Author Topic: 3.5 Year Success Update  (Read 7733 times)

[Buddie]

3.5 Year Success Update
« on: July 27, 2015, 04:28:41 pm »
Hi Buddies!

It has been weighing on me for awhile to come back and post a success update, especially since I had some setbacks and major life changes take place  :).

This is a little long, but I thought it was crucial to share every aspect of the journey to spread some hope through all the ups and downs of recovery!

Benzo Withdrawal:

I was halfway through law school and studying for finals. I could not get my mind to shut off to get sleep at night so I tried taking Benadryl and ended up with an adverse reaction resulting in my first panic attack. I was freaked out and went to a doctor who prescribed me klonopin to take for the week of exams. I gladly took the K for one week and stopped, feeling completely fine. Two weeks later I began to experience terrible anxiety and panic attacks again out of the blue (which I now know was probably from withdrawing from the klonopin and some celebratory post-exam drinking). I did not know what was happening to me, so I went back on the klonopin. I felt horrible the whole time I was on it (for about another month) and literally morphed into a shell of my former self mentally and physically seemingly overnight. The not so wise doctor I went to kept increasing my dose of klonopin over this month to 1.5 mg. I had to medically withdrawal from law school and move home. By the grace of God I found a benzo-wise doctor who helped me with a slow and gradual taper over the next 10 months. I was benzo free in November of 2011  :thumbsup:.

I was not prepared at all for how long post-withdrawal recovery could take even after what seemed like such a long taper for a short term user. The main symptoms I experienced were insomnia, high anxiety, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, head pressure, depression, and dp/dr. I felt I was sucked into a deep hole of despair, and I would never be able to climb out. Everyday felt like ground hogs day and I felt like a broken record with family and friends. All I wanted was to be "normal" again, but I was fearful I would never recover. Reading the success stories was crucial to helping me maintain hope. I also turned to God and my faith deepened so much during this journey. When I was weak, He was strong for me.

With God's strength alone and trusting in His plans, during withdrawal I was able to do some incredible things. I worked a full time job in non-profit doing something I could be passionate about, I planned a wedding and was married and built a house. I knew when God would open a door for me during withdrawal that He wanted me to walk through it and learn to have a daily dependence on His strength to help me follow the paths He laid out for me, even when they seemed impossible. However, I did struggle during this time wanting to feel joy and happiness for these major life events, but instead feeling numb and depressed. This did teach me that feelings can not always be trusted. Our emotions can waver both during withdrawal and outside of it, but we cannot allow our feelings to control our lives.

After our wedding (16 months benzo free) I had a glorious 5 month stretch where I felt completely healed. During this time I finished building our house, moved into it and switched to a new job!

Setback:

I felt that I could finally close the door on this chapter in my life. After 5 months of feeling like my old self, I started my new job and a week later went on a week long vacation with friends. During this vacation, I thought I could indulge in some pina coladas and try drinking again. A few days after the trip some old symptoms started to appear. I tried to ignore them and brush them off, but unfortunately they became stronger and stronger. I had the insomnia come back, the high anxiety, the depression... they did not come back to the same level of intensity as they were initially after withdrawal, however they still made me feel completely defeated. I couldn't believe how quickly I retreated back into survival mode completely forgetting my 5 months of healing and thinking again I would never come through this.

This setback shook my confidence big time as I thought once the benzo recovery ended, I would never have to revisit it again. I now think it was a combination of the stress of so many life changes and the alcohol (too much too soon) that caused this setback. I hoped it would only be a couple months at the most, but unfortunately this setback dragged on for another year with waves and windows that way too slowly lessened in intensity as the year went on.

Surprise Pregnancy:

I was finally starting to feel like myself again after a year of being in a setback last summer (July 2014). I had now been married for almost a year and a half, and I started to think about when we should start a family. However, the last setback had shaken my confidence to the core and now I was afraid that getting pregnant and having a baby may cause another setback. I could no longer trust in my recovery. What would the crazy pregnancy hormones do to me? How would I handle the medications I could be given during childbirth? What about postpartum depression? I prayed to God for clarity, but just felt gripped by fear every time I would try to think about it. I thought for sure I would never have the confidence to move forward with having a family and this devastated me.

