Author Topic: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey  (Read 617 times)

[Buddie]

33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« on: April 29, 2022, 07:13:35 am »
July 14th 2019 was the date I went to the inpatient hospital to get off benzos for good. Prior to that, I was on benzos and beta blockers and other CNS depressants roughly 20 years. I also used to party pretty hard in conjunction with all of that, even though my meds were prescribed. I will give you a little brief history behind all of the prescribed meds, so maybe this will give you a little hope if you are one of the extreme cases like me.

In 1999 right around the height of benzo prescribing, I went to a psychiatrist because of anxiety from partying all the time. I thought something was majorly wrong, and I was getting really bad agoraphobia and couldn't leave the house without medicating myself. Now I know what the reason was, but that's a whole different story in itself. All I can tell you is that around that time, I had been taking Xanax for anxiety, none of which was prescribed yet. After telling the doctor this information, he prescribed a low dose of Valium. In the upcoming months after the first visit, it had been upgraded to all kinds of stuff such as clonazepam and propranolol and other anxiety and sleep medications.

I was feeling more comfortable with prescribed bottles of pills around the house, and I would always carry multiple tablets in a pill container, and I would even keep open pills in my pocket, so I could secretly take them without people noticing. I would go to work, take a few on the way, take a few on break, and a few became a lot. My doctors thought it was still a reasonable dose, and they kept increasing them more and more. By the time I was 18 years old and went through a bunch of jobs, I was getting into all kinds of trouble on the pills. I was in and out of jail and hospitals and couldn't hold a job. The psychiatrist thought introducing other psych meds would help, but they made me feel horrible. It was then that I started self-medicating a lot against doctor's advice.

Fast forward to about 21 years old, I went to a different state to go to college. I thought it was all fun and games, and partying seems to be top of my priorities like a lot of young people in college. I then started having even more problems with my prescribed pills, and I knew I needed to get off of them because they were ruining my life. Not only was I physically addicted, I started to get a mental addiction as well. I knew that I needed to put myself in some kind of detox or rehab program, so I checked myself in. I was highly depressed, and I was sick and tired of taking prescriptions. I stayed at the facility with nothing more than two days worth of taper and some on demand phenobarbital in order to take the edge off. It was way too quick, and I was way too uncomfortable. The doctors thought that it was mental health problems causing my discomfort, but looking back it wasn't.

Eventually I checked myself out against medical advice like normal, and went back home and took my pills again. And then the partying started on top of the pills again. I wasn't able to finish school that time, and I ended up checking myself into detox again. Again turned into multiple agains. At 24, and then again at 26, and then at 27, and 28. Eventually I overdosed at 28, and went into a long coma on life support. The doctors said I had way too many central nervous system depressants in my body, and it couldn't handle it any longer. The irony, is that I broke my ankle around the same time, and they increased the central nervous system depressants through prescriptions. I again overdosed off of prescribed medication, and ended up in the hospital again.

My psychiatrist and surgeon started having conversations about whether or not the prescriptions they were prescribing were appropriate anymore. Many people already know the answer to this, it was "let's get him off of these controlled substances". So then, the whole cycle and repetitive inpatient stays started all over again. It was detox after detox, and I would always last about 7 days worth of hell on earth until doctors started realizing my body couldn't take it. So eventually, they put me back on them again. They kept swearing mental health was the reasoning. I kept getting more and more diagnosis racked up in my records, even though I knew it was the medications. Problem is, the medications were stronger than me.

I turned into somewhat of a rare case after that point. I was so miserable in my own body and couldn't stand to keep going through suffering in hospitals and being passed around from doctor to doctor. So I just started taking all my pills at once each time I would get them filled at the pharmacy. The purpose wasn't to feel better, the purpose was to no longer exist. My doctors knew that I would continue to do it, but they also knew that they couldn't stop prescribing the medications. It was kind of like being stuck in purgatory, because there was no getting off of them, but they weren't killing me either, but it was also highly dangerous to prescribe them to me. At that point they just kept prescribing them anyways, and telling me to quit taking them all at once. Sometimes I would go through over 200 Klonopin a day, sometimes I would be able to get by on just a regular maintenance dose of about 8 or 10 per day.

