Archive for the ‘chronic pain’ Category

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

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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since fibromyalgia is a complex disorder that requires a multi-disciplined approach in its treatment. there is no one correct, end-all, be-all approach for all people. in the beginning (before ’01) i had gained a lot of weight (i am typically pretty small) and my ability to exercise and manage much of anything had disappeared. not exactly the person you meet today. but from the beginning i had been advised by every doctor i saw to push through the fatigue and pain. it seemed overwhelming and i could not understand why they would ask me to do that. but i did a endless hours of research over the years and began to do what my docs and the research were telling me. i discovered focus on relaxation and exercise is many fold and is supported by all major research and medical foundations such as the arthritis foundation and mayo clinic. it seemed to me that people who were getting better  were the ones who’d found relief when they have adopted a routine including exercise, relaxation, healthy sleeping habit and other life management skills. this adaptation was not easy and i was faced with it before i had a diagnosis. i am not more motivated or have less pain than anyone else. i’m a fairly average person. so, i’ve felt hurt when people look at me and say “you’re just stronger” or “well your pain’s not that bad”. but not every day is good and fatigue drags me down to a halt during flairs.
the person you meet (on a good day) today, is not the person i had become years back. it took major attitude adjustments (2×4’s to the head, knees, legs, feet…) and learning…trying things and failing…to find some relief from the most disturbing aspects of this disorder. but first i had to become open minded and willing. the pain was in my body, but as i’ve seen with so many others in some horrible chronic situations…it’s all about the attitude! that’s no small thing. i fought everyone and didn’t think they knew what they were asking me to do! i was angry all the time. i couldn’t understand and i thought my doctors were quacks and incompetent. now, my song is changing as i’ve changed. they’ve become my partners in trying to make it through this maze. but i still get tired and the pain flairs…i still have days that i feel i can’t do anything. i have bad attitude days…and that can be expected. i have to remind myself that i didn’t make myself sick, but with help, i can get myself muchbetter. slowly i’m noticing progress. but it’s progress not perfection!
regarding exercise, i learned it must be geared towards the person with fibromyalgia. “regular” exercise classes are often too strenuous and fibro patients leave because they do not benefit from those. exercise done incorrectly (for a fibro patient) can, in fact, exacerbate the pain and fatigue. the gentle exercise outlined by the arthritis foundation and others will work, but it takes time and doing and must be done as regularly as possible. that coupled with correcting sleep disorders (the gentle exercise goes a long way to do that by reducing pain, raising serotonin, releasing endorphins and helping us to be tired at night…avoiding sleep during the day) because lack of sleep compounds and results in most of the symptoms fibro patients deal with, when healthy sleep patterns are restored most symptoms improve or disappear via that channel as well.
for me, my fibro seemed beyond debilitating…my life as i knew it stopped. for years things got worse until i couldn’t take it. it was either end this life or try this option…(yes i’ve become totally despondent and hoped for death rather than living like this). the medications never helped and any other passivetreatment i tried…didn’t help. from all research i had gathered, and on line support networks i had participated in, this is the one of the best medicines that seems to have been offered, not only to me but far too many others who i’ve communicated with or read their stories. it can sound disheartening to leave a doctor’s office with the advice being go and exercise and get better sleep (god i came to you for help and you tell me to go help myself?), but there is a reason for that. for one dr.s and research do not have a clear enough picture of what fibro is…and believe it or not…this is not the only disorder that the person with the job description of “doctor” has to deal with. with still foggy descriptions of what fibro might be and how it mightbe treated…they all do their best. the ground rules are somewhat clearer, but still, not exact or complete. rheumatologists are, at this time, the recognized specialists for fibro…at this time. that is where the major advancements are being made in treatment and diagnosis.
at this time there is no pill or treatment that has the long term, wide reaching benefits that countless research efforts have shown with the exercise, sleep and stress management protocols. combined, they do work if we let them. a doctor can’t do that for us…i believe that we are personally responsible for our care. i found that when i stopped being angry at the medical community and started helping myself…i improved. the reasons for that, again are multi-fold. that shift resulted in self-empowerment and knowledge which goes a long way to helping us feel better and regain a foothold in a life that has…slipped away. we regain a sense of self and self-esteem that we lost to criticism and doubt. when no one could seem to help us our self-esteem shattered as people questioned “why can’t you just pull it together and stop spending all of your time in dr.s’ offices?”…like that’s what you really wanted…but true…you were going to have to start paying rent at your dr.s’ appointments.
we never like to hear that “it’s all in our heads”. all chronically ill people fight that stigma at different stages of their process. but the most significant change for the better in our treatment does happen in our minds. when our outlook and attitude changes…our prognosis improves. this is true of any chronic illness or situation. fibromyalgia is not unique that way. and if you’ve read my blogg you know that i’ve dealt with a few chronic illnesses.
all though by no means is “exercise” the only protocol i’veused, as many disciplines are necessary to reboot a life that has been halted by fibromyalgia, hopefully the group (a new support group in town) can bring ways of implementing various protocols that are tailored to the person with fibromyalgia. while we hope for other medical progress to be made in bring relief for the major symptoms of pain and fatigue, etc, that may still be long in coming and this is the “best practice” at this time. chances are that this will always be a standard protocol as it is and has been for decades, for so many chronic disorders and well…just living well.
i will share that i take lyrica…i think it helps some but i’m not fond of the side effects. i’ve taken it regularly for several months and was on neurontin for years before it. i hope that some of the protocols i’m following might allow me to get off the lyrica too, but in time…one thing at a time.
some good fibro links:
national fibromyalgia research association: http://www.nfra.net/nfra-resource.htm
fibromyalgia network http://www.fmnetnews.com/
national fibromyalgia network: http://www.fmaware.org/site/PageServer

