7 tips for managing symptoms while coming off mind altering pharmaceuticals

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This is a list of a few positive helps I’ve noticed that seem to be helping myself and others. Observing those in the groups that are coming off various medications, including Benzodiazepines, Opiates, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic has helped me learn. These observations are not scientific in nature and I have nothing to back them up except from what I’ve observed and experienced myself.
This list is not comprehensive in nature. Each individual observed may have been doing one or many of the listed actions in helping themselves manage their symptoms through detox and withdrawal.
These are the actions that folks are taking that seem to help them MANAGE their symptoms better. WE are unable to control them and time is a big factor. This list is things you can do NOW to help yourselves.

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1. Get outdoors!!! Even if it’s only to sit on your front porch and feel the sunbeams on your face or smell the fresh rain that just dropped or to shiver in the snow. Increase the duration over time. Maybe after successfully sitting on the porch for a week, you can walk to the mailbox the next week and then complete the activity by still sitting on the porch for 5 minutes. My personal experience with this was that, over time, I went further and further and felt so much better each time I got out to walk! Fresh air is crucial and this activity will also give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

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2. Exercise. As noted above, it starts small. Walking back and forth to the mailbox. Then walk to the end of the block and back. Then around the block. You get the idea. Mild exercise is excellent for boosting mood and for helping break the trail of lies our mind tells us that we are too sick. Yes, we are sick, but nearly every person is capable of doing something to stretch and strengthen their body! I personally have been trying Yoga and Qi-Gong and find them very helpful for me.

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3. Eat clean and stay away from sugars, gluten (I eliminated all grains), processed foods and many are sensitive to dairy. I personally eat a diet consisting of local and organicially grown meats and eggs and vegetables. When folks say they can’t afford to eat organic I remind them, I don’t do Starbucks, sodas, fast food, and I have no vices. Food is fuel for my body and it ranks high on the budget. Eat nutrient dense foods and you will feel better. Check out the book “It starts with Food”.

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4. Find a support group or a supportive group of folks you can talk with and be authentic with. This is probably the hardest, as our minds tell us we aren’t worth anything and we feel so brain damaged. Yet, those who are most functional have peeps! I go to a variety of support groups and have found a family that way. I highly recommend Refuge Recovery. It is a Buddhist based recovery program for ANYONE who is suffering. While many of us do not in any way fit the description of addict, we were dependent on our medication and not having it anymore creates huge anxiety within us. These supportive groups can be a place to learn coping mechanisms and learn tools at managing emotions.

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5. Don’t take supplements or OTC remedies. Each pharmaceutical that is touted to help one symptom has at least 2 if not more toxic potentials. I personally am not completely against all pharmaceuticals, but reaching for one every time something doesn’t feel good is not a healthy solution.

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6. Learn coping mechanisms. Regardless the reason you were started on one of the medications I listed above, it has left you with a state of anxiety and various other symptoms. Those who are practicing meditation, working with a therapist, reading books on emotional regulation or some sort of personal responsibility for managing their emotions seem to fair better over time. While it may not eliminate the symptoms, it will alleviate them.

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7. Find acceptance for the situation and have patience. The days and weeks will pass (for some months and years) but we can’t change that. Accepting it lessens the fight. There is much to be said for time. It does heal so much.

I truly hope for each that these tips are encouraging. They are things you can DO to make yourself feel better. They are things that YOU can do for YOU! We must be kind to ourselves through this process. We didn’t ask for it, but we still have to learn to maneuver it. We can’t control it either, but we can manage some of the symptoms. That is what this list is for, some management tools that I have seen helping those who are healing and moving forward.
Peace and Namaste

 

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There is LIGHT and HOPE!

If you have never experienced a depressive disorder, I would imagine you really believe a person can cheer themselves up and get over it by doing things such as “open the drapes”, or “go for a walk”, or “let go, let God”. I used to think that too. If someone was a sad sack I would tell them to get outside themselves and do something for someone else, or to get out in the sunshine (or even to do tanning in very moderate/light levels), Over the second half of my life I have found that if it feels dark internally, it doesn’t matter what you do, except that you do something. It’s when you do nothing that you are turning into the hole of darkness. Even if you still are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it still seems completely dark and not worthwhile. Do something!!! I know from experience…you will eventually see a ray of light that will give you hope to keep going. But sometimes…you have to just keep moving in the dark, doing something, going completely on faith in the darkest of dark.

I am so grateful that I kept on sharing with my friends and a couple family members and my readers when I was struggling. I was doing something. I was reaching out and sharing and being present in the moment. With depression, sometimes that is so difficult.

I believe that most depression is brought about by things of the past (unless you live in a combat zone or 3rd world country and face starvation constantly). For some, a combat zone can look like the chaotic interactions of families, the fightingt that occurs in some relationships, or the dysfunction of many households. Sometimes those are battlefields of their own. If you live in that kind of constant state of anxiousness about what has happened in the past as well as being worried and struggling with what is in the moment, in my opinion, as well as the various definitions I have read, that would be labeled as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Depression occurs frequently with PTSD. http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/tc/ptsd-and-depression-overview It is my experience that if one of them are triggered, then the other disorder also gets triggers. If I have a new traumatic event, or a flashback of a traumatic event combined with increase in daily stressors, then it is likely that depression will get triggered as well, The feelings of depression, that dark place, become an escape as well as a prison.

It is very possible to get stuck in depression. That is why and how suicide occurs. It becomes too unbearable to live another day or another moment in the darkness. Or, if you are trying to escape the ongoing trauma of living in a combat zone or under extreme stress, the darkness of depression can at times become a retreat from reality. There is a very fine line between the two. Escape and prison are but one step away from another.

