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Archive for the ‘withdrawal’ Category

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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 i was going to delete this, but then i pulled back and read the whole thing…i could see my thought process as i was having a “borderline melt down”. even though my focus, in this blog, is on my withdrawal from meds and fibromyalgia, i have lived as a recovering borderline amongst other things. boy can my thoughts bounce around and i spared the laundry list! but watch the process! the fear, resentment, paranoia, blaming…oh what an angry little girl i can still be! (description of BPD below)

feeling well seems to be a blessing and a curse. i haven’t been around to write on this blog for awhile now…and i’m sure, if i continue with the work i’m trying to do, that my time will continue to be restricted but, i’m having a day…well several by now…that is leaving me feeling horrible. i can’t seem to be able to talk with anyone about all that is going on but i’m feeling guilty for having tried to choose a better path for my daughter, surviving several sincere suicide attempts, recovering from alcoholism and getting off addicting meds! yes, sometimes i honestly wish my path had zigged instead of zagged at all of these points. i’m screaming at god and looking at people who i thought were my friends and wondering why there is so much resentment and anger…why does it have to be mine too.

i’m usually fairly good at dodging emotional bullets…my whole life has been made up of that. but when there are just too many bullets in the air…god i wish i were wonder woman with the large amulets. but i’m not. i’m just a person, alone, trying to go with the flow and make the best decisions i can. even best of intentions often seem to be thrown back in your face with added crap.

i can’t apologize for being born into a rich family. that was never the grace that so many people seem to think it was. i’m slowly trying to pull up my boot strings over the fact that my father died and i was the only one not mentioned in his will. (this just happened september of ’07.) he mentioned his dogs, home health aids, brother’s grandchildren, other family members and the remainder to my daughter. this was the end of a bitter, life long struggle for a father’s love. the manipulative act of leaving everything to my daughter just…doesn’t suprise me. he can continue to reach out from the grave and manipulate.  and he’s succeeded. there is nothing more i can ever do and my father’s last efforts on this planet were to let people know just how much he hated me. his decisions have left a continued destruction of what family remains as they take that as a final declaration to what a horrible person i am. loss, loss and more loss compounded with judgement…from friends and family. god can anyone just stop gossiping and talk to me. talk to me about the truth? this world is not fair and i won’t yell “not fair”. that is a law i accepted a long time ago. i never set out looking for justice or fairness…life is not just and redemption is rare. i have never set out to intentionally hurt anyone but my actions are constantly interpreted as having ulterior motives and i can honestly say that i never set out to do good to gain anything other than to set back and see good done. i never want my name attached and i try to do as much anonymously as i can. i flinch if people talk of my good deeds publicly. but i do glow when i see good things happen. why wouldn’t anyone. i guess i try extra hard to those ends. i think it is the effort that offends people. i think it is that, i use my free time and resources to help others when ever i have them…often though to the extent of over extending myself. i don’t do that to martyr or put others to shame…no, i love to share in the efforts when ever possible but if no one else picks up on the work i feel obligated to finish what i start. if i did harm it wasn’t intentional and believe me when i say i live with the consequences and constant, nagging, resurfacing painful reminders. i don’t say this as an excuse…i don’t believe in excuses…but i need to remember that i’ve been a very sick person for most of my life and i’ve been tossed out and alone in trying to manage a very messed up life.  i don’t expect others to carry that burden, but i do wish others could view my decisions with some compassion and a bit of respect. i tried to do the very best i could. this seems to have become some sort of battle cry and i don’t think life should be such a battle. a person needs a resting point…some forgiveness and “you did the best you could”. because…i have addressed my illness and i have worked so, so hard to recover from illnesses most people do not recover from. but when i get slammed from all sides i wish i could still hide behind my illness. but, i don’t want to be forced back into the darkness of borderline, bipolar, eating disorders, alcoholism, addiction…too much. i just want to be and at times i think i just want to be alone. people are too hard for me to navigate. but i’m human and i get lonely. i guess that’s why i turn to writing on here. every once in awhile i peek my head out into the world of the living only to do a hasty retreat from their games. i’m not that savvy…i don’t navigate the game playing world of soap operas. it’s too prevalent in the circles i frequent…and i need to frequent them because my continued recovery depends on it. but, the very help i need is equally capable of undoing and destroying the progress i make. it seems that people only want you around if you’re down and failing but the moment you’re doing well and having some small successes they make a world of controversy over what you’re trying to do. i avoid a lot of group activities because i don’t “play well with others”. i try to grow with this issue…. i may be so much healthier now, but i guess basic human skills continue to elude me. but i have to ask if i’m more plugged in now than i allow the feed back to tell me. maybe that i’m having friction around these sick people (who i thought were healthier people) is a sign that i’m better and maybe i’m swimming in the wrong pool. i’ve invested 11 years of my life trying to live up to certain principles. not perfectly, but consistently.  i get worn down like this often and maybe it’s my depression. no, it’s the borderline thoughts in my head.

