Freedom from Big Pharma at 18 months

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After decades of being poly-drugged, I took my last routine pharmaceutical on January 1, 2018. I am now 18 months being free of all those side effects(listed in the links) and all those toxins in my body.
I began tapering off a slew of medications in the fall of 2014. I had been mostly housebound for 3 years before that with the various conditions my body was struggling with. I realize now I was also being made sick by the medications and how they had damaged my natural abilities to regulate the basics of life.

Over the course of 25+ years, from 1998 to when I started tapering off medications in 2014, I had been prescribed over 50 medications, many to be taken for months or years with increasing doses over time. It actually started even before that, with my first prescribed benzodiazepine being taken in December of 1985 when my third born child died. Other than that one time there were the occasions for a pain pill or muscle relaxer as I was prone to back injuries, but nothing routine.

Then in 1990, finding myself the single mother of three children under the age of 6 with no support and a lot to manage, I had a panic attack and was prescribed Xanax. What a wonder drug that seemed like. I had suffered from some depression and anxiety most of my life. I didn’t know it then but it was all related to Complex PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). That medication made me feel like I was okay. That I didn’t have to feel so scared all the time. Not so jumpy. Not so on edge. It seemed like a wonder drug. When I would feel my heart beating a bit fast and my stomach tightening up and all jumpy, the medicine took that away in about 15 minutes. I don’t remember how many and hiwnoften I took it but it was only for occasional use. That was the first time any medication had been prescribed for any type of emotional upset.

In 1994, I was suffering from a severe bout of depression. It was linked to the beginnings of my new encounter with compulsive gambling. What wasn’t discussed in treatment or therapy was that I was married to an alcoholic who made life really challenging and was triggering my PTSD responses. Yes, the gambling was a problem too, but the gambling was to try to escape the feelings related to PTSD. I had grown up in an alcoholic home and now I had got myself and my children saddled into another one. This was the beginning of the prescriptions for what was diagnosed as Major Depressive Disorder. I was prescribed Zoloft, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Trazadone, Paxil, and others I can’t even remember now. They (the various treatment providers I was seeing) finally got me locked in with Luvox in 1996 after my first psychiatric hospitalization.

Everything was blamed on the gambling problem, which was actually getting worse. Yet if you take a look at that med list and acknowledge my being on and off and on new meds over the course of 2 years, well that MIGHT have been part of the issue with the increasing depression and insomnia and anxiety. If you look at the side effects these medications can have, you will see.

When I was put on the Luvox, I also was prescribed Ambien. For the insomnia. Up until I started being medicated I never had suffered any issues with sleeping. I was a GREAT sleeper. My insurance wouldn’t pay for daily use (this is NOT supposed to be used daily it is supposed to be for the rare or short lived insomnia) despite the psychiatrist prescribing it to be taken daily, and so he gave me samples for over 4 years to keep me on a daily night time dose.

Spring of 1997 I had a foot injury requiring surgery in October. Then July of 1998 I had a hysterectomy. Then in September I was hospitalized for pneumonia. I had finally been able to get the gambling under control and was doing pretty well. I was separated from my spouse. My eldest child had gone to live with his father and there was some angst there, but I was managing. After the rehabilitation of my foot being in a cast for over 4 months, I believe I may have been somewhat managing just on the Luvox and Ambien. I also had been unable to work during all this and had lost my position at UPS.

I had been all signed up to go to school fall term of 1998 but with the pneumonia I had to wait to heal. Then in the winter I took a couple classes at the local community college. I decided it was time to get back up and get a job. It was winter of 1998 that I started my path into the world of medicine. I was a receptionist and UA specialist ( I did urinary analysis specimen collection) for a lab. After I started working at a sit down job I started gaining weight. This was the first sit down job I’d ever had. That is when the pain issues began in earnest!

I started having severe pain issues and the insomnia was worsening. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was prescribed Daypro and told to stop the maximum doses of Ibuprofen daily that I had been taking for a couple years. I was still on the Luvox and Ambien. Then Zanaflex got added for the severe muscle spasms and for sleep.

