Feck.

Sigh.

The body symptoms are really getting me down. I tingle head to toe, but mostly from the hips down. It’s not that “cute” annoying tingle you get when a body part has gone to sleep and its waking up. No. That, I could cope with. This is intense, burning, tingles, bee sting, and a sense of muscles writhing around, and the sensation of being crushed, all at once. I can’t distract from it. Wish I could.

Today the burning/pain/throb in my upper spine is nasty. I have head pressure, jaw pain, tooth pain, ears ringing (always) chest pain, benzo belly, fatigue, intrusive thoughts/obsessional thoughts, tight band around head and chest, and more.

I am weary. God, I am SO weary.

I have stopped praying for healing as that was clearly a lost cause. Now I pray for the ability to hold on and cope. Some days I am pretty good at it. Today, I am not. I want so much to be/feel normal. I don’t want to think about death, benzo, withdrawal, anxiety, fear, sickness, existential thoughts… I just want to live in the moment, doing what needs to be done. Like my old life.

I want to be able to travel. Go places. Do things. Without fear. Without an effort to walk around.
I want SO much to get off this couch and out into the world.

I am feeling rather sorry for myself today. Sorry for all of us battling this syndrome that so few people understand.

I worry that these are my golden years. I hope I don’t spend many more of them sidelined. I don’t know how many more years I have, and to think they may be all spent on my couch, or in my garden makes me very sad.

Feck.

Hope everyone else is feeling better. If you are not, know that you are not alone. I’m right there with you, feeling like shit and being very sad/angry/resentful about it. I know I have to practice acceptance, but c’mon. I’m human. I am allowing myself a few minutes of venting.

Does this shit ever really end? I wonder. I really do wonder. My body stuff is different and worse in some ways than it ever has been.

That’s all I’ve got today. Sorry it’s so downbeat. I’m worn out.

Sometimes I Forget.

That others are suffering.

Today, on the 13th anniversary of that horrible day in New York, I know that many are suffering. Some are grieving, some are battling illnesses in mind and body caused that day.

I know that those of us recovering from benzo withdrawal syndrome are suffering. But let us not forget our sisters and brothers all over the planet who suffer too. Let us hold each other in prayer, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

I am thinking of you all today. Keep fighting the good fight. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

Donations Needed To Keep The Site Up

Dear Readers,
it is that time of year again. The hosting for the site is due soon. $99.00
If you like reading this blog and can help support it, I appreciate it. I need the help to keep it going. The past few months I have had unexpected expenses and money is very, very, tight.

My paypal.com email is jenn@behappygrowstrong.com
Thanks for helping if you can.

I hope everyone is feeling some healing taking place.
Shout out to Karen and Ruth. Thanks so much for your emails and love. Keep fighting.

 

 

 

I Can Set My Watch To It.

The wave from hell is slowly lifting. The depression is mostly gone. What is left, when it drifts in and out is a muddy gray instead of that deep pitch black. I can distract when it does roll in.

I am back to my more “normal” (what in God’s name and all that is holy IS normal about benzo wd?) routine: rough mornings, a bit of a lift, more symptoms, then a decent lift in the mid to late afternoon. Around 8 p.m. the sx kick in full force. I can almost set my watch to it. It’s pretty nasty at night. The burning/tingling/crushing/pain/dizzy/head pressure/weak/crappy thoughts/etc., come over me like a blanket. The anxiety that comes with the symptoms is pretty intense. It’s not emotional anxiety, but rather its a body sensation. I have muscle spasms, twitching, and bad pain.

What seems to be worse or maybe simply different, is the head pressure.  I am getting more back of the head pressure with burning. stinging, and pain. When it hits, I have a hard time thinking. It’s like everything goes offline. It doesn’t stick around all day, thankfully.

Over all I am better. This wave started in June. It’s been the worst one for sure.
During the afternoon when I feel fairly decent, I have a lot of hope that one day this will be behind me. Around 8 p.m. when it all rolls in again, the hope is harder to hold onto. But I do know I am better. And I will continue to get better.

I gardened today, which is something I couldn’t do much of the past few months. Too weak. Too messed up over all. I am grateful I was well enough to dig and get the soil ready for winter bloomers. I also helped a friend remove the tack strip that was under her carpet. She’s exposing the old hard wood floors. I was happy I had enough strength to hammer away at the crowbar. I was smart enough to only do a little bit. I’ve learned to not push myself. I’ll help her again tomorrow.

One thing I am learning is how to take better care of myself. I speak up now for myself and I set much better boundaries. I know I will have learned a lot when this is over. Too bad I had to learn it this way.

Anyone else have the experience of sx lifting during the day then coming back in a distinct routine?

