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!

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Fabulous First Friday of February!!!

Miss Donna thinks it is so lovely in the sun!!!

Miss Donna thinks it is so lovely in the sun!!!

For a gal who spent most of her life in the Willamette Valley where the winters start the first of October and the gray dampness falling from the sky often continuing into late June, spending the bulk of the day outdoors in Februaray without getting drenched didn’t happen very often. In fact, I don’t think it happened very often at all.  Which is why I am thrilled to be enjoying my second winter in the beautiful Southern Oregon valleys of the Applegate River area.  February 1, 2013 was a STELLAR SUNNY DAY for me in the country. A perfect ending to a busy week.

I had been invited by E to go mining with a couple of the guys down the road. We were to leave at 9:30am. I was awakened by Lulu barking her head off. I got up and padded my barefooted way across the cold wood floors to peek out the window. I had slept most of the night (a real blessing for me) and the fire was completely burnt out except for a few coals. Lulu was up at the back hill using her most persistant “woof…woof…woof” that goes on and on and on. She really is a great alarm. But there was nothing there. Nothing I could see anyhow.

I drug on my sweatpants and sweatshirt and socks and shoes and coat and headed down the stairs. Time to let the girl out. It was a bit chilly. In the mid 30’s. And it was foggy. A little damp. Did I want to go out and tromp around all morning staring down at the ground?

Of course I did! If I didn’t go I might not be invited again. This was a wonderful opportunity to see some beautiful parts of these valleys that are typically “no trespassing” places. I also have an opportunity to become acquainted with more of my community members. I am learning that country life and farming and self-sufficiency is not about being alone…it is about community. And I like it.

The creek that feeds into the ponds at the quarry.

The creek that feeds into the ponds at the quarry.

The quarry where we went was just over the hill, so to speak. Not a far drive at all. We all took our own vehicles. One guy had to do some noon chores, another had to go back home for something before everyone else had planned on leaving, and I wanted to be able to go home if I got too cold or tired.

Beautiful dog.  Very playful and very well cared for as evidenced by behaviour.  :)

Beautiful dog. Very playful and very well cared for as evidenced by behaviour. 🙂

This beautiful dog showed up out of no where shortly after we arrived. She was very friendly and obviously well cared for. She followed us around and hung out the entire time I was there. In fact, when I decided to hike around the various little ponds and water features she was right alongside me like that was where she belonged. Unfortunately her presence snuffed out all the water fowl and so I was unable to get any photos of the ducks and quails that were quite prevalent.

Flusing out all the water fowl before I can get a photo.  At least I felt safe going off on my own.  It is bear and cat country out here.

Flusing out all the water fowl before I can get a photo. At least I felt safe going off on my own. It is bear and cat country out here.

I headed home around noon. I had hiked up and down the quarry numerous times taking photos of this and that and wanting to see what the guys were finding. There was only one little chunk of hard gray material they were questioning that it might be something when I departed.

This is the main pond.  I love the lighting and the shadows playing across the water.

This is the main pond. I love the lighting and the shadows playing across the water.

I took a little break when I got home. Well, sort of. I gathered eggs from both the big chicken barn (M has been under the weather this week) and my girls coop. I walked down to see the new sheep and cows that were brought here  yesterday to live and graze in the pasture. The sheep is very friendly and not bashful at all in visiting. Both sheep are breeders and will be taken to the ewes later in the spring.

This is the newest ram.  The little white guy with the black eye!  He has two black eyes!

This is the newest ram. The little white guy with the black eye! He has two black eyes!

The new cows are a pair of Dexters. Very good looking they are I think. Effective feeders is what I was told. When they first arrived yesterday it was lots of fun watching them become acquainted with the Heifer we have here. He tried to chase the Dexters around, and he was so lumbersome in his movements comparted to the more svelte and agile Dexters. Yes, I think I like those Dexters.

The Dexter's are here...the Dexters are here!!!  I like them lots!

The Dexter’s are here…the Dexters are here!!! I like them lots!

