Author Topic: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.  (Read 6812 times)

[Buddie]

2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« on: November 06, 2012, 03:59:04 pm »
Hello all. This is my story - it is a story of success.

2012 has been the year of change, of redemption and rebirth.   What snared me was Clonazepam (klonipin, rivotril).  It started about 7 years ago – when I was prescribed it for anxiety.  Of course I had no idea about the devil disguised within this pill.  I was a composer for television (the Oprah Winfrey show), and doing so well.  I was to be speaking at a conference, and I was a little nervous. I mentioned it to my doctor because I happened to be seeing him for something else.  I had my first 0.25mg, and within the hour, I forgot what anxiety felt like, and knew that perhaps I finally felt what “normal” was.

Seven years later – Composing was long out of my life. I was running from dealer to dealer getting my hands on whatever clonazepam I could, taking at least 24mg daily, in a haze and in the pain of constantly being in semi withdrawal.  Surviving.  Existing.  Drinking half a liter of vodka a day to stop the withdrawal; or at least, to mitigate it. I was unrecognizable, both physically and psychologically, and I was barely aware of my own existence.

At the very beginning, I noticed how the pill helped me to feel a sense of relaxation and confidence I had never felt in my life. It didn’t take very long for the 0.25mg to stop being effective, so my doctor upped it to 0.5 – then to 1, 2, 3, etc.  He ended up getting to 8mg before saying that it was way too high, and he wouldn’t increase it any more.  After this point, I decided I would have to explore other options for acquiring the med.  The way I felt was that terrible suffering and pain were constantly on my heels, and yet when the dose increased, my suffering would subside.  At the time, I didn’t know this suffering was called ‘withdrawal’, or ‘tolerance’.  My tolerance crept up just slightly behind my dose increase.

So this constant state of discomfort had me existing in this mad race to find more clonazepam so I could stay ahead of the withdrawal. As my doctor had limited it at 8mg, there was no hope of medical help with this spiraling and increasing addiction. Or so I thought.

At some point I discovered that a drink completely took the withdrawal symptoms away, so I began a process of drinking when I felt the pain, and finally feeling withdrawal free.  However, when I sobered up, it would come back with a vengeance. So it happened that my alcohol ‘dose’ gradually increased, in much the same way that the clonazepam dose increased.

I finally decided that drastic measures were required and I put my foot down and simply took my last clonazepam – or so I thought.  It was actually my wedding day, and it was to be my gift to my wife. What’s amazing is that through all this I still managed to keep up outward appearances. So my gift was to be drug free. It was a great wedding, however midway through the next day, hell descended on me. It started quite simply as an uncomfortable need to squirm and shift. Within an hour, I was violently sick, throwing up almost straight for 5 hours. I lost the ability to speak or communicate what was happening or why it was happening as people surrounded me asking what was wrong. I could hear people theorizing that I must have had too much to drink. Nobody knew about the clonazepam.

As we were arriving back home, I slowly managed to get the message out to my wife, that I needed a clonazepam refill. I had one waiting at the pharmacy, so she went and got it. Within 45 minutes, I gradually and slowly returned to myself.

This was three years ago, and it was the point at which I realized I needed professional help. I sought a doctor in the area who was also an addiction specialist.  I told him everything, completely honestly, and he agreed to help me. I began a taper schedule, and he didn’t mind writing me a prescription for 24mg / day. Every two weeks I would decrease by 0.25mg. There was discomfort and pain, but I recognized it as nothing compared to what cold turkey felt like. Through that whole ordeal, one thing also happened; I actually got over the physical dependence on alcohol, and I stopped drinking. It was a few days of discomfort, and then my body let it go.

The taper was going well, until some extreme stresses in my life, and then I began a very difficult process in which I was pretending to my doctor to be tapering, while in fact actually increasing my dose again. So, I again had to resort to shameful means to get the difference. I was depressed. I didn’t want to be going out at night trying to get my hands on some to keep myself alive. I wanted to end it all. I was tired of drama and tragedy being the passengers in my life.
So, I decided to actually catch up to my taper schedule, by quickly decreasing my dose and getting to where the doctor thought I was at – which was about 18mg.  Of course, the withdrawal was so intense, I knew of only one thing to diminish it; alcohol. I began drinking with a vengeance, and with every mg of decrease in the medication, there was a % of increase in the alcohol to offset.