I would miss LOTS of work. I couldn’t sleep and my body hurt so bad I couldn’t get up to go to work. I had severe headaches. I had to take naps to get through the day. I was severely depressed and I had gained 45 pounds in less than a year.

I decided to re-enroll in school. I wanted something different. I went to school and got my CNA certification. I was still taking a slew of medications and life was hard as a single mom, but I was managing.

Somewhere along the line I started letting go of some of the medications. I just weaned myself off them. I don’t remember much about it but I know by 2002 when I graduated with my LPN license I wasn’t taking any medications that I remember.

I don’t remember much of my year in nursing school. I had my 2 kids at home, I was working 2 and 3 jobs and in nursing school. I had a kid in juvenile detention that I went to visit once a month. I was a single mom with no support financially or from family. I was carrying it all.

In 2004 I was in a bad motor vehicle accident. I was rear ended at a stop sign by someone going 55 mph. I had prescriptions for pain medicine and muscle relaxers and something for sleep. I also was struggling with the gambling again. I also was in yet another marriage with a man who was not what he had portrayed all our time dating. He was abusive. I was started on antidepressants again. Then came Ambien. I also had been prescribed Ativan while my son was in Iraq after I’d been found in a linen closet at work crying hysterically.

No counseling was ever prescribed. I hadn’t seen a psychiatrist since 2001. The medications I was being prescribed were from a Nurse Practitioner.

I left the marriage in 2006. I was in a daily gambling crisis. I was severely depressed. Yet I was working as a LPN and went back to school.

I graduated with my RN in 2008 and was free of all meds I think at that time. I was still struggling with gambling but managing to get bills paid and function. Barely.

I started a new job in 2009 after moving and got a new doctor. She said I needed to treat my pain and that would help with the sleep issues. So pain medications and muscle relaxers became the norm. Then in 2010 I ended up in gambling treatment. They prescribed Effexor. So I was on that, Ativan, and Oxycodone while in a treatment facility and no one was addressing my Complex PTSD or why I really had all this pain. Everyone was happy with the fibromyalgia diagnosis. That was what was making me hurt so bad and not sleep and be depressed. So that had to be treated. According to them.

I had yet another back injury while on the job shortly after getting out of treatment. That was the beginning of the downhill journey to losing me.

I was loaded up with pain medications and muscle relaxers and they wanted me to do “light duty”. Then they tried putting me on Oxycontin (I was already on oxycodone) and I said to them, “If you want me to work, someone has to drive me and I need something in writing saying I can work, because I can barely walk or talk”. After 4 days of taking it, I wrote a letter to my physician and told him what was going on. Of course, being on the medications it wasn’t my best writing. He fired me as a patient saying I was non-compliant because I wouldn’t take the pain medicine and go do light duty.

My PCP finally said “I am taking you off work for the duration. I believe you are disabled”. I did all I needed to trying to get back to work, but the pain was becoming worse rather than better. I became homeless within 3 months. I had finally been doing so well, paying off my gambling debts, feeling good about myself, working towards my goals….and now I am stuck in a body that isn’t working right and there is NO help.

Then I moved to S. Oregon and found a new PCP. She at first was not wanting to give medications, or so her notes say. Yet within 12 months she had increased all my medications and had me try Savella and Neurontin.

I also was taking as recommended daily Ibuprofen in the max amounts. I also was prescribed muscle relaxers. Sometimes Flexeril and sometimes Robaxin. Also recommended to take Bendaryl for sleep nightly as well as for chronic itching. And also to take Immodium for chronic diarrhea.

It was about this time in 2014 I started using cannabis to get off the opiates. That was my only goal at that time. Just to stop the pain pills. I knew it was a downward spiral as my tolerance increased.

