Author Topic: eli's story  (Read 49143 times)

[Buddie]

eli's story
« on: February 02, 2013, 03:08:11 am »
Well, I’m sitting here in the big, plush easy chair in the family room listening to the Moody Blues – “Your Wildest Dreams.” I haven’t heard it for years but just happened to google Moody Blues and this is the first song that came up. I can barely think of a more appropriate song for this moment. Three years ago, possibly to this very minute, I was ending a three-week stay at a psych hospital in Harrisburg, PA. I spent three weeks there under suicide watch. I survived quite a bit during my stay at the hospital - a “taper” off 4 mg clonazepam; a failed “trial” of a tricyclic anti-depressant as well as a trial of Wellbutrin – both of which only served to intensify my misery. About halfway through my stay at the hospital, it was decided that I should undergo ECT in hopes of eradicating the black depression. So, for that time I was switched from clonazepam to Ativan because Ativan has a much shorter half-life. The reason for that was simply that ECT does not work with benzos in the brain. I had four ECT treatments given every other day. On the “in between” days I was put on what they called a “mini-withdrawal”- no benzos at all until after the next ECT treatment. Of all the cruelty at that place, that was the worst. I was in constant acute w/d for a week and a half. I was forced to go to in-house AA meetings and also, not just attend other therapy sessions, but also take part in them. An indescribably horrendous experience.

On that Friday evening, about one hour after my last ECT treatment, my wife rescued me from that place and I stumbled outside, down some steps, over a sidewalk, and across the parking lot. It had just begun to snow. I looked back at my footprints in the snow and wondered how I made those tracks. I felt like I wasn’t even there – like I was nowhere –like I didn’t even exist. Surreal, surreal, surreal. The dp/dr was unimaginable. I hoped and literally prayed that I would die before getting to the car…but I didn’t.

So, as I sit here now in my right mind, comfortable, at peace, and connected to reality, I am living beyond my wildest dreams. I thought this was an impossibility three years ago – even 15 month ago. Nothing is impossible (one of the dozens of lessons I have learned from this journey).

My complete story is very long and circuitous. I won’t bore anyone with all the details because it would literally result in a book. The condensed, “abstract” version is: I spent 40 years drinking alcoholically. At about the 28th year of drinking, I was getting panic attacks (from the booze and some life situations). I went to the doctor. He gave me Xanax (which worked well for maybe 2 weeks). He also gave me Paxil which threw me into a tailspin of panic attacks and suicidal depression. It took a year and a half (and dozens of psych drug trials) for me to emerge from that 3-day Paxil experience. The only thing that helped me emerge was the increased alcohol intake. Of course, I was switched to clonazepam over that time, and I took it every day while I also drank. I stayed on the clonazepam for a total of 13 years. I was told I would need it forever…and I believed it.

In my 40th year of alcoholism, I finally quit drinking for good. After two weeks, I fell into unbelievable anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I didn’t realize for several more months that I would never be well again until I ditched the clonazepam – all of it. I was in severe tolerance w/d. After one to two months of tapering, I was completely off the benzo. Let the success story begin.

I am currently a few days shy of 30 months off clonazepam. Over the last year or so, I have thought about writing a success story. My biggest difficulty with that has been the question – “What does success mean – a least to me?” In the past couple days, I have answered that question. The answer for me simply is the answer to another easier question - “Am I at least as well as I was before this whole mess started – before I got off the clonazepam or maybe even before I started taking the clonazepam nearly 16 years ago?” The answer to both parts of the question: Yes, I am much, much better. In fact, I am better than I have ever been in my entire life. I am not exaggerating at all. From that perspective, I could have written this at about 22 months off. That is when I knew beyond a doubt that I was better than I had ever been in my life.

I am calmer than I have ever been in my life. No booze or benzos required. They were only escalating my anxiety and depression. My sense of humor is huge and I am able to laugh as I never did before. I am wiser than I have ever been. I can see deep meaning in so many aspects of life that I never even thought about before. My mental cognition, ability, and energy are off the charts now. Physically, I no longer take Nexium or any PPI for acid reflux. I took PPIs for 15 years starting way back when I was originally prescribed benzos (1997). Also, at about 18 months off, all my allergies disappeared. I had been severely allergic to most nuts and fruits for a couple decades. Now I eat absolutely everything (except Brussels sprouts and tripe – only because I can’t stand them). Pollen allergies left at the same time. I don’t know if it’s from getting off the benzos, but I’ll take it.

I do have a few minor lingering s/x. My sleep could be better, but then I drank for decades. It can take years for alcoholics to regain good sleep. Tinnitus is [...] hanging around (very common). And of course there is almost always the perpetual song running through my head – especially in the morning. But I am able to at least “change the record” simply by suggestion. My mind [...] is very active, but I am easily able to direct the mental energy into “good places.”

If I had to put a percentage on my healing, it would easily exceed 100%. I am better mentally and spiritually than I have ever been – even long before benzos. Physically, my only real problem is some arthritis which has nothing to do with benzos.

I remember when I got out of the psych hospital, I was in severe acute w/d and had nearly one hundred separate s/x. There was only a handful that I didn’t experience. They are virtually all gone with the exception of a few minor ones which are only nuisances at worst.

I always liked looking at the healing time line of different individuals to measure my own healing against. Here is mine.

