The Noise Inside My Head…

It stopped!

I woke up last Wednesday to a quiet mind. The usual obsessive thoughts about death and dying and the futility of life were gone. For two and a half years my daily life was terribly darkened by unwanted thoughts and fears that haunted my every turn. They are gone. I am grateful.

I have renewed hope that one day, both my mind and body will heal. I will be better than new.

I don’t wish this withdrawal journey on anyone, but now I am grateful I experienced it. I am a much better person than who I was before I was put on a benzo. I have grown oh so very much. Now with my mind quiet, I can focus on the areas of my life that I was unable to attend to while I was sick in withdrawal: I can begin my career again. I can earn a living. I can fall in love. I can be a good friend. I can be a good mother and daughter to my family. I can now be of service to others.

My body is still healing, and that is ok. I trust it knows when the tingling, burning, bone, nerve and muscle pain should stop. My mind might get cloudy again too, for a while. But if it does, I will know its “just withdrawal” and go about my business.

Many of you know I joined AA right before I started my taper. I believe that working the steps is what helped me hold on in withdrawal. And now, it is time in my life for what we in the recovery fellowship call the 9th Step Promises:

 If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

    Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Now that I have a quiet mind, free from the incessant noise of intrusive and obsessional thoughts caused by withdrawal, I can begin to manifest those promises.

The quiet is utterly amazing. Thank you God!

Fox News Covers Benzo Withdrawal

Popping Xanax is more harmful than you think, writes Fox News. It’s an article that first appeared in Self.

I wrote to Fox today, asking them to please consider a follow up story about life post benzos, as the healing can take so long and we often lose so much.

You can write to them and encourage them to cover the story more in depth.

foxnewstips@foxnews.com is the email to use. You may want to mention this blog and the petition.

BTW The flu really set me back in withdrawal. I am struggling, sorry to say. It is hard to believe that 2.5 years out, I can still be burning, tingling, and having severe pain, along with crushing fatigue. 

It’s a long road back to health for some of us. And frankly, I am weary of the journey. I am so ready to put this chapter in my life behind me. I know each and every one of you are as well.

Keep fighting. I will too.  I love you all so very much.

Jenn

 

 

 

I Made Some Posts Private

Hello my dear benzo buddies!

I made a few recent posts private. I will make them public again in a while. They aren’t deleted, just hidden from public view.

Please take good care of yourselves. I know it’s a long, hard, tiring, lonely journey. But there is an end to it. Our receptors do eventually heal from the damage done to them. Our bodies, brains, minds, and souls do recover.

Try to focus on the things you do have, not what you have lost, or don’t have. Focus on the love in your life, not the resentments or anger. Be grateful. You have breath in your lungs, a pulse…. THANK YOU GOD!  Focus on this moment. The past is past, the future hasn’t arrived. You only have this moment.

BTW, I recently applied for an amazing job that I would be honored to have. It’s a position right at the heart of my two passions, youth development and agriculture. It would be a true blessing to finally be able to go from being so ill, to working at a job that totally sings to my heart and soul. I am trying not to get my hopes up too much and to trust that my life is in God’s hands, but I am excited about the possibility of being of service to an amazing organization.  I am now well enough from wd and the flu, to step foot back into the world. You will get there too. One day at a time.

Keep holding onto hope. It is the best cure we have.

Oh, one more thing. Bliss called me two days ago. It was good to talk to her. She always touches my heart. She is an angel among us. She reminded me that we all heal. It all goes away. So keep the faith.

Keep fighting everyone. It’s a battle worth fighting, because you are worth fighting for.

I love you all so much. I am so very grateful to be walking beside you in this long and grueling journey.

Jenn

PS I posted this shortly after Don made a post so keep scrolling down for his AMAZING story. You don’t want to miss it.

Meds In WD

Yesterday went from bad to worse in a hot hurry. By the early afternoon I ached from head to toe and began shaking. I was weak as a kitten. By the late afternoon I had a fever that climbed upwards to 102. The body pain, head pressure and tingles/bee stings were almost unbearable.

I have the flu, and it is triggering wd sx. Not fun.

I called my MD friend. I sobbed to him that I was in unbearable pain. He insisted I take some Tylenol. I haven’t taken a pill in years. I’m not a fan anymore of pills, as you can imagine. I researched what medicines you can take in wd and found this list: http://www.bcnc.org.uk/drugs.html  Over the counter pain meds do work slightly on GABA it seems, but Tylenol wasn’t listed.