My stomach issues which had been problematic since being a teenager worsened. I had been diagnosed at age 17 with Spastic Colon. As the years progressed they called it Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My gut hurt ALL the time. I had trialed many medications over the years with no improvements noted. I finally decided to just fast for a few days and see what happened. This was in 2015. I found the most clarity and lessened pain and overall well being that I have had in years. I believed I had food allergies.
I literally had to argue with my PCP to have allergy testings. She handed me her completely unused herbal book and said “Here take this home and research. You have been doing a great job healing your body holistically so find what works for IBS”. I grabbed her book and looked her in the eye and said, “Ill take you book and do YOUR job of finding something to help me, but you have to order the Western 40 allergy test!”. I had worked in a lab. I knew the tests. I knew I needed to be tested for basic foods and environmental allergens in my area.

Well, surprise surprise, I am allergic to wheat, corn, sesame, cashews and peanuts. As well, I am allergic to most all the trees, grasses and weeds in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally I have a condition called Protein Specific Cross Pollination, which basically means even foods I am not allergic to can be influenced by the environmental allergens. So allergy season hits me hard, both with sinus and breathing issues as well as gut issues.

So then came Zyrtec, and not just one a day, but 3 a day!!! Also was to use an inhaler and a nasal steroid. I did it for maybe 6 months and noticed little improvement. The best improvement was by not eating the allergens I knew were messing me up.

From 2010 to 2018 I was prescribed 19 routine medications. In 2014 was taking 60-90mg oxyodone, Robaxin 1000mg two time a day, Ibuprofen 800mg four times a day, Xanax 1mg 3-5 times a day, Lomotil 2 or 3 times a day, Zyrtec 3 tabs daily, Nasal steroid, inhaler, and Benadryl 50mg nightly. I was mostly in bed, severely depressed, in more pain than I could tolerate, and just miserable. I had NO life. I was so sad and hurting so bad and felt my life was destined to constant suffering.

Then came my introduction to cannabis as a medicine. By using a concentrate called FECO (full extract cannabis oil) I was able to taper down on the oxycodone. I began by eliminating one half of one dose of oxycodone daily. Then I stopped taking the ibuprofen. Then I stopped the muscle relaxers. Then all the allergy meds. I learned how to manage symptoms using cannabis in various forms and various strains for the various conditions I was hurting from.

Over time I became more able bodied again. I wasn’t in bed ALL day EVERY day. I still went slow, but I had hope. I was going to do this. I was going to keep getting rid of the pain pills and the anxiety medications and the anti-depressants.

In spring of 2016 after my final dose of oxycodone I had a bunch of worse symptoms for quite some time. Then I abruptly stopped my taper of Xanax and jumped off at 1mg daily. It was not pleasant. I ended up hospitalized on two occasions and that brought MORE medications. That is all they know how to do in the hospital. I had the Effexor increased and was added on Seroquel and Remeron and Clonidine. Yet….I was off everything else!!! I had eliminated all those medications.

At that time I felt worse than I have ever!!! I was out of control in many ways. But there was that little window of hope that I could find the real me under all the medications. So I was hellbent on completing what I’d begun!

I continued to taper despite homelessness, being estranged and rejected from my family and most of my friends. I really went through much but I’ve wrote and shared about that all before.

So from August 2016 when I was first hospitalized and had got off everything except Effexor, it took until January 1, 2018 to eliminate the last of those 4 medications. I have never endured such pain and rage and frustration and illness and inability to live normally as I did during the years between 2015 and 2019. I am not fully healed but I am more ME than I have been in 2 and a 1/2 decades!!! My hope is now becoming reality. The constant allowing the medical professionals to band-aid wounds they hadn’t really evaluated is over.

I no longer seek the medical professionals to fix every discomfort. I’ve learned many modalities to use to manage pain, anxiety and depression. I work with a therapist (and did through most all of this) finding the best results in treating the true problem, which was Complex PTSD from childhood and life trauma. I accept that my body has things that are not in good order. My back and neck are in bad shape from injuries. I have arthritis all over. The fibromyalgia is still there but well managed with cannabis. I have nerve damage. Maybe from the two occasions of taking Cipro while being on benzos. Maybe from all the other medications. The main limiting issues now are cognitive deficits from the medications. I can’t do word finding well. I struggle reading and writing. I am easily irritated. I have vision issues. I have anxiety with being in traffic (who doesn’t though…but mine keeps me from driving). I am not fully healed but I’m better than I’ve been in a decade and I’m okay with this for today.