god…i’m blabbering and unraveling here.

i haven’t been able to tend to myself and i’ve become caught up in “friendships”, not of my choosing, that are very sick. some people are seriously disturbed. i should know better than to help people who present as borderlines! yes, they can jump in to call me a “friend” but that’s not what i am…with newly recovering, sick people, that’s how it goes…as a person just beginning on the road, a borderline, isn’t really capable of being a friend to anyone…not even themslevles. when you are struggling with so many inside voices you can’t consider anything going on outside of your mind. i’ve heard it when i’ve suggested helping another as a way towards recovering: “why should i help her…she doesn’t have anything to offer me“. now…i can see what helping another person can do for me…but it’s still a difficult path for me to walk. shoot i know what i was like…and being one doesn’t always leave you better off in seeing one. my heart goes out to people in the throws of this disorder. i grew up in the midst of a borderline family, but i got out…i want to stay out.  borderlines will always try to pull you into that hole with them. while having been a deeply disturbed bpd, i still have to agree that borderlines are the most dangerous population in the mental health world to tangle with. besides my own recovery process, i have read extensively and if you have done your home work then you know that i’m not damning anyone…bpd means seriously sick…

but this disorder is like no other as it is an affliction of the personality and not a “chemical imbalance” or organic brain syndrome. most simply, it is learned and must be unlearned. if you know the difference and where that falls on the nosology…i needn’t say more. i’m not saying that borderlines don’t need help, but you have to be very skilled and armed…set up to do the job. not being able to handle the disorder well is just as destructive, if not maybe more, than not trying at all. what they write about borderlines is true…i lived it and i remember what i was like…

i see what the remnants of borderline are still like in my life. i may have had significant recovery but really, the volume is just turned down very low…i am still borderline, just to a lesser degree…much lesser. i never want to see that volume turned up again. when i get scared and unravel as i’m doing now…the volume seems to want to get louder…that is the process of that disorder. it is a cacophony of destructive voices going off in your head…fighting the whole world and your self.

damnit! busted! ok, i see what’s going on…i was sitting outside, frittering away over a laundry list of resentments and woes. wow can some people throw zingers at me if they want to hurt me…and then i throw in a few myself…that’s it! ok…nothing is really wrong”here. sitting down to write this out when i couldn’t find anyone to talk to, is helping here. my wonderful psychologist walked me down this path, kicking and screaming for over 7 years and now…if i remember her lead…i can, with in reason, navigate that path alone when i must. and…i must do it alone a lot. with borderline…sometimes you get hit with a big one and sometimes small, but the blows can come in rapid succession and the voices can become very athoritarian!LOL in my “down” times, when my reserves are low (and they come as a direct result of neglecting my personal care), i can feel like i’m driving down a road loaded with speed bumps at 50 mph and that is a lot to lay on other people.

that is how us borderlines suck the souls out of others. to compound that…i was trying to give a hand up to another borderline and she grabbed my hand and started the long sustained pull of the borderline. a little is never enough and enough is never enough. we are vacuous, black holes! i know! i need, need, need…and on a bad day i can become a whiny six year old in just moments. thank god i can usually detect that rush of borderline behavior when it begins to seep in. sometimes i can’t be objective and the behavior carries me away.

i have to watch “people, places and things” as they say in my support group. i have to check and recheck my intentions, because i can slide down that darn slippery slope of borderline behavior…which is so much more insidious than my alcoholism (but the two play darn well together). constantly, i have to ask myself “why are you doing this”. it can be exhausting, keeping the disorder in check, but i count my blessings that i was given the insight to do it. it was a lot of sacrifice on the part of my psychologist and a scary road of trust and surrender on mine. i continue to seek guidance from other qualified people. managing this disorder gets easier as we get older…perhaps wiser. life won’t be perfect…but is it for anyone? being honest and realistic are two qualities i try so hard to embrace every day. doubt and those darn voices can try to destroy my serenity but i am the final word on what happens with my thoughts. i don’t have to act on every thought and i can surely just release most of them.

