Cause of Death: BWS and Psychopharmacology

Cause of Death: BWS (Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome) and Psychopharmacology

When a death occurs, depending on the status of the human life at the time of death, either the attending physician or a coroner are required to list the Cause of Death. There are very specific rules for determining the cause of death. The causes are listed in order of occurrence. Nowhere on this list do you see the term “BWS and Psychopharmacology”.
Over the course of the last two weeks, two valued and loved humans have died of this cause. There may be more I am unaware of, but both of these beautiful women were active in support groups for those suffering from an iatrogenic illness caused by psychiatric pharmacology.  Rather than the true cause of death I have suggested, we likely will learn that their death certificate lists Suicide or Neuropsychiatric Disorder or maybe on a far reach, Substance Disorder.
Those three causes of death put the blame on the injured and sick human. If the doctors were honest about what really occurred, the most correct of those listed would be Poisoning. These women were poisoned by following their doctor’s orders and taking medications as prescribed for symptoms that were unable to be confirmed by any labs or imaging. These women believed and trusted their doctors that the medications would not hurt them.
The most recent loss just last Friday was a woman I met, not once but twice, while both of us were inpatient in psychiatric crisis centers. When we were reunited the second time a friendship was forged. We both were in the throes of brutal withdrawals from psychotropic medications including benzodiazepines and anti-depressants. We also had become aware prior to our hospitalizations that it was the medications themselves and the withdrawal from them that was making us so sick.
This beautiful young woman was the mother of a 5-year-old daughter. She was the beloved daughter of caring parents. She was quiet spoken, sweet as southern tea, and had a heart that held enough love for all the world. And, she was tormented by the ravages of withdrawal off medications like Zoloft and Klonopin.
Whatever the method of death, the cause was the symptoms associated with BWS and Psychiatric Pharmacology. Prior to the medications, she had been a vibrant hopeful full-of-life twenty-three-year-old and the world was open to possibilities. Shortly after beginning the medications and taking them as prescribed by her doctors she started suffering from multiple horrifying symptoms. She knew it was the medications, but no one would listen.
She was hospitalized against her will, having the most terrifying physical and mental torture imaginable, and drugged more and more and more throughout her hospitalization. She had been brought from another psychiatric unit where she had been for a couple weeks to the hospital I was in. She was like a zombie yet still beautiful, in a haunting ethereal way. She cried a lot. We both cried a lot. Over the course of a week, we shared a few conversations while coloring. She drew and colored. Her art was just like her, warm and bright and beautiful. In spite of both our horrible conditions, we saw a light in one another.
Not even two weeks later, having had yet another significant run in with suicidal ideation, I was admitted to another psychiatric crisis center. Less than a week after my arrival, here comes Marrisa. Still crying, still broken, still shaking, still breathing and still beautiful. Inside and out.
We talked a lot more in this environment as it was only women and a very small setting. We both had been struggling with chronic suicidal ideation. We both knew it was because of the medications. We both agreed we really wanted to be well and live and love our families and our lives. Yet suicidal ideation is a hallmark symptom common for those who suffer from the withdrawals from benzodiazepines and other psychotropic medications.
We shared so many stories and fears and even things we were really ashamed of because of how the medications had changed us to behave in ways that weren’t in alignment with our core values and beliefs. We talked about how the medical community treats us as if it’s our fault for being sick, yet all we had done was take medications that the doctors told us to, in spite of black box warnings for suicidality for her Zoloft and for my Effexor XR. We took the benzodiazepines for months, or in my case off and on for 3 decades, as our doctors prescribed, in spite of the warnings against use for longer than 2 weeks.
The end of this month will be two years since that first meeting. My heart is absolutely shredded to bits by the news of her passing. The reasons are all over the spectrum. My heart aches for her family who may never fully understand what really happened. My heart aches for my friends who are all reeling from this devastating news. My heart aches because it could have been any one of us. It could have easily been me. I too have been in a horrifying wave of symptoms the last month. My heart aches because it feels like no one outside our groups is listening.
This is NOT due to a psychiatric illness. This is due to an iatragenic illness. The suicidal ideation and depression and bone pain and brain pain and ruminating and intrusive thoughts and akathisia and unrelenting insomnia are all symptoms because of how those medications altered our GABA-receptors and neurotransmitters. But no one that is prescribing them is acknowledging this. They want to blame it on us, the patients.
Please, whatever the listed cause of death is for my friend and the other recent loss in our support groups, please share the truth. That this was caused by medications that we did not get the full disclosure on of how they could destroy our lives and maybe even kill us.
Please reach out to those who are trusted administrators and moderators in the groups during this time of grief.  Find a partner in pain and commit to one another through the bad times to call in and give encouragement. We cannot do this alone and those out in the world aren’t ready to face the truth that we didn’t cause this ourselves and we aren’t a psychiatric label. If it is a bad day and you are in a bad wave, do NOT be ashamed to share that pain with another! It is by sharing the pain that we learn the strength we have for one another and for ourselves.
There is no one to blame for this except for the medical community. That is the truth. RIP my friend. RIP to all our friends who have lost this battle. You will not be forgotten! You fought hard and we all watched. Memories of you will always make us smile.