The list says that caffeine doesn’t work on GABA but I thought I read somewhere that it does. (Matt told me he felt his caffeine intake was a large reason he had a return of sx.)

I did take some Tylenol and within 30 minutes I felt better. My fever broke at some point in the night too. I am in bed, but not in horrible pain. For that, I am grateful.

Now some info on comments made here to the blog.

WordPress usually sends me an email to let me know a comment has been made. But sometimes I either don’t get the email or I miss them. Whatever is happening translates that I sometimes don’t see your comments until hours or days even, after they are posted. I do my best to reply to people as soon as I can, when I feel a reply is needed.

If you leave a comment, and you want a response from our group, please say so in your comment. Let us know you are reaching out for help. I know this isn’t a forum per se, but we are a caring community and we try to help each other.

If I  haven’t responded in a timely manner, drop me an email. Or if you have my phone number, call me. Please don’t sit in silence and feel bad. I know ALL TOO WELL how fragile we are in the throes of wd, and how much comfort and reassurance we need and need ASAP.

You may want to enroll at benzobuddies.org or one of the Facebook groups too for more support.

I am going to stay in bed and watch movies today. I am a pro at bed rest after years of wd. I know in a few days I will be back to my new normal and out in the world. I just have to practice patience, which is another skill I have honed these past few years.

Hold on everyone. Healing is happening.

Jenn

Uncle! Uncle!

Well, 2014 is starting off interestingly enough.

I was asleep before the New Year rang in here in California and expected to wake up and start the new year by cleaning my little place and heading over to my studio to paint. That was the plan at least. But life had a different plan. I woke up feeling as if I may be coming down with a cold. In a few hours, that turned into what feels like full-blown withdrawal minus the mental component.

Ok, I call Uncle! :)

This wave started the Friday before Christmas and has waxed and waned. I thought it was lifting. I have started juicing again and I have gone totally vegan, so maybe this is s result of cleansing my body? I always eat super healthy, but I have stepped it up a notch or two for sure. Who knows.

Oh well.

I will use the advice I give others: acceptance, acceptance, acceptance. I will be grateful I have a good life even if I am feeling horrible. I will use my anchor and sit in the garden and chat with people walking by. I’ll curl up on the couch when I need a break and I will visit anniesannuals.com and drool over flowers I want to buy to plant in the garden.

Page 417 of the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition) has the key for my happiness and serenity today:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed,
It is because I find some person, place, thing, situation –
Some fact of my life — unacceptable to me,
And I can find no serenity until I accept
That person, place, thing, or situation
As being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober;
Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms,
I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much
On what needs to be changed in the world
As on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
 

I am going to accept that for this moment, I am sick. And I trust that everything in God’s world is as it should be. I will focus on what I need to change in myself, and not what needs to change in the world.

I hope everyone has a good New Years day in spite of any withdrawal symptoms.

We are still alive. Still here to love and be loved. That’s a true gift for which I am grateful, even with my bones and muscles aching, burning and tingling.

All best,

Jenn

You Need An Anchor

The number one thing that helps us heal is time. That’s both the good news and the bad news. Good, in that EVENTUALLY you will put withdrawal behind you and go live your life, bad in that for some of us, it takes an awfully long time, What do you do to hold on when the suffering is so great?

Like ships tossed about on stormy seas, you need an anchor that moors you to safety. My anchor was my garden. On days I was too weak, dizzy or in too much pain to actually garden, I simply sat and watched the birds, bees, butterflies and talked to anyone who walked by. (My garden is in my front yard.) I remember one day when the suicide ideation was incredibly bad I sat and literally held onto the chair arms. I knew that my hands were in a place that couldn’t inflict harm on myself. And I never, ever, ever, really wanted to die. I just wanted the suffering to end. I know if you are in withdrawal you can totally relate.

Having an anchor, a go-to resource, takes the guess-work out of coping. You don’t have to think of something to do on the fly. You KNOW you have something that can help you distract. For Don, our wonderful MadeInPa friend and writer, it was doing hook rugs.

