Author Topic: 3 1/2 years and doing well  (Read 16172 times)

[Buddie]

3 1/2 years and doing well
« on: September 21, 2013, 03:43:25 pm »
Since entering a detox facility in Malibu, CA in March of 2010, I have been struggling to recover from benzodiazepine use.  It was a fluke how I ended up on Restoril (a sleeping pill).  My doctor asked me how I was sleeping.  I've always had weird sleep cycles, preferring to be a night owl.  I had no trouble actually falling asleep.  So I mentioned that I preferred a bimodal kind of sleep pattern.  He prescribed Restoril.  I hesitated since I really didn't care to be on any pills.  He assured me they were "safe as candy".  I began taking them nightly as prescribed.  In fact, I took one every night even thought most of the time I didn't need it because the bottle said I could be at risk of a seizure if I suddenly stopped.  I had no idea I could become dependent on them.  So for the next three years, I was on Restoril.

The doctor continued to increase the dose because it had become less effective until I was taking the maximum 30 mg nightly.  At this time I was 37 years old, had just purchased my first home and had started working as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in private practice.  Externally life was very good yet I was feeling depressed and anxious.  The half life of Restoril is short and every day around 1pm I began to experience extreme anxiety making it difficult to work in session with my clients.  At this time, I had no idea the connection was actually tolerance withdrawal.  It became so severe I had to leave my private practice.

Fast forward almost 6 months later when it suddenly  occurred to me that it may be the pills that were making me ill.  I [...] had no idea what a benzodiazepine was or how to stop taking them so I just "tapered" from 30mg to the 15mg pills...in one day.  Oh my.  I ended up sick as a dog in the ER and left there back on 30 mg along with Ativan added to the mix.

After a few more attempts to stop on my own, I realized I was dependent and flew to a rehab facility in Malibu, CA.  It cost $40,000 out of pocket but I was desperate. I was put on Klonopin and gained some relief due to the longer half life. They took me off the Klonopin after less than 2 weeks and all hell broke loose five days later.  Side note: Rehab is not at all appropriate for people who become unwittingly dependent on benzos, taken as prescribed by their doctors.  I was not a drug addict and I resented being treated as such.  I knew I would not have cravings for these pills once I was off but all I kept hearing by former drug addicts was that I was in "denial".  It was extremely frustrating to say the least.

My last benzo was March 28, 2010.  I returned back home mid April 2010.  I had to live with my parents for the next couple of months because I could not care for myself.  The first two months were the worst.  During that time I had 3 ER visits because my BP and heart rate were dangerously high as well as my body temperature.  I was having continuous muscle spasms on the ER table and could not keep my body from twitching and moving.  I could not sleep for five days and began to hallucinate.  The level of sustained fear and terror I felt was immeasurable.  For two months I paced around the house, ran up and down stairs and was basically in fight or flight mode 24/7.  Everything scared me.  No matter what I did, I could not calm myself down.

After two months, the terror started to abate and I felt off and on relief.  I had no idea for the next 28 months I would live in perpetual limbo.  I had pretty much every withdrawal symptom but the mental symptoms were the worst.  Anxiety had not been a part of my life prior to benzos yet now I lived with it day in and day out.  The depression was chronic and severe.  I was seriously suicidal for about the first two years.  To make matters worse, I lived alone and could not work so I had financial stress on top of it.  By financial stress I mean I almost lost my home and had to use up all my retirement to stay afloat.   Several times I attempted to work and suffered tremendously every day all day.  No one knew what I was experiencing and, by that time,  I looked normal physically. 

For 2 1/2 years I spent about 90% of my life in bed.  Benzobuddies helped me realize what was going on when all the doctors kept urging me to try this drug or that.  I remained steadfast in my resolve to get through this without adding any psychotropics to the mix. By the grace of God, He gave me the ability to endure.

There were more days than I care to admit in which not committing suicide was considered a successful day...and it was, because today I am able to write my story of recovery in hopes that it will encourage someone else who needs to read this today just to get through another day.  Sadly,  one of my friends on this forum committed suicide.  This sent me into a tailspin as I became uncertain whether or not I would  make it. 

By 30 months, I began to get glimpses of normalcy.  At 3 years almost everything had faded away.  For the past 6 months I have been doing well but wanted to wait to submit a success story to be sure symptoms did not return.

