for the criminally insane, in
the Alcohol, Drug Education Program…i had been in AA for years and then
was interning with juveniles charged with felonies, doing…you got it: drug
and substance counseling (and regular counseling). with all that around me i
had to wonder how i thought it couldn’t  happen to me. i never abused or
sought out pills. i was honestly afraid of drugs….even prescription. i have been a recovering alcoholic since ’97 but it was never about anything other than alcohol. recovery was difficult with fibro constantly nagging at me. i had being prescribed vicodin on and off for several years for managing pain in my neck and shoulders. i had horrible fatigue but no one around was diagnosing chronic fatigue or
fibro then. i went on for years like that and whenever the pills ran out i just lived
with the pain. the pills never really helped the pain or had any affect on
me…that i noticed…i could take ’em or leave ’em (so i thought). i had to have surgery while i was
in CA and the chronic fatigue which had been diagnosed by then, was really
dragging me down. the surgery wasn’t serious but i was prescribed vicodin again. and the stress of recovery from a seemingly simple operation still wore on me. i began to believe the vicodin simply relieved the pain enough for me to be more active…i never noticed that by then i may have been feeling a “need” to have them. i came home and continued on with my life until i got
very sick and was diagnosed with osteomylitis…very painful. i was given
some powerful doses of pain medication and for years after that anyone would
write me a prescription for pain if they knew what i’d had. (well that and the degenerative disc disorder). i wasn’t getting “high” or consciously abusing them, i know now that i was simply trying to avoid going through withdrawal (believe me there is a difference). the
doctors who knew i was a recovering alcoholic…well they all knew…never
reviewed or considered what might be happening. it wasn’t until i blew the whistle
myself, that they all went “oh…yeah!”

 

well just suddenly stopping them was a disaster. i didn’t know why i was so “uncomfortable”…i was in “cold turkey withdrawal. the discomfort seemed intolerable and i stumbled… i relapsed with my drinking. i went down for the count and
was drinking again for almost a year and a half before i decided to pull my
head out of my…the ground.

i sobered up but still didn’t get to feeling much better. yes the fibro was
always there but there was something else still wrong. i was wrestling with unrelenting anxiety and depression. i started reading
again and i found it. i had been on klonopin for over 11 years! i missed that and no one
around me ever said anything…even after my disaster with the pain meds. long term treatment with benzodiazapines can create those symptoms in most patients and your body will be…physically dependant…meaning if you stop cold turkey you will wrestle with withdrawal. and after a short time, with out constantly upping the dose, you are no longer receiving anything more than a placebo effect…you are just avoiding going through withdrawal. the withdrawal mimics what you’re taking the drug for and resuming it simply stops the withdrawal symptoms, appearing to fix the anxiety again…and so starts a crazy cycle…but it’s a cycle that’s difficult for me to describe well. go to benzo.org for more research on the topic.
so…i endeavored to get off all the meds. my doctor said i was begging
trouble and wouldn’t help me. he closed my files. gee, if he could up and close my files after 11 years of a compliant relationship…why didn’t they pin me down and say enough already with the klonopin! i couldn’t find any doctor that would help me and with one last prescription for what was supposed to be enough
klonopin to withdraw from…yeah give huge bottles of klonopin to a person with a history of suicide…begging for trouble…but i wasn’t going to go there, even though i felt like it many times. believe me i could rant on over how betrayed i felt by my medical community after over 11 years of compliance and hard work. but i need to stay focused on “the solution”.

well, i set out to learn how to withdrawal and what to expect.
my prescriptions were going to run out and i had to do something. the
short of it is that i withdrew faster than is recommended…it was very
rough. i took just over 3 months or so. april 25 was the last day i took a dose of klonipin. no more p-meds.

that’s the short of the long of it all. i have many entries about my
withdrawal from the meds on my blog page. there is other information there
too and i touch on a lot, including my fibro. i’ve had a bit of a complex
life…not a pretty or happy story. but i’m here and plugging away. i have
bad days, really bad days and then…the wonderful good ones. i try so hard
to hang my hat on the good ones…those have to be what i see more than the
others because they are precious and few. but i can send you to my blog if
you ever want to read some. it’s off focus re fibro…i am still taking lyrica, and i’ll wait a bit before making a decision about that one. i’m not fond of it but it seems to help quiet the symptoms.