marissa and daughter

I believe this photo on her page was soon after we met. I found it on her public page.

 

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My medicine and daily dosing

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Everyone has a medicine cabinet right?  That thing that is hidden behind the bathroom mirror.  If you don’t have one, then you have a drawer, or a bag, or a suitcase, or some kind of catchall for your home treatments of your medical conditions and minor ailments.  I decided to collect all that I used to show you! The bulk of my medicine is all natural, organic and much is based on using cannabis.  I do have a few things left from the pharmacy.  But not nearly the array I formerly had.

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My treatments and medications are scattered here and there.  I have a few items in the little cubby above the sink in the camper.  I store some things in a basket next to my bed for night time use.  I also have a tin that sits at the table with various strains of cannabis flower and capsules! These are the what make up the basis of my daily medication routine.

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If you are a person that has ever been prescribed routine medication of any type, you usually have daily doses that have been prescribed.   Cannabis is prescribed in general.  I have worked hard over the course of the last 4 years with a lot of trial to create my own dosing regiment that works.  My daily dosing is typically four times a day of my capsules with CBD tincture one or two times and then smoking as needed for breaththrough pain or anxiety.  I have two types of FECO (Full Extract Cannabis Oil) and three different dosages that I make with the oils.

Then, there are day(s) and sometimes weeks where pain levels and symptoms are elevated and I have to increase my dosages.  This last month with so many weather changes I have been dosing much higher than usual.  It took me quite some time to be willing to take this much medicine.  I admit I was concerned about it.  Then when I reflected on how much narcotics and anti-anxiety medication I would take on really bad days, I didn’t feel so worried.  I was treating my conditions.  I was doing it to check in, not check out!  If the day was so bad that I needed to be dosed to where I wasn’t fit to be in public, then I stayed home.  I was in THAT MUCH PAIN and would not have been fit for public on the handful of Big Pharma I would take either!

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I also will eat more medibles when pain is higher.  I have been baking gluten free organic brownies on a weekly basis lately!  They are pretty tasty if I do say so and there is an additional comfort in having a treat!

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I love my Essential Oils.  The Lavender is really good for sleep, but I do have to be careful with it as I seem to be more sensitive to it after many seasons work in the fields!  Fun times!  The frankincense is great for my inflammation, reducing stress and anxiety and it is also good for the skin.  The Harmony is a new one and I just love it!!  It is very uplifting and makes me think of summer and picnics with great salads and it’s really fresh!  The Melaleuca oil great for little cuts and scrapes and skin irritations!DSC_3498

Once in a blue moon I have a side effect from cannabis (yes, it does happen).  Common side effects that are well known are dry mouth and dry eyes.   Some strains can also leave you with a bit of a headache afterwards or with some elevated anxiety.  Also, occasionally I get really stuffed up sinuses.  So, then I resort to a few old standbys that work.  I have used the Benadryl only twice in 6 months and Ibuprofen only 2 times in four months.  I use the nasal spray frequently.  The Anti-diarrhea med is one I have continued to keep on hand after suffering with years of intestinal troubles that make me fearful not to have it.  That’s all I will say about that.  Then there are the vitamins.  I am awful about remembering to take them.  Terrible!!! This bottle is probably a year old.  LOL.  Oh well!  It’s the thought that counts right?DSC_3482

I am really grateful that I have this ability and knowledge of how to manage my various conditions and symptoms primarily with cannabis and good diet and healthy living!  Wow!  They never suggested that in all the years I was seeking help from the mainstream medical community.  Things like a good diet and getting fresh air and having good friendships weren’t suggested or they were just barely glossed over before that prescription pad came out!  Well…phoeey!!!  I say FREE THE WEED!  🙂  I had hoped to have this posted yesterday for the 420 celebrations going on, but I was a day late!

