Author Topic: Driving in the Left Lane- pianogirl's Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!  (Read 54128 times)

[Buddie]

In my life I experienced anxiety, the normal type that comes with life these days due to the stresses of our lifestyles. I dealt with my parent’s death, job issues, family dynamics and other disruptions that in our society we find necessary to deal with.  I never felt the need to treat myself with any kind of medication for the anxiety; I was able to work through it knowing that it would pass as the situations resolved.  Fast forward to my experience with benzos and the worst anxiety and panic that I could imagine. That is the reason for the title of my Success Story.  When I was having terrible panic and anxiety and needed to drive somewhere I always drove in the right lane so I could bail out if necessary. And there were times it was necessary, many times.

Now I’m driving in the left lane again. You will too!!!

I have actually been through withdrawal twice. I was initially put on Ativan for a supposed middle ear issue by an ENT who spent less than 10 minutes with me. The doctor gave me a prescription for Ativan and said the condition would clear up. After a 2nd opinion from an ENT I was scheduled for a comprehensive vestibular test for which I could not be taking medications like Ativan. My doctor assured me that because of my low dose that I could discontinue the Ativan with just possibly some flu like symptoms. I stopped taking Ativan and descending into a hell like I have never thought possible. I was shaking, my head hurt so bad I cried, I had awful stomach problems, and I was so dizzy that I could not walk without holding on to the walls. I had DP and DR, the world I knew looked so foreign and strange. The worst was the panic attacks. I would try to go to the store with my husband and once inside the store I would have to turn around and have him help me out. I ended up staying home and in bed and crying, crying.

My GP wanted to run tests so I went in and almost fainted after the blood tests.  My doctor said he really didn’t know what was wrong with me. When I asked if it could have anything to do with the Ativan he said no, since I had been off for 2 weeks and it was completely out of my system. My husband had to take me out of the office in a wheelchair because I could not walk. I had an MRI of my brain and it was normal and the blood work showed I was very healthy.

I had no idea I was in withdrawal, I didn’t know what a benzo was, sure I had heard of valium but I didn’t know that Ativan was in the same family. Should I have known, possibly, but more importantly I should have been informed by my care givers.

This was my first withdrawal. My doctor recommended antidepressants for my “anxiety” and I resisted for a couple of months. After much soul searching I decided to try one because of my intense desire to get well. I tried a few with my GP and they all made me ill with serious effects. At this point I decided to seek out an “expert” to help me with my “anxiety” problem. This was my first experience with a psychiatrist.  He immediately put me on clonazepam.  I felt better at the start and subsequently I was put on many different medications.  I began to be afraid to try any more because of the intense side effects and also because I decided to start to read up about these meds and many of them were used “off label” for anxiety. Bells started going off in my head and I began reading more and more. I did ask the doctor about the safety of taking clonazepam long term. He assured me that I would not encounter any problems because I didn’t have an addictive personality. At this point I [...] didn’t know about the recommendations for short time use of benzos.

I quickly reached tolerance and was ill for a long time. I asked my psychiatrist about my symptoms and he said it sounded like withdrawal and advised an increase in dose, I refused. He also suggested I get some medical tests because he couldn’t see a psychological reason for the anxiety and therefore he surmised it must be biological.  I underwent many medical tests, some of them fairly invasive.  At the time I was also being treated for nerve damage and disc degeneration in my cervical spine. I had many steroid injections not knowing about their cross tolerance to benzos. Many of the procedures I had were done with conscious sedation (valium). I also had fusion surgery at C 5-7.  I really wish someone would have said something to me, between all the doctors I saw, I wish one had spoken up. After I completed my crossover to valium I had shoulder surgery for a torn bicep tendon and tears in my rotator cuff.  The anesthesiologist was very frank with me about long term benzo use. Why didn’t I hear that years before?  I was tapering at that point and dedicated to ending my benzo use. I wish there were more doctors like this person who wasn’t afraid to speak up to a relative stranger, someone she just met to perform the anesthetic for the surgery.

I did finally find a doctor that agreed that the medication was making me ill. I took the Ashton Manual and he and I planned the crossover to valium. He also discontinued all the additional medications that the naturopath started me on, primarily hormones and thyroid medication. Upon completion of my taper my hormones and thyroid levels returned to normal.

