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!

 

 

 

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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.

 

A public service announcement for Oregon gamblers.

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If you or a loved one suffers with compulsive gambling, there is HOPE and HELP!!! For both you and the gambler. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment is free in Oregon.

I am posting this as a public service. Gambling is a serious public health concern. A recent study says that 1 in 37 adults in Oregon are compulsive gambler’s. http://nbc16.com/news/local/study-1-in-37-oregon-adults-are-problem-gamblers
Genetics, psychological risks and social risk factors such as single parent home or poverty are predisposing factors. Time, money and location makes it easy.  http://nbc16.com/news/local/study-1-in-37-oregon-adults-are-problem-gamblers

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My favorite community has had gambling brought to it. I am concerned for my friends.

Gamblers have the HIGHEST suicide rate of all addictions. https://800gambler.org/quick-facts-gambling-suicide/

The statistics are probably lower than what is the real truth.  Many suicides are listed for different causes other than gambling despite the fact a person had a compulsion to gamble. Also the research is limited.  http://lanieshope.org/gambling-addiction-suicide

Reach out and get the help you deserve if you have a problem.
National Problem Gambling Help line: 800-522-4700
Gamblers Anonymous Oregon and Washington: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Oregon Problem Gambling Hotline: 1-877-MYLIMIT (1-877-695-4648)
Voices of Problem Gambling: http://vpgr.net/
Smart Recovery: http://www.smartrecovery.org/addiction/gambling_addiction.html
For the family there is Gam-anon: https://www.gam-anon.org/
Oregon Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/state/oregon/ and http://oregoncpg.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/OCPG-HANDBOOK_REV_OPT-8-14-17.pdf

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Anyone that needs direction to services may contact me through my blog https://nobetz.wordpress.com/ or my community Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MsLadybugAndHerLayers/.  You do NOT need to face the storm alone!

Many Bridges of Recovery

 

 

September is National Recovery Month. It is a month to focus on mental health and addictions. It is a time to celebrate those who recover and to remember those who have lost their lives due to their conditions. This year’s theme as designated by SAMSHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) was “Join the Voice for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities”.


My kickoff for the month was the  Vancouver/Portland Hands Across the Bridge.  These events are to raise awareness for and celebrate people in recovery. The Portland event tallied a collective experience of over 4000 years of recovery. That is a LOT of people making the decision to do the next right thing day after day!


I also went to the Hands Across the Bridge-Marion and Polk County  2017 event. There weren’t as many participants yet it was well attended. There was food and music and many local support services. The participants walked up on the bridge and dropped flowers into the Willamette River as a symbol of our recovery and also in memory of our fellow friends in recovery who have left the earth.

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In Oregon we also have Problem Gambling Awareness Day. It was on September 29th in honor of Bobby Hafemann. Bobby ended his life due to the loneliness and hopelessness he struggled with because of his problem gambling 22 years ago. Many are unaware that gamblers have the highest statistics for completed suicides of any other addiction. The message for all gamblers is that there is HOPE and HELP. Treatment works. This years campaign is “Take a Break”. Signage encourages gamblers to take a break for just one day and if you aren’t able to stop for just a day, that could be a sign that maybe there is a problem. Pick up the phone and reach out, help is available for all Oregonians.

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September is also National Suicide Awareness month. There are numerous events around the Nation. Portland and Salem hold their Out of the Darkness community walk to bring awareness to Suicide Prevention in the first weeks of October.   Veterans are promoting the message of “Be There” for their annual suicide prevention and awareness campaign. 22 Veterans a day ending their own lives is too many.

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I myself have struggled with suicidal ideation as a symptom of withdrawals from opiates and benzodiazepines and also as symptom in my battle with gambling. Knowing the statistics for gamblers and for those coming off benzodiazepines I feel pretty blessed to still be upright and breathing. I am grateful that my natural intrinsic will to survive has been stronger than my occasional thoughts of being overwhelmed with life. Yet I know that doesn’t always work in the long term unless one learns how to manage life better. The symptoms of the disease can be treated while death is permanent. Suicide is not a solution and it can be prevented. Pick up the phone and call the National Suicide Prevention line. Be there for a friend. Participate in one of the activities in your local area to bring awareness to suicide being a preventable condition!


The month ended with the 4th Annual Bridgeway Recovery 2017 Run/Walk for Recovery event held in Salem, Oregon. This event is to raise awareness and help end the stigma for those suffering with a mental health disorder or an addiction. Bridgeway wants to help connect those that need help with the help they deserve. They realize how difficult reaching out can be due to the stigma associated with these problems. The shame that most people feel can prevent them from seeking help until their lives are in critical danger. There is hope and change is possible. Recovery does happen when you get treatment and utilize the tools available.

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Bridgeway Services is a new style of recovery services.  They are a Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH).  They provide counseling, detoxification from drugs and alcohol, inpatient treatment and regular medical care as part of a holistic method of treating those struggling with their mental health and substance abuse disorders. They provide a trauma informed care approach, which is having the understanding that most all patients are having a response to previous trauma.

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Each of these events was a challenge for me to participate in due to my social anxiety. Left to my own devices and decisions, I would not have gone. I was encouraged to face my fear knowing there were others there to help me and I had tools to use. I am at in-patient treatment and my treatment team said immersion is a powerful tool. I was allowed my camera. It was a tool to keep me stay grounded. It helps me focus when overwhelmed with sensations from being around so many people and so much traffic.

 

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Dialectical view…..

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There but for the grace of God go I

What you see here is the result of my ability to use my tools and function and gain some self-esteem. By having access to my camera I was able to engage with people while using a tool which allowed me to stay in my own personal space. I also had the time of finding the settings and focusing for my shots.  I also engaged in a bit of exercise and enjoyed fresh air and had a few interactions with animals and nature. All these activities were mindfully noticed and utilized to assist me in staying in the moment. Some of this I have learned over time, and some of it is new skills I’ve learned since being in treatment.

 

 


I hope you see some of the themes I noticed from these activities. They are signs of recovery that are obvious and obscure. For one thing…there are many people in large groups. The struggle with mental illness and addiction is quite lonely. Getting among others and having a good time while doing it is a sure sign of recovery. Being out in public and not having shame to be associated with things such as addiction, mental health disorders, prior felonies is powerful and shows strength.

 

 

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How about evidence of families? That too is an area that often is surrounded with challenges for this population. Yet there were many moms and dads with their kids and even a few grandmas and grandpas too. Signs that said “Recovery is getting my dad back”.


Then there are the bridges. So many bridges! Recovery means having a lot of courage and stamina to leave old ways and old behaviors in search of a new path. For many people it means feeling like being on a different planet because of all they’ve lost and where they landed. Yet here these folks are out in the hundreds to hold hands or run or walk across a bridge to shake off the old and embrace the new. They are smiling. They are challenging themselves. They are pushing themselves when they are uncomfortable. I was so proud of all these people and I thanked them over and over and over. As each one passed me and I took their smiling face reddened photos I felt their courage and their hope. They were doing it. They were winning, just by being there! They were the winners, each one of them.

Recovery and Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Awareness aren’t to be recognized only in September. It is a daily thing. One day at a time. Stop the stigma. Have an awareness and become educated about mental illness and substance abuse disorder and learn how to be of help. A simple kindness and a nudge in the right direction can really make a difference.  Recovery is a lifelong journey.  It requires learning tools on a daily basis to live with things I can’t change throughout my life.  I will always be learning new skills. Sometimes I need a little more help, some new tools, a better understanding of my condition. That’s why I am at treatment. To get what I need. Thanks Bridgeway!