Every time I think I am healed, I notice that I continue to feel better with time.  I can, at times, [...] be a bit sensitive to stress, exercise or certain foods.  About two months ago I drank a small amount of caffeine and spent the next few hours restless and uncomfortable so I just quit caffeine altogether.  I have not had any alcohol or any medications in the last 3 1/2 years so I have no idea what kind of affect they might have on me.  I have no interest in drinking alcohol anyway so this isn't a problem for me.  I eat whatever I want but notice that I don't feel so great after consuming fast food or too much sugar so I generally avoid it.  I'm a bit sensitive to strenuous exercise [...] so I keep it moderate.

Generally though, I can say with all honesty, I am now healed.  The depression, anxiety, panic, insomnia, lack of motivation or pleasure, irritability, rage, etc.  is all gone.  Not only are the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal in the past, but I even feel happiness, joy, pleasure, motivation and my cognitive abilities have returned to normal.  I do [...] have mild tinnitus that I notice only at night and heart palpitations that come and go.  My confidence has returned and I've been back to working full time for a year now.  I have empathy for my clients who are depressed and anxious and a storehouse of techniques for battling both that I never learned in grad school. (Sometimes life experience is a better teacher than a book.)

For those of you in acute withdrawal (first few weeks to months) the level of intense symptoms does not last,  you will get some relief soon.  For those of you in protracted withdrawal, you have been through hell and back and are warriors.  No one but another protracted buddy will ever be able to sympathize with your arduous journey.  It is yours alone.  When the day comes and you are able to look back down that mountain you climbed, the sense of strength and accomplishment will be yours alone, too.  And it is now, finally, after 3 1/2 years free of benzodiazepines that I can say with confidence that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

May God give you His courage and strength to endure this pain which is temporary so that you might know the peace that is waiting for you on the other side.   :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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2013, 06:29:22 pm »
Congratulations!  So happy for you! 

Unbelievable how sick someone can get at the hands of a doctor, whether well intentioned or not.  Glad you are doing well and you can smile in life.

I love new success stories, I honestly can not wait until I can give others the same encouragement you've just given me.  I'm praying for that deliverance  :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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2013, 06:56:58 pm »
Congratulations!   I [...] everything goes well for you  L

Have a good life and great future.
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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2013, 07:33:56 pm »
That's wonderful... I k ow you struggled with the flatlining and were so relieved when that went. Enjoy your new life, you deserve 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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 07:46:56 pm »
Congrats [...], I am so happy for you, and I am very sorry that you lost a dear friend.

What you said about those in protracted withdrawal is so true. I am now at 21 months off with terrible anxiety and insomnia as my constant companions. I am like many here that have watched the months go by wondering when it will be my turn to write a success story. You have given me [...] today and not to give up on my [...]. Thank you so much!
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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2013, 09:58:31 pm »
thank you so much for posting this. I am having a very hard time right now at 8 months out and finding recovery and [...] to be hard to believe in in spite of some improvements. The mental sxs are brutal and don't seem to want to let go. You came through a lot. It was also good to read that you continue to get better!  thanks again
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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2013, 01:39:21 am »
I'm so happy for you and this is just what i needed to hear. Sometimes it feels like I will never heal. I have been benzo free for 18 months and i'm [...] suffering.. But thanks to you now i have more [...].. <3

Is there anything you did different at the three year mark or do you think time is the only cure? Were you surprised when you felt better? Did you think you would ever heal?



- Happy you made it to the other side
---[...]


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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 02:27:36 am »
  What a journey you have been on, I commend you and honor you....you are a true warrior and were stead fast. You give me my future, that I will also have "me" back.....Blessings to 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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2013, 10:12:12 am »
Yay for you!!! I'm a year behind and [...] have a low dose antidepressant to come off but I sure [...] that I may be where you are now in a year. I would be ecstatic!!!
Ru
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: 3 1/2 years and doing well
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2013, 12:39:06 pm »
L thank you for this story and all the encouragement you have provided to me and many others. Your willingness to stay with this forum over the past few months and offer [...] for others in immeasurable.
 This journey is truly one through hell, I wish you the best and may peace follow you through the many days ahead.

[...]
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.