Easter Candy, Damn You!

I know better. I KNOW BETTER!

A few days ago I went to the Dollar Tree and bought Easter candy to fill plastic eggs. My four kids still love Easter egg hunts, even in their twenties. (I LOVE that about them!) My oldest son has 1/3 of an acre, perfect for hiding eggs. We are planning an Easter feast and dammit, I don’t want to be sidelined. Not like the last four holidays, anyway.

So you would think I would do ANYTHING to avoid a wave. (You already know what’s coming.) Yup. I ate Easter candy as I filled the eggs. At first it was just a few handfuls of Good N Plenty’s. But my sugar craving kicked into high gear. I fondled the bag of spice drops lovingly. Just one or two wouldn’t hurt, right? The jelly beans looked kinda sassy and scrumptous too. Yum. Yum. The only thing I didn’t eat was the chocolate. (Deathly allergic to it, of all things.)

Right about a few hours after my sugar binge, the tingles started. The tooth/jaw pain kicked in. Muscles began twitching. Electric zaps. Back of head pressure. Eye pain. Burning, burning, burning like a witch in Salem. Dizzy. Weak.

SIGH. I KNOW BETTER THAN TO EAT CRAP!

I am tugging on my wetsuit as I write these words, ready to ride this wave till it peters out. Crossing my fingers I haven’t set myself back too much, and that Sunday I can enjoy my children and their significant others and Sadie the lab puppy.

If anyone had tried to convince me, before withdrawal, that sugar (and food dyes) could do this to a body, I’d have laughed out loud in their face. It sounds so unbelievable. But what about withdrawal is believable? I’m a very imaginative person, (teaching a creativity class at Stanford next month!) and there is no way I could have ever dreamed this shit up about withdrawal.

Gotta scoot. Wetsuit on. Riding this wave like I own it till it decides to play itself out.

Making a note to self…no more sugar binges. EVER.

 

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Hi Jenn, How long has it been since you had a wave? Are you sure the sugar set this off? I just wonder sometimes if a wave happens because it is going to happen anyway. Appreciate you SO much.

  2. I did exactly the same thing a month ago. Little by little I kept putting more and more in my mouth. It tasted soooo good. I thought maybe, just maybe, I was past that. Thought I was getting away with it until I woke up the next morning feeling like I was in month 3. It’s been a month and I’m finally feeling some better. You’ll probably be fine for Easter since you’re further out than me. Sigh. Will we ever be able to eat sweets and normal food again?

  3. NAH.. it was the sugar. I am 1000% sure of it. And the dyes in the candy too.

  4. Hope so! But if not, that’s not the end of the world. It’s not good for us anyway. :) Thanks for the reply.

  5. I know Jenn! I’m so bummed that I am going to one of my fav places to visit in a few weeks….Napa Valley….and all of us are going wine tasting, but I know better to not indulge, but it is going to be extremely difficult!!!!! I have to go because it is one of my dear friend’s big 40…otherwise I wouldn’t torture myself like that….aaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!!!

  6. Now I know for sure, the sweets do that! ; ( I have so some left..been eating bananas like mad 2 hope 2 replace cravings n fruit..have 2 rid of sweets I have left. Was gifted cheese cake and took only half of a small 1..and for kitty as he loves it but..uh oh..my heads been so high and body aches and griping. Pain!! I still get upset with drs. In a a way..to self..thanks for that. Always used sweets as comfort. Wish you and all well with that. Congrats Jennifer on your teaching a class. Happy Easter. Thankful for you and all the support I see in hear : )

  7. The last time I ate sugar I got high very positive minded then the following day down and thinking of suicide. I protect my sugar abstinence. Also eat very little flour products as they increase hunger. Takes a lot of time and planning. I’m on a whole foods plan. Nothing processes no additives or artificial colors/flavors as swelling and fibromyalgia pain would set in. That’s good you know your body Jen. I’ve been off sugar so long that fruits sometimes are too sweet! It’s not easy but I have to remember the definition of insanity- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

  8. I’m allergic to sulfites so it was easy to give up wine. As a recovered alcoholic I avoid certain places. I hope you can enjoy the outing! I try to focus on the people not the food and drink. But it can be hard! :)

  9. I used to use sweets as a reward and ended up overweight. Now I get my sweets from fresh and dried fruits. I’m in the Nutritarian food plan by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It’s a healthy way to eat and I’ve gotten off of many Meds.

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The Sweetness Of Life Near The Finish Line Of Recovery

I know I keep writing about how sweet life is at this point in recovering from benzo withdrawal. I hope I don’t sound like a broken record. It’s just that life really is incredibly wonderful. Even with the remaining symptoms, life is really, really nice.

