Author Topic: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use  (Read 1704 times)

[Buddie]

Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« on: May 23, 2019, 06:13:07 pm »
My “success story” is probably long overdue. But here’s the thing I’ve discovered about success stories: There is no clear finish line. I was waiting for that magic day for a long time, but eventually gave up on it. And I’m pretty sure this may explain why there are so many more members than success stories. It may just mean a lot of members gradually recover, with a lot of ups and downs along the way, until the suffering becomes a collection of distant memories we’d rather not dwell upon.

Doctor Nightmare:
Back in 2014, I started getting panic attacks brought on by loud noise from upstairs neighbors having frequent violent fights. It interfered with my sleep. I had an open script for Ambien, which from around 2005 up until then had only taken occasionally when traveling. So I resorted to taking it for a few nights, but found it no longer worked. That’s when my doctor prescribed a benzo (Restoril). When that didn’t help much either, her instructions were to double or even triple the dosage. (I only discovered last year that this doctor didn’t even know this is a benzo; she insisted that “it’s just a sleep aid.” It seems such ignorance is amazingly common.)

Since the Restoril was hardly working after a few weeks, even after doubling the dosage (thankfully, I never tripled it) and my insomnia was impacting my work, I decided to see a “sleep specialist.” I went in wanting to safely stop taking Restoril, and walked out with scripts for another benzo (Xanax), an antidepressant (Doxepin), and more Ambien, with elaborate instructions on taking a combination of all three. For a few nights, I attempted to follow her convoluted plan without success.

By this time, I was in despair, and went online to look for advice. That’s when I found Benzo Buddies and the Ashton Manual. I also found the list of so-called “benzo wise” doctors. The doctor I found in my area had me switch over to Valium and start tapering. However, he also tried to bully me into going on antidepressants (which I declined) and was probably the rudest doctor I’ve ever come across. (He shortly thereafter had his name taken off the “benzo wise” doctors list.)

While tapering Valium, I was still contending with horrible insomnia. The kind where no matter how exhausted you are, you cannot sleep – I’m talking about many, many nights with no sleep at all. I was barely able to work or function. That’s when I decided to seek out a psychiatrist, thinking they’re the true experts on pharmaceuticals, and I might get a script for Remeron or another non-benzo that could temporarily help with sleep while tapering Valium. The first visit went OK: I was prescribed Remeron, which worked almost too well the first night, not nearly as well the second, and then hardly at all. So on the second visit, the psychiatrist prescribed Seroquel, an anti-psychotic, with very specific instructions to keep upping the dosage until it worked. On top of that, her script was for the time-release type, which had warnings on not to cut the pills, while her instructions had me cutting them. I opted not to go on Seroquel, instead alternating between a low dose of Remeron or Trazodone, which often bought me at least a few hours of broken sleep.

There were a few other doctors along the way, who at least did no harm. But suffice it to say, I don’t have many positive things to say about my encounters with the medical profession on this journey.

Symptoms:
As mentioned, insomnia was by far my worst symptom. I started an insomnia support group on Benzo Buddies, and commiserating with others going through similar circumstances helped keep me going. Compared to insomnia, my other symptoms were minor, but still very real: muscle spasms, whooshing noises, tinnitus, pain in one arm, dyslexia, nausea, diarrhea. And I think at least some of those symptoms were a by-product of insomnia. 

Things That Helped:
The one doctor I found semi-helpful was a specialist in integrated functional medicine. Based on a food sensitivity test, I altered my diet, most notably omitting dairy. (As a side benefit, this has helped me keep some extra pounds off without dieting.) She also encouraged me to force myself to get regular exercise no matter how bad I felt. I started taking yoga, which I’ve come to love. Another thing that helped save me was also forcing myself to continue doing Argentine tango whenever I felt the least bit up to it – music/dance being my greatest passion. While I cut back on dancing during recovery, I never completely stopped. I also worked whenever I could, taking time off when I couldn’t (I’m a freelancer). And while I became more of a hermit for several years, an old boyfriend came back into my life unexpectedly, and gave me a lot of emotional support. And a few friends were extremely supportive throughout. (I’d say most friends and family weren’t able to understand or believe what I was going through. But this is to be expected.)

Today:
I’m not sure if I am or ever will be 100% recovered. The brain is so complex. It heals, but slowly. At the same time, we’re all getting older. I’m in my 60s now. I was going through menopause at the same time as benzo hell. And I was on and off hormone replacement. So things are not perfect and probably never will be. I don’t expect to be able to sleep like I did in my 20s or 30s, but am so thankful to be able to sleep unaided at all, often getting a decent 6 or 7 hours. And when I do hit a small patch of insomnia, I’m now much better equipped to handle it without freaking out. Once in blue moon, I also get a muscle spasm or hearing disturbance. Are they lingering symptoms? Who knows? It doesn’t really matter. What I’ve been through I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but I learned some valuable lessons. Most importantly, I learned to take responsibility for healthcare decisions rather than blindly follow a doctor’s orders.
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: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2019, 09:27:33 pm »
Congrats from another short term user!

