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

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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

 

Day 6 and the worst is over I hope!

Today, I spent some time trying to piece together the last 60 days. It’s hard. There are lots of big spaces of time I don’t remember much. That scares me. It’s evident whatever happened freaked out my loved ones in a big way. I was on the phone saying so many things that were not at all what I was wanting to say but my brain just was somewhat frying. It just was what it was.

Which of course adds to my shame and guilt.  I have not had that occur since I quit gambling. Yes, I’ve lost control of my emotions before, but I have had no “out of body” experiences like I experienced this time. I sure am glad I write tho, because I can go back and somewhat piece together the build-up, the blow, the loss of time, and then I went straight into detox for the Xanax withdrawal. Not the smartest idea in the book. But hey….who said I was thinking in any congruent way during this time?

Although extraordinarily fatigued with pain increased,  I think I’m doing pretty well. I am stronger than I remember sometimes. While I was feeling so weak, I had some idea of what I wanted. I have been on a journey to get off these pills for nearly 2 years. I wanted to get my overall health and strength a little better because I knew I was getting to a place I was ready to deal with some more of my “stuff”.

I did know I was having some PTSD triggers There were some encounters with people I cared about where I felt under attack so decided to disengage from those relationships. That is not something I do lightly. Yet, in retrospect it showed I was getting stronger because I was able to say to myself, “this is not healthy for me”.

In late February or early March was one  occasions and I handled myself with composure (maybe showing a slight displeasure but that is all) and then returned the next day to discuss the situation and stated what behaviors I could handle. That is a HUGE thing for me.

As time passed and other situations occurred I knew I needed to do some digging to see why I so easily get triggered by certain personalities. To be frank, I believe it’s because of my mother and our relationship and her behaviors. There are certain behaviors in women I just cannot tolerate at all. It gets my ruff up so bad and I have to just clench my teeth. Pointing, especially if someone pokes my chest, intimidation posturing, badgering, and overly aggressive. I have a tolerance and then it just is gone. It was like I was doing okay, handling each situation the best I could while trying to be professional in my role as “property manager”, and then it was over the edge.

I had told a few folks about my encounters and how they were affecting me. I had thought I had stated I was getting very stressed and overwhelmed, but again, I believe others hear it as “whining”. It was in late March that I picked up paperwork to get back into counseling. I didn’t get it turned in until mid-April after recovering from the flu. I didn’t get back in until  about the end of June for intake. Back in late March I knew I was over-stressed and had taken on more than I could handle.

In my perception a great deal of the stress came because what I perceived as agreed conversations on what was going on with the property and tenants wasn’t happening. I also had a situation with a friend and it was just the last straw.  I was so overwhelmed trying to get this property ready for renters. I had to help pack up a house that was full of many collections. Tapes(VCR and Cassette), books and mountains of electronics. The entire second story was just storage! I also had to get ready for an Estate Sale. I had never done one before and what a TON of work that is. I also had to help Mr. Chicago’s brother find an apartment and then I had to help him figure out how to make a home for himself in his new place. January was exhausting.

Then in February I was still doing okay after taking a little break, but that is when some of the encounters with PTSD triggers really started. After the first one I was shook up and tearful for a couple days. Then I tried to rectify things in an adult manner and carried on. Then there was another encounter in March. Again, I held my tongue, waited a day or two and then tried to rectify it. I also was telling my family and loved ones about the stress this was bringing me. Yet, no one is around me to actually see what those affects looked like. Often when you have PTSD triggers in my mind I feel like I sound like I am “complaining”. But what I’m trying to convey is I am getting over-stressed and I can’t make prudent choices and I need some help.

I had my trip to Chicago in late March and then came home and landed in the hospital for 4 days with the flu and pneumonia and when I came home and got well enough I had to stretch myself again. I was interviewing potential land renters. I had to run ads and make phone calls and then talk with these people at length regarding their needs and what we could provide for them. I am not a good salesperson. It makes me very uncomfortable, so I was stressing about that. More stress. I am feeling like I am falling behind here. There is so much work to be done and I am coming home after a nearly 2 week absence and it’s time to start the gardens and I still have things to haul to the dump and things to sale and continued encounters that were less than comfortable with some people.

Then came May. I did forget to mention that I had a very serious family issue that occurred in January that was an ongoing concern and stressor until early June. Those of you who follow my FB page remember, Mr. Chicago came out for my birthday in May. It was truly the BEST surprise I’ve ever had for my birthday. The BEST.   During the time he was here I was able to show him a little of what the issues were but by that point I was definitely at a point that any more encounters with triggers was going to set me off. But to him I’m sure they seemed small, each little instance.