so, thoughts, fly away now…

i should garden and play with my dogs for a bit.

peace out

what is BPD?:

Raising questions, finding answers

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual’s sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the “borderline” of psychosis, people with BPD suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is more common, affecting 2 percent of adults, mostly young women.1 There is a high rate of self-injury without suicide intent, as well as a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicide in severe cases.2,3 Patients often need extensive mental health services, and account for 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations.4 Yet, with help, many improve over time and are eventually able to lead productive lives.

Symptoms

While a person with depression or bipolar disorder typically endures the same mood for weeks, a person with BPD may experience intense bouts of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last only hours, or at most a day.5 These may be associated with episodes of impulsive aggression, self-injury, and drug or alcohol abuse. Distortions in cognition and sense of self can lead to frequent changes in long-term goals, career plans, jobs, friendships, gender identity, and values. Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as fundamentally bad, or unworthy. They may feel unfairly misunderstood or mistreated, bored, empty, and have little idea who they are. Such symptoms are most acute when people with BPD feel isolated and lacking in social support, and may result in frantic efforts to avoid being alone.

People with BPD often have highly unstable patterns of social relationships. While they can develop intense but stormy attachments, their attitudes towards family, friends, and loved ones may suddenly shift from idealization (great admiration and love) to devaluation (intense anger and dislike). Thus, they may form an immediate attachment and idealize the other person, but when a slight separation or conflict occurs, they switch unexpectedly to the other extreme and angrily accuse the other person of not caring for them at all. Even with family members, individuals with BPD are highly sensitive to rejection, reacting with anger and distress to such mild separations as a vacation, a business trip, or a sudden change in plans. These fears of abandonment seem to be related to difficulties feeling emotionally connected to important persons when they are physically absent, leaving the individual with BPD feeling lost and perhaps worthless. Suicide threats and attempts may occur along with anger at perceived abandonment and disappointments.

People with BPD exhibit other impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, binge eating and risky sex. BPD often occurs together with other psychiatric problems, particularly bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and other personality disorders.

Treatment

Treatments for BPD have improved in recent years. Group and individual psychotherapy are at least partially effective for many patients. Within the past 15 years, a new psychosocial treatment termed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was developed specifically to treat BPD, and this technique has looked promising in treatment studies.6

read more:  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/borderline-personality-disorder.shtml

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april 25, 2008…hopefully that will be the day i can say was the first day i went with out taking a benzodiazapine, klonopin. it would be tempting to say that today ends an 11+ year addiction and a several month struggle to safely  off the drug. no, today is really the beginning of this new chapter in my life. years of therapy, involvement in AA and a relatively brief withdrawal period have offered me many opportunities to develop life skills and tools for dealing with life.

the biggest problem i’m perceiving right now is sleep. the last couple of weeks have been filled with poor sleep patterns. poor sleep is also a part of the territory that comes with fibromyalgia (d/x, 2001)…so it’s a bit of a double whammy here. healthy sleep is not really negotiable (not even in a healthy person). getting a good night’s sleep can be a larger determining factor in how the next day will go, over about any other factors there may be! if something isn’t going well, it’s usually attributed to not sleeping. like this morning…my thinking is still cloudy, i’m just wiped out and the pain is “annoying”. yes, i’m taking 300mg of lyrica and the first two symptoms i mentioned can be side effects of that drug…but i’ve been taking lyrica for several weeks now, and those other issues always become more intense when i’m going through bouts of poor sleep.

as we all know well, by now, healthy sleep is kind of the human version of “rebooting”.  sleep supports our immune system, rebuilds and repairs our body, it helps with fatigue, pain, depression to name a few. even irritable bowel can improve when sleep is regulated (but flairs when sleep is poor).