Well, once again God had other plans for me. After a couple months of thinking about this, my husband and I had our first ever "oops" night in August. I immediately felt this was not just any "oops." Sure enough three weeks later I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive! I felt fear wash over me, as I realized this could potentially throw me into another setback again and it was out of my control. However, deep within me I knew this was God's plan and timing and I clung to this. Those first couple months of pregnancy the hormones did throw me for a bit of a loop. I was feeling more anxious and was not sleeping well. These feelings should be very normal for a surprise pregnancy and the typical first trimester woes. I think going through withdrawal and then the setback left me with a little PTSD however. Anytime I feel "normal" intense emotions that remind me of withdrawal I can start to think of all I have been through and panic that I may go backwards.

After I settled into the pregnancy the intense emotions subsided and I continued to feel more and more recovered with each passing day. Once again though the fear crept in about handling any medications given during childbirth (I have not taken any medicine at all since the benzo). I decided I would try to do childbirth all natural and I prepared for this with hypnobirthing audio tapes and hiring a doula.

Of course childbirth didn't go according to my plans (and God probably just laughs when I try so hard to make them). I ended up with a very long labor where I needed Pitocin, antibiotics and an epidural. I handled all of these medications and the stress of an intense labor very well and had absolutely no effects from them afterwards. I now know God wanted to take away some of the fear by showing me I could do this!  ;D

Some fear about postpartum depression and how my body would handle the hormones dropping after pregnancy also plagued me. I am happy to report I have a beautiful, healthy three month old baby girl. My body survived pregnancy and childbirth with no major setback.

Closing Thoughts:

I truly think with more and more time our bodies continue to heal and get stronger. Things we may not have been able to tolerate early on, we can tolerate much better as more time passes. I think faith in our Creator is crucial for getting through this arduous journey and for being able to still find beauty and purpose in the midst of the deep despair and pain. God can use all of our trials on earth for a greater purpose if we let Him. He does not promise us a life without troubles, but He can be the strength we need to get through them.

I still will not have alcohol or caffeine, and still do try to avoid medications aside from an occasional Tylenol (on a sidenote I also tolerated the prenatal vitamins and omega-3 pills very well). I hope some day many years down the road I can possibly try alcohol again, but I am not sure if that will ever happen.

I do think I still have some PTSD from this experience whenever intense emotions arise from life circumstances. Even though the emotions are nowhere near the degree I felt them in withdrawal, feeling intense anxiety or sadness, or having multiple sleepless nights can still trigger some level of fear within me. I just pray with the passing of more time, the slight PTSD continues to fade.

Bottom line, even with setbacks and major life transitions taking place during withdrawal, you can continue to heal and this will become more and more of a distant memory. Please cling to this hope and continue to take things one day at a time! Prayers and Blessings to all of you still in the throes of withdrawal.  :angel:
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2015, 05:11:38 pm »
What a lovely story. And congratulations on the birth of your child!
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2015, 05:32:05 pm »

I truly think with more and more time our bodies continue to heal and get stronger. Things we may not have been able to tolerate early on, we can tolerate much better as more time passes. I think faith in our Creator is crucial for getting through this arduous journey and for being able to still find beauty and purpose in the midst of the deep despair and pain. God can use all of our trials on earth for a greater purpose if we let Him. He does not promise us a life without troubles, but He can be the strength we need to get through them.

This is the second success story in just several days that has really blown me away.  Thanks, [...], for sharing it with everyone.  It makes me happy; not that you have been through so much, but that you have come through victorious, with gained wisdom, and a precious, healthy baby, to boot.  Congratulations to you!

I agree with your comment above re:  faith in the Creator.  I didn't have much of that prior to this experience, let me tell you.  Fear ruled my life.  I figured myself to be pretty much an atheist at that point.  Not any longer!  Benzo withdrawal has brought me to my knees, to a place of simply knowing things I don't think I could have otherwise.  The suffering is the deepest I've experienced, but I do feel as well that it has a definite purpose, and I know I have had a hand in creating it... as I do and will have a hand in ultimately overcoming it.   :thumbsup:

Enjoy your wonderful life & blessings to you and your family.

