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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The greenhouse film gets put on the frame!

The film was placed and now it's time to start GROWING.

The film was placed and now it’s time to start GROWING.

I am finally back amongst the living after 10 days of fighting a horrible bug.  I suffered nearly every symptom you can imagine with a viral sickness.  Aches and pains for a few days.  Sore throat and post nasal drip took  over for a day or two.  Headache and some nausea and vomiting visited for a day and a half.  An unproductive tight cough for a few days was bothersome.  Throughout all of it I was weighed down with an overwhelming exhaustion.  I spent almost all of my time in bed.

There are blossoms on all the fruit trees.  Many were pruned over the weekend and so I will soon have lovely bouquets of blossoms in my home!

There are blossoms on all the fruit trees. Many were pruned over the weekend and so I will soon have lovely bouquets of blossoms in my home!

 

Today has been the first day that I really felt good on all counts.  I woke up hurting so I took my medication as my NP suggested.  If I take it, I don’t hurt so bad.  I know that.  I still am working on the resentments about needing to take it, as well as it costs money and I don’t like some of the side effects.  But I did take it and dozed back off for about an hour and when I woke up I felt pretty good.  I got out of bed, dressed, and started moving!  A quick tidy up and out the door I went.

Garlic is coming up nicely!

Garlic is coming up nicely!

I had made the decision that I am going to try eating 100% gluten and dairy free for at least 2 weeks and take all my supplements every day (pills…I just have a hard time taking them every day) as well as use my medication as it has been suggested (I never take nearly enough) and see if I notice any improvements in my various health issues.  I have enlisted my friends to hold me accountable.   It’s not that I don’t want to do it, it’s just that I know from previous life experiences with making lifestyle changes, having accountability is a good reinforcement for me.

That meant heading to the Farmer’s Market to load up on fresh fruits and veggies.  I am well stocked in all my other things.  I even have things in the pantry to attempt baking some gluten-free bread!  But I was pretty low of leafy greens and perishable veggies.

Lulu came to grocery shop during the girls snack time.  She was going one way and Honey the other like they didn't even know one another.  They see each other every day!

Lulu came to grocery shop during the girls snack time. She was going one way and Honey the other like they didn’t even know one another. They see each other every day!

Once I got home E informed me that two friends would be arriving shortly to put up the greenhouse film!  YAY!  It was delivered while I was on my trip to The Dalles and E has been working on the frame to have it all prepared.  Today was the day.  I was grateful I was feeling so good and said I would do a few chores and be down to help when the others arrived.

Donna is checking things out and Patch is watching his flock.

Donna is checking things out and Patch is watching his flock.

Everyone started showing up and wanted to see the chicks.  I decided I wanted to let my little girls (I think one of them is a roo actually) have some sunshine time.  I have created a playpen for them to get outdoors for a little bit during the warmer afternoons.   That gets me outside, even on days I am struggling. E asked if I would take a couple of theirs out too.  I was happy to comply with his request.  Everyone helped with the transport of 7 chicks out to the play area and then we headed up the hill.  But not before quite a few pictures were taken.

This is one of my Speckled Sussex.  I think this may be a roo.  They are 5 weeks old now.  So adorable.

This is one of my Speckled Sussex. I think this may be a roo. They are 5 weeks old now. So adorable.

Pumpkin is very inquisitive and Patch is so calm.  I love watching the dogs with the chicks.

Pumpkin is very inquisitive and Patch is so calm. I love watching the dogs with the chicks.

We used ropes and had them tied at intervals and then threw them over the frame and gently and as a team pulled it over the top and to the other side.  It went quite well.  No one got lift off with the few wind gusts we had occasionally blowing through.

This place will be like Fort Knox.  Very tight.  It has been reinforced at every connection and is extremely sturdy.  Good job E!

This place will be like Fort Knox. Very tight. It has been reinforced at every connection and is extremely sturdy. Good job E!

The metal frame is being bolted into the wood frame supports.