an aside/rant: many of us prefer not to take drugs/meds to manage symptoms. i’m joined with that school of thought. i want to discover the root cause of my problems and find a way to improve my overall health. yes, modern medicine is obsessed (and rakes in the cash) with chasing symptoms. honestly, every med that i’ve been prescribed was given to simply manage a symptom but never was there any meaningful help in addressing the cause of my problems. ok, by my own admission, i’m a little nutty…i have had mental health issues…but my life is not simply composed of symptoms…my disorders are real. i have real disorders with real diagnosis. i hate being manged differently than non-mental health patients. but that’s a discrimination that is older than time, and honestly…i have problems with the same discrimination issues raising in my own mind when dealing with another mentally ill person. so, i understand where docs and others are coming from. but fact remains that efforts to get off addicting medicines and deal with disorders like fibromyalgia can require good medical support if a patient hopes to be successful in navigating.for the most part, many of us have waded through these waters with our own research and the support of our peers who are doing the same. in this information age, that’s not so bad. taking action to manage our own health care can help empower us and put us in the driver seat. that boost in self-esteem is a tremendous aid in dealing with any disorder.

now, achieving good sleep hygiene…there are sleep specialists everywhere, so many good articles and so much research done in this area, that it’s almost amazing that we, americans, have such tremendous struggles with this 1/3 of our daily cycle. but then you look at our whacked out lifestyles and it’s no surprise. we are a society geared toward promoting and supporting frantic, ADHD-like living! how can we possibly prioritize doing “nothing” for 8 hours!

you gotta look at your other 16 hours and evaluate them. how are you feeling, are you effective…the entire list. if those 16 hours, that you’ve now turned into 20, are not the greatest, then…you can probably optimize your original 16 into being more functional and productive than the 20 if, you give those silly 8 hours of, doing nothing but sleeping, a high priority. those 8 hours of sleep will do more to determine how the next 16 will go, than any efforts expended during those 16 hours, or almost any drug, relationship, meal…you name it. no, life can’t be all about sleeping…but it really is.  i believe we can only go apx. 5 days with out any sleep (more or less). we will become psychotic, our systems will shut down. i’ve read rats only live 2-3 weeks with out sleep…whatever the exact measures…fact is we can’t live without sleep.

personally i try to break my life down in to three 8 hour portions. my 8 hours of sleep must be done in the same slot…together. but my 8 hours that should be work and 8 hours of general living: transportation, chores, eating, socializing, personal care…they can often be shuffled a bit. but i find breaking things down this way, budgeting and scheduling, actually gives me more time. i find time i didn’t know i had.

so in using tactics like that, i find that i can safely set aside 8 hours to manage my sleep. it is do-able and essential. i have to think…i would not just not show upfor work or class, or decide to work only 3 hours out of an 8 hour day…i make meetings a “must do” priority…why can’t i do that with sleep? well…now…at 45, after being clobbered with illness, i would never try to cheat on the time i give to sleeping. i try very hard to avoid naps and try to keep to a regular schedule.  here is a  page on webmd that has a variety of articles about sleep: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/default.htm i needn’t go into extensive lists here.

i’m sure most of you have been down this research road many times, as sleep disorders effect all of us. when you have to deal with meds and chronic disorders…this issue becomes a fact of life…and dealing with it is nearly a life or death issue. i probably needn’t remind many of you, but i need to remind myself. i’m falling back into a horrible sleep tangle again and meds are not an option…i gotta do it through lifestyle.

so, tonight, i’m going to bed without any klonopin, and upping my melatonin. enjoy your precious 8 hours.

peace out

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i thought i’d share a letter i completed. i made a difficult decision, to try to return to my graduate studies in counseling and i’m asking for a second chance after i completely unraveled, unknowingly, from multiple prescription drug addictions and entered into subsequent relapse in my alcoholism.

hi p.,
 
it’s been a couple of years now…after talking with a lot of people for a while, everyone’s input has led me back to the same spot: “go back to work on your degree in counseling”. so…
 
my BVR counselor, c., suggested that, in light of how things ended for me in the department, maybe i should initially contact you to talk about how i might be able to get back into the program to complete my masters degree in counselor education.
 
after all this time has passed and so many things have happened, i can see more clearly, what went wrong my last time around. yes, i wrestled with being very sick, but what i wasn’t fully aware of was that i had developed an addiction to pain medication after being prescribed the drugs for over two years! yes i was working on my counseling degree. yes i was active in AA. i was even counseling and working with so many alcoholics and addicts. but, since i never abused my medication and never got high off of it…drugs were never “my thing”…i didn’t see what was happening to me. at one point i told my doctors that i needed to stop taking the pain meds, but i didn’t realize that i was addicted. my behavior and judgment had gradually been changing and finally, when i did try to stop the meds…well i tailspinned into a total relapse with my drinking. but through it all…i couldn’t see what was happening.
 