After I went through my "I don't care" stage anymore, I went back to my maintenance dose, usually about 8 per day. Sometimes less when I was feeling good mentally, sometimes more when I just didn't care on that particular day. At that point, my doctor was prescribing them as needed instead of a regular dose. Literally, on the bottle it just said "as needed" and there was hundreds of them each month. The doctor knew that it was completely irresponsible, but he also didn't want me dying from withdrawal, so he got put in a predicament as well.

This went on and on for years and years, until I started ending up homeless because of not being able to hold a job. The problem with me back then, is the doctor would ask me if I'm feeling better from the meds, so I would say yes in order to keep getting the meds. If I were have to said no, he would have stopped prescribing the meds. Problem with that scenario, is if you say you're feeling fine, then you can't get disability benefits. So I was choosing the pills over having finances and Social Security. Because of choosing the pills first, eventually I ended up homeless for a couple years on and off.

I was living a mile above sea level, sleeping outside in the middle of the winter going through a horrible withdrawal, in and out of jails and inpatient facilities, taking showers at shelters and sleeping on rooftops. My only food came from panhandling while I was drinking to get rid of my benzo withdrawal. The only way I could get food or take a shower was to medicate myself with alcohol. Little did I know at the time, that would make the benzo withdrawal worse in the long run. Drinking alcohol is one of the worst mistakes of my whole entire benzo "career".

After going through cold turkey withdrawal from benzos and beta-blockers and barbiturates and other CNS depressants such as alcohol enough times, I started to get serious about staying off them for good. I started going longer and longer than I ever had without medicine, sometimes getting up to 14 days or even 20 days. I started feeling hopeful, but then I would always get knocked back somehow. Whether it was getting discharged to the streets, not having anywhere to live, having to be around public, things of the such. It was always a bummer, and I needed to be able to function because of my social predicament, so I had to go back to them each time.

Getting a prescription from a doctor was never the hard part, as there's hundreds of doctors in each city. If one doctor would say no, I would say fine, the second doctor will say yes. If the second doctor said no, then the third doctor would say yes. I'm sure you get the point, I was just doctor shopping at that point. It wasn't illegal and it wasn't substance-abuse technically, but eventually my luck came to an end. Eventually I started drinking vodka only, and that was my new pill. That went on for about 4 months straight until I ended up in the ICU on life support again.

All kinds of different life events happened in the following years, and eventually some of the most important life events made me finally get enough anger and anxiety and depression and strength and fight in me, to say "this is it, it's life or death at this point". Literally, I had actually tried to take my life several times throughout my life, and I knew that the only way out was to get off the pills. I told myself that multiple times through life, but this time it was like night and day, it was clearer than ever. So after one of my longest prescription time periods without any breaks, and after taking upwards of 10 Klonopin tablets each day, in addition to 5 Valium tablets, + 2 Propranolol tablets, in conjunction with primidone and phenobarbital, I decided to go inpatient again.

I used my same method as always, calling the suicide hotline and telling them how I was feeling, and they admitted me with an ambulance because I was too scared to get a taxi. When you're going through the height of withdrawal, getting a taxi is too much. For some reason the ambulance felt like comfort, until you get to the hospital and start getting strip-searched and hounded by police officers and putting all your belongings in a bag like normal. But this time around, they put me in chains and handcuffs and shackles, and sent me off to one of the worst state facilities around. Apparently they were short on medical transportation, so they had been transporting people in the back of sheriff's vans. I was sat on the bench of a prisoner van, and transported to a state criminal facility because they were also short on regular detox beds.

After being thrown around and mistreated like a prisoner, I was also told I don't need any medications by the doctor at the hospital. He said I don't think you have any mental conditions, and I think you've been on substances way too long. He said you've already been off your meds for a couple days, so now we will give you some Benadryl for sleep. I thought to myself, okay well this was another failed attempt like all the other ones. But this time, they wouldn't let me leave. They actually kept me involuntary for 18 days. After that, they started talking about discharge. Problem is, I had too much strength and I wouldn't allow it. I kept telling them no, and then I started making up stories so that the insurance would cover me longer. The most I could pull off with my stories was a 30-day stay.

Eventually they started realizing that I was doing anything in my power to make up stories so that insurance would cover me longer. Coincidentally, that was labeled as a mental condition which the insurance covered. I guess I could have just told the truth, and probably would have been able to stay just as long. Either way, now it was time to be shipped home. They put me in a taxi like normal, and this time I had a home to go home to. I knew this was my only chance, so even though I had a bunch of alcohol and other stuff at home to feel better, I just didn't touch it and left it sitting there.