Serenity  :smitten:

« Last Edit: July 27, 2015, 05:38:07 pm by [Buddie] »
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2015, 05:40:37 pm »
Great story [...] and thanks for posting! Always great to hear that there is indeed an end to all of this somewhere down the line :thumbsup:

Take care of that new baby :)

tryin'

 
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2015, 05:56:29 pm »
 :thumbsup:
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2015, 07:04:01 pm »
Great update [...], thanks for coming back....
Babies are awesome.....wish you well. :)
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2015, 07:07:40 pm »

I truly think with more and more time our bodies continue to heal and get stronger. Things we may not have been able to tolerate early on, we can tolerate much better as more time passes. I think faith in our Creator is crucial for getting through this arduous journey and for being able to still find beauty and purpose in the midst of the deep despair and pain. God can use all of our trials on earth for a greater purpose if we let Him. He does not promise us a life without troubles, but He can be the strength we need to get through them.

This is the second success story in just several days that has really blown me away.  Thanks, [...], for sharing it with everyone.  It makes me happy; not that you have been through so much, but that you have come through victorious, with gained wisdom, and a precious, healthy baby, to boot.  Congratulations to you!

I agree with your comment above re:  faith in the Creator.  I didn't have much of that prior to this experience, let me tell you.  Fear ruled my life.  I figured myself to be pretty much an atheist at that point.  Not any longer!  Benzo withdrawal has brought me to my knees, to a place of simply knowing things I don't think I could have otherwise.  The suffering is the deepest I've experienced, but I do feel as well that it has a definite purpose, and I know I have had a hand in creating it... as I do and will have a hand in ultimately overcoming it.   :thumbsup:

Enjoy your wonderful life & blessings to you and your family.

Serenity  :smitten:

Serenity, I agree with you so much on this as well. Being a fresh out of college, young and somewhat na´ve person when this all began, I never in a million years thought something like this could happen to anyone let alone to me. Benzo withdrawal brought me to my knees as well and has taught me so many lessons I could have never learned otherwise. I have let go of my plans for life for the most part and trust that God's plans are and will always be better than mine. I no longer care about wealth and status (which was what drove me to study law), I care so much more about [...], relationships and living out my purpose for being here. So while there is an inhumane amount of pain and suffering endured during the relentless withdrawal, there is still beauty and wisdom to be found at the end of it. And a perspective on life that some people may never have the chance to get.
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2015, 09:39:09 pm »
Thank you so much for taking the time to post your very well-written and honest story.  I was particularly interested in your take on episodes of PTSD, as I am newly healed but still feel a bit shocked by the horror of how this has all gone down and I've identified a few triggers that still seem to be able to set me off--mainly reminders that people around me haven't understood what I've been going through and still give off vibes of suspicion rather than kindness.

I am so glad you got your baby!  Our first grandson arrived in the middle of my ordeal and he has been such a help.  There's nothing like a baby to help you slow down and enjoy each good moment that comes your way.

God bless.
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2015, 10:25:00 pm »
Such a great success story!! Thank you so much for sharing, and congratulations on your baby girl!
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: 3.5 Year Success Update
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2015, 11:56:38 pm »
Thank you [...] for sharing your story and testimony of God's faithfulness. What a beautiful blessing to have a new baby girl in the midst of such an ordeal as this benzo wd can be. His blessings are incredible!

I too know He was with me in every horrible moment and the healing now as well. He has so carried me. I cannot imagine where I would be, going thru this experience without my faith.
I can relate so much to what you said about the PTSD. Its so odd. I know I am early in the game here at 6 months out, but I feel the same way, in that certain situations and even discussions can trigger/send my mind reeling back into fear, because it reminds me of acute wd. Its so weird.
Its like anything scary, or even some bad news...or something I see I may need to cope with, will send my thoughts plummeting into the "feeling" of fear and vulnerability I had in early wd. I have been able to push thru, but for the first time in my life, I now really understand what PTSD is. 

I wish you so many beautiful days and blessings in your new lil family  :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.