but re dependant vs addicted…i don’t think there’s a difference. look them up in the dictionary and you’ll see they cross reference. that’s
why they call them “chemical dependency units”. dependency is just a “nice”
word for addicted…perhaps a more accurately descriptive word. “addicted”
sounds ugly and has horrible connotations. i guess we see addicted people as
whoring around street corners with unsavory crowds…the depictions are not
nice. but you don’t have to be homeless and dirty to have a serious and life
threatening and life altering situation going on. i’ve met many an elderly
woman and man who never even took hardly an aspirin their entire
lives…only to find themselves “addicted” or chemically dependant in their 50’s and 60’s. there are
so many similar stories and far too many go unchecked because of the stigma.
pain management and management of chronic illness is a blemish on the medical
community and no one wants to look at it. you see if we deal with
withdrawing people safely from meds and are vigilant over people’s use of
meds then the medical community will have to admit to a bigger problem. the
fact is that dependency or addiction in america is epidemic and who knows
the number since so many poor people don’t know what’s happening to them.
either docs are leaving them on substances they’ve developed a tolerance to
or they’re just yanking them off with horrible consequences.

 whether it was my 11+ years on klonopin or my adventures with pain
medication…i may be an alcoholic but the whole romance of pills never attracted me. i trusted my doctors. i’m sure we were all doing our best, the fact that i was an alcoholic should have
been a red flag, very early on, in the management of my care. at the same time, they shouldn’t brush
myexperience under the rug because “i had a predisposition”. that just isn’t right. this happens to far too many people who go through exactly what i did…alcholic, predisposed or not. it happens. i never saw it coming…even when my
behaviour changed. i’d always trusted my doctors to watch me, even when i
couldn’t see what was going on. i never hid or lied about my alcoholism. if
i wanted to abuse drugs….i might have. i did some dishonest things once
the dependency or addiction was full blown…but i was also the one to call
it quits when i started to feel that something wasn’t right. if it had been up to them i’d still be toting bags of pills. oh i
could go on…that’s why i started a blog. i have too much to say and i’ve
read too much reliable and alarming research. i pretty much only look at the NIMH, WHO,
Mayo clinic, Harvard, Lancet and such peer reviewed articles for the most
part. i rarely pay attention to anything that does not come from a source
that i wouldn’t feel confident quoting in a graduate paper. pull a bad
source there and you’ll hear about it! there’s too much “alarming”
controversial stuff written about this topic and you have to be careful in
sourcing. i’m sure people will read my blog and perhaps they forget that this is mypersonal blogg page. i’m expressing myopinions. granted i don’t buy into conspiracy theories and i read more peer reviewed research than i need to, but what i say and write is still my opinion. this is not a medical site but what i write is a response to my personal experience and…research.

so…that’s probably more than you wanted to hear or read about this. i’m
always willing to share this information and my blog with anyone so don’t
worry about sharing this information or me as a source. i’m not a licensed
professional…just a person who’s had to learn the hard way. maybe i’ll
have my license one of these days. god willing.

gee, take care and find one thing to smile a bit about. i’m glad you asked
me about this…it helps to share. some of this is still very fresh for
me…some is soooo old. i’m sorry to hear about your dad…i have to say
that strong wasn’t the only thing that may have helped me through…call it
luck, call it god, call it some good friends…i was one of the fortunate
few. more people don’t make it than do by no fault of their own. it’s kind
of like fibro…no one wants it and if we could change it we would. the art
is in living with it i guess.

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seeking aid for addictions in prescripton meds: this was an interesting blog by “oasis avanced wellness”,  discussing an issue near and dear to my heart…taking meds, often in place of adjusting lifestyle and even when taking it in an effort to work on lifestyle issues…the side effects and direct effects can undermine your best efforts. in addition the liabilty of risk of depression and suicide no doubt out weigh any risks one might find in using support groups, individual counseling and life style classes to manage addictive behaviour.

Risk of depression dims hopes for anti-addiction pills
By MARILYNN MARCHIONE / 4 days ago

CHICAGO (AP) – Two years ago, scientists had high hopes for new pills that would help people quit smoking, lose weight and maybe kick other tough addictions like alcohol and cocaine.