amazing that with all the resources and experience i had…it happened (well i happened). and of course i can see all the elements of my unraveling now…the most sneaky aspect was that i got so busy working with others (interning)…at the end of a day i would feel that “i’ve been studying, counseling and working with other alcoholics and addicts, facilitating groups…i probably don’t need to get myself to my meetings and continue with the work that supports my continued recovery”. i’ve learned from raising this issue in meetings and while giving leads, that this is a very common cause for addiction and relapse in the helping professions. (you hear about it, but you can feel immune until it knocks on your door.) working in the counseling field can be full of “land mines” we don’t consider until we’ve stepped on one, and it’s not for lack of warning signs. this time around, things got much worse before they started getting better. i got back into AA in september of ’06. it’s been a good and productive 18+ months.
 
i just uncovered recently…and here’s a really good one…that i was addicted to klonopin! after over 11 years on the prescription drug…go figure. it was when i began a titrate off of all my medications and finally approached the detox from klonopin that, all of my addictions became so horribly clear to me. it took going through an intentional and “going into with your eyes open” detox off of meds (and i’ve been this route on alcohol) to understand and see what’s been going on over the years. it’s humbling to look back and think that “someone like me”,  could have become so tangled in so many addictions, for over a decade, even in active recovery, therapy, under doctors’ supervision, and studying to become a counselor!
 
i can’t say that everything is alright now. no, there’s a lot of stuff to continue to learn, clean up and work on. what i’m aware of now is how one can get “lost” in the midst of trying to be a counselor and…in life. there may be no perfect prevention, but there is a lot of “psychosocial insurance” available. i have a valuable past to illustrate what can lurk in the shadows, of even a seemingly together person…as i once thought i was. i’m a firm believer that the wreckage of our past can be our most valuable resource as we try to move forward.
 
with all of that said…am i crazy for wanting to re-enter the counseling program? maybe. i weathered some storms that woke me up and taught me some…great lessons. while i am still me, i can’t help but be changed. i have some good material to bring to the table. so…i’m wondering if i might be able to schedule a time to come in and meet with you to discuss what is going on in the program now and if i may still find a place there.
 
thank you for your time,

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looking at how withdrawal can trigger other disorders like fibromyalgia and considering how to perceive and treat the symptoms. trying to find balance and watching how i can even abuse my own “natural highs”. laughter is a great medicine. remembering the freedoms and habits we came by naturally as children can aid us in how to re develop lost habits that will help us as adults. how does everyone navigate their mazes of healthy living?

hi,
i’ve been out trying to catch up on all that has been let slide, while the withdrawal process has been a little too rough to manage well. this spring weather and sun has been great medicine. and…i’m so sick of being stuck inside over the winter, not feeling well, that i just have to be out there in the sun! but i’m at .25mg of klonopin and hanging in there with the lyrica (and yes, the lyrica is a bit of a problem for me). i’m glad to say that i’m substance free, barring those two! (off lamictal, neurontin and wellbutrin to name a few) it’s progress! soon they’ll be gone too.

since i have my withdrawal tied into a re appearance of my fibromyalgia…navigating between what is fibro and what’s benzo withdrawal has seemed difficult. i guess i’m feeling that it doesn’t matter which is causing symptoms since they’re nearly identical. the protocol for managing either of them is really the same. so i feel trying to fritter away over the details may be time just…frittered away.

has anyone experienced such co existing conditions? i think the “trauma” of withdrawal triggered the fibro, as it might trigger other similar conditions (chronic pain, CFS). i’ve read a lot of research on fibro and usually there is a “traumatic” event (illness, loss, etc) that precipitates the initial onset of fibro and once you have fibro…such events will trigger a reappearance of symptoms.

since my ultimate goal is to be free of pharmaceutical drugs…i don’t want to follow my dr.s’ impulse to pull out the prescription pad at the appearance of a new symptom. fibro and benzo withdrawal host a variety of shared symptoms…that’s just how it is. but, we all seem to be on the same page now and my docs and i seem to agree that, for me, consistently working towards lifestyle adjustments are the best medicine.