I am so happy I don’t take ALL those medications and I feel SOOOOOO much better and I am grateful my glimmer of hope and the love of my dog and my true love of life overrode everything that told me I wouldn’t survive it all. I am so grateful. I am free from Big Pharma!!!

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2018, my year in Photos

2018 was started the right way, with movement in my of my life.  I had begun walking just before the New Year had arrived.  I kept it up in order to reach a goal which was to participate in a 5K!  I not only participated, but I shared my story about getting free of pharmaceuticals as I walked the streets of Grants Pass just 4 days before my 56th birthday!  I created a shirt about my journey and wore it proudly!

 

I also was on the move with my bags packed frequently this year.  Between moving back to S. Oregon, various house sitting gigs, a trip to Little Cultus lake and then to Salem a couple times, my bags got used a LOT.

 

I enjoyed a variety of local events.  Music, merry-making, activism and fun.  I am beginning to enjoy being social now and then.  This is just one of the indicators that slowly yet progressively, I am healing!

 

 

Always there are animals around.  I enjoy them all.  I seem drawn to them and they seem to enjoy me as well.  I make friends wherever I go.  Often they are 4 legged or feathered.

 

I was drawn to water many times.  It soothed me.

 

Especially when I needed to escape the smoke again.  Summers are getting hard in Southern Oregon due to so many fires.

Cannabis was always part of the day.    I shared my story in order to help others know that it does work and you don’t have to be high!  Well…maybe high on life!!!

I had so many blessings such as being reunited with my brother, getting a couple kitties, becoming a surrogate Nana…..and of course….my lovely tiny home on wheels.

 

I enjoyed some art projects this year.  Thanks for the art supplies ladies.  You know who you are.

 

I cooked for others and myself

Not everything was always dandy.  There were a few things that were hard.  But I never let them get me down for too long.

 

But at the end of the day there were so many beautiful sunsets.

 

And of course….the one constant in my life….the most amazing and wonderful #ShastaTheWonderdog.  And Lulu…who is her sidekick!

 

It has been a year of blessings and I am very grateful!  I am ready for whatever 2019 has to bring!

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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

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!

A public service announcement for Oregon gamblers.

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If you or a loved one suffers with compulsive gambling, there is HOPE and HELP!!! For both you and the gambler. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment is free in Oregon.

I am posting this as a public service. Gambling is a serious public health concern. A recent study says that 1 in 37 adults in Oregon are compulsive gambler’s. http://nbc16.com/news/local/study-1-in-37-oregon-adults-are-problem-gamblers
Genetics, psychological risks and social risk factors such as single parent home or poverty are predisposing factors. Time, money and location makes it easy.  http://nbc16.com/news/local/study-1-in-37-oregon-adults-are-problem-gamblers

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My favorite community has had gambling brought to it. I am concerned for my friends.

Gamblers have the HIGHEST suicide rate of all addictions. https://800gambler.org/quick-facts-gambling-suicide/

The statistics are probably lower than what is the real truth.  Many suicides are listed for different causes other than gambling despite the fact a person had a compulsion to gamble. Also the research is limited.  http://lanieshope.org/gambling-addiction-suicide

Reach out and get the help you deserve if you have a problem.
National Problem Gambling Help line: 800-522-4700
Gamblers Anonymous Oregon and Washington: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Oregon Problem Gambling Hotline: 1-877-MYLIMIT (1-877-695-4648)
Voices of Problem Gambling: http://vpgr.net/
Smart Recovery: http://www.smartrecovery.org/addiction/gambling_addiction.html
For the family there is Gam-anon: https://www.gam-anon.org/
Oregon Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/state/oregon/ and http://oregoncpg.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/OCPG-HANDBOOK_REV_OPT-8-14-17.pdf

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Anyone that needs direction to services may contact me through my blog https://nobetz.wordpress.com/ or my community Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MsLadybugAndHerLayers/.  You do NOT need to face the storm alone!