The pills worked in a novel way, by blocking pleasure centers in the brain that provide the feel-good response from smoking or eating. Now it seems the drugs may block pleasure too well, possibly raising the risk of depression and suicide. read more: http://www.oasisadvancedwellness.com/health-articles/2008/04/big-pharma-markets-vice-pills-despite.html

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my counselor and i began discussing polarity therapy…energy work. i wanted to read more about what exactly it was. i’m very familiar with a variety of yoga, meditation and have had reiki, massage and acupuncture work done…but i wanted to know more about polarity therapy because this is just another area that  can use improvement when one is trying to work towards a healthy lifestyle. so here’s a good, straight forward article, from the american polarity therapy association, on what polarity work is: http://www.polaritytherapy.org/page.asp?PageID=24

an interesting book that my counselor gave me by caroline myss, phd, called “why people don’t heal and how they can” (also wrote “anatomy of the spirit”) deals with incorporating energy work into a holistic mind, body, spirit approach to healing. now i know the title might put you off, but i’ve been following other works that deal with “road blocks” in healing and this is a positive and good read if you’re experiencing “being stuck”.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0609802240/interactiveda936-20

i’ve been at this “wellness” gig for over 20 years. i began searching out many spiritual and nutrition based approaches as a teenager. initially i was concerned with the usual teenage issues like acne and weight but what i discovered, worked, so i stuck with it. as i was digging around that community, which was very small back then, i met a lot of people and was turned on to a variety of readings and experiences. i was learning about ways to heal some deep inner pains that i was already wrestling with, and having some horrible consequences from very bad, maladaptive behaviour and personality issues. i became a devout buddhhist in my early twenties and the search continued. but i am convinced from the many positive experiences that i’ve had, that this whole arena of mind, body, spirit healing is key for living well.

i still struggle with a lot. i’m not whining, but life just can never be normal for me. i keep stumbling across huge hurdles and crashing into brick walls. by now my problems must largely be due to brain damage from all of my collisions with life! but MRIs and other say that, anatomically, i seem “normal”. my gastro. dr came into the room a few days back, sat down and looked at me squarely and said “your tests are normal but…you are not!” and we laughed.

so, after over 11 years on a battery of psych meds for bipolar and spotty treatments for fibromyalgia, i felt i was not longer benefiting from the pharmaceuticals and was going broke in the pursuit of maintaining that. i guess i’m finding out that no matter which direction you go in…if you live out here…it’s not going to cheap and access to help is going to be limited. moving is not an option for me. so i have to work with what i   can  learn to do.

just what can i do from learning? i can maintain a healthy diet and exercise (walking, yoga, physical therapy). i can work on my spirituality (reading, AA, community). i have limited access to a counselor but she’s great and that’s what counts. books and videos are helpful. i have a good thing with my AA community and they do what they can (moral support and other help). there’s the phone, which can be my lifeline on days that i’m not doing well. the internet provides many opportunities to learn of up to date information on nutrition, techniques and therapies. while attending classes and having practitioners would be optimal…you do what you can. at best, things can get frustrating…very.  but when the rewards appear and even if they’re small, it’s great. you learn to appreciate the small things because healing from life long spiritual wounds and chronic issues is a slow process. i may rush with some things but i can’t afford to be down for long or maintain costly therapies that i have no funds for. but much of my process is about patience…the patient practices can be a long and lonely journeys some days and it’s easy to get despondent when you are just plain hurting and down. i’m not a monk…i’m just human…a sick human trying to heal.

while i’m off all of my “psych” meds i am still taking lyrica. i don’t think i’m fond of the lyrica? i take melatonin and it does help me  sleep very well and i wake up feeling good. i ran out of guaifenesin a couple days ago and found out just how much that was helping my fibromyalgia. i ran into the 4 corner town a few miles down the road to see if they just had something containing guaifenesin…i didn’t think they’d have what i take, but i found it…after half an hour i was feeling much more on track. gaufinesen an oddball therapy for fibro but it was in the book my dr. gave me and i thought i could try it…it seems to really help. (Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain: A Survival Manual (2nd Edition) by Devin J. Starlanyl and Mary Ellen Copeland)  also a good article on guaifenesin therapy: http://www.fibromyalgiatreatment.com/Articles_HYSTERIA.htm for now, i’ll take any help, because simply being able to do anything but lay on the sofa is an improvement and i need to be able to be up, moving around and communicating. i’ve got a lot of writing to do and i’m just trying to avoid it right now!

