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!

I choose to make 2015 be a year of peace for me, and freedom!

A bit of snow, some fog, and plenty of views to enjoy here in Williams.

A bit of snow, some fog, and plenty of views to enjoy here in Williams.

After days of consideration and prayer I have come to the decision to not make any changes regarding my community page, Ms. Ladybug and Her Layers. I have worked too hard on personal recovery from my past issues to be intimidated by someone whose only reason for contact was to in some way benefit their self. I do not know exactly what their scheme is nor do I care, but I know this person well enough after 18 months of nearly daily contact to know they didn’t contact me just to be nice. They want something.

And why should I be fearful of this person? I did no wrong to them. Except to verbalize and be honest about their behaviors. Such as: I witnessed this person using a business license and bank accounts to hide from child support services as well as to hide money so they could have welfare benefits such as food stamps and medical benefits even when their business grossed nearly 8 times the allowable guideline limits. This person also had with held taxes for their business employees, but never paid them because they were using the money for their own interests.

No…I am not going to shut down my page, hide in any way, or feel threatened by someone who has shown many people their true colors of self serving and narcisstic behaviors. I truly wish more of this person’s friends and acquaintances really knew how much this person has used them and abused them along the way. I also wish there was a way I could warn any woman who may be swayed by this person’s charismatic personality. When even a church bishop says they are concerned for the women in their church because of this person’s known history of taking advantage of women…well, that says something. I am not afraid of you and know you for what you really are. I know all the despicable things you’ve done and I am not afraid of you.

So…read my page all you want. I share so many wonderful things with over a thousand folks who follow my page, and they happily share their goodness with me too. I will not ever let another person frighten me, threaten me, or in any way intimidate me. Those days are in the past. It’s a new year and I am claiming it as one of growth and strength for me! 🙂 And for all of you too!!! Thanks friends for all you have shared with me and how you stuck by me through many challenges over the time we’ve been acquainted. It is because of you that I can speak out the truth and feel no fear. God bless you all.

NOW…with that out of the way, I also have a tasty winter soup to share with you. I found a nice couple of Organic Grass fed sirloin steaks with a 30% discount at the grocery the other day, and that was my start. Here you go!

A hearty zesty mouthful of flavors!

A hearty zesty mouthful of flavors!

Beef Barley Mushroom soup

2 tblspn EVOO
1/2 yellow onion diced
5-6 cloves garlic minced
1 lb Organic grass fed top sirloin (it was on sale!) – diced into bite size pieces
1 slice thick bacon
6 Baby Portebella Mushrooms sliced
4 cups beef broth
1 12-oz bottle Pale Ale Beer
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 cup rinsed dried barley
Large Pinch Oregano
Large pinch Basil
Large pinch thyme
2 Bay leaves
3-4 twists of sea salt grinder
Pepper – I used a pepper blend in a grinder to taste
3 tblspoons homemade sauerkraut juice
1/2 tablespoon hot horsheradish
1 Fuji apple diced
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
2 carrots sliced 1/8 inch or so
1/2 cup diced red and yellow bell peppers
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger juice/bits

Saute onions and garlic in EVOO about 3 minutes on med-high in CI Dutch oven. Add diced meat and cook until it looses it’s pink color. Set aside.

Sauteed onions, garlic and beef in EVOO

Sauteed onions, garlic and beef in EVOO

In cast iron skillet fry 1 slice bacon until skillet has sheen of fat on it. Lay mushroom slices on hot skillet and watch until they begin to leak out their moisture, about 2-3 minutes. Turn. Cook another 2 minutes. Pour into dutch oven with beef mix. Repeat, bacon and mushrooms until all mushrooms cooked.

 

Add all liquid ingredients and barley then cook about 10 minutes on medium. Then add the rest of the ingredients and put on simmer until carrots are tender to your liking, about 45 minutes for me. Add a large pinch of fresh parsley if you have it during the last few minutes. I did have to add quite a bit of water (2 cups or more) as the barley kept soaking up the liquid. This soup made a great dinner for me as it was. It would also go nicely with a green salad and some fresh bread, but I wasn’t that hungry. The soup satisfied me in numerous ways aside from just filling the empty hole in my belly. It had a wonderful aroma and I also enjoyed the heat generated by the efforts of cooking and having the stove on!

This is a hearty  soup that has a unique flavor that has a bit of savory zestiness to it. I know the ingredient list is a bit long, but I happened to have all these ingredients on hand. And that my friends…is how I put together a soup. Digging around the cabinets this afternoon seeing what I had that would work with the discounted organic beef I picked up the other day led to my inspiration. I have really been making a mindful effort to buy organic and as local as possible. I do watch for discount’s at Grocery Outlet, Safeway, Fred Meyers as well as Cartwright’s Meats. This package was  marked down 30% because of a pull date. While still a bit spendy for my meat budget, I rarely buy beef unless it is discounted. This soup cost me about $20 for the whole pot. I will have to freeze or share a lot of it as it made a pretty full pot! Much healthier and less expensive than any hearty organic soup on the market and it only took about 20 minutes of prep and cook time! I hope you enjoy it too.

Don't forget the liquid barley...and hops!!!

Don’t forget the liquid barley…and hops!!!