My anchor not only helped me distract from the symptoms, it helped me literally heal some of my core wounds in ways I would have never thought possible. I met hundreds of people, sat and listened to their stories, learned more compassion, and gained a great deal of confidence in myself by living my life out loud, in my front yard. Gardening helps cure depression and anxiety, and working the soil exposes you to a vital bacteria that we need to boost our serotonin levels in our guts and brains.  You don’t have to become a gardener, though I highly recommend you consider giving it a try, but you do need something to do with your hands and mind that distracts. Something you enjoy.

I know how debilitating withdrawal is. I cut my hair to one inch long because I was unable to shower for days and days on end. I was too weak to tend to the most basic of survival needs. But even so, I drug myself out to my garden. It gave me a purpose to my days, instead of just suffering. I loved waiting to see the plants grow and bloom. I marked the passing of time with their blooming and fading. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I would witness so many seasons come and go in the garden while in withdrawal, but that was the path of my healing.

I am still healing. But I am able to live a relatively normal life these days. When I feel crappy, I know to get outside to the garden and find something to do.  I am lucky in that I live in northern California where we can be outside year round. I think of my two dear Montana friends and I know they can’t garden now even if they wanted to. But they can this spring, and so can you, if you want to give it a try. Or maybe you want to do hook rugs, like Don, or maybe you want to sew, sculpt, paint, do word puzzles….whatever floats your boat. Put your whole heart into whatever you chose to do, and get involved as deeply as you can.

The other anchors I used for comfort were my couch and bed. I made sure both were super comfortable. I bought French linens for my bed, a huge expense, especially being so poor from being too sick to work, but worth every penny. My bed transformed from being the place I felt like I was suffering, to  a luxurious haven that cradled me. The couch was not as easy to transform, but I did add a lot of throw pillows and a kitten-soft throw blanket I could wrap myself up in. I used to tell friend I was going to burn the couch when I got well, as I had spent far too many months tethered to it, too weak to even push myself outside, but that desire has passed. BTW, the dark thoughts I had in withdrawal have passed as well. The dire predictions I made about the future were mostly just withdrawal induced.

You are going to heal one day. I can assure you that your receptors will cobble themselves back together. Just like if you fell and scraped your knee, it would heal without you doing anything. So too, with your brain. Give it time. It knows what to do. So while it is healing, you go do something with your hands and mind, that keep you busy. Not much turned off my looping, repetitive, obsessional, horrific thought about death, but it did help to focus my attention on DOING something, like dead heading (no pun intended) or weeding. Sometimes I just dug holes, filled them, and dug them again. I needed to be in motion with some small goal to accomplish. That’s really all you need. A small thing to accomplish.

What anchor will you use to keep you safe on the stormy seas of withdrawal?

Jenn

 

 

 

A Beach Boys Christmas But A Good Christmas!

Even though I live in California, my heart longs for a Bing Crosby White Christmas! But instead, looks like it’s going to be a Beach Boys Christmas. Not so much because of our warm weather, (65 degrees today) but because I’m “Surfing USA”. Yup, back in a wave. Oh well.

I have been feeling about 90% healed most days, all day! Even mornings have lost their benzo withdrawal agony. It’s been nothing short of miraculous actually, compared to how gruesome life used to be.

So it was with a jolt of shock that I felt the cold hand of benzo wd sx grab me last night. I was in my art studio painting (yes, the fumes may have contributed). I have spent the past three days mostly holed up enjoying the creative process of painting. It started with a wave of fear that came out of the blue. There was nothing to attach it to, it was just a feeling. Next, the bees stings started. The muscle twitching. My ribcage so tight it was hard to take in a deep, full breath. The head pressure kicked in. Pain flooded my bones, my joints. My foot curled into a tight spasm. I watched it all unfold, like a distant observer. Part of me wanted to chuck everything and scurry home. The other part of me was like, “Dammit. I am NOT leaving until I finish what I am painting.” That’s exactly what I did. I held my ground. When I finally got home, I cooked a simple meal, read and curled up in bed.

The sx got worse until about 1 a.m. when I finally turned off the light to sleep. My mind was racing with catastrophic “What if….”  thoughts. What if I am still feeling bad tomorrow?What if this wave gets worse? What if I feel as sick as I did a year ago? What if the benzo wd anxiety returns? I decided to give those fears over to God. So I did. Just like that. “Here God, I am tired of dealing with this shit, so you take it, please.” I fell asleep shortly after that prayer.