maintaining momentum is hard. there are many times that i don’t feel i have the energy, or i have too much pain to deal with the physical therapy, staying on a certain nutritional path and doing all that i need to do to support myself. but when i can get myself on a roll…create a momentum from the time i wake up (yes, personal velocity!)…and maintain it, i do better. yes it’s a struggle. i get very frustrated as my symptoms and treatment pull me in seemingly opposite directions at times. it takes everything i have, to get going in the right direction and maintain it. i often want to stop and nap, but if i slow down part way through the day, i will find myself down for the count, feeling achy and bad. i need to maintain my momentum and use my personal velocity techniques. (the physics of the mind…a great topic!)

finding balance is hard. when i feel good…i really feel good (compared to having felt horrible for months)…i just want to go all out and…for example: i’m walking with a friend…we’re naturally high energy and kind of competitive…the walk will turn into walk/jog…then walk/run and of course it ends in a few races. i’m flying and laughing and it feels just so darn freeing and great! but then…there are the consequences of “over doing it”. i will usually go down for the count, for a day or even two for even a small burst of exertion! i guess it’s similar to being on a restricted diet for diabetes and taking a taste of a desert…well then it tastes so good you eat the whole thing and boom! the sugar high and then crash. well, and the temptation of anything mildly addicting as even exercise can be is hard to resist…as a bipolar…moderation is hard word to pull into my vocabulary…i love my “highs”…i’m also a long recovering alcoholic and addict and believe me…that also lends to my nature of “excess and exploitation”. yes, i can be addicted and abuse my own “feel good” chemicals that my body generates. i can trip my body into full production and ride that puppy! harmless? in excess, actually it does hurt me. abusing my own biological highs will drag me down. and i know a lot of people with similar histories to mine discover and exploit…for example…the “runners high”. another interesting topic to chase!

laughter helps pain, depression, immune system, etc. at least laughing, which helps my pain and depression immensely,  has no ill side effects (for an average person, not post surgery etc.). i can laugh to excess…well except for being seen as obnoxious by those not partaking…there really is nothing bad that can come of excessive laughing. so, laughing is a luxury i can indulge in. i do make an effort to laugh and my friends know the routine. i know all the good places to score a laugh from. i had to take a friend to “evil wal mart” the other day. if you go to the childrens’ toy section…seek out toys like “tickle me elmo”…set off as many as you can. juvenile…yes. but in matters such as these…the need to score a laugh…who cares what anyone thinks! it is never right to score laughter at another person’s expense (it’s not good for your karma, etc). no, no one or thing should be damaged in the process. well, some things can be damaged…i had a pile of old records that had been left in my garage…they’d been water damaged…i had brought my bb gun over and was shooting cans (yes, juvinile hill billy entertainment), but then we decided to play skeet with the records. i shouted “pull”, my friend tossed an album and i shot it in the center area! we laughed and played album skeet for awhile. the album i shot was an old grateful dead album. well…it was dead already.

finding the good, healthy habits in my childhood. i think of things that made me laugh when i was a child. it seems children laugh more often and more freely than adults do. it’s another healthy skill we loose as adults. we’re so groomed to behave ourselves and act like adults that it can smother the very healthful skills that can keep us well. (belly breathing is another skill well loose as we “mature”.)

yes, thinking back to my younger years, unfolds many answers to health in my…gulp…middle age.

so, that’s where the bb gun came from…my youth. when we were younger we spent a lot of time in the northwoods of wisconsin. our parents would be inside playing cards, talking and drinking beer. we’d go in and collect cans as they were emptied, put them up on the log pile and shoot them with a bb gun. as long as the cans kept coming we had a good time. it doesn’t matter that there was always a great presence of alcohol and drinking and thus the behavior issues…darn it the cans and shooting are what i’m going to remember! i may have not had the greatest childhood but i do have many good times i can refer to. looking back at my childhood in this way also helps me “reframe” what has been such a sad portion of my life. i’m learning to pull these great positive things from what was a dark and murky area. gradually, my childhood is becomming a wonderful resource! cool side effect.

looking at how withdrawal can trigger other disorders like fibromyalgia and considering how to perceive and treat the symptoms. i look towards embracing my personal velocity to hold on to my momentum which will carry me through the day. trying to find balance and watching how i can even abuse my own “natural highs”. laughter is a great medicine. remembering the freedoms and habits we came by naturally as children can aid us in how to re develop lost habits that will help us as adults.

just how does everyone else find their way through the mazes that can lead to healthy living?