My taper was rough; I only had the Ashton Manual as my guide at this point. I was able to work through the taper and made it to the end. Surprisingly I felt really good for the first 2 weeks off and then I got hit. I had a myriad of symptoms and so much pain both nerve and muscle. I had just about every scary symptom there was and had all the fears that accompany withdrawal.
I found Benzo Buddies and just read posts for quite a while.  Needing more help and support I decided to join. This is where I received more information about withdrawal and met people who knew what I was going through. I was certain I would be one of those that healed in the 6 month range. After all, I was on the tennis court 2 weeks after gall bladder surgery. Not so. I became discouraged many times.

Distraction helped me so much, movies, books, puzzles.  I was also getting more and more interested in the science behind withdrawal and the mechanisms that are affected by benzo use. I did a lot of reading and came to the conclusion that my body would heal on its own, in its own time.

My bedroom was my oasis the summer of 2011 and BB was my lifeline. I read books on forgiveness to forgive myself for allowing these medications to enter my body.  I have yet to forgive the doctors and my new doctor said I have no need to do that, it was not my fault. I took baby steps, driving, shopping any activity. By the end of the summer I was riding my bicycle. I encountered many waves, usually after a lovely window.

As time progressed I became more and more functional.  I have continued to work except for some time off during the summer of 2011. I saw my 1 year anniversary come and go with many improvements. I traveled some even while having symptoms. I probably could have written my success story a few months ago but I have been really busy with life. Plus, there is always that little voice that says “what if you are not totally healed”. Get out of my way withdrawal fears!

I am so extremely thankful for the support of all my buddies here; you are near and dear to my heart – all of you. I know without a doubt that this process would have been so much more taxing without you.

I know how hard this is, I know that it is tiring but the end result is so worth it.  We are meant as humans to feel things, not have feelings suppressed by a medication.  We are meant to cry when we are sad and laugh when we are happy.  I missed these things.  They are all back, please know they will be back for you too.  I will happily share the left lane with all of you brave, strong and caring people.

 :smitten: :smitten: [...]  :smitten: :smitten:

edit: typo
« Last Edit: April 20, 2021, 12:32:56 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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 07:43:14 pm »
This is wonderful, [...]! I didn't not realize you had CTed once and tapered once. What a journey this has been for you. It made me angry to read of the ignorance and lack of knowledge and communication of your doctors.  A ten minute appointment, one or two lines on a prescription pad and your life goes upside down. I'm really sorry.

I'm so happy you've healed! Thank you for your uplifting story and for all you do here!
 :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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 08:36:08 pm »
I have happy tears running down my face.

Congratulations [...]... thank you for sharing this [...], it is always a huge thing to read a new success story, i am thrilled you have you back again.

I think many others will be too.

[...]  :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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 08:42:16 pm »
This is wonderful, [...]! I didn't not realize you had CTed once and tapered once. What a journey this has been for you. It made me angry to read of the ignorance and lack of knowledge and communication of your doctors.  A ten minute appointment, one or two lines on a prescription pad and your life goes upside down. I'm really sorry.

I'm so happy you've healed! Thank you for your uplifting story and for all you do here!
 :smitten:
[...]

[...],

Thanks so much for the reply.  Yep, how I wish I had never walked into that ENT office. But you know, in life we don't get a Mulligan.  I always thought I was a pretty strong person until withdrawal knocked the wind out of me. I do know now that I am stronger than ever and my prespective on life is much different. (healthier)

[...]  :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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 08:44:01 pm »
I have happy tears running down my face.

Congratulations [...]... thank you for sharing this [...], it is always a huge thing to read a new success story, i am thrilled you have you back again.

I think many others will be too.

[...]  :smitten:

Happy tears are good [...], in fact tears are OK by me any time.

I am very happy and I wish the same happiness for you as well, you'll have it!!

[...]  :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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 09:05:32 pm »
[...],

Thanks for the encouraging post.  You've always been a source of help and support for me.

I had a similar experience driving.  I hugged the right shoulder of the road, slowed down if someone were ahead of me, sped up if someone were behind me, and turned right a lot.  Driving became such an ordeal, so stressful, I gave it up in 1975.  I was diagnosed with hyper-vigilence and tested terrible for depth perception and balance.  I couldn't walk straight, let alone drive.