The metal frame is being bolted into the wood frame supports.

I loved these bolts.  The drilled right throught the metal and wood!

I loved these bolts. The drilled right through the metal and wood!

The film unrolled and laid out ready for installation!

The film unrolled and laid out ready for installation!

The film is in place and secured on the sides.  The ends will be finished up later by E.

The film is in place and secured on the sides. The ends will be finished up later by E.

 

The method used to secure it to the frame was wonderful.  E had attached 2×4’s all along the outer wall at about 2 1/2 feet off the ground on both sides.  To this he attached a metal frame using these nifty bolts that drill right through the frame and wood.  I can’t remember what they were called.  I will have to ask again.

This contracption is so neat.  Can you see the way it is formed and then you just tuck it and wiggle it back and forth into place.  Slick!

This contraption is so neat. Can you see the way it is formed and then you just tuck it and wiggle it back and forth into place. Slick!

This shows it better.  E had to cut off some pieces.  The lengths were longer than the 2x4's.

This shows it better. E had to cut off some pieces. The lengths were longer than the 2×4’s.

 

 

The neatest tool/materials we used was wiggle wire.  Yep, that is what it is called.  And the person who invented it is wiggling themselves all the way to the bank.  The wire has been formed into this shape that fits into the frame and then you “wiggle” it into place and it holds wonderfully!  And you can remove it easily if you want to roll up your sides for ventilation.  Both of us girls working today loved doing the wiggle wire.  It was fun.

The bottom edges were rolled around landscape poles and nailed into the ground with 10 and 12 inch nails.  It looked so pretty when it was all nailed down.  E has plans on putting a window/fan on the North end of it and making a doorway on the South end.  I am happy to let him work out those details.  I want to get in there and get things back in order and start PLANTING!!!!!  I am so excited.  I have never had such an arena as this to garden at my leisure and enjoyment.  I just know this summer is going to be awesome.

After we were all done I still was feeling energetic and so I tidied up the coop some, hosed off the patio and then moved the last 1/2 cord of my firewood to a new site right outside the back door.  I am hoping to clean up some of the things that have been discarded around the barn so I can create a nice outdoor environment where I can hang out on a sunny summer day.  I don’t care that the girls free ranging all the time means there is poo everywhere.  I can still make things look nice.

My 2+ cords has dwindled to less than 1/2 a cord.  Time to tidy up.

My 2+ cords has dwindled to less than 1/2 a cord. Time to tidy up.

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I finished up around 5:30pm.  I had been going since 9:30am.   I haven’t had a day like this in months as far as I can remember.  Mind you, I had lots of breaks where I would check on the chickens or go take a few more photos of the chicks or just watching others work.  But I was up and out of bed and active for a full day and it felt wonderful.

I have no idea what they were up to but first Grandma got up there, then Winnie.  Teasing the ones on the ground?  Who knows!  They do what they choose....all day.

I have no idea what they were up to but first Grandma got up there, then Winnie. Teasing the ones on the ground? Who knows! They do what they choose….all day.

I had a dinner of leftovers.  I had cooked a Pork Loin and some taters and steamed apples on Saturday when my guy came for dinner.  It was heated up in no time and tasted delicious.  I also had the other 8 ounces of freshly juiced fruits and veggies that I had made for my breakfast this morning.  I have had no gluten, dairy, or sugar all day!

M bought 6 gallon buckets of heather to plant.  She wants to fill one of the hillsides with all kinds of heather.  Summer and winter blooming.  SO pretty.

M bought 6 gallon buckets of heather to plant. She wants to fill one of the hillsides with all kinds of heather. Summer and winter blooming. SO pretty.

I had made a fire because it was a bit chilly and then took a long soak in the tub.  I was in bed by 8pm.  Tired.  From moving.  From working.  It felt so good.  Just for today I felt really good.  I’ll take that.

Thank you God for a lovely day.  A day of work.   A day of productivity.  You know my heart’s desire to work, and I thank you for the gift of work today.