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I’ll stick with my trusty FECO cannacapsules (Full Extract Cannabis Oil), tinctures, rubs, and medibles.  Vaping and smoking are also excellent ways I have used to getting quick relief in a few minutes.

If you are seeking information about how to utilize cannabis to treat various conditions such as Chronic Pain, PTSD, Anxiety, Insomnia, Depression, treat minor skin ailments, reduce blood sugar levels, and be healthier and happier, contact me!  Peace out friends!

An afternoon walk in Applegate, Oregon

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I took a little walk about in the lovely burb of Applegate, Oregon.  The bridge, the lodge, the community “country club”, the little private park, they all called to me on this lovely spring day!

The Applegate River Lodge is a beautifully constructed log style structure build on the banks of the Applegate River, in Applegate, Oregon.  It houses a very nice restaurant and bar, seven individually decorated rooms with jacuzzi tubs that are available nightly, as well as world class music events that draw locals and those from far away as well.  The front door is always open, your dog will be welcome except for music nights, and you just can’t beat a half an hour on the deck on a spring day.

Right next door is the Applegate Country Club, a place for locals and visitors alike to gather and enjoy a wood-fired pizza and one of many great Oregon beers or wines.  The gardens are really coming along and there are blooms bursting now with evidence of more to come.

My last stop was Merete’s Cove.  It is a little private park owned and maintained by a local whom I am acquainted with and broke bread with last week.  I was grateful the caretaker was around to grant me access.  It was such a lovely day I couldn’t help but enjoy this little area that I love so much!

The only thing I didn’t get photos of today was the local market.  That will be another time!  They deserve a notice too as they are the ones who provide great breakfasts and gas for all of us locals!  🙂  I am so grateful to be back in Southern Oregon!  It really is a groovy place to be!

Labels are for soup cans, not humans.

I am a human, not a soup can wrap.  Please don’t label me.

“Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight”, was my first real interaction with human labels. From there, the progression escalated in less than loving titles and comparisons.

Some that were less than desirable were attached to me. Names such as “dogface” due to my terrible issues with too many teeth in a mouth not designed for large glaring teeth. Or how about “Bertha” due to my prominent derriere. Then there were labels such as “depressive”, “anxious”, “crazy”. Wow, those really make a person feel cared about and part of.

I did have some positive labels atrributed to me over the years. Labels such as “hard worker”, “high intelligence”, “care-taker”. These labels, while often viewed as positive labels, were hard to live up to when I was struggling with a multitude of health issues that no longer allowed me to feel confident in these roles. Some days I couldn’t live up to them.

I recall when a dear neighbor of mine who was often a role model for my children called one of the neighbor kids “nigger”. I recoiled. I actually arm punched this 80 something year old. I exclaimed, “I do NOT want my children subjected to ANY names towards ANY humanity EVER! If you cannot respect my wishes you will no longer be part of our extended family and friends”. We eventually came to an agreement, but I would NOT be dissuaded on my stance!

I have had so many labels attached to my person, it would be hard to figure out who I really am if I was prone to molding my life based on others perceptions and views and labels.

How about just taking me as I am. I’m Debbie. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a grandmother. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a nurse. I am human. I care. I make mistakes. I do great things . I love! I give! I am caring! What I do is so much more about who I am than any label anyone could conceive to attach to me. Additionally there are labels that used to fit and no longer do.

How about “Dog Face”. I got my teeth fixed. I have been told over my lifetime that I am beautiful and have a wonderful smile. I am no longer a “dogface” person with a messed up mouth. That was fixable.

How about the label of “Depressive”? I currently am not depressed. In fact I am really enjoying my hopefulness for a brighter future.

I highly suggest each of us be very cautious when using labels. Those labels may not be accurate, they might not be appropriate, and they might not be any where near correct! How about we just meet one another with open-ness and respect. Leave the labels to soup cans!

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Fish Pie ~ in honor of Grandpa Jim!

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St. Patrick’s day was something I grew up celebrating with the requisite corned beef, cabbage, taters and carrots, the beloved hot horseradish and Irish Soda bread, all made by my blue-eyed white-haired 5’8″ GIANT of a grandfather!  He may not have been the tallest man on the block, but to me his presence was enormous.