On my way back up the hill, I found my girls having themselves a great time on Solar Hill. They were dust bathing and sunbathing and lolling and scratching and completely enjoying their chicken life here on the farm. I sat in the dirt near them and just watched for about 15 minutes. They were quite entertaining, as always. By this time the sun was beating hot…well…in the low 50’s anyhow. I needed to go for a ride. A motorcycle ride!!!

Ziggy has herself buried down in.

The girls love this spot under the little Madrone.  Ziggy has herself buried down in and is having a little clucking session with Ruffles

Sunbathing in the dirt and enjoying life on the farm.

Sunbathing in the dirt and enjoying life on the farm.

I have been aching to go for a ride all week. There were some sunny warm days earlier in the week but I had commitments to attend to that required me to use my truck. Going to the feed store was one. I know one of these days it is going to get really warm and I want to be prepared if my deep litter method in my chicken coop gets smelling bad. I bought a bale of straw and some pine shavings. I also bought feed and ordered some chicks. Yup…we are getting chicks next week.

M & E ordered 35 chicks. I only ordered 4. Two Speckled Sussex and two Black Laced Wyandottes. I intend to order a couple more chicks. I am considering doing some breeding and have decided I want to specialize in Wyandottes. I find them so beautiful. I am planning to get 4-6 Blue Red Laced Wyandottes in March from a breeder I am corresponding with via email. They will be my start. The Wyandottes are good for laying as well as for meat. If I am going to be breeding I am hoping I can have some be meat and some for eggs and some for show and some for continuing and improving the breed. Well, that is my idea for now anyhow. I’ll get the chicks and see how it goes.

Anyhow…back to my RIDE ON THE BIKE!!! I layered up. I had on my longies and an extra shirt and a hat and scarf and two pairs of gloves and my jacket and wool socks and boots and fortunately I could still move. I started it up and down the hill I went. It was amazing! It was exactly what I had hoped it would be and what I wanted it to be and what I had envisioned it to be. I was yelling “YAHOOOOOO” all the way down the drive!

Yes, it was cold. My ears were the most affected by the cold wind. The rest of me stayed tensely warm. I decided I would ride into Grants Pass and treat myself to a Dutch Bros. I love going there because you get so much more than just a hot drink. You get some good vibes. They are good folks there! When I arrived I was so ready for something hot and to be out of the wind.

There were 3 guys on bikes having their cup of Joe and smokes and taking a break. I recognized two of the guys from previous times there. Everyone was admiring one anothers’ bikes. And yes, even tho mine is just a little Yamaha V-star 250cc, they still take a look and make a comment to me. It is nice. It’s not about the bike, it’s about the fact that you ride.

I knew I wanted to head home before the sun got behind the hills. Even tho the sun had not dropped, there were many areas of shade along the road home. I decided to go along the Missouri Flats road and stopped by the cemetary to take some photos there too. The lighting was nice I thought.

Even the cemetary was a birght and beautiful place of peace today.

Even the cemetary was a birght and beautiful place of peace today.

I am so grateful I got to feel the wind against me and also enjoyed the sun beating down to take off thie chill!

I am so grateful I got to feel the wind against me and also enjoyed the sun beating down to take off thie chill!

What a wonderful day. I was ready to be home. A warm fire and some hot dinner would be just the thing to settle me in for the evening. But first I had to give the girls a snack of popcorn and stale bread. They haven’t had a hot snack in a few days. I am trying to break them of pecking me for treats every time I go outdoors. It probably wont stop. I love spoiling them too much. They are happy girls tho. They have given me eggs all through the winter. From 12 hens I’ve averaged 5 eggs a day all winter long. One day I had 8 eggs!

It is late now. I am tired. It is a good tired. A fulfilling tired. I am glad I was able to get up and out of bed and enjoy this lovely winter day. This first day of February. The sunniest most outdoorsy February day I’ve ever enjoyed!

Saw these impressive horns on my travels and had to take a pic!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Saw these impressive horns on my travels and had to take a pic!

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End of the day and the girls get popcorn and some leftover bread pieces.

Misty wet day on the farm

The view out the window was the same all day, and yet, it is never the same!

The view out the window was the same all day, and yet, it is never the same!