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if you have fibromyalgia you have wrestled with your mental acuity and cognitive functions but probably have been told that “what you’re going through is just normal” or maybe “you’re hypersensitive” and you feel like you’re going crazy!  well this research piece from the national fibromyalgia association may help you feel validated…people with FMS do experience loss of cognitive function…

Cognitive Function & Fibromyalgia

by Jennifer Glass, Ph.D. and Denise Park, Ph.D., The University of Michigan

“I can deal with the pain, but the memory and thinking problems really worry me.”  “The physical symptoms weren’t as frightening as the memory problems.”  “The most devastating effect for me has been the cognitive impairment.”

If you have fibromyalgia (FM), then these quotes may describe what you have felt as well. Many FM patients complain of cognitive (or mental) symptoms such as memory failures (both long-term and short-term), difficulties with attention, and with finding the right words. Our research focuses on these cognitive problems in FM patients.

Our research shows that there really is cognitive dysfunction in FM patients.  read the article: http://www.fmaware.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5280

ABOUT NFA: About NFA I NFA History I Contact Us I Executive Board of Directors I Medical Advisory Board I Staff I Donate to the NFA
FIBROMYALGIA: Fibromyalgia I What is Fibromyalgia? I Who is Affected? I What are the Symptoms? I How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed? I What Causes Fibromyalgia? I Science of Fibromyalgia I How is Fibromyalgia Treated? I What is the Prognosis? I An Overview for the Newly Diagnosed Patient I Clinical Trials I Public Service Announcement
FM COMMUNITY: FM Community I Support Group Information I FM Community Events I Leaders Against Pain I Advocacy I Awareness Day I Membership I Member Spotlight I Patient Stories
RESOURCES: Resources I Resource Directory I Glossary of Terms and Definitions I Sponsors I Featured Advertisers I AWARE Magazine I FM Online Newsletter I Clinical Trials I eCards
TOPICS A-Z: Topics A-Z I Español
STORE: Store I Jewelry I Educational I Goodies I Awareness I Apparel
HEALTH PROVIDERS: Health Providers I Research Abstracts I Continuing Medical Education
MEDIA: Media I Fact Sheets I Press Releases
RESEARCH: Research I Abstracts I Listing of Current Clinical Trials I Glossary of Terms and Definitions I Research Overview

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i would like to say that this is another journey i don’t want to see come to an end but i’d be lying. detoxing off of my psych meds has made my top three list of most difficult things to do. but to think that it ends here would be…well let’s say getting the drugs out of the system is a only a portion and beginning of journey.

as i learned from getting sober…more than once…there are a lot of life skills i need to acquire, to make up for what i was depending on the drugs to do. i was lucky in that i’ve had a great foundation and have worked with some people who’ve really put me to work! i see so many people living with the illusion that the drugs/meds are “the therapy”. gosh folks, if we don’t know by now, we’ll never learn…that they are only a brief/portion means to an end. they can help clear things up and and make a newly diagnosed person a little more capable of coping (which in the beginning can feel like a lot). but if you do not develop a good set of life skills to depend on…you will start heading off in an even worse direction. and, having mental illness, depression, bipolar, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or any chronic disorder…we shouldn’t feel singled out as having an added burden of the need to learn these skills…granted we might have some more work to do, but all people would be wise, to be conscious of these simple, almost obvious skills that need to be created and sharpened.