Grandpa did the bulk of the cooking in my grandparents home.  It was he who taught me how to make a St. Patrick’s day feast as well as many other delectable treats over the years.  My grandmother had been a career woman working as head personnel secretary for the local Georgia Pacific office in Eugene, Oregon.  She had worked for that company for 25 years before retiring.  Lumbar was big back in those days here in Oregon and they both had worked in the industry.  My grandfather had driven log trucks, been a surveyor and worked in a few mills.

One thing you had to know about my grandfather was that he was the worlds BEST storyteller.  I loved to hear him tell about hauling a load of logs down a windy rocky ravine of a road cut out of the side of a mountain with no brakes except a Jake brake and the brake roads you drove up to slow down!!!  My brother has a couple of the old photos of him standing in front of some of those big huge trucks with logs as wide in diameter as a man is tall and more!  I was captivated by his stories and his bright blue eyes all crinkly in the corners.  There were many stories I listened to while sitting across the kitchen table from him.

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All organic, wild grown, sustainably harvested…..good for you and the environment!

Another thing notable about my grandfather was that he welcomed all the neighborhood kids into his house.  They could come by to have their bike fixed, or to get some practice on a new set of stilts he had built for anyone who wanted to give  them a try.  He built a zip line in the backyard before anyone even knew what such things were!  Back then no one worried about the neighbor kids getting hurt.  All the parents in the neighborhood knew my grandfather helped kids be good kids by letting them try things and sometimes they got hurt.  No one got their panties all bunched up back then if their kid showed up with their knees and hands all skinned up from having landed hard trying a new pair of stilts! Many of these neighborhood kids also came by to  have a little “counseling” from Grandpa!  He was very wise and gave good insights into how to live good and right.

Grandpa came over from Ireland in 1913 when he was 12 years old.  The way the story goes is that they were all slated to come on The Titanic, but his grandmother got very ill and so their trip was postponed for a year.  That’s the story I hear and I am gonna share it until my dying day.  When he and his Pa and brothers relocated their

landing was in Canada.  His sister and mother came later.  It was then that his proper schooling came to an end.  At least schooling as you and I know it.  Yet that man was truly one of the best read smartest men I knew.  He read the entire Register Guard newspaper every day.  He read books on every topic imaginable.  He did cross word puzzles and played scrabble.  Not being in school did not hinder him in life at all.  He was a self-made man who cared for people with love that was authentic and without expectation except to just be your best.  He expected the best of people because he thought the best of them.  He hoped for the best for people.  Sometimes to a fault!  But that is another story.

He provided for many people throughout his life.  He worked to provide for his family of birth, then his first family, as well as other families during the depression.  Another story was that he was a rum runner between Canada and the USA during the depression in order to help feed 5 different families.  Again, that is the story I heard and I am only repeating what I was told.  He then provided for my grandmother and mother and me and my siblings.  He also helped all the members of his extended family in any way he could.

I see now why my grandmother was still so deeply in love with him the day she died nearly 20 years later.  If I had a husband like my grandfather I would probably feel the same!  He was just as crazy about her as well.  While they bickered back and forth and sometimes frustrated one another in big ways, they were wild about one another.  What a great thing to have as a memory.

I wasn’t feeling like having corned beef and cabbage just for me, and I had a piece of halibut I wanted to use up, so I decided to create an Irish Fish Pie in honor of my grandfather on St. Patrick’s day.  Am I glad I did.  What a delicious dish this turned out to be!  I didn’t serve it with anything as it was just me, myself, and I.  The “pie” was enough.  I made it with sweet potatoes instead of regular mashers for a boost in nutritional value.

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St. Patrick’s Day Fish Pie

Start by boiling 4 or 5 medium-sized sweet potatoes.   Place in saucepan and cover with water.  Boil on medium high for about 25 minutes.  They should be soft when pierced with a fork, but not falling apart.  Drain water and allow to cool to where you can easily peel (the peels came off really easy) and return to pan.  Mash!  Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet.  Add 1 onion chopped and 2 stalks of celery chopped.  Cook over medium-high heat 2 or 3 minutes and then add 2 leeks sliced in 1/2″ slices.  Saute another 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent.  Add 2 bay leaves crumbled and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme to mixture.  Turn down heat to medium and let flavors combine for another 2 minutes.

