I thought I'd give an update on my progress. I am now 4 months, 2 weeks and 5 days off of Benzodiazepines. This week has been particularly rough. I have attempted to write a post here this week 3 times with no success. Every time I write I doubted what I wrote. I never want things to come off as too negative, but I also don't want to sugar coat things.
I have had some difficulty sleeping now five nights in a row. I feel I've been very lucky because many people who come off of Benzos develop insomnia for weeks or even months after their last dose. This isn't the case for me. Most nights I sleep a solid 5-6 hours. I consider that to be pretty good. I'd prefer 7-8, but 5-6 suits me fine. I wake up with more energy nowadays then I have in years. I can't believe the amount of energy I lost on the SSRI's and Benzos all these years. Now that I'm 100% free, my energy level is coming back and I wake up fairly happy and refreshed. These past four nights have not been full out insomnia...more disrupted sleep. I'll lay my head on my pillow feeling exhausted, only to find my mind racing. I am eventually able to shut that down, when the bladder and/or abdominal spasms kick in. Then come the rushes of adrenaline that leave me in a cold sweat and scared to even open my eyes. Eventually I fall asleep only to wake up 1-2 hours later with the same feeling.
The nausea has been at times unrelenting. It comes on so strong for so many hours, I end up pacing the house and crying. I want to pull my hair out because I get this overwhelming panicked feeling as though the nausea will never disappear. I can barely eat this week. Yesterday, I was able to eat 2 heaping tablespoons of Plain Greek Yogurt with a teaspoon of organic raspberry jam about an hour after I woke up. I ate a bite of toast but began to feel the gagging sensation so I threw out the rest. Then about 2 hours later I was able to eat 3 RyVita crackers with hummus. At 6:00 pm, I was able to eat about 1/3 cup of Organic Gluten-Free Rice Crispies with Almond Milk. And 2 tall glasses of water. It's very frustrating because I WANT to eat more. Food looks good and it smells delicious, but as soon as it goes into me I begin to gag. Two days ago I ended up dry-heaving 3 times. I would love to sample my Christmas baking and sit down and enjoy our Christmas dinner with my family. And I might! A lot of healing can happen in a matter of weeks. It's now 4:27 pm as I type this, and I have been able to stomach 2 crackers with about a tablespoon of hummus and I just finished a snack size of unsweetened applesauce...that's for the entire day.
A bit of "the blues" have set in. Not depression. More exhaustion, mixed with sadness and at time frustration and irritability. I can still smile and laugh - just not as often. I was talking to my husband yesterday evening and while "letting it all out", I explained to him that I feel frustrated that many people who know me well, know that I've been on anti-depressants off/on for years. I fear that the more I continue to speak of my withdrawal, people will begin to think, "Okay Sarah...yes, of COURSE it's withdrawal...I'm sure a medication can make you sick for THIS long". I fear they will think I really AM depressed or I'll always need to be medicated. Unless my friends read my blog or ask me, they have no idea I'm going through this still. Like I said before, I don't just walk around announcing it daily to friends that I'm still recovering. Only a few of my friends and of course my family, REALLY know how long this journey can be and how difficult some days are. I have a couple of friends I call on a more regular basis because they've listened to me for months - they have watched the entire journey unfold. They've done the reading and understand as best as they can what can happen to someone during Benzo withdrawal. I feel very fortunate. I am at a standstill though. I feel like I'm not making anymore progress and feeling quite discouraged. My husband reminds me to remember how I was pre-Benzos. "Were you nauseous all the time? Did you lose your appetite on a daily basis? Did you cry uncontrollably everyday?". The answer is no. "So then you won't be like this when you are healed...it just takes time".
I just want to cry. I have always been an emotional person - since I was a little girl. So crying isn't anything new to me. But the kind of crying I do now is unstoppable and it makes you want to curl up and not face the world. And yes, perhaps that makes me sound "depressed". But who WOULDN'T need a good cry once in awhile after feeling so physically ill for a year....
....2 hours later. And I cried. I sobbed. I spoke with 2 friends who reassured me they FULLY understand what I'm going through is withdrawal. I spoke with my mom and dad. I called the pharmacist to tell me this is normal (yes it is). I feel hopeless this very moment. I also got a call from my GP to tell me a barium swallow is booked for next week to rule out ulcers. I hope it's not that because then there's the chance I'll have to take antibiotics which I DO NOT want right now. But I'm not fully opposed to it at this point. I've been nauseous long enough.
I refuse to let this wear me down entirely, but this week...or really the past few weeks since things have worsened, I often find myself throwing my head back and thinking "REALLY?!". How can one person come off of these with little to no side effects, and then someone like me gets slammed with a third of the list of possible side effects? I feel worn out. I want to fall asleep tonight and go into hibernation until things improve. Instead I will get up tomorrow and hope it really is a new day.