i just have to say, that being on line with this journey has been one the greatest, free, adjunct therapies i could recommend. i’ve been able to put my stuff out there, and receive input. i’ve had the chance to read other people’s experiences and tips and have good exchanges of information and support! the support to gather more information and research…to be an informed consumer and participant in managing my life has been invaluable.

but, my journey is just beginning. the meds may be gone by the weekend but learning to live with out them is the next…the real part of the journey. i got off these meds so my life would be better and now it is time to set my sights on that process. i will still have the lyrica to contend with, but one thing at a time…doing to much at one time was part of the mess i got into.

in the past i’ve discussed various things that i’ve been picking up over the years and past months…such things to look at as: laughter, spirituality, brain exercises for mental acuity, using support groups (blogging), etc…there is a lot of discussion about diet, exercise and supplements in everyone’s blogs. all of these things are great life skills to work on that make our life’s great. i am still being exposed to more books and practices that support healthy living. that learning, is never ending.

i’m really looking forward to continuing my journey off meds both on line as well as…in my life. i do feel reeeeally good! (allergies and fibro…i can deal with that) there is much more to come thanks to being able to get off my meds (fellow bloggers), staying sober (AA), good living (counselor, friends, neighbors) and spiritual living (i should go back to church).

so moving forward here. my next effort is getting back into grad school. they could always just say “no”, but they could say yes (maybe with provisions)…but what ever happens…happens. as i get more busy with those ventures i will have less time to write here. but, my writing here is very important to me so, it is something that has to go on the list of “things to do”. if i don’t post much in a week it is likely because i’m doing well. of course when i’m having a more difficult day, i tend to not write either, but let’s go with the thought that i’m not here, because i’m out there putting the metal to the test!

this is just another beginning!

peace out!

