Author Topic: Trust the windows! This ends...  (Read 31182 times)

[Buddie]

Trust the windows! This ends...
« on: July 31, 2016, 10:36:13 pm »
Hello Buddies!
 
Before I say anything else, I want to reassure any readers who are struggling: THIS ENDS. You WILL recover. You will be able to live a normal life again, and whatever symptoms you have now will fade away with time. I am beginning my story with these words because these are the words I needed to hear a hundred times a day during my waves. The encouragement and reassurance found in Success Stories literally kept me alive during my darkest days. There were days when all I could do was read the same stories again and again. Here is my story...
 
The Background
 
I was prescribed Klonpin in May 2005 by a psychiatrist I trusted at the age of 22.  I had struggled with anxiety on and off for several years, which worsened in the beginning of 2005 with circumstances I created myself. Even though I was young and trusted my doctor, I am the one who chose to swallow those little yellow pills. And I kept swallowing them until August 19th, 2015. I transitioned away from a psychiatrist and my GP just kept renewing the prescription year after year with no concern. I really didn't attribute any negative effects to Klonopin during the time I took it. I only now realize what an incredibly significant impact it had on my life. As Dr. Ashton observes:
 
“Many users have remarked that it was not until they came off their drugs that they realised they had been operating below par for all the years they had been taking them. It was as though a net curtain or veil had been lifted from their eyes: slowly, sometimes suddenly, colours became brighter, grass greener, mind clearer, fears vanished, mood lifted, and physical vigour returned.”
 
 I had read very little about benzos or benzo withdrawal until I decided it was time to come off. In the back of my mind I suspected they were addictive and worried coming off would be difficult, but I had no idea I was about to embark on the most gut-wrenching experience of my life when I began my taper in April 2015...
 
The Taper
 
I arbitrarily decided to pace my taper at a reduction of 12.5% every two weeks. My dose was 1mg, so I was done in only four months. I had briefly perused the Ashton Manual and suggested switching to Valium to my doc, but he dismissed the idea. The primary and most severe withdrawal symptom I had during the taper was depression. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The word depression just doesn't do it justice. It was despair. I am a father of 3 and the sole bread winner in my home, so I had to function. I had to go to work.  Because I didn’t know much about benzo w/d, I didn't directly attribute the depression to the taper. This is probably I good thing, as I'm not sure I would have continued had I known the deep despair I felt was a withdrawal symptom. The waves and windows began happening during the taper as I oscillated between complete dysphoria and feeling almost normal some of the time.
 
The Jump
 
When I jumped in August the floor came out from under me. In addition to the despair I had many other symptoms including anxiety, which is better described as intense fear. The fear would 'find things' to attach itself to--I was afraid of my job, afraid of the inside of my car, afraid of my home. There is really no way to accurately put it into words. I remember spending large chunks of those early days curled up on the floor[...] to my bed. I could hardly interact with my wife and kids. I was forced to take leave from work, which was only approved for four weeks. Those first six weeks post-jump were by far the worst. I had insomnia too, which was mostly characterized by waking at 4-5am in a state of panic, thrashing around in my warm bed[...] to my wife who just couldn't relate to what I was going through. I went to the doc 6 days post-jump for "help" and he completely dismissed me. He said "what you're experiencing now is just be your baseline anxiety, which was covered up by the drug." I left with a new script for Valium which I never took. I trusted doctors, but I knew what I was going through wasn't "baseline" for me or anyone. The mornings were the worst time of day. From what I understand, the glutamate and cortisol present in the morning are too much for a brain with damaged GABA receptors to handle. The afternoons and evenings were generally much better, but I would go to bed knowing what the morning would likely bring...
 
The Windows
 
I had my first 3-day window in mid-September. This was a huge blessing from a timing standpoint. I was able to baptize my oldest son on 9/13 with family and friends there to celebrate. I should mention that I am extremely grateful to have been spared the awful physical symptoms many endure.  I had no muscle pain or burning, tinnitus, etc. My heart goes out to those who suffer physical AND psychological symptoms. My symptoms continued to be the big three: depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I had my first 'long' window in October, which lasted about 10 days. I wasn't great, but I was better, and it was very encouraging. I had another long window in November, which was even better than October's.  What Ashton says is true:
 
"There is no need to be discouraged by these wave-like recurrences; the waves become less severe and less frequent as time passes."
 