I am definately fighting a bug or something is going on. I have had a slight sore throat and some post nasal drip for the last couple days. I had shared about my low level of activity earlier in the week. IT still is low.  Maybe the weather has something to do with it.  Last night I feel asleep about 7:30pm. I am a night owl. I can’t remember the last time I was asleep at 7:30pm. I woke for an hour about 10pm, and then again about 2am and again about 7 in the morning. I did go downstairs and let the girls out of the coop, grabbed a couple logs to put on the fire and back to bed I went…until 11:30am! Even after all that rest, I still didn’t feel full of vim and vigor.

I pulled on some jeans and threw on a coat and clunked my way down the stairs. I knew I had to do my walk before I thought about it. I have committed to, at the very least, walking to the bridge daily. If I have energy to work in the gardens or around the property, then a walk is not necessary. But on the days I only feel I can do very limited activity, I will walk! Today was day 3 of “I MUST WALK”. I didn’t even bother to make snacks for the girls. I told myself I would do it later. I had a window of opportunity that I had to use while the rain was at a slight drizzle. I did not need to look for an excuse to not walk, I could find many. One foot in front of the other and down the drive I went, cup of coffee in hand!

The walk down the drive!  Still a few bits of snow, but mostly wet!  And slippery on this corner.

The walk down the drive! Still a few bits of snow, but mostly wet! And slippery on this corner.

I take in so much as I”m walking. I look up to the house to see if the cars are there and if the dogs are out. I notice that the ground is wet and the corner is very slippery. The girls are following me, but at a distance. The skies are very gray and there is a misty fog hanging across the hillsides. I scan the pasture, looking for Bruce and John. Then I look over to the neighbors and see that they are out with the horses, doing their chores I imagine.

Lots of gray skies and misty fog  hovering over the property.

Lots of gray skies and misty fog hovering over the property.

The creek is a bit rougher today than it was the other day when I was here. It is like a different place from the bright sunny day when I was here….only 2 days ago. The wisps of fog and the shadows of clouds in the stream change all the colors. It is back to winter grays and greens and browns and tans. I can find beauty here too. Things are growing. This is a time that things seem slower, but they are being rejuvenated for a spurt that will come soon! Spring is not that far away.

The creek is a life of itself, constantly changing with the weather and seasons.

The creek is a life of itself, constantly changing with the weather and seasons.

A little later in the afternoon I took the girls some treats of leftover fried egg, stale bread and some veggies from lunch. I had just scattered their treats out and they were on the move to get to them, when a hawk soared over us and up into the tree on the edge of the property. The really tall one in the picture. It was the girls scurries that made me take notice. I didn’t even know what was going on at first. They all just ducked and moved at the same time. As I looked towards the focus of Grandma’s attention…which was where that hawk was flying…that is when I knew what the hubbub was about.

The hawk soared over us and landed in the tall pine tree in the far background.

The hawk soared over us and landed in the tall pine tree in the far background.

 

They watched where the hawk went, some of them still scurrying, some of them just on guard, for a minute or so. Then, they slowly came back out and began their usual pecking order of who was going to get the tastiest tidbits. I watched them, and the tree where the hawk had flown too. When they were done with snacks I urged them closer to the coop and opened the door wide if they were to need to duck! THey had just shown me how aware they really are!

These girls MOVE IT when danger approaches.  Very aware girls!

These girls MOVE IT when danger approaches. Very aware girls!

I was searching for my deer repellent recipe today, which required me to read through a couple journals to find it (I posted it on my FB page). I usually have 2-3 notebooks I am writing things in over the course of a year. I came across an entry in one notebook from Jan. 13, 2012. It was a kick in the pants to get on to what I have been putting off for a long time.

I have been procrastinating something important for some of the most ridiculous reasons. I know they are ridiculous, and yet I have let them stop me over and over. So, in reading about where I was and what was happening a year ago, and seeing that it has not changed and that I must attend to it, that is where I will leave this for now. I am going to attend to a very important matter. I pray it is the next right thing and will somehow let me continue living my life as I am today, maybe even making it a little easier!

Grateful for the sale of 2 dozen eggs and a potential repeat customer; being able to take my walk; having someone bring me lunch from Uncle Buck’s; having homemade soup made by someone else for dinner; knowing God provides for all my needs and many of my wants. I love living life in the country!!!