That is not so for someone with PTSD. I’ve only had one occasion where it was a single incident that triggered me. Even at that time, I had been under a LOT of stress. Typically when I go into a meltdown mode (post gambling…completely different scenario) I have had a number of stressors on top of a number of triggers. I can only take so much. Which, is another reason I have been trying to get disability.

Having a disability like this doesn’t mean I can’t function or that I’m not smart or capable. It means I can’t take the daily struggles like a person who doesn’t have a  disability. Over the years I’ve tried to explain so much.  I can do a little physical and deal with the pain, but then my stress will get up and so I can’t deal with people or additional stress. Or, I can be medicated and take it gentle on my body and not do a bunch of hard things and my brain works. In fighting chronic pain as well as mental health issues life gets very overwhelming at times.

After Mr. Chicago went home, I thought we kind of had things under control. But that was not the case at all. There were still unresolved issues that came up and a number of incidents that made me uneasy around the 12th of June and that was when I started going over the edge.

After my first blow up, I had a few days where I just was telling everyone “I’m done”.   I am not able to make these decisions. I was trying so hard to take care of the area here and do a good job. I went up and down and up and down for a couple weeks and then settled down a bit. But by then, I was really struggling inside with a lot of things.

I didn’t feel safe anymore. Because I had “acted out” I was scared and embarrassed and pushed everyone away more. I didn’t want anyone to see me unhinged. The lonelier I got and the more I tried to figure out what I could have done different I just got more and more distressed.

I tried to “pull it together”, but I had forgotten that back in May I had purposefully come to the point that I wasn’t gong to refill the Oxycodone anymore.  That had been my goal and I reached it and was doing okay. I didn’t take into account how that my affect my mental health when I was already under stress. I continued to rage and then cry and then rage and then cry. I’ve said “I’m sorry” so many times in the last 2 months and then gone and done the same exact thing.

That is what happens when you have a PTSD breakdown. You feel okay for a few minutes and think you are okay to be around others and then Every Little Thing bugs the hell out of you. Drivers that are speeding and reckless caused me to be the same…trying to chase them down to tell them what crazy drivers they are. Ha ha ha….and who was the undone woman chasing them? Yes…that was me! Hence the limited driving these days.

So June ended and July rode in and yet another big stressor met me on the 5th. Something that made me think of bad things from long ago. I tried to explain to the other my feelings but was met with resistance. This made me feel even more unworthy and increased my angst.

So on 7/12 I had ran out of Xanax and decided not to go to town to pick up my prescription the next day. I had made a choice. Not wise, with my thinking at the time, but it was just me here and I was going for it. The first night I found out some information that truly just made my head burst. My head has been racing and my heart has been racing and I became obsessed with this information and it was rough that first day or two. I was not only going through Detox and PAWS, but I was in the midst of a mental health breakdown and kept getting news that left me feeling so alone and so WRONG for everything. Lots of thoughts of “why am I here?”.

That’s the mindset of a PTSD person. When I am in a PTSD head, I am in total fight/flight mode. I feel horrible. I think I am the worst person in the world. I want no one to see me. I don’t behave in ways that are typical for me. I get quite mean (to push people away) I’ve been told. I typically am NOT mean! I am a lover and a giver and a smiler. But under duress from a PTSD flare I can dish out some verbal bashing and be quite harsh.

I hate that. Which is a big reason for going back to counseling. I know I still have learning to do. I am hoping by completing my detoxification off the narcotics and benzodiazapines my head will be clearer for doing the work I have in front of me.

I know nothing about my future right now. Neither do you…if truth be told. I remember my counselor telling me that I learned early in life, it can all change overnight. In the meantime I am hunkering down and just trying to take care of myself. I deserve it. So do those who love me. I despise scaring them so. Evidently, as I was recently reminded, it’s been going on for some time.   When I get to my lowest I have very pronounced suicidal ideation. I forget about it for the most part when I’m well. I know how that feels as my mother suffered with the same. It is very hard for those around a person feeling like this.

Today has been the clearest my mind has been in a very long time. A very very long time. Even with the fatigue of not sleeping the last two nights (going on being awake for about 58 hours now) my brain is clear. I truly am grateful for being able to finally get off all that.

The cannabis is working. The dosing is not exact, yet. Just like me. I’m working on it. Thanks God for a gentler alternative that comes form the earth!

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Self Care for PAWS

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Up and down and up and down and around the bend and back again. Battling through PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) is like being on a roller coaster ride, on the mixer, walking around in the funny house and sick with the flu at times. Add to that my PTSD being triggered and it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

To be honest, there are periods of time I don’t really remember much. I have pieced some things together from those that I’ve talked to on the phone or who saw me during those days as well as various texts and emails.  I wasn’t very nice.  I lashed out at those I love the most during the worst of it. Including myself. PAWS can be a serious medical condition. There are times I have felt very disconnected and it’s taking all my ability to maintain some semblance of “normal”.  I’m sure there are a few of my people that would have liked to see me be hospitalized for a few of those days.