December came with a severe "wave-like recurrence." It felt like I had been taken back to square one. The non-linear nature of benzo withdrawal and recovery is the most frustrating, discouraging, confusing, and difficult thing about the whole experience. My waves and windows continued through the winter. I never knew what each day would bring, and I was extremely vulnerable to stress. Some waves were worse than others, some windows better than others...
 
The Recovery
 
The seven month mark was the turning point for me. I started to lose interest in reading Success Stories, and I began to feel completely recovered the majority of the time. The mornings were still very challenging for me, but the intense, near-crippling fear was gone, and the anxiety began to abate earlier in the day.
 
I felt like I was coming back to life and the changes I began to experience made me realize just what an awful impact these little pills had on my life. I realized I had become emotionally blunted, unable to respond with appropriate emotions to my wife and children. I realized through my new-found sense of calm that I had been living with a general restlessness and sense of dread, always wanting to move on to whatever was[...]. Certain tasks and situations irritated me greatly. My attention span was short. My short-term memory was deteriorating. My attention to detail was deficient. All of this has since begun to reverse--significantly. Our brains are, in fact, wonderfully designed and capable of incredible [...]. I get excited about things again. I look forward to things again. I laugh and goof off with my kids. I can focus now and learn new things quickly again. I dream and hope and I no longer resent others who live passionately with big hopes and dreams. I am recovered. I am healed.
 
The People
 
The non-linear nature of benzo w/d is the toughest thing about it, but a close second is the fact that people just don't understand. How could they? Words fail us when we [...] to describe the horror, and we often appear 'normal' on the outside when we are in hell on the inside. Benzo withdrawal is an extremely lonely experience. For me, I wasn't inclined to participate in any discussions here on [...]. All I could do was read Success Stories over and over. Even though I didn't know the authors, I knew they understood what I was going through. They became my friends. While my family and friends were incapable of grasping the severity and intensity of my experience, they stood by me and supported me through it. They remained patient and reminded me over and over that I would recover (often after I asked for reminders!) I could send a text to certain people day or night who would respond with an encouraging word. The one person who walked with me, hurt with me, and intimately understood what I was going through is my Lord Jesus Christ. I admit there were many times when it felt as if He had forsaken me, but He has promised to never leave or forsake us and He keeps His promises. He felt a hammer in the palms of his hands and He is with us in our suffering. While there is no way around benzo withdrawal (you must go through it), there are things that help. Here is my list of tips:
 
Prayer: He cares. He loves you. He wants a relationship with you. He hears you, even when you feel utterly alone. Use this time of suffering to draw near to God.
 
Exercise: Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself whether tapering, in active withdrawal, or recovery. I highly recommend the book "Spark" by John Ratey. It details the effects of exercise on brain function.  I learned about it through another buddy's story. I firmly believe consistent exercise sped up my recovery.
 
Diet: I definitely don't think there are any supplements or dietary plans that help everyone, but eating foods such as healthy fats and leafy greens will help your brain and body as they work to recover. I believe I was taking too many supplements early in w/d. I stopped them all after a month as I feared they were actually interfering with my recovery.
 
Breathing: The most useful breathing technique for me was the 4-7-8 method. While this didn't seem to take the edge off during times of intense anxiety, it did help me fall back asleep if I woke up during the night. I will continue to use it the rest of my life to help manage everyday stress.
 
Distraction: I know firsthand how difficult it can be during waves to focus on anything other than how awful you feel, but you must [...]. I found watching comedies in the evenings to be a helpful reprieve. Whatever will take your mind off of YOU is a good thing.
 
Support: we all need as much support as we can get during this. Find a patient family member, friend, or benzo buddy you can turn to. Again, this experience can be very lonely, and people can't understand, but we must lean on them.
 