I woke up with morning and did a quick body scan. Yup. Still surfing the wave. Part of me wanted to cave into feeling sorry for myself, but the emotionally healthy part of me said gently and kindly, “It’s Ok. You are OK” My BFF called and asked if she could pop over to see my tree and share a cup of tea together. “You bet!” I shouted into the phone, eager to see her and eager to get out of my thoughts.

I had a great morning with her. We talked about gratitude, art, creativity, God, life… the important things (to me.) Sure, I was a bit dizzy and weak as we walked to the cafe. The tingles weren’t all that much fun and the pain in my joints and bones wasn’t something I wanted to have to feel but so be it. IT IS WHAT IT IS.

That’s what I have learned. That it is what it is. If I try to run from it, I suffer. When I turn to towards it and embrace my life EXACTLY as it is, I can live it to the fullest, even if I am in pain, weak, dizzy etc. For after all, it is my one wild and precious life!

I may be having a Beach Boys Christmas, surfing this wave. That’s OK. This is my fourth Christmas in withdrawal. So what. I am still alive. I am still capable of feeling joy, love, gratitude and humility.  It doesn’t matter if its Beach Boy Christmas or a Bing Crosby Christmas… it’s going to be a GREAT CHRISTMAS because I CHOOSE to experience the greatness inherent in the holiday. I will be surrounded by my family: my children, sister and her family, and my parents (whom I rarely get to see as they live on the east coast).

What more can anyone ask for?

I can sum up the meaning of the holiday and life, for that matter, in six simple words.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE. FULL STOP.

Love to you all my dear benzo buddies. I know many of you are suffering. It’s going to be OK. I promise. Enjoy the love today, tomorrow, and forever…

Jenn

The Case Of The Missing Coffee Grounds

Every morning I wake up, shower, get dressed and make a pot of decaf coffee in a cute little Ikea French press. It’s a habit that helps me cope with the usual “benzo morning madness.”  So it was interesting when two days ago, the coffee grounds mysteriously disappeared.

Like most mornings, I padded into the kitchen and I tucked a paper towel under the coffee grinder, poured the whole beans from the pretty Trader Joe’s tin into it and turned it on. I like the whirrring sound it makes. I poured the grounds into the French press and removed the paper towel.

I used the paper towel to wipe a section of my kitchen counter and then tossed it in the garbage. A soft high-pitched whistle let me know that the water in the kettle was starting to boil. I snapped off the stove, grabbed the kettle, and lifted it to pour over the grounds in the press. But, there was no press.

I put the kettle down. What in the world was going on? I know I ground beans. I just threw away the paper towel that I had put on the grinder. I scratched my head.

I looked in the grinder. No beans. I looked on the shelf where I keep the French press. It sat quietly, sorta leering at me. There were no coffee grounds in it, so I had not poured them in and then put it back on the self. Maybe I threw them away? I lifted the lid of the garbage can. Nope. Not there.

Where in the world could coffee grounds go, for heaven’s sake?

I stood still and breathed slowly.

What should I do next? I decided to start over. I pulled the Trader Joe’s tin out of the cupboard. I put another paper towel under the coffee grinder. I lifted and tilted the tin over the grinder. Yup, you guessed it. Coffee grounds and beans tumbled out. I laughed out loud. So that’s what happened to the coffee grounds! I had poured them right back into the tin!

I felt relief spread through me. The mystery solved.

These types of memory lapses used to be so common in early withdrawal. I took a moment to feel gratitude that they were happening less often. I had not had a confusing morning in a long time. I know I am getting better.

There was a time when I seriously gave up hope of ever being normal again. I could not imagine a life where I had normal thoughts and feelings. Everything was overwhelming. Everything. Now, life is sweet again. It will be for you too.

Never give up.  I am so glad I didn’t. It get’s better.

My silly coffee mishap was just that, silly. And it could have happened to anyone. Not just those of us healing from benzos.

I poured my decaf into a fancy china coffee cup with saucer. I took it outside to the garden and sat down in a rocking chair. The birds sang. Mr. Squirrel came into the yard begging for peanuts. I threw a handful onto the sidewalk.  Sam sauntered out of the house and jumped into the chair beside me. Mr. Crow landed on the power line, eyeing the peanuts. Neighbors began to walk by, waving and calling out happy greetings.

Yes indeed. Life is sweet once again.