I am now able to hold ideas and thoughts together and make sense of paper work that until even recently, was total Greek to me. I have enough energy now to sustain projects to birth the non-profit I am creating. I am creative again. In fact, I feel even more creative than ever as I was in tolerance withdrawal from Klonopin for so many years that the clarity I have now is pretty amazing. It will keep getting better too, I know. Yippee!

I remember the last year before I began my taper I spent a large portion of it in bed in the mornings and afternoons. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I always blamed my fatigue and foggy thinking on stress. Or the red wine I drank every night to stave off, what I now know, was tolerance symptoms. I still fight fatigue, but it is a different fatigue than what I had years ago.

I read success stories on Recovery-road.org. One woman wrote that post recovery, life was great and “nothing sucked.” I feel that way too. Even with the stress of having to rebuild my career and finances, life doesn’t suck. It feels wide open with hope and possibility.

Being benzo free is worth the pain and suffering I experienced. And boy, did I suffer. The endless hours of sheer, awful, indescribable terror. The paranoia. The anxiety. Panic attacks that made my old panic’s seem like child’s play. The body symptoms were like nothing I have ever experienced in my life. The full body tingling like I had fallen into a beehive. The crushing sensations, burning, the pain that literally dropped me to the floor. The head pressure, dizziness…. you know that stuff I am talking about. It was agony to hold on most days. I often prayed for death. But I am so glad I didn’t die. Now that most of the symptoms are gone and my mind is clear, I look forward to the start of the day. I used to dread going to bed as I knew it meant I had to wake up and live another day.

I am writing this out in my garden. The breeze lifts my hair. The birds sing. A butterfly, the first one I have seen this season, just danced by. Bees are busy visiting flower after flower. All is right with the world. I used to think this moment would never come. Now it is here.

If you are in that place where you feel that withdrawal will never get better, I am here to tell you, it will. GIve it time. I will be 33 months off on the 23rd. I tapered for 8 months before my cold turkey jump. I have lost a lot of years to benzo sickness. Now I can embrace life again and start over with a clear mind.

Someone asked me recently if I am angry I lost so much because a doctor put me on and kept me on a very dangerous drug without informing me about the dangers. Now that I am so much better, the answer is no. I am not angry. I don’t want to waste anymore of my precious life on negative emotions. Anger won’t give me back the years I spent recovering, unable to work, unable to think properly and suffering emotionally and spiritually, so why bother?  What I like to do most is to practice gratitude. I am grateful for the things I have. I don’t focus too much on what I don’t have. I don’t worry about what I might lose, or what I might not get. I stay in the present moment, open, grateful, and happy to still be on the planet.

Keep fighting. One day, you will sit down and write an email to me and tell me that you are experiencing a day you thought would never come, a day where you feel vital, alive, happy, and whole. It’s coming. Hold on. It’s coming.

All the best on this magnificent day, March 15th. My very best friend ever was born on this day, 56 years ago. He died on March 30, 1991. I know his spirit is with me here in the garden. I can still feel the love we used to share. Be well in heaven Kenny. I am thinking of you today. I love you. Still. Very, very much.

7 Comments

  1. Great post Jenn..as I lay here with my three year old rubbing her head, I feel good…in fact, I feel like I’m getting better every day! I too try not to take life for granted, as I used to. I have learned to take each day and each moment at a time. I hope you continue to feel better! Hugs!

  2. Wow! Amazing story. N So true..gives hope. Thank u. God IS good 2 : )

  3. It really is amazing and we’ll never be the same people again. Benzo withdrawal changes us but changes us for the better. I want to add I’ll be 16 months off from my cold turkey next weekend and I’m almost ready to write a success story. I have no symptoms to speak of now and my brain is almost fully functioning. I know I may go backwards but want to celebrate this feeling of vitality and wholeness with you. After 40 years of being just half a person being alive is so good.

  4. So very happy you have finally reached that beautiful state of healing. Time truly does take care of it. All we have to do is wait and perservere, but oh how hard that is. I’m 13months off today and having better days. Head pressure, balance problems and dizziness is what’s bothering me the most. I’m just glad to be on the other side of a year. We’ll all get there sooner or later at our own rate. Can’t wait. So very, very happy that you’ve reached it. L

  5. Wonderful uplifting post. It is hard to remotely imagine being where you are. At 11 1/2 months off with no considerable healing it is so unbelievable that I could ever feel peace in my mind, body and emotions. I can only believe because of people like you who have went before.

    Thank you for this wonderful blog and for sharing your healing with us.