Acceptance: I read in someone else's success story something along these lines: "the more I raged against the process, the more difficult it was." This was absolutely true for me. As hard as it is, we cope much better when we realize we cannot control or short-circuit the process of recovery and our brains know exactly how to heal. We have to let go, accept the waves as they come, and let our brilliantly designed brains do what they need to.
 
Time: if you've read any number of success stories, you already know that time is the only true antidote to a brain impacted by benzo use. I think it is very important to avoid comparing your own experience and timeline to anyone else's and remember that complete recovery will happen with time. I found it helpful to imagine myself a year, two years, three years in the future and think of how much better I would be. You will be so much better!
 
Friends, I know how bad this can be and how permanent this experience can seem. I would almost classify the thoughts/feelings of "oh-my-God-this-is-permanent" as a withdrawal symptom itself. Your thinking is distorted and incredibly flawed when you are withdrawing/recovering from benzo use. It normalizes with time. This process takes a tremendous amount of courage, and while the world will never recognize or reward us for surviving this, we are all champions and conquerors as far as I'm concerned! Please remember that whatever your symptoms, they are not, as Ashton says, “signs of illness, but signals of recovery.” The waves [...] to convince you that you’ll never be well again and that you’re doomed to a symptomatic life. THE WAVES LIE. TRUST THE WINDOWS—they tell the truth! The windows offer a sweet foretaste of how good you’ll feel when your recovery is complete. Take heart, buddies. You are all in my daily prayers...


« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 09:36:33 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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2016, 11:50:06 pm »

[...]

Wow, this was beautifully written and it inspired me a great deal.  :smitten:  I am so glad to hear that you turned the corner at 7 months. We have been through so much taking this chemical. I am so inspired by your faith and I am grateful that we have a heavenly Father who loves us so. I have not been a bible thumping devout Christian but I keep the faith as I feel that it is deep within.

May you continue to do well and I wish you all the best. Please come back and give us updates.  :)
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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2016, 12:34:08 am »
CONGRATULATIONS FREEDOM 82 !!

I love reading good success stories like this. You give hope to many people on here, myself included .  :thumbsup:
« Last Edit: August 01, 2016, 02:16:00 am 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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2016, 01:06:50 am »
Thank you so much for sharing your story. It gives me so much hope. Im 7 days free and right now i don't even know what normal is supposed to feel like! I can't drive, I have such bad dizzy spells that I actually sway, and i have no idea how I'm going to work[...] week. But, I'm so glad to read your story. God bless 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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2016, 01:13:03 am »
Truly an amazing story of success. Thank you so much for posting. I know it will be inspirational to others. You should be really proud of yourself. You made it out to the other side.  :smitten: :smitten: :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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2016, 01:26:10 am »
Thank you so much for your story!  I wept as I read through it.  I read this to my husband who has shed tears as he has watched me suffer.  He told me he believed this story was put here just for me because I cry every day!  I'm printing it out and thank you again for the hope that you are giving us who are still in our taper and working toward jumping.  Bless you and thank you for holding us in our prayers!

 :smitten: :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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2016, 03:08:08 am »
This is so encouraging! Thank you for taking the time to write this and share it with us. I know the One of whom you speak.  :)
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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2016, 03:41:04 am »
I enjoyed reading your success story.  Thank you for writing and giving us all hope.  Your faith inspires me.
Praise God, hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!

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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2016, 04:22:48 am »
Wow! This is an incredible success story! Very well versed and truly inspirational. Along my own journey, I put God aside with the attitude that He has forgotten me and any [...] God wouldn't allow His children to suffer in this way. The further along I get in this journey, the closer I am to reinstating my original faith. The faith I had before all these ironies happened to me. I'm beginning to see how this and all the other things I've experienced along the way, good and bad have allowed me growth in areas I would have ignored, if these life lessons had not come about.

This experience and many other negative experiences have brought to me people like you and many others I've met along the way, who have made me question myself in ways I never thought I would. You have shown me what love is and brought me back to my floundering faith.

Thank you for that!   ~[...]     :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: Trust the windows! This ends...
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2016, 09:43:24 am »
Congratulations for being healed!!

Many thanks for this encouraging success story!
I will read it over and over again.  :)

 :smitten: :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.