Monday, 30 January 2012

Terrified Tonight...

It's 2:51am...I am terrified.  I have been in the midst of a panic attack since bed time.  I went to bed feeling my "normal scared", but nothing out of the ordinary.  However, within minutes of curling up under the blankets, the adrenaline started.  It was intense, but no more intense than most nights lately.  Then my stomach began to turn.  I would breathe and the turning would stop...a clear sign it's anxiety.  However, tonight it would not let up.  Within minutes my body became hot - so hot I was convinced I was burning up with a fever.  I felt my forehead and it was cool.  My spine was burning with nerve pain, as were my arms, hands and fingertips.  I tried to fall asleep for the following hour feeling this way.

I think I drifted off once or twice into a very light sleep, but I remember still being aware that I didn't feel right.  Then at 2am, I couldn't take it anymore.  I shot off the couch, and I went to wake my husband.  I needed to be with someone.  The fear that runs through your body during a full blown attack is terrifying.  Every thing inside of you hurts, you're cold but you're hot, you don't know what you need but you know you need something.  What you really need is relief, but you have no clue HOW to get the relief and you know it could take hours before any relief comes your way.  I cried and cried to him for about 45 minutes.  Repeating things he's probably heard a hundred times.  I know there is nothing he can do for me, but I don't want to be alone.  I can't handle silence when I'm in an attack.  And at 2am, it's not as though I can crank up the music in the house to calm me.  I have to remain as quiet as possible but all I want to do is scream.  This only adds fuel to the fire.  Night time panic attacks are by far the worst.  I keep hoping this is my last one...but they seem to sneak up.

When is this all going to end?  I have had a relatively better week.  My nausea subsided considerably and I was able to eat and taste food again.  The issue I have with these panic attacks, is that I KNOW they won't harm me.  I KNOW it will end.  I don't fear I'll die or that I'll have a heart attack, like so many do during an attack.  However, it just won't go!  I don't feed it...I don't give in to the fear.  I breathe through it, distract myself slightly and accept the physical feelings.  And yet this is what happens?  And then I'm left to just "ride it out"...however, that can take hours.  I am left exhausted, only to then get 2-3 hours sleep before I have to be up and be ready to take on the day as a mom.  By the time it's "wake up time", I am finally warm, content and relaxed...but I can't stay there in that place.  I have to get up and face the day on little sleep...and little sleep after burning so much fuel during the attack itself.  It can become the start of a vicious cycle, and all I can do is hope tonight's attack isn't the start of another run of "bad".  One week of "descent" is not enough after 3 months of horrible.  I am scared it's going to come back.  I'm not ready for it and I'd prefer it to only get better and not worse again.

It's 3:24am.  Can I sleep yet?  No.  I will listen to music on the computer with my earphones on.  I will probably cry a bit more as I still feel scared.  I'm shivering and ice cold, but I often welcome the cold when I'm panicky.  It feels good and the shivering acts like a distraction from the other unpleasant feelings.

I'm mentioned it before...that I often worry my friends and even family will stop understanding that what I'm going through is "withdrawal"...or really "recovery" from the meds I was on.  And I really wonder what they think.  As I cried to my husband tonight, I said to him, "I just don't think they're going to believe it much longer...I think they believe I'm really just mentally ill...".  He said that if they read the information we sent out when this whole journey began, then they'd understand.  But then I don't think you can understand unless you live in our home.  If you could see how much this has consumed me for the past 2 years...it's crazy, really.  I feel numb and although I get bursts of joy, I wonder if that's really me, or just an exaggerated me.  Am I really THAT happy of a person?  And then I fear these meds have done permanent damage.  There is even controversy over this topic.  Dr. Ashton, of the UK, is famous for "The Ashton Manual"...a "Bible" of sorts for those tapering off of benzodiazepines.  Her knowledge of the harm these drugs can do to people is far beyond most doctors and she has even opened treatment centres in the UK for those who are coming off of Benzodiazepines.  In Wikipedia, it states:

"Professor Ashton, a leading expert on benzodiazepines from Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience, has been cautious in jumping to any firm conclusions and was an advocate for further research into long-lasting or possibly permanent symptoms of long-term use of benzodiazepines as of 1996. She has stated that she believes that the most likely explanation for lasting symptoms is persisting but slowly resolving functional changes at the GABAA benzodiazepine receptor level. Newer and more detailed brain scanning technologies such as PET scans and MRI scans had as of 2002 to her knowledge never been used to investigate the question of whether benzodiazepines cause functional or structural brain damage. As of 2002, the question of whether benzodiazepines cause structural or functional brain damage remained unanswered to her knowledge".

I am scared tonight.  Scared this is far from over, even though it could be over in a month.  But what if it's not?  How many more night time panic attacks are in my future?  How many more times will I cry in front of my daughter and then apologize to her for having to see mommy like that again?  How many times will I dry heave and go into cold sweats without being really sick?  How many more nights do I have to go to bed scared?  I am sick and tired of this and tonight in this post I think it shows.  I feel like shutting out the world every day, but at the same time I am scared to be alone.  So I keep busy to take my mind off the fears that could drive me insane if I let it happen.  

I leave you with a statement by Dr. Heather Ashton, which sums up the possible risks of taking these prescribed meds for too long:

Prof Ashton added: "One problem is the continuing prevalence of long-term prescriptions, despite repeated warnings from the Department of Health that use should be short-term - only two to four weeks."  Prof Ashton, who presented to the All-Party Action Group on Tranquilliser Addiction yesterday, added: "Dependence develops and there is great difficulty in stopping the drugs because of withdrawal reactions.  Acute symptoms include panic attacks, agoraphobia, insomnia, nightmares, tremor, muscle spasms, hallucinations, depression, psychosis, fits and many more."


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