If you don't mind me asking, did you have any mental symptoms?  Low tolerance to stress?  Feeling like your brain is just "off"?  Anxiety? Depression?
Racing/obsessive thoughts?  Anything like that?

What was your total healing time since your last Benzo? 

My use also started with insomnia and the Dr.'s threw every kind of pill they could at me. Thankfully I never tried anything more than once (well, I think I took Ambien 3-4 times).  It's crazy how now my brain wants to convince me I had all sorts of mental problems before all this started.

Anyway, congrats again! 

Fakeit
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: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2019, 02:08:19 am »
Hey [...].

How nice to see your success story! We've both come a long way. Thank you for those many months of near daily communication, commiserating, and support. You helped me feel less abnormal and isolated. You were always so determined with your dancing, yoga, diet and how you worked out social and work life that it inspired me. While I know you'd like to feel even better, you have a great attitude that will serve you well no matter what comes next. I wish you every happiness!

MT
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: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2019, 12:53:27 pm »
FakeIt - Thanks...Regarding mental symptoms, certainly my thinking wasn't so clear due to sleep deprivation. But I was so focused on the physical, I wasn't terribly aware of the mental affects...It's also hard to calculate healing time, since there were so many ups and downs. After tapering, I had actually started to sleep unaided after only a few months. But then, to get away from bad neighbors, I moved twice in one year, which set me way back due to added stress. It probably added a couple of years onto the time it took to feel anything like back to normal. So I guess it comes out to about three years...It really is amazing how taking the wrong medication for such a short time can have such long-lasting consequences for some like us!
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: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2019, 12:54:58 pm »
[...] - Thanks so much. You're the best!
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: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2019, 11:10:19 pm »
Do you still have tinnitus?  I'm almost 39 months out, and my tinnitus is still constant, although quieter than in the beginning.  Can you describe how yours was/is?  I need encouragement because I feel like this nightmare will never end for 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: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2019, 09:52:23 pm »
iwsh - My tinnitus was never extreme or constant. Just an annoying low-frequency noise I was mostly able to tune out. More disturbing for me were whirring/whooshing noises (kind of like a vacuum cleaner), which could be pretty loud and scary. Both have gradually gone away over time, although occasionally one or the other reappears. My best advice is to try not to focus much attention on it; it will eventually resolve according to your body's own timetable (most likely, very slowly).
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: Long-Term Recovery after Short-Term Use
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2019, 12:42:01 am »
OMG. I hope your story means for me the same. I am so scared my use of benzos for about 8 months(a bit longer than you)  many years ago has affected my brains ability to regain sleep since I started menopause. I fully recovered from benzos, it took a few years but my sleep was beautiful after I recovered.  Fast forward to menopause....at first peri(missed a couple periods)created some insomnia, but as periods returned(irregular, but returned) sleep was fine except once in awhile some awakenings too early but would always manage to fall back asleep after an hour or so...didn't have any reason to get up early so it worked for me. Then I went 7 months without a period(last period just spotting)...last full period was 11 months but they say you count a day or two of spotting as a period, so it was 7 months.

Nothing much changed but those nights happened a bit more. Seemed I would lay down and get hot, but it would pass. I was fine. I thought I had basically sailed through menopause. Then out of the blue, a very thin light period that lasted exactly 5 days. I thought, ok, last hurrah. A month later I woke after very little sleep, tired and dizzy. Did not go back to sleep.

Over the next month, sleep got progressively worse and then just horrible with many sleepless nights, racing pulse, etc.  The sweating and pulse have gotten a bit better but the insomnia is still horrible!!  I've been so afraid the benzos left a mark, although many people say if I recovered completely like I did, how can that be? I am at the end of this month, 12 months period free and then will enter postmenopause. I'm hoping things will get better in post but it sure doesn't seem like it will at all right now.

 I'm so worried and scared over this.  Maybe though, since you are sleeping AFTER benzos and AFTER menopause, is it possible for me? Any information about your menopause I would love to hear....such as, how many months after end of periods did you notice better sleep or end of sleepless nights? Believe me, any insight you tell me would help, I am so scared I'm stuck like this because of benzo history and also because of that history I do not want to take anything for sleep so I'm really suffering here. I miss my old sleep.  Any help is appreciated, thank 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.