Author Topic: Burned in hell, crawled through purgatory, and now walking amongst the living  (Read 5952 times)

[Buddie]

How does one sum up the most trying experience that was occurring for many years on the drug, two years tapering, and five years recovering?  I am not sure but I will try my best.

I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks from high school on.  I did not know what they were since it was the 80's and mostly occurred if I smoked pot.  I stopped smoking but the symptoms continued.  My panics weren't everyday or anything like that that I couldn't continue on with life.  I really didn't notice how debilitating they had become until I went to college and moved out on my own.
After college I had the pressures of a new career and a solo move across the country.  I still didn't know that the sensations I was getting were panic attacks.  I had medical tests done and everything deadly was ruled out.  At that time when I figured it was anxiety I read an article on the wonders of a new drug called xanax.  Calms you and isn't addictive.  I made an appointment with a dr. who prescribed it for me.  When I took it I felt "normal" for the first time in years.  I thought it was a miracle.

Fast forward about fifteen years and I was now getting many panic attacks a week, had trouble being in crowds, had terrible shaking of my hands, incredible exhaustion, weird burning skin sensations, unable to drive on freeways or go into stores,etc...

I had not clue i was in tolerance withdrawal and either did any of the drs I saw.  I just new something was wrong.  I still can remember the exercise class I was in when I was 40.  I was literally sitting on the floor because I was so tired 20 min in while women in their 70's were barely sweating.  What was going on?

I saw a new dr. and i told him I think the drugs are making me sick.  I somehow knew it but this was really before the internet so I didn't have anywhere to find the info.  He told me the drugs are harmless and they will balance my chemistry.  I insisted I wanted to be off them.  He gave me a taper plan that was two weeks long and off I went.  Needless to say I was so bad off I went back to his office in no time.  He gave me the old story about it was my original anxiety returning.  I took the "harmless" klonopin which he said wasn't addictive because I didn't have an addictive personality. I really did ask all the questions about dangers and addiction but was given the answers  that the drug reps would tell the drs.

Fast forward another few years and I notice I am worse than ever. .The dr upped my dose to 3mg a day plus xanax and ambien as needed.  I also noticed I felt better if I drank.  It was like my brain would reset to a feeling of calm while buzzed. I was engaging in high risk behaviors with no thought of the consequences.  Drunk driving, gambling, etc... I had a friend tell me I was an emotionally dead person.  I was just a numb individual.
   
At this time I had the interweb and searched my symptoms.  Benzo buddies came up along with the Ashton Manual.  I literally cried at my computer.  I was validated for the first time that it just wasn't all in my head.  I was so excited to get on with the taper that I printed out a copy of the Ashton Manual and brought it to my doc.  He literally said "what does this old bag know" and threw it in the garbage.  I was shocked but not surprised.  I kept my mouth shut as I needed him for the drugs. 

I soon started my own taper and found a dr. willing to give me liquid and pill valium.  I fired the other dr. and gave him a horrendous review online.  The taper took twenty-six months.  I didn't have any periods of feeling good in that period and it really sucked.  I was in a business partnership where I couldn't function too well and my partner didn't understand what was going on.  I literally just sat at work and felt like I was dying inside.  Actually dying would have been welcomed by me as I went to bed wishing not to wake up.  Luckily I only had suicidal issues a few times and my heart goes out to anyone who gets them.  My life became smaller and smaller as I just tried to survive until I finished my taper.  I lost friends, opportunities, my ability to perform live theater, etc...

Once I finished my taper it was a slow recovery.  I was basically home in bed or on the couch once I finished what I would call work.  At about eighteen months the constant terror and panic lifted to a manageable level.  Still bad but I could breathe once in a while.    Over the next few years things gradually improved.  Post jump I had incredible muscle soreness, migraines, vision issues, inability to exercise, sensitivity to foods/medicines/supplements, exhaustion, random adrenaline rushes at any time, heart palps,  [...] terrors, death by waking up each morning, etc...I basically had all the crap most of us get who were on this drug long term. 

Slowly, like glacial melting slow, my symptoms finally started to lessen.  I had no "ah ha" moment where I felt better.  It was better for a period then slammed.  I never had wide open windows either.  Just slogging along and surviving.  I flew to NZ and got married at age 47.  Had my first baby girl and 48 and my second at 49.  I dissolved my work partnership as I felt he was toxic to me.  I don't blame him but it needed to be done.

In the last year I started to really improve.  In the last few months I noticed I was able to handle a 1/2 cup of coffee with no negative symptoms.  I can now exercise at least 30 minutes at a HR of 140 five times a week with no waves of palps and adrenaline rushes post workout.  I started performing my live theater again.  My energy level is way better and I have no DR at all.  I sit in restaurants and client meetings and while I am not super comfortable, I can enjoy myself.  When I do get hit with symptoms now it's for a few hours not two weeks.  Anxiety and panic attacks?  I have a calmness I never knew possible and I might get an adrenaline surge/panic once every two months or so. Figure they’ll get even more infrequent. I finally can say I really feel my healing is speeding up.  I still don't really drink although I miss a beer/wine with dinner.  No need for me to get buzzed as me feeling normal is the best high I can ever ask for now.

I am writing this success story as I feel I am 90% there and the last 10% will come over the next few years.  Regardless, even with the remaining 10% I feel better than ever in my life.  I have an incredibly positive outlook on life, I don't sweat the small stuff, have an incredible family, am successful in my solo career, and enjoy spending time with the kids.  I am fifty now and making up for lost time. 

What helped...not much except passing the time and resting my brain/body whenever I could.  Supplements, exercise, and lots of other ideas were of no help to me until recently. 

I truly believe I would be dead if I didn't discover this site so I am eternally grateful to Colin and all those who help out.

All in all if someone asked me if it was worth the pain to get where I am I would say no.  No one should have to go through what we go through and it stole or blanked out a good portion of my adult life.  I am not bitter though.  This was the hand I was dealt and I turned a shitty poker hand into a royal flush. 

[...]

« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 12:14:31 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]

Congrats [...]! I read back a lot on your posts over the last couple years.
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]

So happy to read this, [...]!!!!!  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I never knew the whole story, but two things stand out in my mind: exercise and coffee. Because those are the two things I want so much to come back into my life.

[...], you did it!!!!! You made it through!!!!! I often think of whether going through this has been worth it. And I would say exactly as you have said. No, but that was the hand I was dealt.
CONGRATULATIONS, [...]!!!!! And may you have a wonderful life!!!!!!  :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]

This gives me so much hope.  I feel similar to you in many ways.  I'm probably a decade behind you and have thought my life is ruined.  Thank you for sharing this.
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]

Congratulations [...]!   :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]

[...], I am so so happy for you. Congratulations.
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]

Congrats my friend … and thank you for writing …
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]

This gives me so much hope.  I feel similar to you in many ways.  I'm probably a decade behind you and have thought my life is ruined.  Thank you for sharing this.

Just keep going and you’ll get through this.  I was on so many different drugs during the 25 years I forgot to even list them. Right now I take zero pills. 
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]

Thanks for the comments and well wishes.  I really appreciate it.
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]

Well done and well said [...]. 
Perfect timing for your newly found wealth which is to be able to watch in health those babies grow up.
Enjoy them and your new life.
Thank you for taking the time to write here.

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.