 

Hope. A lot Of It.

It’s late and all I want to do is curl up and drift off to (good)dreamland and wake up refreshed, happy, eager to start the day. That hasn’t happened in almost four years of recovering from kpin.

BUT…

I’m not ruling it out in the (near?) future.

I know boys and girls. I’ve been posting all about the wave  tsunami I’ve been riding. It’s been the mother of all waves. Hands down. It took me back into first year off territory. Scary. It *almost* crushed me. Damn close.

So, today was like most days. Lots of body anxiety, tension, almost panic…but… somewhere amid all that crap I POKED MY HEAD OUT and could see that I am STILL IN HERE. I’m still intact. I don’t know how to describe it any more than I know how to describe where I have been. All I can say is something shifted. Something fundamental and I KNOW it’s an important step in my recovery.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not done yet. My body has burning, twitching, formication, paresthesia, bone pain, muscle pain, I’m weak and dizzy. Yet something took place today that was a milestone. I am sure of it.

I HAVE HOPE AGAIN!!! A lot of it.

Our dear buddy Don keeps telling me that I am still in here, and that I’ll be better than pre benzo. Hard to believe him. (One day I have to ask his forgiveness for cluttering his inbox with whiney emails, day after day.)  But he was right. I am still in here and she’s pretty awesome, if I must say so myself. I told a dear friend of mine tonight, that I felt like me in such a profound way, that it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve not known ME in so many years. My friend battled a psychotic break 30 years ago so she is compassionate about my journey. She said, “I could not have done what you have done.” I told her “I didn’t have a choice.” And I didn’t. None of us did. We just put one foot in front of the other.

I know in the morning I will wake up to the usual symptoms. I know it’s not magically over. And I will most likely have anxiety dripping off of me like usual at some point. But that’s ok. Because I can see a faint glimmer on the horizon. I DO believe I will one day wake up, yawn, stretch, feel refreshed, and ready to go do whatever needs to be done for the day. I’ll sing in the shower. I’ll put on makeup. I’ll cook breakfast. I’ll be happy to go out in the world. I’ll be happy to talk with people. I won’t have any more DR. I won’t be anxious. I’ll be like I was before this nightmare started, only wiser. More able to cope with my life.

I have learned how to take care of myself. Set boundaries. And I have learned how to love that scared little girl inside who felt so broken and ashamed. Not anymore. Not after what I have survived and continue to survive.

Keep putting the days together. One day, we will all heal. I am more sure of that now than ever before. (If another wave comes and I’m back to crying my eyes out, fearful I won’t heal, I hope I remember this post.)

I love you all. I pray for us all. I do hope God is listening.

 

 

News From The Couch

It’s hot today, this unofficial last day of summer. Of course, here in northern Cali, we are only now headed into our “summer.” Sept. and Oct. are normally quite hot with less fog. I am excited that the summer is slipping away and we are headed into cooler temps. The heat makes all of my sx ratchet up a few notches.

Part of me is excited to be coming up on another Halloween. There is a local street that is cordoned off for trick-or-treaters. The families on the street outdo each other in their decorations, animated monsters, fog machines, etc. It’s the Disneyland of Halloween. We dress up and walk around. (I even go door to door and get candy. Just because I can and it’s fun.) Part of me is terribly upset that another holiday is approaching and I am still benzo sick. This will be my 5th (FIFTH) Halloween feeling the ravages of benzos. I can hardly wrap my head around that without feeling so sad.

I used to shoot for 2 years healed. Then three. Now, I’m hoping 5. If I heal before then that would be great. But I am not going to sweat if it I don’t. I am learning how to stay quiet on my couch, write, and try to be of service as best as I can. I know I am not the only one hurting. I’ve got a lot of sisters and brothers in the same benzo boat.

One thing I am getting good at doing is learning how to not go into true panic mode. I can get close to panic when I feel trapped, stuck in this body that hurts, twitches, tingles, burns, is weak, wobbly, achy, dizzy, cog-fog, etc. but I know to breathe, change my thoughts, let go, give it up to God and just BE. I’m getting better at giving up control. Control is just an illusion anyway. None of us have very much.

I wish I could say I was out at a Labor Day BBQ, all gussied up, laughing, eating pulled pork and baked beans. Corn on the cob dripping with butter, apple pie, and sugar sweet fresh lemon aide. I’m not. I am  sprawled all sweaty on my leather couch (Can’t wait to get rid of it when i am well) with my laptop balanced on my knees. I am counting the hours until I have to get up, take a shower and go to dinner with my son. I dread having to get vertical. Dread having to plaster on a smile. All I want to do is find a cave, crawl in and curl up until my CNS has repaired itself. But my couch is going to have to do.