But then, it stopped working, so I had to increase the medication once again. I was spiraling towards doom.  I was sleeping and then waking up in the night needing to go take a big swig of vodka so I could continue to sleep through the night, because, yes – at that point, I even started to enter withdrawal in my sleep, and it woke me up.  But then I would nap for 3 hours a day.

My absolute rock bottom was in January of 2012. We were going on a trip to the Caribbean, with the entire family. It was a big reunion and celebration and vacation. Shortly before we left, I was awake about 6 hours a day, drinking almost a liter of vodka a day, taking 24mg of clonazepam, and knew somewhere in my haze, that I needed an intervention of epic proportions. However, I was instead trying to plan on how I would keep all this up while also appearing to vacation with 25 other people.

The trip there was hell. Within 4 hours of leaving the house, I was starting to sweat from withdrawal. It was morning, and I didn’t have access to anything to drink. I had some pills, but I knew I had to stretch them out to last the entire week. If I downed them all before the end of the week, I would be in very serious trouble. So I endured. The flight was a nightmare, sweating, convulsing. We arrived, and I could barely speak to customs. I looked like I’d just been beaten up. We got to the hotel and I literally dove for the bar. Finally things settled.

However, after a few hours, I just needed to sleep. I explained to my wife what was going on, and ultimately, I had to do nothing for the entire trip except sleep in the room, while my wife brought me jugs full of wine. Every 3 hours I would wake up in awful withdrawal; take a clonazepam and a massive gulp of wine – the equivalent of several glasses.  Then I’d sleep again.  For seven days this was my routine. I knew that I needed help: code red.

I managed to work up the strength to go to the internet café and I emailed my doctor with the heading “Help. Can’t do the gradual taper. Need detox now”. It was my cry for help. And strangely, the moment that I felt that drain of relief. I cried and cried, lost in a sea of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. Regretting what I had put my wife, my family and myself through over the previous 7 years. In my small moment of clarity, I vowed that this was over. A new life was to begin.

I somehow managed to get back home. I was out of clonazepam, but remembered some was hidden in the house. So I got that, and held it – looking at it. Wanting to tell it how vile and sick it was. Yes, an inanimate object, but a devil in disguise nonetheless.  My parents showed up at my door before I knew what was happening.  They said they’d heard from my doctor, and that they were here to get me the only help that would work at this point. Detox. So they picked me up, and along with my wife, I went to see my doctor. I was expecting judgmental criticism, but instead I only saw compassion. I was so small, yet everyone agreed that making the decision to stop this madness was the biggest think I’d ever done.

It took a few days, but finally I got into detox. During those few days, it was understood and accepted (even by my doctor) that I would have to be fed alcohol and clonazepam while I was waiting. So I got my last prescription and 4 liters of wine, and existed for 3 days, until February 5th, when I took my last clonazepam, last drink, and was admitted into detox.

Detox was hell, of course, and I was in for a month. They immediately switched me to diazepam, and found the dose that equaled my addiction’s strength, and then slowly began to decrease the diazepam. I spent most days in bed. I found it ironic that the treatment was a benzo, but knew that’s how it was done – for both the alcohol and the clonazepam.

Finally, on March 3rd, 2012, I took my last small dose of diazepam, and that was the last benzodiazepine to pass through my mouth. Post-acute withdrawal was hellish in its own way. Hallucination both visual and auditory. I would hear music; so much big orchestral music coming from a non-existent speaker on the wall. My reflexes were super charged. If I accidentally brushed my elbow against a wall, my arm rebounded as if it had been electrocuted.

At the beginning of May, there was a knock at my front door, and when it was opened, I was shocked to see a police detective. I won’t go into detail, but they were investigating evidence relating to activities from a year prior, surrounding the acquisition of the clonazepam. It was a shock – because it felt like the ordeal was still chasing me, after I had come through it all. However, it was explained to the police (by my lawyer) the full story, the trials and tribulations, and they were convinced to drop the investigation as they deemed that the only result of any charges would be to order me to detox – which I had already done.

Since then, things have slowly returned to me. My wife and I have reconnected, and are in absolute love all over again. It’s almost as if, framed by the tragedy of everything, it becomes easier to just be, to just love and accept each other.