Today, I am grateful that somehow, by God’s grace, I was able to not become consumed with the darkness and was able to hold on through that dark time until I finally saw and felt the light of God’s love and peace and assurance. It’s always just around the corner.

I think I was able to hold on due to the ties with my support group, my willingness to reach out, and my desire to always do The Next Right Thing in life.

If you are feeling that darkness of depression, or if you have PTSD and the depression is creeping in too, be sure to reach out. Help really is always there. And there is light, just around the bend!

Contact you physician, a mental health provider, a member of clergy, a friend, or a family member and tell them you are struggling and need some help. Let others’ into your life and know you are not alone. Depression doesn’t have to mean darkness for eternity.

Winter blues got ya down? My cure…fresh air and pets!

Dec. 6 is a snowy day.  The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

Dec. 6 is a snowy day. The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

December.  Bah-humbug. Okay, not really, but it could have been if I had allowed my attitude to venture that way.  I am not a lover of winter.  I am a sun worshiper.  When the days get shorter and the skies are more gray than blue and they have a tendency to leak tears over the lands, I get a bit of the blahs.

I decided in the early part of the month that I needed to let things that were bothering me slide off my back.  What was bothering me you ask?  Well, lots of things actually.  The biggest was not being able to spend time with my grandson for his birthday or any time over the holidays.  I also have a few issues with this house we live in.  It’s not easy living in a house of disrepair, and the thought of trying to bake and cook and decorate and bring it to holiday life was a bit daunting.  And of course, as always, there is the issue of living with chronic pain and the limitations that places on me and the various ways low energy and high pain levels have impacted my life.  No job, no money, no freedom to do all that I would want to do.   That’s just a few of the things…get the drift?

It started snowing here around the 5th of the month.  And it got cold.  Frigid cold for this part of the country.  We were in the teens and even some single digits for the first half of December.  Guess what???  My body had not felt so good since early June!  The dry cold air made my hot tight joints and tissues feel so much better.  So I started my baking.   We were nearly snowed in for a couple of days, because the combination of 6 inches of snow and then the freezing temps made the streets impassable.  There just weren’t enough plows and other equipment for the city to keep things clear.

Anyhow, we got a tree, and the decorations came out, and the baking continued and before I knew it Christmas had arrived.  My guys two youngest were with us and we had a nice, yet quiet and low-key holiday.  I let the messes roll off my back.  I didn’t look at the parts of the house that are still broken.  I ignored the untended leaves all over outdoors.  I just enjoyed my pain levels being down, being able to bake and cook and interact with friends.

And then it was the day after Christmas.  My boyfriend wanted me to travel with him to take his daughter to the airport.  It was a 10 hour round trip drive.  I don’t do riding in the car well.  I typically break up any trips I take into 2-3 hour driving segments each day!  I warned him that I could well end up in bed for a couple of days.  The weather also had taken a turn.  It was foggy and the humidity was up.

I got home and went to bed and stayed there for a little over 2 days.  And guess what?  The blues came over me with a vengeance.  Each time I would hobble out of the bedroom to get a glass of water or use the bathroom or just say hi to everyone, I noticed everything that is still needing fixing in the house.  And of course the post holiday messes, with all the extra food and new appliances taking up space and the decorations looking not quite as festive but instead a little more cluttering.  It just would hit me in waves.  Then the limitations of energy and the pain being bad really knocked those negative thoughts into full speed.   I was not liking where my thoughts were going.  Not at all.

Yesterday I got out of bed and went to my regular support group meeting.  I shared how I was concerned about my thinking and how I needed to probably get a little help with it.  I promised to make an appointment with my doctor and to talk to her about maybe doing a little counseling.  I realized, I’ve had quite a bit on my plate in the last 3 years and having a professional to talk to and give some perspective might help.  I told my group of friends to hold me accountable, because I have been here before, in a dark depression and I know how to put my smiley face on for everyone else to see, and that will get me no where in a hurry.

When I got home from my meeting, I was tending to the chickens when my little feral kitty, Muffin, came around the corner.  I decided to go grab my new camera that I had got for Christmas and do a little photo session.  The cool air felt good on my face.  It was a fairly decent day out.  I looked around at the leaves and the remnants of things that had once had life, but were now just brown decaying bits of debris in my flower boxes and decided to do a little work.  I grabbed my gloves and away I went.  I pulled up all the dead and decaying matter and threw it into the corner of the yard.  I raked up all the leaves under the apple tree and hauled them over and dumped them into the chicken run.  I figured that might help keep the mud down for a little while.  I got the shovel and tended to the doggie droppings.  When my guy came out to see what was going on, I got him to clean off the lawn chairs and put them away for the season.  I cleaned up the area where we had spent a few summer evenings having BBQ’s.  Then more photos of the animals that were out enjoying the weather with me.   I love my animals.  They always can bring a smile to my face.  And the fresh air and being outdoors…..that helps too.  Gets me connected to God.  I beat the blues for another winter day.

When I started writing this it was going to be more about just sharing photos of the animals…but then I got carried away.  I started sharing my thoughts and feelings.  I guess that helps with the blues too.  If you are having some wintertime blahs and blues, I encourage you to get outdoors and get some fresh air, pet a dog or cat, and talk to someone about it.  Sharing really is a great way to lessen the burden of blues.   I hope you enjoy the photos!  They are a variety that was taken over the course of the last month!