While I did have a long morning in the ER after one of the most rough days/nights, (un)fortunately they let me go home. There had been paperwork filled out to put me on a hold, but I know what the hospital means if you are detoxing and/or going through PAWS. It means being stuck inside, put on benzos and who knows what other meds as well as starving because they don’t have any food I can eat. So I pulled myself together and talked with a little intelligence and very nicely and they literally dumped me out in the waiting room. They know what the PAWS crazies are like. They wanted me out of there!

I don’t want it to sound like I take this lightly. I don’t. I am scared out of my sometimes too smart mind. I just can’t see any way through this other than just doing it on my own using medical marijuana. I can’t go to a treatment facility because they will put me on pharmaceuticals and that is what has been making my life a living hell for the last few years. I can’t go to the hospital because that’s all they have to treat me also. I still am taking my anti-depressant and would be happy to consult with a psychiatrist about my PTSD if I could get a referral. I was supposed to have one over 4 months ago, but that’s how it’s been with my PCP, we talk about it and then a year or two later after me reminding her multiple times it finally gets ordered.. Right now I just am doing my best and trusting that those that love me will still be around when I come out the other side. Cuz this ain’t pretty!

 

I’ve been through PAWS before with my gambling addiction. I vaguely remember the jitters and the crying jags and the frustration with having my brain not working right. I remember getting upset easily and feeling a little “out of body” at times when I first started trying to live life without my addiction activity. What is different about this is I didn’t realize that I had any emotional attachment to my medications. Also, when I was detoxing off gambling (yes, you detox off gambling just like alcohol or drugs, it is truly miserable) they were giving me pain medication and anti-anxiety medications.   I was just doing what the doctor ordered. I was taking medications in order to be comfortable living life. Now that I have been off the opiates for nearly 60 days, I don’t crave the pills…but I wish so much for something to make all the bad feelings go away.  I am not feeling comfortable at all.

What am I doing to take care of myself through this you might ask? I admit, I haven’t been that great to myself. One thing is I have absolutely NO appetite and so making food is a challenge. Fortunately my son has been around and so I occasionally feel a motherly calling and will cook for him and then I’ll eat too.

Tonight I was finally able to drive to town to get a few things at the grocery store. I bought some good healthy foods to cook and eat, including a few easy things like soup and cheese and crackers and avocadoes. Things I don’t have to think about to create something to fill the empty spot in my belly. I also found some specialty teas to help me relax and to be positive. Additionally, I am following suit with millions of others around the world and have embraced the idea of coloring for therapy. I bought myself a coloring book and some colored pencils. Combined with a little medicine that should be a great way to be creative and reduce my anxiety at the same time.

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I am really proud of myself for driving to town. Driving has not been a good thing during this particular time in life. I either find myself extremely anxious while driving or I get road rage. These are new things for me. So, I have not drove much at all the last couple weeks. But, I needed groceries and food for the plants and animals too!

The other things that are keeping me grounded are my furbabies and the other wildlife around here and my gardening. I have my dog who is the best. I freaked her out a little the night things got so crazy for me, but she came around in no time after she saw I was home and okay. Then there is my partially feral kitty that was indoors but escaped just about the time everything else took a dive for me. I am slowly encouraging her out of her hiding spot under the deck. I also love keeping the hummingbirds happy by having their feeder full and water nearby for them to drink or play in. They are so beautiful and I love to hear them buzzing around. Then there are the butterflies and the snakes and lizards that catch my eye. They are beautiful and I thank them for letting me get so close to take their photo. Watering the gardens and tending my first few medicine plants helps keep me focused outside myself also.

Many of the things I have growing were started from seeds. I love watching things grow. It gives me hope. Even the flowers that are less than perfect or the cilantro that bolts before I can get any of it…..they all are such a support and source of encouragement to me. They give me some purpose when I am feeling so out of touch with the rest of the world. The living things that rely on me for their care give me so much back. I am so grateful that II have been able to stay here, where I can grow things and be in nature.

It’s the end of the day now. I have much to be grateful for. I know I have a number of people that are praying for me. Thank you. That is another of the challenges with PAWS and the PTSD.  It seems to darken the spirituality part of my life. I trust your prayers will be sufficient, for praying is a challenge for me right now.  I still have hope and I know that comes from something outside myself.

I thank those who have not been scared away but have said “I love you, how can I help?”. I’m grateful for being able to drive myself to town and for a full fridge and pantry. I will do this!!! If there is one thing I know about me, I perservere! I don’t know what it’s all going to look like on the other side, but I choose to view the future as very lovely and peaceful and full of promise!

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