Six months and six days ago, I took my last dose of Diazepam. Officially free of ALL medication, it was the most anti-climactic day because although I was happy to be med-free, I knew there could potentially be several months (if not a year or two) of hard work ahead of me as my Central Nervous System would take time healing from the damage done by the Benzos. Also, no one truly knows how hard my battle has been unless they lived with me or were receiving my many "panicked" phone calls...so other than a couple of friends, my parents and my wonderful husband and daughter...there were no "WOW...Look what you did! You're done!!! Be proud!" phone calls that day.
So how are things? Well, from months 3-6, I thought on several occasions that I needed to throw in the towel. Another day would pass...then another week...and then a month. Things weren't getting better. Then last week as I approached the six month mark, I thought, "Oh dear...what did I sign up for? Why didn't I just stay on these meds? I could have just up-dosed every few months and maybe I would have been okay?". Things seemed to worsen. The nausea was unrelenting. Night after night I was awakened by fear, chills, adrenaline rushes and inner trembling. Sleep was happening, but not nearly enough of it. It had been a month since I'd slept a solid night.
Thursday arrived. It was the official "Six Month Free Anniversary". And what a party it was. I woke up to instant fear. My body was trembling inside...as though I could feel every organ, bone and vein shaking. My stomach turned and I wondered how I'd get out of bed let alone make my daughters' breakfast, pack her lunch and walk her to school. But I did. The nausea worsened and I couldn't get her to school fast enough. I turned around and walked straight back home. At first I had hoped I'd see a neighbour outside as I turned onto our street - someone to cry to and maybe they'd be able to rescue me. But seconds later I knew it was best to be alone. Hot tears streamed down my face and it took every ounce of strength not to fall on my knees on the street and scream. As I walked into my home, I shut the door behind me and wailed. I ran to the kitchen sink and dry heaved over and over and over again. The nausea was so intense and my insides felt hot. I think I spoke to my husband on the phone not long after arriving home. Or maybe it was my parents. I can't remember. But I know that no matter who I spoke with, I was beside myself. I had to put the phone down while speaking to my husband as I dry heaved again into the kitchen sink. My body was trembling and I was ice cold. My parents were coming that day to visit...and I remember apologizing to my mom on the phone. I had hoped they'd never have to encounter a visit like this again, and now at 6 months off, here it was full force. My mom told me not to apologize, and they got ready to drive out.
I spoke with my friend that morning - a friend who has been by my side every step of the way. I apologized to her as well. I explained why I never called recently - why I didn't call any of my friends. I told her I was afraid my friends would begin to think it was all "in my head" and that they'd believe it wasn't the meds anymore - that I was just sick. She assured me that was not the case and listened as I cried, and cried...and cried. I was terrified that morning. I was momentarily convinced that life was not going to improve and that I'd have to go live somewhere far away - locked up in a padded room - spending my days crying and screaming. What a horrible way to feel.
The worst of it was over after 2 hours. But it left me exhausted and much less optimistic about my recovery. However, I think - I hope - it was a bit of a "peak". That maybe things won't ever get that bad again. It is now the following Wednesday. Sleep has been broken, however the past 2 nights I managed to get 5-6 solid hours per night. The nausea has subsided quite a bit and I even had a crazy appetite last night. Pasta, pancakes, homemade cookies - I ate them all. And they all tasted GOOD.
This week, my side effects have changed. They aren't new, but more intense. HOWEVER, I will take these plus their intensity over the nausea and crying I had for weeks. Bring it on! So what do I feel now?
- Sweats and I'm extremely chilled - undershirt and hat are on most times and I still feel cold.
- Inner trembling. Like being cold, but it's as though your organs are trembling. Think of leaning against a washing machine and you feel yourself shake, and now think of that feeling internally - and it lasts for hours, even the entire day. It makes me restless.
- Shingles. I don't have them, but for the past 48 hours I feel like I have them! My arms, back and my legs feel like they are covered in small prickly bumps. But they LOOK fine. My clothes irritate me and my spine feels like it's hooked up to something electrical. Doesn't sound pleasant...but I'll take it over the nausea ANY day!
- Nerves at bed time. The adrenaline rushes are still bad at bed time and I often cry myself to sleep...but once I fall asleep things are pretty good.