  6. How much did you taper down from and how much did you cold turkey jump from? How long on? And how old were you? Sometimes i am wondering with us women if lengthy wds doesnt have alot to do with menopause getting thrown into the mix??? Im so thankful you feel better! I so wish i could just stop the poison right now! I am tired all the time and i literally feel like im dying. There is a lot of pain involved for sure!

  7. It’s such an encouragement to read your blog post here. I think it so important to read the positive aspects of withdrawal rather than constantly reading the hell one must go through. While those are helpful for a time, I think it important in recovery to focus on what will be. Oh how I look forward to that day when I will see improvement. Any day now would be fine with me. God bless you as you continue to encourage all those on this journey. Thank you!

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The Brain Is A Make Meaning Organ.

Your brain detests ambiguity. It needs to know what is what so it can keep you alive. It makes meaning out of everything. Clouds gathering on the horizon? Your brain whispers to you a storm is brewing, better take cover for safety. Wake up anxious? Your brain whispers to you all sorts of reasons for the feeling, so you can take action and be safe. But here’s the thing. In benzo withdrawal much of our anxiety and fear is organic. We don’t have enough working GABA (and God only knows what else the benzo has damaged) so the world feels ominous. We then try our best to decide why.
My morning monkey mind goes like this: “I am anxious because I have always been anxious and without my klonopin I will be FOREVER.” “I must have cancer and I am going to die soon.” “Something horrible is going to happen to one of my children.” Until I can quiet my mental torture, my anxiety is truly awful. When I can muster my rational mind to reassure me this is a normal process of recovery from almost two decades of benzo use and nothing more, I am more able to tolerate the morning feelings. It is when I allow my brain to make an incorrect meaning of the morning feelings that I truly suffer.

This is not to say it is as easy as tying on my shoes to wander out into my garden. I wish it were. However, I am getting better at utilizing my rational mind, especially as more receptors heal. I have a ways to go, for sure, but I am making progress.

My garden is where I am healing. At three months off, when the nightly hallucinations had stopped and I was more able to stand up out of bed, I tore out most of my front and side yard and began planting. I built two raised beds, my heart racing with every hammer thud, my vision so blurry that finding the nail head was a challenge. I planted veggies and flowers. Every morning I hobbled out and weeded, dug more deep holes, planted, and waited. I think I was planting the seeds of healing. Literally. I watched seedlings reach for the sun, just as I have been stretching, hoping to feel the warmth of life again. I watched blossoms appear, the promise of breathtaking beauty. Just as I have been forming a promise of a new life, that is almost ready to burst forth in vivid wild color. I watched the blossoms sway in the wind, and invite the bees and butterflies to enjoy their beauty. Just as I now know I must surrender to the winds of life all the while offering my beauty to those who will find sustenance from it.

I am far from healed. But I am far from mangled anymore. I am on the right path, one stubborn foot in front of the other. And God, as I understand God, has me tight in her arms.
I am loved. Just as you are loved.

I pray for you all in benzo withdrawal. You are the budding blossoms, just about ready to burst forth with a new life, a new hope, a new promise.

Jennifer

1 Comment

  1. Jenn, the garden as metaphor is wonderful!

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Acceptance

We tolerate benzo withdrawals better when we let go and accept where we are. That does not mean we give up, or we stop hoping or thinking positively about our recovery. It means simply to stop fighting. Stop grieving over the days, months of years that you have given over to your withdrawal. You are still alive. That is something worth celebrating. Healing does happen. We are assured of that. It just takes time.

Let go. Be in the moment. Don’t think about the days ahead. Come back to this moment and give thanks you are alive and healing.

A quick video tip on how to cope with the less than great days.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgAcKprQZ0U]

 

5 Comments

  1. Dr. Jenn, what you have created here is a gift to all of us in this challenging process of benzo withdrawal. And the best part of the gift is that you are keeping it real. Thank you for that.

  2. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is also highly recommended – there is plenty on youtube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVJHTrlG3XU

    also http://www.tapping.com – whacky, maybe, but it works and lots of resources are free

    Jenn, you are so right to remind us that ‘civilians’ also have bad days – thanks

  3. I used a tool I have been working on to accept one of my most frightening symptoms last night and within ten minutes I was sound asleep. I woke up refreshed! Today is much better than yesterday.

    Thanks for the EFT video. EFT works as it makes you cross the midline which has an impact on the brain. EMDR is based on this concept.

    Hope you all have a blessed day.
    Dr. Jenn

  4. In the words of the great Scotsman, John Buchan:

    “Peace is that state in which fear of any kind is unknown.”

  5. Indeed. And we CAN turn towards ANY event and let go of the fear. Even of death. It may take some work, but it can be accomplished. Thanks Bancha for your lovely comment.

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