A shout out to Sherry who is fighting the good fight. Keep going sister. You will heal.  We all will. One day. That’s what they tell us anyway. Hope to God they are right.

Feeling More Like Elvis Everyday.

Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes! Not that there is any danger of that. 1. I don’t own any. 2. Too benzo sick to walk anywhere you might accidentally plod over my toes. 3. Too benzo sick to put on shoes, let alone some fancy shmancy blue ones. Only thing blue around here is my mood.

I’m freaking sick and tired of being sick and tired. Who is with me on this one? I see your hands waving out there. I know. I’d give my left nut for a day with no symptoms. Wait. I’m a girl. No left nut, last time I checked anyway. How about i give a bag of nuts. Almonds. You know they say the amygdala, that little jewel that sits in the middle of our brains sreeeeeching at us to be afraid, is shaped like an almond. I’m so tired of being her bitch. Actually, I’ve gotten rather good at ignoring her. She’s always telling my adrenals to pump, and my sweat glands to go berserk. God only knows what else she is in charge of in there. Sure wish my brain would cobble some more GABA receptors back together so AMY, as I call that part of my brain, can be put into check. Sternly. With a crop and a ball gag if necessary. Just STFU AMY.

But I digress from my main thought. I feel like Elvis. No, I haven’t gained a paunch or grown sideburns. I don’t know how to curl my lip or sing sexy. But I do know how to turn my days upside down like he did. I’ve heard that he slept a lot during the day so he could go out at night when there were fewer people to bother him. (I’ve read he was on a benzo too, poor bugger.) I feel so incredibly sick in the mornings that I stay in bed until the crack of noon. When I do get up I drag myself to the couch and plop down. My apartment is pretty small, so we are talking only a handful of strides. But that’s enough to exhaust me. When I am vertical, the head pressure is awful. I am so dizzy. Not spinny like I played beer pong with the frat boys, but a sense of disequilibrium. I feel like a new foal, not knowing quite where my legs should go.

The mornings/afternoons are spent in distraction. I am creating websites for people (bayareacolorconsulting.com) and my own to help coaches with their writing needs. As long as my mind is engaged, I can tolerate my misery.

By late afternoon/early evening, I am less symptomatic. Not well, but I don’t feel that I could fall off the face of the planet and float away to some place no one will ever find me. By ten PM I am usually able to watch a movie and *almost* forget I am battling benzo recovery syndrome. So like The King, I like the nightlife. Such as it is, sprawled on the couch with gum wrappers strewn about, day old dishes with flecks of dried food clinging to the rims, and water glasses that have made permanent soggy circles in my table top. My hunch is Elvis was having more fun than I am in the night. I shit load more fun.

I want to reassure everyone out there who is healing that we do recover. But I don’t know anymore. I really don’t. The mental lets up for me and WHAM the body crap takes over. It is beyond exhausting.

The sun has set here in the west. A breeze picks up momentum here in the garden. I am writing in the dark, happy that the bulk of the day is behind me. I survived it. Etch another mark into the wall. I try not to think about tomorrow. That would be too depressing and scary. Cause you and I both know I’m not going to wake up suddenly healed and have my life fall into place. Stay in the moment. I’m trying. I’m trying.

I sure wish I was well enough to buy some snazzy new shoes and hit the town. I’d show everybody my moves. I think I used to have some, years ago. :) Until then, I put one stubborn foot in front of the other. All they way to my couch, then the bed. And sometimes, I push myself out into the garden, and pray that soon I can feel alive again. I feel so shut down and cut off at times.

Maybe my next post should be that I feel like Walk Disney. He’s frozen, the poor sonofbitch. And I thought I had problems. :)

Onward .Sigh. Onward.

 

38 Months Out. A Ramble.

I was 38 months out on the 23rd. Here is what I am still experiencing since my cold turkey.

I wake up (mornings are still the hardest) and feel sorta decent in my body/mind for about 30 seconds. Then the symptoms wash over me.

Almost my entire body tingles. My back, buttocks and legs are by far the worse. It is not pins and needles like when a body part falls asleep, it is a stinging, electrical, painful, hard to describe tingling. I hate it.

I have muscle spasms happening in various areas all at once. My skin burns, mostly on back of arms and back. My back tightens up and I feel as if I am being crushed.

My vision is bad in the mornings. I still see double sometimes, or it is like I have vaseline over my eyes.

The bottom of my feet burn/tingle.

My hip bones/sockets hurt very badly. Often at night, if I am asleep on my side, they ache so much it wakes me up. Bones in my legs and arms hurt too.

