Freedom from Big Pharma at 18 months

psx_20190702_1834157309095363325317643.jpg
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!!!

No one deserves the hell of withdrawals

Please click on links!  No photos here, just a Youtube video to watch, then read the post.

Heartbroken and alone in the Hell of BWS

No one deserves this.  This is the face of a person suffering from an iatrogenic illness.  This is a common occurrence with thousands of people worldwide suffering the acute and protracted withdrawals from  psychiatric and pain medications taken as prescribed by their  physicians and other medical care providers.

Most often when a doctor or emergency room is presented with someone in the throes of this kind of an illness they will prescribe more psychiatric medications that will often exacerbate the symptoms more.  Unfortunately prescribing for these kind of symptom presentations is all they have been trained to do.  Additionally the insurance companies promote medications to get you home and back to work.  Despite the sometimes life altering side-effects.

The reality is many who are managed this way by their PCP won’t get back to work or, if they do, they  continue to suffer with numerous life altering side effects of the medications such as lethargy, insomnia, muscle pain, brain spasms, neurological challenges, brain fog,  suicidal ideation (that is what that little black box is about folks) and more.

As hard as it is for me to see myself suffering this way everything I discussed was true and I am so glad I recorded it!  I was not able to manage my emotions, I wasn’t able to control my symptoms, I really struggled to manage life at this time, but every thing I spoke of was spoken in truth and that hasn’t changed today.

While many suffer horrifying challenges, please don’t discard what they tell you.  They aren’t lying. They aren’t being dramatic. They are ill and suffering untold traumas that you can’t possibly imagine unless you have endured them yourself.

Please watch my most recent video to see the difference!  I also intend to post a new Youtube video this week, so check back!  Healing takes a long time for many and it’s often very difficult and seems like the person is having worsening psychiatric symptoms.

Yet the fact is the withdrawals off those medications were causing the truly SEVERE emotional dis-regulation.  While not completely healed yet I am able and do have many interactions that don’t end up with me having a melt down today.  I’m not in a major depressive state.  I haven’t had a full on panic attack or even major anxiety other than in heavy traffic in the year+ since I’ve been off all pharmaceuticals.  The reasons everyone said “you will need to take some type of anti-depressant and medications to help you manage the rest of your life” are pretty much gone.

If you love someone who has been injured by medical intervention, please show compassion and patience.  We don’t ask for this.  We are only doing what the medical professionals told us would help.  Please trust us when we say these medications make us worse, not better.  Despite the symptoms you see.  I know it’s difficult to watch.  I do it daily now myself with many friends who contact me who are suffering.  I know it’s scary and feels out of control.  It is.  I know you think people need “medicine” to help.  That doesn’t always work.

Please do your research and be educated if you are prescribed anti-depressants, anxiolytics (benzodiazepines), pain medications longer than 2 weeks, and many other types of medications.  If there is a group to be found in a Google search that says they were harmed by a medication you have been prescribed, pay attention to that! Don’t chock them up to someone “crazy”.

I myself, watching this video, would have shied away in judgement just a few short years ago.  I would have judged and labeled and discarded as not worthwhile or truthful simply because of the intense emotional disregulation.  Please take the time to see where I am now and many others like me.  We do heal. It’s slower than molasses on a frigid cold day, but it does happen.  I believed it would somewhere inside me, because otherwise I would have never shared this hell with the world in the beginning!

 

 

 

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!

IMG_20180209_151619_446

Cause of Death: BWS and Psychopharmacology

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

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

marissa and daughter

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

 

My medicine and daily dosing

DSC_3417

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

DSC_3615

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

DSC_3474

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

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

DSC_3565

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

20180310_143141-1

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

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

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

DSC_3429

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

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

18 months since I jumped: An update on healing

IMG_20180209_151619_446

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.

Untitled

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

26814693_10155421707537987_2356268122553844933_n

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!

20180205_231710

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!

Self love is selfish

20180111_145603

The river runs fast and with power, 

carrying with it all the debris of the things gone wrong with it – away!

Though dark and gray the afternoon sky

There is a fresh new hope building,

as I know that after the darkness light follows!

Today was a long, enlightening, fulfilling day.  The entire day was filled with doing things to take care of myself.  The entire day.  I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, I prepared and enjoyed healthy foods, I went to Pain Clinic (which is 3 hours of intense therapy) and then had my first visit with the psychologist and my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) session.  I also came home and did an online  SMART Recovery meeting.  All for me.

For the last year or so pretty much everything I have done has been an concentrated effort to love myself and take care of myself.  Many view selfishness as a negative thing.  I know I used to.  Today,  I know that to love myself is the only way I am going to heal, and that is the only way I am going to have the life I deserve and desire.

It feels good.  I don’t do it perfectly.  I have probably said and done many things in ways that were less than ideal during this time.  Yet, I am evaluating it all and making every attempt to learn from it.

So what things are included in my selfish life?  What are the activities of self love?

  1.  Caring for my body by being mindful of what I put it in.  Plenty of hydration, the best food I can get with the resources I have available, resting, being mindful of anything that isn’t food or water and is it going to cause any damage.  It takes time and energy to create healthy foods to eat.
  2. Meditating has been a lifesaver.  I spend at least 10 minutes in the morning and fall asleep each night while meditating.  I purposefully choose to meditate to sleeping meditations due to a long history of insomnia.
  3. Getting fresh air has helped in so many ways.  Getting out, even if only for a 5 or 10 minute sojourn to the front porch connects me with nature.  Nature is a natural anti-depressant.
  4. Exercise.  See above.  Getting in touch with building my body back to health and connecting with the knowledge that I have a part in my health gets my mind straight.  I have begun walking 4 out of 5 days for at least one mile distance.  However long that takes is how long it takes.  I also have been doing an exercise program for 10 days now.  It also is 4 out of 5 days taking approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Mental health therapy is allowing me to process some extremely difficult situations, thought patterns and coping mechanisms as well as teaching me new tools to manage physical and emotional pain.  I currently have 2 therapists and am getting filled up with new understanding.
  6. Community.  Finding folks to hang out with and then spending time with them takes courage and time and energy.  I need to connect with others who can show me that I am not alone, that can help me with things that I can’t manage on my own and bring me a sense of belonging.
  7. Reading and learning.  I spend 30 minutes a day at the minimum to learn about something I am interested in and that will improve my lot in life or the life of another.
  8. Being of service.  Ha ha.  How is that selfish?  It is selfish in that it gives me so much joy and satisfaction that the more I do, the more I want to do.  Sharing encouraging words, finding the answer to a health question, giving support to someone struggling make me feel a part of.
  9. GRATITUDE:  Spending time each day being grateful for what is in my life at the moment is so selfish.  It is realizing what has been provided for ME!

Continue reading