Saturday, 12 November 2011

Little White Slip

Today has been a rough one.  The nausea has once again taken a hold of me for the past few days and I feel like yelling, "ENOUGH!!!".  Every bite I take of food makes me feel like gagging.  My stomach gurgles and I don't know whether it's hungry or angry.  I rarely feel "true" hunger, which makes eating difficult to say the least.  I am eating only because we as humans have to eat.  I don't feel like eating - although food doesn't repulse me.  But eating loses its "fun factor" when every morsel makes you feeling like hurling.  It's not like this every day, but I'm on day 3 of this and I'm already fed up.  The adrenaline rushes have been absolutely brutal these past 48 hours as well.  It creates a lump in my throat that makes it hard to swallow.  I have to pace the house until my legs hurt.  If I try to sit and relax it feels as though my bones and organs will tear through my skin, so pacing is the way to go.  I pace and cry, hoping my body will settle down.  It has settled for now and it gives me some time to put my thoughts to "paper" and write this entry.

It's Saturday.  I slept well last night - although I initially had a mini attack before bed which made it difficult to fall asleep.  Once asleep I settled in nicely and got a solid 6 hours.  Plus an additional hour after a quick morning washroom break.  I woke up with a cold - not my favourite start to the day.  And my colds are confusing to say the least because you can have something called "Benzo Flu" when you withdrawal from Benzodiazepines.  With Benzo Flu comes, aches, chills, fever-like feeling, sore throat and stuffy sinuses.  So for now I call it a cold, but if it lets up in a few hours I know I was only hit with "Benzo Flu".  I gargled with some salt water and took some garlic - followed by lots of water.  Hopefully if it is a real cold it will pass sooner than later.

Last night my husband and I went out to do some Christmas shopping while our daughter visited with her Grandma and Grandpa.  It was difficult because my body was screaming at me with stomach pains and nerve pain in my ribs and abdomen.  But I pushed through and found great deals which everyone loves!  Happily searching for presents for our friends children, I was hit with a sharp, burning pain in my right side.  I buckled over in the childrens clothing department of Winners and my legs began to burn and sweat.  "You have got to be kidding me!", I quietly said to myself.  A ruptured ovarian cyst.  This is something I've had issues with for about a year and part of me wonders if it's been brought on by the stress of tapering.  I never use to have issues with my ovaries but in this past year alone I've had 5 ruptured ovarian cysts.  For anyone who has had this, it is very painful and the burning can be intense for many hours following the rupture.  I somehow managed to walk to the cash register, pay for my hands shook as I entered the pin number for my card.  My legs were sweating and the pain in my right side made it difficult to walk with a fluid motion.  My husband held my hand as we walked out and journeyed off the the opposite end of the mall where our car was parked.  It felt like the longest mall walk ever.  I wanted to cry but didn't want people to notice, so I quietly and repeatedly told my husband how much pain I was in.  "This is ridiculous", I thought to myself as we approached the car.  I felt like laughing and crying at the same time.  By bed time last night the pain was still intense, although not as bad as it initially was.  I woke up this morning will a dull ache and I know by tomorrow it will feel close to perfection once again. 

On the 19th of this month, I will be 4 months free of Benzodiazepines.  Many people who withdrawal from Benzos find they see great improvements by month 4.  I feel I have.  It is very difficult to see it on a day like today though.  I feel like the healing process is very much "2 steps forward, 1 step back".  I think I'm taking a rather large step back these past few days but I am sure some good will come from it.  I will hold on to that and continuously tell myself my body is doing what it needs to do to be 100% healthy.

When I write this blog, I sometimes hesitate at focusing on the negative because a) i don't want people to think, "Oh there she goes again...complain, complain, complain", and b) I know many people have it far worse than I do in the world, so why should my problems matter?  But they matter to the people I love, and my hope is that they will matter to someone in a similar situation who perhaps doesn't have the support I've been so fortunate to have this past year.  And the truth is, this past year has been emotionally and physically painful.  I am fully aware some people may not think this is something worth writing about.  I chose to fill a prescription given to me by my GP.  I took the pills as directed by my doctor and then decided one day to stop taking them.  What's the big deal then?  The big deal is that far too many people are being over-prescribed not only Benzodiazpines, but also SSRI's and psycho-stimulants such as Ritalin.  And we have these prescriptions filled without going home and doing our research first because we trust our doctors.  If a friend looked at you and said, "Hey buddy, if you drink a full cup of this bleach, it will clean out your system and you feel like a new person!", would you?  More than likely (I hope) not.  Some of these pills we are prescribed can do so much harm to our bodies.  Long term use of Benzos and SSRI's have been linked to Diabetes and cognitive problems.  And I am sure most of you have heard one time in your life how people with mental illness have a chemical imbalance.  Well, "chemical imbalance" is a term made famous by pharmaceutical companies and there are actually no tests done to prove any of us HAVE a chemical imbalance, so after we use something such as a dopamine blocker or an SSRI, we actually CREATE a far worse chemical imbalance. 

This doesn't make doctors the "bad people", as some DO their own research and are quite aware of the issues brought on by certain medication  Doctors are doing their job and prescribing medication based on what they have learned through school...but also by pharmaceutical sales reps.  If your doctor wanted your child on Ritalin and filled a prescription for you, but then stated to you, "Now, just keep in mind Ritalin has been proven to have the same effect as cocaine and/or heroin....and it can be addictive and have side effects such as nausea, psychosis, loss of appetite and cardiac arrhythmia", then you might go home and think twice.  The same if I was informed by my GP 3 years ago that Clonazepam would be a great way to put a short-term band aide on my anxiety issues, but if you take it for longer than 3 weeks you may notice your anxiety increases.  And that's not all...months later you may begin to have diarrhea several times daily, nausea, sweating and chills, extreme anxiety, severe panic attacks.  I think I may have thought twice about it and at least would have come home to do my own research.  Instead, I was told I could SAFELY take it for the rest of my life and to top it off, take extra if needed!  I was never told that if at any time I wanted to stop taking it, to please seek assistance from a doctor as stopping it abruptly can lead to potential seizures. 

And so this is where the problem lies.  We are too easily going to the doctor for what could just be a short term depression brought on by normal life stress.  It is very common for most to experience some form of depression and/or anxiety over a lifetime.  However, many of us (myself included), learn very quickly that instead of dealing with it ourselves and making changes in our diet, physical level and going to therapy, we can just as easily go to the doctor, tell him/her "I feel sad lately" and walk out with a little white slip of paper.  And if that little white slips holds your future, wouldn't you want to know the truth?


  1. Sarah, while I don't completely know how you feel, I do a bit. I took clonazepam on and off for 10 years (along with a very long list of other medications for depression/anxiety). For me it really helped but here's the difference. I was told that it was highly addictive and that I could only take it for short periods of time without becoming dependent on it. Not sure why your Doctor didn't know this/didn't tell you! I understand anxiety disorders as I have had them for years. I didn't experience nearly the same type of withdrawal symptoms that you did...I just found that I had the shakes to the point where I would end up with mascara all over my face!
    In the end, it turns out that I was complete misdiagnosed and have been med free (daily anyway) for almost 3 years now.
    I hope things improve for you! Thanks so much for sharing your story xx
    Megan B

  2. I am very proud of you for taking on such a difficult journey in order to feel better and educate others along the way. I am grateful as well that you've chosen to share your experiences as this not only helps others understand and learn but opens that part of the brain that just wants to hide in secrecy. secrecy is so dangerous and i commend you for taking such a big risk in trust and openness and i will cheer you on!

    Linda Shantz