It feels as if someone is squeezing my left bicep.

My mouth/jaw hurts. The pain moves around, but it is often on the left side.

I still get that horrible empty/starving feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The back of my head feels painful, and odd. Like my brain is swollen or moving around. Hard to describe.

My spine still hurts or burns (slightly) some mornings.

My thoughts are pretty bad all day, but the mornings are the worst. It’s all death, doom and gloom. I do my best to distract but I have very little control over my thoughts at this time. I do my best to tell myself they are just thoughts, they can’t hurt me, and they are not indicative of reality, but it is of little comfort.

I am not too anxious when I remain in bed. The anxiety kicks in when I get up and get going. I a still very weak when I stand in the shower. My heart rate goes up and my legs get shaky. I feel I could pass out some mornings.

Stress of any kind is hard to cope with. I went to dinner with a friend and she asked the waiter a million questions, keeping him at our table a long time. I got very anxious about it. Not mentally anxious, but rather in my body. Everything tenses up and the burning kicks in, the tingles, my head feels full of pressure, I feel dizzy. I have NEVER in my life had anything like this before this recovery syndrome started.

I still have head pressure and dizziness. Some days I feel I may be having a stroke, it is so intense. I do my best to remind myself it is just my brain and body recovering from benzo withdrawal, but some days it is hard not to believe I am slowly dying from some crazy illness.

I still have burning tongue. My hands still cramp up horribly.

I am still anxious (not my pre-existing) and depressed. The depression has been pitch black some days. It has gotten better.

My sleep is still not refreshing. I wake feeling groggy and a few hours later the exhaustion feels overwhelming.

My leg muscles still hurt. I still twitch.

My ears ring 24/7. I don’t think they will ever recovery. I do my best to ignore it.

I still have night sweats sometimes.

I get intrusive memories and thoughts. I still obsess.

I still get a feeling of a tight band around my head at times.

I am sure there are other things, but this is a good overview of how I feel.

When I started this journey I thought withdrawal was like having the flu: you get sick, rest, recover, go on with your life. I had zero idea that this was a “syndrome” and it could take many, many years to recover.

I have a crashed immune system. I believe the stress of withdrawal caused it. I am doing my best to repair it with good nutrition. I don’t know how to tease out what it causes and what down regulated GABA causes (or what ever else is going on due to the drug damage.)

Some mornings I wake up and feel I can’t go on another day. I dread my life. Other mornings I can talk myself into coping, somehow. Some days I still pray for death, and other days I pray for healing or for the strength to cope. I talk to God often during the day.

Some days I am 100% sure I will heal and go on to have a good life. Other days I am 100% sure this is my new normal and I will never be able to do much more than garden and curl up on my couch and write. Go to dinner close by once in a while. Or visit my kids once in awhile. I fear I will be sick the rest of my time here on the planet.

The worst symptom of all is the fear. It permeates everything. I do my best to give it over to God.

The evenings are better. The stress of the day is behind me. It is quiet. There is not much I have to do. I can watch a movie or write. I don’t have to talk to anyone.  I stay up till midnight often, enjoying the quiet. Some nights my body symptoms are pretty bad, other nights they are minimal. On the nights they are minimal, I stay up late enjoying it. I go to bed knowing I will wake up and it will start all over again.

I am doing my best to accept that I  have a major health issue that keeps me from doing and being all I want to do and be. I pray the serenity prayer often.

I have talked to those who have healed: Bliss, Don, Geraldine. Don healed the quickest. Geraldine said it took 11 years for her to feel recovered. She said she started getting better at 5 years off. I’ve been hearing five years from others too. A friend in AA jumped from 120 mgs of valium. She said the anxiety did not get better for 5 years. It finally went away. It’s hard to hear that I could have more years of this ahead of me. But that is a possibility.

When this wave of symptoms started, I felt utterly broken. I had thought I was almost healed. To be thrown back into the snake pit was more than I thought I could bear. But here I am. Coping.

I’ve been awake for an hour and a half. The heavy fatigue is now rolling in and my brain feels heavy in my skull. Thoughts are more difficult to sort through. I get pretty bad cog fog.

I’d give almost anything to be healthy in mind and body. I’d love to wake up and jump into my day, eager to do what needed to be done, to feel joy and happiness, to be at peace with my thoughts and feelings. I listen to my neighbors drive off to work and I am so envious. They are thinking of the day ahead. They are not obsessing about death, about illness. They are not burning and tingling. Their brains don’t feel damaged in their skulls.

Will I ever be healed? WIll I ever enjoy being alive again? Time will tell. I hope so. I pray so.  I pray that we all heal and go on to enjoy our lives.