Month 1: Very similar to the weeks of tapering. Lots of anxiety, depression, dp/dr, insomnia, and restlessness.  At the end of month 1, the bottom dropped out and s/x increased in intensity by at least a factor of 10, but they were not as acute as those experienced in the psych hospital and immediately after discharge from the hospital nor were there as many different ones. 

Months 2 through 6: Little or no improvement noticed really. The greatest hallmark was the extreme terror that would appear from nowhere at times. Morning terrors every morning and extreme fear to get out of bed and face the day. Extremely sensitive to cold, noises, movement, and any other sensory input.

Month 7: First noticeable improvement when I was able to go outside and do some yard work even though I shook uncontrollably and was very fearful.  Dp/dr was [...] nearly unbearable – extreme dizziness.

Month 10: Recall the first morning I had an actual desire to do some exercise – 10 or so minutes on the elliptical. Gradually improved in duration from there as well as adding weight bearing exercises. Otherwise, s/x remained pretty constant.

Months 11 to 13: Very little change in s/x.

Months 14 and 15: At end of month 14, I had an “awakening” one morning (September 28, 2011) that I was well enough to possibly write something on FB for the first time in two years. I wrote a couple sentences about being on a journey and finally beginning to return. It was the first “social” improvement since the whole thing started and was the first noticeable lifting of two years of depression. Morning dreads disappeared.

Month 16: At my grandson’s birthday party, I was confident and unafraid to drink the first cup of coffee I had had in over two years. This was about one month after my entry on FB (October 30, 2011 – snowstorm here in Central PA). This was the very day I KNEW that I was going to get well. The depression of over two years was nearly completely gone.     

Months 17 to 22: Continued improvement in nearly all s/x.  Most noticeable was vastly improving cognition. Mental tasks were becoming MUCH easier and creating no anxiety or panic. Very calm. In month 22, my confidence was finally at a level which allowed me to take on a job requiring a high level of mental cognition and emotional calmness.

Months 23 to present (month 30): While the mental s/x of anxiety and depression had already vanished, other lingering s/x have improved or disappeared – usually without me noticing. Heart palps are gone. Inner vibrations gone. The only burning sensations now are sometimes when I wake from a nap. Dp/dr is very mild now. I had that one long before w/d began back in my drinking days.

As I close, I honestly believe that my story is one of the more extreme ones – with the decades of alcoholism, 13 years of clonazepam use, and three weeks of torture in a psych hospital. This is a doable journey by anyone really. There is nothing special about me. It just takes time. You have to hold on, and when you think you can’t hold on any longer, you have to hold on.

You may not “feel” [...] through much of the journey, but you have [...]. It is right there in the deep recesses of your very being. It is inside every one of us and constantly whispers to us. Don’t let the shouting of your ailing brain convince you that it’s not there.  It is there. It is speaking…constantly speaking truth and saying to hold on one more minute, one more hour, one more day…until you are one more healed man or woman. ..who then becomes a voice of [...] for someone else to hear over the noise of their ailing brain.

Hold on. Just hold on. And you will heal. It’s a promise.

Blessings,

[...]

Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2013, 03:25:41 am »
I love your story , and It gives me some [...].  I'm suffering so very bad right now .  Thank-you :smitten:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2013, 03:50:00 am »
thank you [...] for telling your story!

God bless :smitten:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2013, 04:21:38 am »
Oh, [...]. I'm so happy for you. I feel the grace and presence of God with you.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Waiting.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2013, 12:36:08 pm »
Ty so much!  Happy for u!  I feel like I am the worst one. U give me [...].  [...]
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2013, 01:07:48 pm »
[...],

How can I express to you what an unfailling and amazing support you have been to me -- and we have only connected here in the last couple of weeks.  You are one amazing soul.  Worthy of all the beauty that life is bringing to you.  I know many others that you have supported feel the same way.  Thank you for so much for posting the timeline -- it so helps those of us who find ourselves couch or bedbound after many months to have [...] that the corner is coming!!!!

I am so thrilled to be reading this with my breakfast this morning!!
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2013, 03:08:02 pm »
Thank you soooo much [...] - from the bottom of my heart & the depths of my soul.
 Your story & posting was a ray of [...] for me this this morning as I struggle on.
Its so hard to believe in wellness -when one feels so sick- & for so long.
If not for those here who have made it through -& who take the time to come back  & post -
it would be hard to believe that recovery is possible.
You help many to try & keep on keeping on.
Your compassionate words are a gentle salve to all the places of pain
Blessings to you,

[...]
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2013, 07:12:15 pm »
Thank you so much for your story needed it today.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2013, 09:39:17 pm »
Thank you [...], I needed the encouragement to continue on. I'm in my 25th week off and having terrible w/draw s/x. [...]
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: eli's story
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2013, 10:44:08 pm »

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Dear [...],

KP and I are so happy to read more of your story here today and are so pleased to hear of all the healing that has come to you.  It is horrendous what you had to get through to be at this point but you can now be truly free to live your life in the very best way.  I wish it could have came in an easier way but I am thrilled for you that it came

Thank you for sharing with us so much encouragement.  It is shocking how much is needed to successfully finish the Benzo journey.  You are a strong voice of [...] for so many here.  Thank you. 

And thank you, too, for the promise, “Hold on. Just hold on. And you will heal. It’s a promise.”.  I need to hear that kind of promise often even now at 4 1/2 months free and think I will continue to for sometime yet.  Healing is amazing but waiting for more can be hard.  Hearing again that it really will comes makes it possible to keep going and that really is the only choice.

Blessings upon you,

KP and [...]
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.