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     so far, i’m feeling a bit better today. i messed around with the dosage on my lyrica starting wednesday. i was feeling like i’d drank 2 pots of coffee…very uncomfortable…so i began cutting back a bit and…well, maybe the bottom fell out…but i also wonder if being so tightly wound for so many weeks may have not just worn me down…a little of both? the pain was comming back as i lessened the dose of lyrica…physical therapy was tough too. i pushed my dose back up last night.  gosh was i weak!  i’m holding steady at .5mg klonopin, but that comes down to apx 36 mg.s tonight.
      i fell asleep when i got back from town. but when i got home, it was so nice to have msgs from people who were concerned and it was nice to know people cared…i had gone to an AA mtg but just couldn’t make it to staying and going out to dinner (which i always do). having to back down because i was not feeling well was really a hard thing to do…i just try so hard to never let how i’m feeling come up or interfere. is that stoic or stupid?
     this sharing…that i’m not doing well or not feeling well…it is really hard for me. it’s hard to ask for help and it’s hard to let people help. that attitude has been a long time in the making. when i was young…if i said i wasn’t feeling well that was met with “you’re such a hypochondriac” and “stop trying to get attention”…so i stopped…got tough and learned to buck it up! it always felt like i had to be well or together so everyone else could be falling apart and sick. i mean someone had to take care of the cooking and cleaning! i never, never asked them for help…they wouldn’t have been there if i did. so…you live and you learn…some really unhealthy things.
       living quite far from town and my friends…well it’s a big deal for them to come all the way out here (esp. now with the gas prices)…everyone i know is long distance call from here. yes, if you’re about a mile from here, it’s a long distance call! so that whole long distance drive/call thing is an added barrier. (in the back of my mind besides my personal issue about sharing what’s really going on and asking for help.) “i can’t impose on people because the drive or calls would be too much”…that’s an easy out!
     the insane thing is that…my circle of friends is based on helping others (AA) and i really love helping others. but allowing people to help me…and maybe really allowing people to know me…i’m insecure that way. i guess i only feel people will be around if i’m needed or being useful. i believe there is a huge part of me that feels, if i’m needy people won’t want to be around me. yes, there are some big self-esteem issues flying around here…the pink elephant in the room! i know how good it feels to have someone ask you for help, and to be able to help. why can’t i give that opportunity to the people around me…even my counselor! some of it is a control issue…accepting help also means accepting advice and doing what others tell you to do.
     now, most of the people who i would talk with, have excellent advice…they are wise and have a lot of experience. would asking them for help, and doing what they tell me to do, be fatal?!  not likely…in fact, i’m sure most people’s advice to me, would be better/healthier than, the advice i sit around giving myself most of the time. by isolating this way, i live in a vacuum and that is not conducive to growth. i’ve always prided myself on learning, growing and…being open minded. but damn can i be a stubborn, closed-minded creature!
      it’s embarrassing to admit but, that is being so much like my family, who i loath. yes…i am a lot like them…in those regards. stubborn, and closed-minded. yuck, blagh, aarrghh…that was awful to say…but being honest here…that’s what i’m working towards. (i’ve also seen my family, and others, develop disabling issues with “learned helplessness”…having ailments and problems become a means of getting attention…that has turned me off a lot. i hate soap operas.)
     yes, letting go of some of the control i’ve taken over my life (that has overtaken my life) , and being more honest in the one area that i am in the most denial and dishonest about…my health and energy…that’s what needs work!
     this thing about being alone…it can be a hard thing to become comfortable with. normally, i love being alone quite a lot and rarely think of it. i’ve been running this farm over 11 years alone and it’s become a way of life. the last time i was married was over 15 years ago, and that was brief. most of the time it is a good life. it’s the “being alone” when i’m getting really sick, or the sickness is dragging along that…well, when you’re not feeling well…everything in the world that is remotely upsetting seems to come to mind and become magnified! but during an average to good day…don’t think about being alone at all. i prefer it (considering what some of my options where over the years!). besides, i have 4 dogs, a cat and 3 horses that are the best therapy and company, most of the time!
     it’s good to find friends and comrades in many places…even far away. the internet has been a life saver, as winters especially, can become very isolating (besides the illnesses). well it’s a small town here, and it’s also nice to know people who are not from here…for so many reasons.
      writing this blog is also helping me to see some of these really disabling issues…as writing this has also led me to read other people’s blogs and share…people have been awsome and the reaching out from others here is carrying over into how i’m living my “offline” life! thank you dear blogshpere friends…you are changing my life.
     oh gosh….feeling held back from chronic illness, pain, these meds,…it just gets really getting old sometimes. but…onward and upward (LOL).
     today i will tell someone how i’m really feeling and ask for help.
peace out!






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it was good to see the tremendous show of support for bob fiddaman…let’s see where this goes. this action GSK took towards a blogger and patient should be a great call to action for all of us. seeing the support the blogging community gave is inspirational and hopefully will be the beginning of a new show of force from the mental health community and others concerned with the activities of our pharmaceutical companies that aim to serve us.  i know i’m excited and curious to see where this will lead. i hope this doesn’t die and simply go away. i hope there will be news coverage or maybe 20/20 could pick up the story and the history leading up to this event.

 i may not get my post up today, i’m taking a short break from moving over 1,000 lbs of my books to another building…a new studio on the farm. i can’t believe that i’m healthy enough today to do some of the carrying and now….painting.

 i’m still holding at .63 mg of my klonopin but will be going down to .5 tonight or sunday…i have to think about that. but honestly…i never thought i’d feel like this again! i do feel great. the horrible pain and fatigue from the initial withdrawal from my lamictal, neurontin and wellbutrin has subsided. i may not be in the best of shape after such a long time of being sedentary…but compared to what i have felt like for the last 7-10 years…this is a miracle. i know i may have some tough days still, but today i’m just celebrating by being able to do some work around here. i will pray for my fellow bloggers who are struggling with detox…if this is what alcohol and med/drug free feels like…this i do wish for you! hang in there because even one day like this is so worth it. i am taking my lyrica….maybe that is helping…i’m not going to try to jump off of that until the klonopin is gone.

so my prayers are with bob and all of you…

prevail over big pharma!

peace out

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i’m holding my own at .62mg klonopin…i’m not bad today but my mind is a little muzzy today so my writing might be muzzy too…but i’ve made a commitment to try to write something positive every day, so…ok…so…spirituality…this is one of those topics that can be “iffy” to broach. i’ll come clean and let you know where i’m coming from but there’s more so please don’t stop with that part. it is not my aim to convert you, convince you…

maybe it’s me that needs some convincing today.