Later I learned my fear of driving had something to do with social anxiety and PTSD.  The traffic was too much socializing for me I guess.  Shopping is an ordeal too but I'm back in the aisles behind a shopping cart.  I [...] do the same thing, I go down the aisles where the people aren't, not where the food I want is.  It's like I have to meditate and get in the zone to shop effectively.

Congratulations on graduating to the left lane.

Ibble

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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 09:20:43 pm »
Hi [...], :)

Last week, when I didn't see your name etched in that familiar, reassuring red color, in the members online section, all kinds of different scenarios of why that was, went through my mind.   And now, to see that you have posted your success story, is absolutely sublime.

It has been a long, painful, confusing journey for you, but look at you now.  You have healed, and your life will be as beautiful, and inspiring as an awesome Mozart composition.  You are a wonderful, and extremely kind person.  Your concern and compassion for ALL the members who come to this site, is so very real, and genuine.   You unselfishly give of yourself so that others who are struggling and hurting can take solice in the knowing that they are not alone in the confusing journey that lies ahead of them.

I wish you all the happiness that your heart can hold. 

[...]


       
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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 09:28:31 pm »
[...],

Thanks for the encouraging post.  You've always been a source of help and support for me.

I had a similar experience driving.  I hugged the right shoulder of the road, slowed down if someone were ahead of me, sped up if someone were behind me, and turned right a lot.  Driving became such an ordeal, so stressful, I gave it up in 1975.  I was diagnosed with hyper-vigilence and tested terrible for depth perception and balance.  I couldn't walk straight, let alone drive.

Later I learned my fear of driving had something to do with social anxiety and PTSD.  The traffic was too much socializing for me I guess.  Shopping is an ordeal too but I'm back in the aisles behind a shopping cart.  I [...] do the same thing, I go down the aisles where the people aren't, not where the food I want is.  It's like I have to meditate and get in the zone to shop effectively.

Congratulations on graduating to the left lane.

Ibble

Thanks [...],

Everything takes time.  Initially I would plan my shopping route in advance in my head. I knew where everything was in the store.  I only bought enough to put in my own bag and do the self checkout.  I celebrated the first time I wasn't anxious at the grocery store by visiting every aisle. It gets better, let time heal your central nervous system and your confidence will grow.

[...]
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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 09:38:26 pm »
[...]

Driving has been one of my biggest hurdles. I get dizzy/boatyard at intersections & on the freeway. While I have improved a lot these last several months (Ambien free 10 months tomorrow) I [...] struggle with anxiety induced dizziness in certain situations. The intensity & duration of these episodes has gotten a lot better. But, I won't consider myself healed until it goes away completely and I am able to function as I did before all of this madness.

At what month did the driving improve?  What was helpful to you regarding that?

So thrilled to see that someone with this same issue is doing so well. Congrats!  Thanks for 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: Driving in the Left Lane-My Story of Healing and Hope for all of You!
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 09:41:02 pm »
Hi [...], :)

Last week, when I didn't see your name etched in that familiar, reassuring red color, in the members online section, all kinds of different scenarios of why that was, went through my mind.   And now, to see that you have posted your success story, is absolutely sublime.

It has been a long, painful, confusing journey for you, but look at you now.  You have healed, and your life will be as beautiful, and inspiring as an awesome Mozart composition.  You are a wonderful, and extremely kind person.  Your concern and compassion for ALL the members who come to this site, is so very real, and genuine.   You unselfishly give of yourself so that others who are struggling and hurting can take solice in the knowing that they are not alone in the confusing journey that lies ahead of them.

I wish you all the happiness that your heart can hold. 

[...]


     

Hi ya [...],

Your words always bring tears to my eyes, good tears.  Thank you for such an eloquent message.  You know speaking of music, I do hear it more clearly and have a greater love for it now than ever before.  That was a missing link for a while. Now the links have joined together.  This is one of my favorite quotes about music:

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination, and life to everything.

Yes, my life was a confused mess for a long time.  If I can help someone through this as I was helped by so many here then my heart truly will be filled with joy. 

BTW, I didn't disappear. I was off visiting the most beautiful grandbaby there is - mine.  :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.