I didn’t have any fish stock so I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1/4 cup of the ice from a jar of pickled herring.  If I would have had it I would have used 1 cup of fish stock.  I added that to the veggie mixture with 1 cup of coconut milk.  I brought it to a light boil over medium heat and began adding the fish!

I had about 1/2 pound of halibut fillets I cut into bite sized pieces.  I added this to the liquid and let it cook for about 2 minutes.  Then I added 3/4 cup of frozen shrimp.  I poached these in the broth/veggie mix for another 3 minutes.  Add 1 can of salmon and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and stir it for another minute.

I poured all the mixture into a strainer over a bowl, collecting the broth.  I then added 2 tablespoons butter to the sauce pan and 2 tablespoons of flour and made a rue.  I cooked it for about 2 or 3 minutes adding two turns of a sea salt shaker and about 3/4 teaspoon pepper.  I then poured the reserved broth back to the pan and cooked it about 5 minutes allowing it to thicken while stirring constantly.

Pour this sauce over the fish/vegetable mixture that has been put into a buttered casserole dish.   Top with the mashed sweet potatoes.  Extend the potatoes out to the edges if you have enough.  I did not.  My 4 potatoes didn’t give me enough coverage, so you might want to use another potatoe or two.  Bake in oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese on top and put back in over under broiler, watching carefully for 2 or 3 minutes until top browns slightly.  Let cool.  Enjoy with a cold Guinness if you care to imbibe.  My grandfather would have, but only one!  All Irishmen do not drink themselves silly on St. Patrick’s day.  At least I never saw him do that.  Although there are stories!

Ingredients

4 or 5 medium sweet potatoes

1/2 lb. Halibut fillet or any white fish of your choosing (wild caught of course)

3/4 cup frozen or fresh shrimp (again, wild caught)

1 can flaked salmon (yep, here too)

1 onion chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

2 leeks, washed, cut in 1/2 and then sliced in 1/2″ slices

5 tablespoons butter (used in 3 steps)

1 cup fish stock (chicken stock will work in a pinch)

1 cup coconut milk

2 bay leaves crushed

2 teaspoons thyme

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons organic flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

Sea Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

All the ingredients I used were organic and as locally sourced as possible.  I hope you enjoy

PTSD triggered yesterday – What that looks like

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     Yesterday after I got home late from a long day at the pain clinic and having my very first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) session for Complex PTSD regarding old traumas from childhood. The specific situation that came to mind to work on was one involving lots of blood, broken glass, police, ambulances and near death situations. Situations a 16 year old girl should never have to manage dealing with.
When I got home from my day I felt the need to shake it off a bit. The work we did around the trauma had left me a bit keyed up.  Nothing a 2 mile walk wouldn’t help.
I have found my walking habit to be an excellent stress reducer as well as I believe it is helping me with sleep! I have a route I have found that is just a little over 2.5 miles which allows me to reach my daily steps goal.

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     So off I went with a smile on my face and feeling pretty good for the completion of ten weeks of education at a local Pain Clinic.  I learned so much from them and am extraordinarily grateful that I was given that opportunity. Their encouragement and motivation is part of what got me on a daily walking plan to start with and led me to believe that in time I can actually be a real runner! 🙂

     It started to get dark and so I switched up my route a bit and needed to walk past the house and up the block a bit to actually get my entire cool-down completed. I was just 2 doors from being back at the house when a pit bull comes charging at me across the main street barking.  I froze!  My stomach tightened, my hands curled up inside my shirt close to my heart.  I was flooded with memories of being bit on my right shin when I was 12 years old.  I was doing my monthly collections for my paper route.  I had dealt with this dog before and had arranged to deliver the paper to this customers mail box rather than their door.  I had called them to let them know I was coming to collect and they said they would have their dog contained.  It charged through their screen door when I showed up, and bit me leaving a bloody leg and a big goose egg.

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I was by the crosswalk sign on my side of the street, pit bull comes from the left where the mailboxes and little bit of white care are.

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This shows it better.  I was at the crosswalk sign and pit comes from where white vehicle is.