i just want to share something that’s important to me and well maybe it’s important to you, so take what you want and leave the rest. insert your own words in places if that makes it more comfortable for you. i believe in spirituality and not religiosity.

i never believed in god or anything like that. go to church? no way. i was convinced i would burn if i walked into such a place. when i was in 5th grade my life was so sad, scary and hopeless that, after a horribly painful experience at my church (that could only be topped by the finale of the movie “carrie”), i walked into the kiddies’ chapel, knelt at the alter and told god i was firing him. yup….i fired god. i was about 11 at the time and went through my life fighting with my entire family over celebrating christmas and everything religious. i was an adamant atheist until i was about 34. yeah, i spent time studying budhism, being a white whitch, satinism, tarot, taking in anything that the new age movement had to offer and chasing a healthy lifestyle with several pitchers of beer, maybe cocaine and cigarettes every night!

i value and use everything i learned over the years and incorporate it into my spiritual life still. but here’s where i found myself in the mid-’90s. my drinking had become so bad and i was so angry all the time at everything. i blew the whistle on some illegal activities at the university and eventually found myself in something too big for me and just way over my head. but i was in it. i had to deal with it and hold in there during the investigation (1 yr).  it got fricken ugly! i had a best friend of several years by then with whom i discussed everything but i didn’t know anything about their spirituality etc. in all those years they never mentioned it. one day they told me about a church that they went to and how cool the pastor was. i thought “what ever, anything is worth a try right now”. i went and in short…i found god. i met some really great people and found “community” which is something a drunk and mentally ill person like me would always shy away from.  but i made a decision in that time to quit drinking. what ever was going on was helping. they even helped me find the psychologist and psychiatrist that got me on a decent path. i eventually was introduced, by the same friend, to alcoholics anonymous…i started attending a few meetings, but i was slow to catch on…this was another group thing and i hate groups (still do). but i warmed up to that bunch of crazy drunks! (they’re my family now) my life really did make some tremendous changes in those years. i got happy, really happy…like giddy. “my whole outlook and attitude on life changed…” (the promises from AA) now my church was just a methodist church…nothing radical except in how they cared and loved me. so i had a great package i was working with and it changed me.

they got me through the first year of the investigation at the university and in the end the guy who was the subject of the investigation, was found guilty. my life had been a living hell and once it was over, i had a psychotic break. but, with the help of the people at my church and AA i crawled back to hold on to my job for another year. a brief aside: i was the first woman to hold that position at the university. everyone before me, men, had only stayed an average of 18 months and i made it to four years. at the end of the fourth year, one day in particular, i sat up and decided it wasn’t worth my sanity to struggle so hard to exist in that environment. i packed up some boxes and walked out…no plans, no savings and no job to go to. a farm that went into foreclosure and i just lost my mind. i had been trying so hard to hold it together for my job that when i left that environment a spring just sprung! but something held on to me. now you can interpret that any way that suits you…for me, i say that “god was doing for me what i could not do for myself”.

i decided i needed to find what ever my next move was going to be. funny, i decided to go to seminary. my pastor took me infront of the board of methodist leaders in our community and they said they would back my decision to go to seminary. with their blessing i moved forward, enrolled in a marvelous  weslyan seminary(that was very conservative but an awesome school) in kentucky and began preordination. but after a short time i found i didn’t want to move from my farm to complete my studies there. i decided that if the university would accept me into their graduate counseling program, i would stay and do that instead…that’s what i did. i also came to feel that with the population i worked with…a secular counselor my be able to reach more people.

in time a distance developed between me an my church. i stopped believing in going to church and well that’s another long story that i’m passionate about. i don’t believe in organized religion but i’m still very much a christian. i don’t believe going to church defines you as a christian…how you live your life does. how you life your life is evidence of what ever beliefs you have. it’s in the doing. anyways…here i am, over 11 years later and i’m still involved in AA and i’m still a jesus freak…but i won’t have anything to do with organized religion. i love to draw upon budhism and native america beliefs and others. i love sharing and hearing other’s stories of how their spirituality works in their life.

i believe that we are all working towards a common goal…the brand of a person’s spirituality does not matter…only that i hopepeople have some plan for life….some set of principles that they live by and hopefully a belief in something outside of themselves. but, where ever a person is on the very broad spectrum of beliefs is awesome….i can meet a person where ever they are at and i don’t feel strongly that anyone has to have the same belief set that i have, for us to work well together. this is all very personal and individual and i do not “make” a person based on their beliefs, but rather how they live their lives and treat others.  i have certainly had the opportunity to make many observations of the various paths people choose…but anything i’ve observed, again, i keep to myself. i should not judge. i just want for people to find a happiness like i found…how they do it…each person has their own path to follow.