7 tips for managing symptoms while coming off mind altering pharmaceuticals

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This is a list of a few positive helps I’ve noticed that seem to be helping myself and others. Observing those in the groups that are coming off various medications, including Benzodiazepines, Opiates, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic has helped me learn. These observations are not scientific in nature and I have nothing to back them up except from what I’ve observed and experienced myself.
This list is not comprehensive in nature. Each individual observed may have been doing one or many of the listed actions in helping themselves manage their symptoms through detox and withdrawal.
These are the actions that folks are taking that seem to help them MANAGE their symptoms better. WE are unable to control them and time is a big factor. This list is things you can do NOW to help yourselves.

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1. Get outdoors!!! Even if it’s only to sit on your front porch and feel the sunbeams on your face or smell the fresh rain that just dropped or to shiver in the snow. Increase the duration over time. Maybe after successfully sitting on the porch for a week, you can walk to the mailbox the next week and then complete the activity by still sitting on the porch for 5 minutes. My personal experience with this was that, over time, I went further and further and felt so much better each time I got out to walk! Fresh air is crucial and this activity will also give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

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2. Exercise. As noted above, it starts small. Walking back and forth to the mailbox. Then walk to the end of the block and back. Then around the block. You get the idea. Mild exercise is excellent for boosting mood and for helping break the trail of lies our mind tells us that we are too sick. Yes, we are sick, but nearly every person is capable of doing something to stretch and strengthen their body! I personally have been trying Yoga and Qi-Gong and find them very helpful for me.

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3. Eat clean and stay away from sugars, gluten (I eliminated all grains), processed foods and many are sensitive to dairy. I personally eat a diet consisting of local and organicially grown meats and eggs and vegetables. When folks say they can’t afford to eat organic I remind them, I don’t do Starbucks, sodas, fast food, and I have no vices. Food is fuel for my body and it ranks high on the budget. Eat nutrient dense foods and you will feel better. Check out the book “It starts with Food”.

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4. Find a support group or a supportive group of folks you can talk with and be authentic with. This is probably the hardest, as our minds tell us we aren’t worth anything and we feel so brain damaged. Yet, those who are most functional have peeps! I go to a variety of support groups and have found a family that way. I highly recommend Refuge Recovery. It is a Buddhist based recovery program for ANYONE who is suffering. While many of us do not in any way fit the description of addict, we were dependent on our medication and not having it anymore creates huge anxiety within us. These supportive groups can be a place to learn coping mechanisms and learn tools at managing emotions.

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5. Don’t take supplements or OTC remedies. Each pharmaceutical that is touted to help one symptom has at least 2 if not more toxic potentials. I personally am not completely against all pharmaceuticals, but reaching for one every time something doesn’t feel good is not a healthy solution.

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6. Learn coping mechanisms. Regardless the reason you were started on one of the medications I listed above, it has left you with a state of anxiety and various other symptoms. Those who are practicing meditation, working with a therapist, reading books on emotional regulation or some sort of personal responsibility for managing their emotions seem to fair better over time. While it may not eliminate the symptoms, it will alleviate them.

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7. Find acceptance for the situation and have patience. The days and weeks will pass (for some months and years) but we can’t change that. Accepting it lessens the fight. There is much to be said for time. It does heal so much.

I truly hope for each that these tips are encouraging. They are things you can DO to make yourself feel better. They are things that YOU can do for YOU! We must be kind to ourselves through this process. We didn’t ask for it, but we still have to learn to maneuver it. We can’t control it either, but we can manage some of the symptoms. That is what this list is for, some management tools that I have seen helping those who are healing and moving forward.
Peace and Namaste