I went through multiple hurricanes while going through withdrawal, I ran out of food about a dozen times, my family would bring more over. My power went out a few times, I had police officers knocking on my door a few times, and I had many welfare checks. I even had court cases while I was home on the phone because of covid, and I even got evictions. Even with the eviction and the sheriff's telling me I had to leave, I just didn't. They said we have to take you to the hospital again, and I said good luck with that because I'm not opening the door. Eventually my family knew I was going to die by the authorities, so they got me out of there in time. I then went to vacation rentals and hotels and continued the withdrawal.

I had to go to one of the more affordable hotels, because I didn't have any money left. I had to sell my Jeep in order to pay for my several-month withdrawal, and then I had to put all my furniture in storage as well. The hotel was really expensive, and then my parents ended up chipping in so that I would stay off the pills. I felt really embarrassed at 37 years old getting parents help because of my own ignorance in life. But luckily they were the ones that took me to the doctor when I was 17, so they felt obliged and they knew I was making serious progress. They didn't want me to be homeless again while going through it, as they knew I would just start drinking again. This time was different though, there was a plan in place because my medical doctor was aware of the fact that this could go on for years. My new medical doctor was completely against benzos, and she said I've seen this happen to many people over the years, and it's a several-year process.

My new doctor started filling out FL2 forms so I can go to a group home instead of a recovery home, because of my inability to function. I was considered mentally ill by the state, and in a vegetative state by my medical doctors. I finally realized I needed to get Social Security Disability, I didn't have a choice. The group homes actually actually require it anyways, so that they can get reimbursed by the state insurance, which you can only get if you're on disability. So basically at that point I was a vegetable because of FDA approved medications and partying over the years, and my doctor knew the full severity of it, and she also knew she had a medical obligation to help me out instead of throwing me back to the street. It's the same doctor who threw me in jail a few years earlier for partying when I was watching my daughter being born at the hospital, so she knew I made progress in life by trying to stay off them for several months.

I was at about 14 months off the pills, and then I had one of my worst waves yet. I was seeing all kinds of stuff and hallucinating kind of like delirium tremens from alcohol. I started getting into arguments with my case managers and insurance company, and making all kinds of threats upon myself. The police came and picked me up at my vacation rental on the beach, and threw me in the hospital. They said I was non-compliant with medicine, even though I didn't have a prescription. But it worked out, because I would have gotten evicted from that again and got another eviction for the second time in that year. I later got discharged to a hotel, and got a trespassing charge because I wouldn't leave the hotel. I explained it to the district attorney, who later dropped it because of my predicament. I was completely living in a gray area at that point, because everybody knew the severity of it, but there just wasn't anywhere to put me yet.

So then after going cold turkey on primidone and propranolol because I was already going through benzo withdrawal for so long, my symptoms got even worse. I stayed at another hotel and had to start going into Walmart myself to get groceries, and it was like hell on earth. Standing in lines while going through withdrawal from three different medications at once, and having huge blood pressure spikes and hallucinations and sweats, but doing it out of pure survival. This went on for a little while longer, and then I finally found a landlord willing to take me with my evictions. I used my stimulus money from coronavirus in order to put the deposit down. I knew it wasn't going to last long because I still didn't have my disability benefits, but luckily they came through in a couple of months after that.

I finally had my disability benefits to pay my rent and order groceries to my home. That took off a lot of the mental stress of homelessness, and I was able to start eating better, which greatly improved my symptoms. I started going on 2 years off the pills, and eating healthy foods, and going for lots of walks. Half a mile turned into a mile, which turned into further and further from my home. The agoraphobia started to vanish slowly little by little. Then I had another huge setback because of CBD and marijuana, it was helping me out a lot for a few months, until I quit that as well. And then I went through about another year worth of waves, I'm assuming it was probably related.

I was then able to start relating everything and figuring out what was causing waves, things like processed foods, extreme stress, arguments with people, extreme temperatures, cleaning supplies, lack of sleep, pushing myself too hard physically or mentally, and even natural organic stuff, some stuff agrees, some stuff doesn't. Basically everybody is different and certain things are okay and certain things are not, there's no yes or no. Certain things are okay for a while, and then they go bad. Waves come and go. There's literally no indicator of what's going to be okay and what's not, you just have to trust good food and good exercise and the outdoors.