 again, so, in discussing spirituality, i have a very open mind as i hope you will have too. i may use certain words or phrases that aren’t what you would choose…just insert yours in place of mine. i’m not going to say that you have to find christ to be saved….or any of that…that is not how my faith works. when i write or speak…if god’s not your gig…just replace my word with yours.

yesterday i found a note card (i wrote on note cards and stuck them up around my house all the time in the early years). on this card was something that gave me a nudge. it is from a christian source but if you’re not of that faith, i hope you can still hear a good msg. in it.

“but doubt is as crucial to faith as darkness is to light. with out one the other has no context and is meaningless. faith is, by definition, uncertainty. it is full of doubt, steeped in risk. it is about matters not of the known but of the unknown.”                                                                                   — carter haywood, “a priest forever”

now, i would always love to hear other’s phrases, sayings, meditations…it all enriches my life. not just my brand of faith but everyone i know, their brands too have carried me through the roughest times. i can not count on myself at times, i can not count on my family, community, neighbors, government, doctors…all the time. and in those times when everything is just not available to me i have to have something to hold on to or i’d fall down. i have been far from perfect, but faith does not require perfection from us.

spirituality is kind of an abstract thing, so to bring it to a more concrete place where you don’t have to take that leap there are a few simple exercises that work ’bout as well as prayer and meditation. and if you don’t have or don’t want a higher power this is a good place to start…these things have helped many people. they help me. and i have a sponsee who’s doing one of these exercises as i write….she just called and after putting off doing this for over a year, she’s really finding benefit and taking the power out of some overwhelming thoughts and memories.

i kind of like the idea….for me…that when i sleep at night i can say “here are my problems of the day…i turn them over to you so that while i sleep you can work on them and me.” it seems when i can stop pushing and wrestling with ife and others…go with the flow in a way…when i can take many of my concerns and place them somewhere else, (because i can’t do anything about most of them anyways) it lightens my load so that i can deal with just exactly what’s in front of me at this time. when i work through things one at i time i can manage. but if i have all of my worries and concerns running around in my head i just get over burdened and overwhelmed. i get what we call “analysis paralysis”, i stay stuck. fatigue, anxiety, depression, anger can overwhelm me. when i’m feeling “stuck”…well i’m usually trying to manage more than i can. so…

i find list making as a good tool to throw in about here. so if you’re not into a “higher power” and all, you can achieve a similar relief by taking all of your concerns for the moment and putting them out of your head and onto a piece of paper…maybe make a checklist…but then just pick one at a time and work your way through. some of them will take care of themselves as you’re working on the one in front of you…really, i’ve seen that happen often,  i have some friends that make a box they may place atop their fridge…they and their family members….if they have an overwhelming fear or concern…write it down and put it in the box. at the end of a given amount of time…usually a year…they go back through that box and read over all they wrote and see what’s become of their worries. but that time, when they read what they’ve written…most of it went by the by and mostly nothing ever came of their worries! by simply writing them down it took it out of their mind and put it somewhere else…similar to making a list. it takes some of the power from that concern…it lets you take action on something that is likely out of your control anyways and gives you, even if small, a sense of accomplishment or control. now these are concrete activities that, spiritual or not, begin to illustrate the power of “turning it over”. you can give your concerns, worries and even “prayers” to a box a list and, if you choose, your higher power.

in AA our first encounter with this exercise is in our 4th step inventory, but we continue to take daily inventories and do what we must to keep our side of the street clean and turn things over. but you needn’t be in AA to use these exercises….they can help anyone dealing with any kind of issue…even just plain old “normal” daily life.

so, maybe try making a “worry box” or a list of sorts…don’t check them twice…at least not right away. maybe share what you’ve written with someone you trust and see if it doesn’t take the wind out of the sails of your worries and concerns.

when you go to bed tonight, do something to put all your crazy-making thoughts elsewhere while you sleep. don’t worry, they’ll probably be there tomorrow, but if they’re not….cool! in their place, fill your mind with a great thing to focus on like a sunny beach or open field…i have a big rock in a pond surrounded by wonderful smelling pines up in the ansel adams wilderness that i go to. the pains and worries of today are not allowed to come with.

take care.

peace out!

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