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well…i haven’t written or really been on line for the last few days. i’m a bit rushed this morning but, i guess when you get to feeling better for a bit, things get busy as you paddle to catch up. and there’s just the catching up inspite of not feeling great. the darn fibro alone simply wears on me, trying to make all my appointments and obligations. when i get home i can barely focus to read, let alone write.

i still maintain that getting off the benzos is a good thing…it’s means so much to be completely clean and then, “on top” of what is going into my body and how it’s affecting me.  while i want to rush and just dump this last .25 mgs, i will have to try to be patient…this weekend i’ll cut to about .13mgs, then i will be off the benzo/klonopin by the next weekend. there will be “aftershocks” even after the final dose…but i’m familiar with that route. being a recovering alcoholic who was addicted to pain meds for years as well, has offered me many “benefits” in this arena…my personal experience and mostly those of my peers!

i have several friends who’ve successfully detoxed off pmeds and are living good lives now. they inspire me.

i will be off all of my meds when i take that last klonopin in less than 2 weeks! that means no more: lamictal, wellbutrin, neurontin and klonopin as well as a mix of other prn meds.

geesh…the docs were all too willing to get me dosed up for over a decade…well two…but where did they go when i wanted help getting off an addicting benzodiazapine that was only being maintained…really…to avoid going through withdrawal. after the first couple of months the benzo was no longer providing the desired effect at 2-3mgs! i was hanging in some suspended place all of those years…the dose simply being like a “space holder”. attempts to go off did reveal symptoms…OF WITHDRAWAL! but the doc and all, had me convinced that those symptoms were from my “illness”, i needed to stay on the klonopin…and no one…NOT ONE professional ever suggested, strongly enough, that prolonged use of a benzo could be causing the chronic depression and fatigue i had succumbed to after a the first couple of years of adhering to my doctors orders with my meds! granted i was wresting with the fibro too…but all the more reason to get clean!

i know i may be moving fast compared to the schedule many others maintain. there are many who do agree with my approach and have done a similar program. but, i have no physician or practioner supporting and guiding what i’m doing (not by choice). the side effects roll in like the waves in the ocean…but there would be side effects if i went slow and i can’t see dealing with this discomfort for a year if i can bear with it all for about a total of no more than 12 weeks. yes that’s me sticking to a schedule even if it’s rough on my body. but staying on this drug is more damaging than getting off could ever be.

i take a lot of supportive measures with nutrition, meditation, exercise, laughter and friends. for me, i have to try to be on track by june to hopefully start back to classes

yes, our bodys do tend to follow their own schedule but…if i followed this darn body around i don’t know where i’d be! probably where i am, because that’s what i’ve been doing!

…so i rush…at this point no set of symptoms can trump what i deal with, having fibromyalgia, and thus set me back to changing my approach to my taper schedule. as i see it…if i back off my schedule…maintain or up the klonopin dsg to way-lay symptoms…i’m prolonging the inevitable. i’m already sick and draging, so what’s a little more if i can have this over with in as timely a maner as possible. i’ve lost so many years and time is precious.

 it’s been a rough and bumpy ride. the days are unpredictable packages of fog, fritz, fatigue and pain, punctuated with a clarity that motivates me to get clean. i’m so grateful to be able to detox…

many won’t have the chance to detox for a variety of reasons.

rough as detox is…it is a gift.

there is no pain-free, side effect free, way to withdraw from anything! i know this from experience…mine and other’s.

i have had many good hours but few completely good days. when i feel good i have a habit of “binging” on my available energy and lack of pain. of course the flip side is that i get wiped out, and feel the “hurt” of my fibro. i think the lyrica is being helpful, the most severe pain symptoms have abated, but i fight the fog and jittery feelings (which can be debilitating).

i don’t want to mess with the lyrica right now because the only thing i’m changing for now, is the decreasing doses of klonopin. a few weeks after the klonopin is gone i’ll work with my physician to tweek the lyrica and make decisions about managing my fibro. with the flood of symptoms i have from detox it’s hard to weed out which symptom is attributed to detox and which belongs to the fibro. oh, lest we forget this issue of bipolar… so one thing at a time.

my driving reason for wanting off all of my pmeds was the crazy overlap and layering of drugs that led me to where i just couldn’t tell what emotions and situations were me or my meds!

from now on the motto is to “keep it very simple and stay the course”.

and for now,

peace out!

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