I hollered at the presumed dogs owner across the street, “Control your animal,call him off”. The dog was literally at my feet sniffing, and fortunately, not showing any signs of aggression.   Over the years I have gained enough presence to not bolt or lash out or cry or act out in any way around dogs I don’t know.  Yet I was scared.  I repeated my request across the street “Call your dog”. The man would not do anything.   I was terrified.
I was repeating over and over “call your dog sir, your dog is not being restrained”.  He finally called his dog, yelling out at me, “I didn’t tell him to attack or anything, you are fine”.  I was still frozen in place with his dog at my feet and his dog was not responding to his owners calls.  I said, “Sir, you need to get control of your animal, this is against the law”.  That is when the man began to be rude. One of those shitty pit bull owners who have no respect for others and have pitties for all the wrong reasons. I was getting more scared as time progressed.
Finally, on his own accord the dog went back across the street. I again yelled out “you need to keep your dog under control or I will report this, I have been bit before”. The man was cussing at me and oblivious of any wrongdoing on his part.
I admit, by this time my PTSD symptoms were so triggered that I hollered back a few expletives and proceeded to head to the house and immediately called and reported it to the police.  I was shaking and wound up and felt sick.  I could remember EVERYTHING about when I was bit before and my body was responding just how it did on that day!
Today while out on my walk/jog, feeling so confident because I reached my goal pace of 4 miles per hour, the closer I got to home the more tense I got. I felt my shoulders tensing. I felt my stomach tensing.  I felt everything tensing.  Was the dog going to be out again? Was the man going to be nasty and confrontational?  I was worried about it and it was taking away from my awesome feelings of accomplishment and relaxation I usually get from my walks.

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Even though I cognitively can process the difference between the situation when I was twelve years old versus now, my body and all the cells in it still remember.  THAT is what PTSD is.  It is the body remembering and behaving in the same way as it did when a similar situation that was traumatic occurred in the past.
I was able to complete my walk and the dog nor the man were out there to cause any upset when I arrived back to the house. I believe with just a little bit of EMDR or just a bit more processing I can figure out a way to continue my walks without the PTSD trigger being present.  Before I had started this treatment that I am doing with a therapist, I would have likely been unable to continue with something I enjoy, due to the fear (real or perceived) related to something that happened decades ago.  That dog last night did not hurt me.  Had I never been bit before and not experienced that trauma I likely would have just reached down and said “hi there fella” and gave the dog a pat.   Those old fears still get in the way of my life today.    Which is why I need to do some in depth trauma work.

 

(I haven’t found a dog yet I don’t like and most of them like me…it’s those dog owners)

My one experience with EMDR on old traumas was good and I am looking forward to doing more work. We didn’t get through the entire experience we were working on yesterday, so it will get visited again. After just that little specialized therapy yesterday I am not so afraid of doing this trauma work.  I believe it is going to be very helpful in me having a life free of fears that I have had for all my life!!!   Then I will  have the life I dream of and deserve!!!!

18 months since I jumped: An update on healing

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I am able to recognize my blessings each day and be grateful for all I have and have hope for continued blessings in my future!

Greetings from a highly improved me!   It has been eighteen months since I jumped (abruptly discontinued) from taking Ativan 1mg daily after tapering from taking Ativan 3mg daily. I tapered over the duration of two years. My severe detox and withdrawals period was exacerbated by the fact that I had jumped off Oxycodone 10mg only two months prior to stopping the Ativan.  I had tapered off a daily dose of 45mg-90mg over a 2 year period.   What had started in 2010 as a prescription for Percocet 5/325 one every 6 hours as needed for pain, grew until it became a monster in my life that ate all the goodness up. It was just one of the numerous medications that I was prescribed over two and a half decades.

From my records dating 2010 until the fall of 2017 I had 19 pharmaceuticals prescribed to take on a daily basis. Many of them for longer than the recommendations written in those little tiny informational packets you get sometimes with a bottle of pills. Many of them were also prescribed for things other than what they were originally created to treat. Off label uses.  My PCP (Primary Care Providor) also had recommended numerous over the counter medications and supplements as well.

 

                                                                I can smile so much easier these days 
I had been quite aware of the perils of addiction as I have personally witnessed and experienced it in my life in many forms and throughout many experiences.  My own addiction (maladaptive coping mechanism for suffering) was gambling. I knew what it felt like to not only crave something, but would go to great lengths to have that need fulfilled.

That is NOT how the medications were for me. I was dependent upon them. I took them as prescribed. I was trying to check IN to life. I was trying to find a way around the pain (both physical and emotional) so that I could participate in life. Yet the conditions continued to mount until the amount of medications my PCP prescribed became toxic! They didn’t work anymore.  In fact, some of them created a paradoxical effect, causing the exact symptom they were meant to treat.