I’ve managed to return to my passion and love; composing music, and within the last few months I’ve composed a 30 minute symphony. The thing is, it’s flowing out of me like it has never done before. Through everything, what has come about has been a deeper, more passionate understanding of music – and of myself. I’m able to actually creatively use the entire ordeal and channel it into music. Something like: ‘That which doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger’. I feel as if I’ve gained an entirely new level of insight into life, and I’m now using it for good.

I haven’t relapsed, and in fact, haven’t had so much as a craving. Looking with clear eyes now, I realize that all I wanted to do was quit. But I physically couldn’t.  Now that I am clean, I’ve achieved my goal. It’s like I’ve crawled out of a pit of broken glass and razor blades – I’m not so interested in jumping back in.

All the things I was afraid of before (which led to me taking the first benzo), seem trivial and inconsequential now. Compared to the scope of the events of the last 7 years, the dramas, the police, near death – suddenly life doesn’t seem so scary. The challenges that come will also go. I choose to ride these waves rather than fight them, or need to control them.

In fact, life is beautiful.  Creativity is now my passenger in life. Love is my beacon and my guide, and the future is bright, exciting and inviting.

Thanks for reading.
[...]
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2012, 04:10:03 pm »
What a story, [...]! You healed rapidly, considering the dose you were on and the detox experience. I'm very happy for you amd wish you a full, productive and joyous life!
[...]
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2012, 04:21:45 pm »
[...],

My goodness, I would say you are very lucky to be here today to write the story of your benzo journey.  Somewhere in you is the strength to survive using benzos and alcohol and to survive detox. 

I'm am happy you have found your creativity and the joy of music once again.  It is wonderful that you are feeling so well, I wish you the best and I'm sure your music is quite powerful and compelling. Let life be a symphony of wonderful experiences and much joy!

[...]
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2012, 04:33:40 pm »
God bless you and I wish you the best with the rest of your life! GO LIVE!!!

-Car Lover
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2012, 06:24:21 pm »
The Medical community must wake up to the reality of the destruction caused by innappropriate, dangerous prescribing practices. There is a full blown epidemic afoot, how many of us have to go through this until something changes?

I have a different but similar story with benzos, withdrawal, and the use of alcohol. [...], I am so happy you are alive to share this story. I know your "experience, strength, and hope" will help others. I participate in a 12 step program of recovery to ensure that I have the support and tools I need to never use any mind or mood altering substances again. Life is getting real good for me these days. So long booze, pills, cigs.... and good riddance... I found the right path to true happiness. My hunger is now satiated by helping others, faith, acceptance, love, and all those good and decent things that go with them.

All the very best [...] and Everyone on this site.
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2012, 06:33:10 pm »
Congratulations [...],

Enjoy your new found life to the fullest.   You faced a vicious enemy, but because of your strength and determination, came out the victor.   I am happy for you that your creative juices are once again flowing, that's terrific!

I wish you all 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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2012, 06:39:11 pm »
I agree with you.  In such a short time I went from top of my game, to basically hitting the streets. And it was never 'chasing a high', I was 'trying to get by'. I wish I'd known at the start what I know now.  Although, I absolutely believe that I was meant to go through everything in order to re-frame life in a much more profound light.

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't regret.  I can't.  Otherwise I will spend my life living in regret, and that's not conducive to recovering healthily (mentally and physically). As hard as it was, and as mad as the addiction spiraled, I've found that the best thing is to be kind to myself.  The sheer magnitude of everything is in direct inverse proportion to the life I am now living. To me, I compare it to a phoenix - I burned really bright, and in a shock of flame the ashes fell. From there, I was able to rise, renewed.

I think I would like to share some of my composition on here. I'd like to remain anonymous though.. I wonder, can I attach it to a post?
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2012, 06:39:36 pm »
BRAVO [...]!!! You've now begun your masterpiece!

Hugs to you and yours, XXOO
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2012, 09:15:39 pm »
Hello all.

Here is a section of the symphony I'm working on. This represents the time just after detox, when I was tentative but hopeful. A sense of awe and wonder at finally having eyes to see the world. The wonder transitions into hope, and then joyous triumph.  This section is called "The Phoenix".

http://youtu.be/puqLwcbdcX0

Thanks,
[...]
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: 2012 - the year of change and redemption.
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2012, 10:10:00 pm »
Hi [...] :hug:

Congratulations!! I wish you continued healing, thank you for posting your inspirational story

And  thanks for posting this section of your composition its beautiful,  well done to you :thumbsup:

Have a wonderful life, you deserve 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.