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     (input 3/23/08 start) jump back a bit. around ’97, the year i was introduced to my wonderful psychiatrist and psychologist…and they really were wonderful…they did help me make some wonderful changes in my life. i was diagnosed borderline personality disorder, bipolar, ADHD, PTSD.  i was put on, taken off, and swapped around on several medications including ritalin. i landed on a regime of neurontin, wellbutrin and klonopin (lamictal was added in about ’05). i pretty much stayed on those for about five years. some others may have been thrown and removed over the years, but my memory on that is not so great. but looking back now, on my suicidal behavior…

 

     i had my first attempt when i was 23, (’85). i was put in mental health facility for about 6 weeks.  i continued with suicidal ideation, but alcohol was my slow means of getting there and i didn’t have another attempt until i got sober in ’97 and started taking the meds. from ’97 until now (early ’08) i have had over 6 attempts that landed me on life support and admitted to the behavior health units.my last attempt, june, ’05,  was very well planned…i can’t believe i’m still here, (i didn’t feel like i was here for a long time and perhaps that was the 60mgs of klonopin i chased with alcohol and other things) and sometimes i still curse god for leaving me here. but…well i usually “bounced” after each attempt. always, in a day or two, every time, i was back and running as if nothing happened. i wouldn’t discuss what had happened. to everyone that did know….each attempt was just treated as a hiccup….just as i liked it never happened. i never liked getting attention for anything other than my accomplishments. i always tried to compartmentalize my mental health issues. the source of these suicide attempts eluded me and i felt that they struck me like a hit and run…no exact cause and no consequence. being suicidal…it just was a part of  “how i was”. it really felt that way, and no one ever reviewed this with me…not really.

 

 

 

     but, my first consequence came down on me (sept. ’03) when i’d been admitted to the emergency room of one of my hospitals that i’d been admitted to at least twice before. i think they were implementing a three strikes policy. at about midnight, a hospital psychologist and a lawyer entered my room with a nurse and some orderlies. they were drawing up the documents to commit me! “but wait, i want to call my psychologist and my lawyer….i will voluntarily go to marietta memorial.” it was conveniently timed (midnight) so that i couldn’t reach my own lawyer or psychologist. i was forced to sign away my freedom with out recourse and…committed. next, i remember laying in the back of a squad car, one cop driving and speeding about 100 mph down the highway for what felt like…oh i didn’t know where we were or where we were going. god i was in the middle of west virginia, laying in the back of a cop car with just one male cop driving me…the mental patient. i felt so vulnerable, violated and scared. this cop could pull over and do anything he wanted. at this time of night, in the middle of WV…he could do whatever he wanted with me and it would be the word of a “deeply disturbed” person against one WV’s finest. god, i’d heard stories like this, but it was happening to me…or was it…this is unreal.

 

     a week before, i had been a counselor in training, working with the criminally insane in a maximum security facility in CA. now, i was headed to be a civil commitment case myself. it was humbling. upon arriving (safely, thank god), i was handed stuff to go and wash the lice off of me….LICE! god,  i was not someone who would have lice….didn’t they know who i was…what i do?  but, alas here i was in the WV state mental hospital. how did this happen? another hit and run kind of thing, because i was fine…really. if they would let me go i would get right back to work on my graduate courses and not miss a beat as i’d so gracefully done before. but no one would budge and it was one of those experiences…i thought they wanted to “scare me straight”! but this meant nothing to the hit and run driver of my suicidal tendencies. there was no action or language for reasoning or dealing. it was just one of those things…but it happened. (alcohol and PMS were involved every time.) i stayed for two weeks and it was a typical state institution experience….but of course i counseled and uplifted as many a patient as i could. after all i was in the midst of my counseling intern hours…this was a great place to work on my skills. it’s not as if i was going to step on any one’s shoes doing this….yeah, like the place was crawling with docs and therapists to really help any one of these poor “frequent flier” lost souls i was surrounded by. but…i was one too. certainly this was some cosmic joke. i couldn’t see why i had to be in “that place”. a looney bin in the middle of west-by-god?! well, i don’t really remember too much of how that wound down.

 

     i do remember a year before, the morning after i returned from another visit to the behavioral health floor for the “suicidal hit-and-run girl”, the phone rang at 7am. it was my best friend and she said, “i have cancer.” my first response was “no way!” well, our conversations were never about something like cancer, so i only had a few responses in my repertoire. she didn’t seem upset and i guess at that point she didn’t know how seriousit was. but this is the twist…here i was wanting to die and the whole while, my best friend was fight for her life. how self-centered am i! she was a sponsee i’d “adopted” from the local recovery center and when she was diagnosed with the cancer,  her husband took off, and she had just moved here. she hardly knew anyone except me. and we…we knew about drinking and addictions and mental illness….but…cancer? well another story for another time. but she lost her battle to cancer around march of ’04. she is with me always and some days i still have the impulse to go to the phone and call her…it’s just still second nature. i’m glad she moved on from all of her pain and is perfectly perfect now. but i loved be perfectly imperfect with her and i really really miss her. (input 3/23/08, end) please forgive my editorial skills. i’m a designer and they always kept and editor one foot behind me at all times!

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