When I recognized that the use of all these chemicals was harming me more than they were helping, I knew it was time to make radical changes in how I was managing (or letting my PCP manage) my health. I took back the reigns and sought a different path
It wasn’t really a conscious choice, embarking on the journey through the hell I have been through.  It was simply the act of starting a forward movement towards change by doing just one thing differently. Then it grew to more things differently. Things like spending a lot more time outdoors. Activities such as interacting with animals and being creative with a camera. Making very conscious choices in what I put into my body. Eliminating as much negativity as I could. Yet, there were still struggles as I didn’t know all that I would face along this journey.

No one had warned me that there was a possibility that I could have psychotic episodes coming off these medications. No one had warned me that I could reach tolerance and have paradoxical effects like a severe case of insomnia that lasted for 20 years. Only now, after being off every single medication for 40 days, am I beginning to have occasional bouts of normal sleep. No one told me about excruciating bone pain that left me curled up and rocking and crying on my mattress. No one told me of the incessant need to move, the rocking and bouncing legs and full body restlessness that was exhausting and robbed me of any rest for my ravaged body and brain. No one prepared me for how shunned I would feel and how that would further the crippling agoraphobia and paranoia so that I could not tell who I could or could not trust. This further complicated the entire process.
No one else knew how bad this would be either. I know now that there was NO one in my life anywhere close to prepared for the wild and horrifying symptoms and behaviors this would create.  It was terrifying to go through and I can imagine it was scary as hell to watch! In fact, knowing many others who have endured the hell I have, some even worse, I know that very few people in the world have been prepared to be of any assistance for someone going through this type of severe and lengthy mental and physical anguish.
That first year was a doozy! Fraught with the loss of health and home and any stability I believed I had, pretty much everything was gone in my life! Friends, family, belongings, any sense of dignity was gone.  I was robbed of all hope by the Benzodiazepine demons that lived in my head. All I did was bounce where the winds took me, trying to protect myself from me, and from others who were ill-equipped to be of any help.

Unfortunately, sometimes due to their lack of understanding or skill, those I most hoped would help were only able to add to the pain and suffering by their responses and reactions to me.   Those that truly care would have done different if they had known how.  I believe this is true for all of us suffering from this.  Yet they are the ones who just mostly stood by and watched and felt helpless. They had nothing to offer except recognizing the pain was there.  Today I can feel bad for their experience in watching all of this hell.

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This last 6 months I have turned a corner. I can feel it internally and others have commented on it externally. I have been more focused on myself and finding healing and seeking the path to wellness than ever before in my entire life.  The tools and skills and interactions and experiences I have participated in have helped me have a sense of acceptance and peace.  I truly feel more equipped to deal with whatever life may bring to me from here on forward.   More than ever before in my life I have a sense of direction and purpose.
I still have much work to do. Both of my current therapists are recommending intensive treatment for Complex PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) including modalities such as ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy), CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), and EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). Both of them say it is imperative for me to do this work for complete healing and the ability to get past the things that haunt me regardless how much I try to not let them.
I personally have taken it upon myself to learn life skills that I have found are helping me tremendously. I have adopted the practice of meditation. I meditate at least once daily, but usually twice a day. MY meditation is very much connected to my spiritual practice and prayer time. I also do Conscious breathing, utilizing a timer to just stop and breath once an hour. These skills have reduced my anxiety tremendously and are excellent for staying in the moment which is so necessary for those with PTSD.  I eat at least an 80/20 whole foods diet, primarily organic in nature and from sources as local as possible.

Since the New Year I also have been working on having the habits of movement (exercise) and drinking more water daily. I have also begun light jogging. This I am doing still with living under the fact of pain is in my life. I have nerve pain in my feet that is non-stop 24/7. I also have pretty severe back and neck pain. Yet after a 10 week-long session at a pain clinic, I have learned some wonderful new ways of looking at pain and living with it. This is why I now am more encouraged and hopeful than I have been in an extremely long time. I feel very empowered.

