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Posts Tagged ‘benzodiazapine’

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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yesterday was an interesting day…i started off feeling pretty bad….fatigue, anxiety, brain zaps…but i was asked to give a lead so i had to pull it together and get into town in the later afternoon. i went to my women’s mtg (AA) and it was interesting. later i ran into a girl was having a very bad time dealing with her fibro and i went up and talked with her…we weaved through the usual and interesting thing…she mentioned the drugs she was on and said that a tiny amount of cymbalta had really helped her but then she mentioned the lyrica and i told her i was on that too. she said it was giving her tachicardia and anxiety type feelings…kind of like if you’d drank too much coffee! wow, i had to tell here that i had been having that problem too but that i was attributing it to detoxing off benzos. hmmmm, ok…then i gave another girl a ride to where i was going to give my lead and on the way we weaved through our med nightmares. we had both wrestled with lamictal and were comming off klonopin but then she said she’d been given lyrica (she wasn’t in on the previous conversation) and she said it made her feel like she’d drank too much coffee and i just blurted “me too!”. 

(aside here…fellow bloggers…what happened to the spell checker when they changed the format here? i reeeeally need it) 

so, this morning i opened my 150mg. lyrica and poured about half of it out…not the most exact way but my eye is pretty good and i can’t afford to get another prescription for 75’s right now. i know i won’t get a good reception if i say i want off so i’ve grown to avoid that discussion with my docs. but i don’t want to stay on this anymore.

i seem to see a trend in that, the more refined a drug is the worse the side effects seem to be. now i took neurontin (gabapentin, and lyrica is pregabalin…they’re related) and really had no lingering side effects (that i could notice) but it never made me real jittery like the lyrica. it could give me a lift at times but…so with all the bad press on lyrica…and i don’t have time to pull articles right now…

i want off my lyrica. since i’m in this rural and kinda underserved area and my docs are just not into my being off my meds i have to do what i can on my own. not medically sound but, around here the sound medical thing seems to be to load up on meds! so…i’ll be “unsound” for now. the worse thing that can happen (and i have well over 11 years of dealing with these drugs so…), is i won’t feel so super great…but anxiety and depression don’t freak me out and i have healthy ways of dealing with even extreme feelings…they’re not emotions…they are feelings from the meds, and for me…i can tell the difference.

worse comes to worse…i go to sleep…breath deep…go to my “special place” (guided imagery)…and sleep it off. i do some stretching, yoga and even when i feel like my hair’s going to fly off and my eyes pop out…i get outside, play with my dogs and throw out some laughs and “i love you”s. yes it’s the “fake it ’til you make it”, “behave your way into right thinking” and old “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach. (please bear with my tough gal stuff…things do get very bad for me too) but having few medical resources…being very familiar with my body and mind…having a lot of discipline in yoga, meditation etc., i can usually pull my “rough rider” approach to surviving this. i don’t expect others to do this and there’ve been times i can’t drag myself up to do either…but the alternatives are not good. yes i have my “whimpy” days when i curl up and sob and get angry at god…goodness have i had fights with my god. but, as my one friend tells me…”you have this can-do attitude” and i just barrel through things. i don’t expect others to have this sort of cowboy mentality and perhaps i don’t hope this for others either…

this attitude of mine came from years of abuse and being told by my parents that i “couldn’t be sick” (just not allowed)…i was a hypochondriac…”oh just stop complaining”. then there’s been a medical community that’s given me a similar reception at times…so what do you do? well if you mean to survive this crazy maze of life, and i started at an early age, i guess you cop an attitude like mine. i still keep to myself a lot. i’ve grown to embrace aspects of it. writing this blog is very out of character because (you don’t air your dirty laundy mentality) i tend to avoid admitting not being well or that i’m stumbling, i hide it from people as much as i can. i don’t call my sponsor when i should (AA). it leads to some isolation at times and i shouldn’t be so much that way. ya know…it’s probably ok for me to show up at my meetings looking like crap and dragging some days…when i feel like crap and i’m dragging…other people do it, and i guess it’s just part of being human and working through recovery…but that’s a hard pill for me to swallow!

i would have gladly accepted the help of a good doctor and i have had a few over the years. i think it’s great when people find a doc who works with them and they get help. having bad days and struggling is not a sign of weakness or failure…it comes with the territory. living with mental illness and then the meds is a very hard life at times. some tenderness and self-forgiveness…going easy on yourself is definately in line.

[please note:  this is aobut my experience and is by no means advice! if you have a doctor who will work with you…at all…use him/her.]

peace out!

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it’s not a bad day today. the allergy symptoms seem to have subsided. i took zyrtec and am taking 600mg guafinesin so that should help. i wish i could find a better way to deal with the allergies. i have a very lazy immune system with several issues that can’t be nailed down. i had a positive ANA, the obligatory sky high epstein barr titers, i do not produce enough white cells, my sed rate never raises when i have an infection…and so on…. (the guaf is for my fibromyalgia but….i’m still on lyrica 300mg and down to .5mg of klonopin.)

i’m just a bit fuzzy but it’s way better than where i was the last two days.

i’ve started “the road back” program for detoxing off the benzos with their recommended suppliments. i’m not noticing any problems with the protien suppliment and i could certainly use more protien in my diet. i’m pretty much a vegitarian and i have a bit of a difficult time keeping my protien intake up there…but that’s from laziness not the ability for a vegitarian diet to provide adequate protien. i do eat fish and occasionally “good” chicken. i’m just not fond of meat and that needn’t be discussed as i’m sure you all know all the politics of meat.

well i’m looking forward to a decent day. i have a new counselor (apt today) i’m working with since i severed ties with the psychiatric group i’d been with for over 10 years, when they said they wouldn’t work with me anymore if it was my decission to get off my meds. i thumb my nose to them! she seems pretty cool and we get along just great (art, dogs, no meds etc…).

i don’t have any bees in my bonnet today…but see the post below for some good links!

well i hope everyone is having as beautiful a day as we’re having in s.e. ohio! it’s appalachian spring here!

peace out

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