Moving forward until now, I finally moved from that apartment and came to the northwest. It was a huge move while going through benzo waves, I had to move 3000 miles and get on an airplane. I knew that I needed to move and switch locations from the south, because of my benefits and my very peculiar predicament. Now I've been in the Northwest for about 4 months, and things are still pretty bad sometimes, but I'm doing normal things the majority of the time now. I'm able to go to the farmers market, I'm able to go to the beach, I'm able to go on boat rides, I go for long walks as far as I want. I go shopping in the store for my food, I'm able to cook all kinds of different things. I'm able to walk around a busy city and look at skyscrapers and fit in with everybody. I even pulled off a luxury high-rise on the waterfront, living among professionals and going on several boat rides and hanging out at the beach. Even if I never heal, this is the best I can do.

Am I healed? No, not even close. But I consider this a successful story considered where I was at for so long. Am I 70% or 80% or even 90%? I don't know, I gave up on trying to figure out percentages a long time ago. Whenever you've been taking that amount of pills for that long, and partying and doing all kinds of stupid things for so long, you give up on even the concept of healing all the way. I don't know if I'm ever going to heal all the way, I might have done a lot of damage to my mind. However, I do think I'm going to get to 100% very soon. It might be in the next year or two, or it could even be in the next week.

I think one of the most important things to remember about this process, is it's not about whether you're healed or not, and it's not about a number of a percentage. It's about "are you able to go out and live your life and get out of the multi-year lockdown you were in previously"? If so, live your life.

Sometimes I still get extreme head pressure when I'm going for walks around lots of people, and sometimes my ears twitch and move. Sometimes I start sweating a bunch, and my stomach can get lots of pressure and bloated sometimes. But usually I will go back home and rest for a while, and it will go back down. I get into arguments with landlords and social workers and doctors every couple weeks at least, but I just have to remind myself this won't be my permanent self. Most of the time I'm cool, but I know when I'm going through my benzo rage periods. I still get agoraphobia, but I still force myself to go out anyways. I'm in no way shape or form comfortable and enjoying myself to the fullest, but I'm not a prisoner of my bedroom all day anymore.

Now I am 33 months through this process, and even if I end up being one of the "protracted crowd", it's really no different than the Post Acute crowd. Some people just have a longer healing timeframe, just like some people get long covid. My advice, do your thing, instead of letting it do 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: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2022, 05:21:12 pm »
Thanks for sharing JIT.. .you've come a long way  :smitten: 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]

Re: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2022, 08:29:54 pm »
Thank you!! Congrats!!!!
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: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2022, 05:29:41 am »
Thanks for sharing,  Also Can relate , congrats keep up, try not to slip due to carelessness or flares, stay strong
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: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2022, 02:58:13 pm »
O my God.  Congratulations  and hold fast....  You are an inspiration.    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.

[Buddie]

Re: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2022, 05:54:32 pm »
Wow, what a ride! We are all heroes, but you take the cake. Tnx for sharing your story!
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: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2022, 06:30:17 pm »
Wow

And brava. You are strong.
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: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2022, 07:53:41 am »
Thanks, and I agree about not slipping up. For some reason the big city keeps me off of other substances, whereas when I was living in the country substances were the only thing that would keep me busy when I was bored.

Now even though the weed dispensary is two blocks from me in either direction, I don't really have any urges to go get high. I'm more focused on my diet and exercising and walks along the Waterfront, and the big city and all the stimulations keeps me in check.

You don't want to end up with bad agoraphobia again when you're in the middle of a big city, so it's almost like it's own "probation" on you. Some people will understand that comment, those who have been knocked back because of substances a few times and caused their own waves.
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: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2022, 08:33:23 am »
Your story is one of dogged resilience. You didn't let the benzo beast win in the end. I hope you continue to see further distance between then and now, and are able  feel the difference with a sense of inner peace. I don't know how anyone could feel otherwise. :)
Thank you for taking the time to share your story.
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: 33 months · Poly-CNS cold turkey
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2022, 04:00:28 pm »
I loved what you said at the end about “ doing your thing and not letting it do you”
Awesome and happy to hear your new life is both rewarding and beautiful. Wow what a story! Wow!
Best wishes.
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.