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Yet I still need help. I am still homeless. I still have no vehicle.  I am still awaiting a determination on my most recent filing for Social Security Disability. I still have a couple of years ahead of me doing some really difficult personal therapies. I still have limited energy and endurance.
After careful consideration, counseling with others, and making efforts to find stability and a place to live and work both where I am and where I last came from, I have decided to go back to S. Oregon.  I have more work I can do there than I have been able to find here.  I ran an ad and I have already booked 3 house-sitting gigs. I also have a couple of clients that want me to do periodic light work around their properties (gardening and housekeeping type chores). I have a friend who has offered me the use of her trailer for 11 months, and I have a couple of possibility of places to put it in exchange for helping on a person’s property either with care taking or with farm type chores.  I am willing and able to do this. It won’t be enough to get ahead, but I will have a roof over my head and some security for at least that time period.

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I have been offered a trailer like this to use for about 11 months if I can get a secure place to park it! High living for a modest gal like me!

What I need more than anything right now is a vehicle and maybe the first 6 months of insurance paid.  Or even the first 3 months. Then I can get to the house sitting jobs and the clients who have other chores to do. Then I can earn a few pesos each month. My goal is $600, which is 30 hours a month. I will most likely have to do that many hours again where ever I end up parking the trailer in exchange for rent.  That works out to about fifteen hours weekly of being up and moving and doing some sort of physical activity.  15 hours a week is about all I can do without being where I can lie down and rest intermittently.
I know I will keep improving as I continue to do the habits I’ve created and use the tools I have obtained. I know my energy will increase as I continue to lower the stress of dealing with PTSD through the time invested in treatment and as my body continues to heal from the damages done by the medications I took for too long!


I also am involved with Vocational Rehabilitation.   They are going to help me pursue the reinstatement of my nursing license. It is my short-term goal to utilize my nursing license in creating a health and wellness mentor and coaching business. I believe I have a vast amount of knowledge and experience that can be used to help many others who live with physical and emotional pain. I believe my new-found enthusiasm and gratitude for a new opportunity can encourage and inspire others to pursue their truest selves! I have been a helper and have had a healing nature throughout my life. Now that my true self (not drugged by pharmaceuticals) is re-emerging stronger than ever, I trust that God and the Universe will allow my best self to help others possibly find their way out of suffering too!

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Participating in an online Health and Wellness coaching program. It is self directed and self paced. Perfect for me right now. As well as it is FREE!!!

I am so grateful I am still here on earth and alive. I am so grateful the benzodiazepine (and other pharmaceutical) demons did not completely destroy me. It felt like I was destroyed at times, yet here I am smiling and grateful and caring for myself….and others!

After such a dark and seemingly endless foray into the depths of psychological pain so deep I felt life wasn’t worth living, I now have hope!!!  I also am able to develop goals.  It is the first time in many years I have felt capable of even thinking of having a goal, let alone taking the necessary steps to get there.  One of my goals is to  jog/run in a 5K event the weekend of my 56th birthday.   My new walking habit inspired that goal.  I have never enjoyed running or jogging, even as a child.  Yet now, when pushing through the chronic pain, I find that I reach a point of some real clean current pain and it is a desirable experience.  Pushing past the pain to get going is worth it.  The daily steps I am taking are to keep me focused and to build my skill and strength level to reach that place of being able to complete the race.  After the race,  if I still feel it is something that is adding value to my health and life and wellness, I may try for a 10K.  It is a measurable success.  There are other goals as well so each day I purposefully do actions to bring me closer to the prize…..WELLNESS and HEALING!

I also have a great aspiration to help others like me!!! I have a big dream of someday creating a healing place (long term inpatient facility) for those like me who have suffered in their lives with DIS-ease of any kind.   People wanting to come off pharmaceuticals that have become toxic to them, especially opiates and benzodiazepines; those who suffer the consequences of addiction; those who have emotional pain that requires that they be loved on and guided and encouraged to health! I envision a place of many woods and streams and much beauty where people can rest their tired minds and bodies and take a few deep breaths for a period of time. I see gardens and animals, some of them providing companionship, others there for their food source to provide healthy nutritious meals. It will be a place where there is patience and tolerance and gentle trauma-informed guidance. People will have a time and place to explore their suffering and learn skills for finding peace and acceptance of what is.  I dream of it being a place they will also find a sense of purpose and the ability to create goals and plans for achieving them. It is a big dream. It will require a big tribe to create it. That will be a huge focus on the next portion of my journey. Creating a healing caring loving tribe that can share this vision! 🙂
oh….btw….it feels great to be able to write a bit! That is one skill that has suffered during this time and it is another sign of my healing!