Saturday, 31 March 2012

Emergency Room Update

Yesterday I had a visit with my family doctor to discuss the findings of my blood and urine work as well as the ultrasound and abdominal x-ray.  I really like my new family doctor.  She tells you ALL the facts and is extremely thorough.  She doesn't roll her eyes at me when I turn down medication - though she is sure to tell me why she feels medication MAY be best. 

My urine work came back positive for infection.  She said that UTI's can become quite serious if left untreated and she would be interested in writing up a prescription for me.  The "old Sarah" would have said, "Okay...whatever you say".  The "new Sarah" said this:

"Well, as soon as the hospital told me that a small trace of bacteria had been found in my urine, I immediately upped my water intake and started taking cranberry pills.  I haven't had any symptoms of an infection so what I was wondering was, is it instead possible to test my urine again to see if the infection is still lingering?  I'd hate to take an antibiotic if it wasn't really necessary."

"Okay then", she said, "but when did you get diagnosed with the UTI?"

"Tuesday", I replied.

"So that's (counts her fingers) 4 days now...and you are symptom free?  No signs whatsoever of a UTI?"

"Correct", I replied.

"Okay then.  We will do another urine test to see if the infection is still there".

Now, in the meantime, I also knew that IF my natural remedies weren't going to work, I would want to be prepared going into the weekend so I requested a prescription just in case.  HOWEVER, antibiotics can wreak havoc on your Central Nervous System during benzo withdrawal.  There is one family of antibiotics that are notorious for setting people back weeks - even months - when taken during benzo withdrawal. These are the Quinolones antibiotics.  So I explained this to my doctor and she nodded in agreement (though was not aware of this) and wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic that was NOT a Quinolone.  The "old Sarah" would not have felt comfortable asking this in fear that the doctor would think she was "dumb". 

A urine test was done and I anxiously waited for my results knowing very well there could still be some infection and I'd have to work very hard this weekend at doing everything possible to fight it naturally.  I was worried about the infection worsening and possibly causing fever and backaches.  My name was called to reception where the reception flashed me a big smile and said, "you're clear!".  NO UTI!!!  SOOOOO...had I NOT requested a 2nd urine test to be completed, I would have been sent home to take antibiotics that were in fact NOT needed!!!  This is why we have to be on top of our OWN health concerns.  We don't have to doubt everything our doctor tells us, but we should research it - question it. 

As far as my ovarian cysts and gallstones are concerned, my doctor was more concerned about the recurrence of the ovarian cysts and the size in which they seem to be growing more recently.  She asked me to book an appointment with the specialist she sent me to last year for a second opinion and I'm okay with that.  The specialist was very understanding of my choice to be as med-free as possible, so I know this appointment shouldn't be too much of an issue - although other than giving me the birth control pill or other hormonal shots, I really don't know what else can be done.  I'll choose to just live with it instead - I can still function. 

The gallstones were discussed and she fully agreed with me.  At this point I am asymptomatic, so why bother sending me for surgery if my gallbladder is in fact healthy.  There are 2 small stones floating freely, and I know the signs of an attack.  IF I experience a gallbladder attack, then she said I can always change my mind and she would then send me to a surgeon to discuss options.  I am going to still with drinking my lemon water, staying away from too much refined sugar, staying away from fats, and adding more apples and other healthy veggies and fruits into my diet.  I figure my diet has already improved so much these past two years that there's a chance my body has already naturally broken down these 2 stones.  Perhaps they were even bigger 1 year ago and I didn't know it!  I also requested to have a followup ultrasound in 3-6 months to see if in fact my body is doing what it needs to do to decrease the size of the stones and/or keep them from growing larger.

A very positive doctor's appointment.  I stood up for myself, and my doctor was quite receptive.  I could have had  a 5 minutes appointment where I just nodded my head in agreement and walked out with the prescription in hand ready to take...but instead I stayed for 10-15 minutes and explained "my case" to her.  And although it wasn't about "winning" my case, I feel proud that I have more backbone nowadays and was able to have a voice.   And now, I don't have to go see a surgeon and I don't have to take antibiotics!  What a week!!!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Oh What A Night.

I am now settling down after a good, therapeutic cry.  I really let it out tonight - this cry required me to "hide in the guest bedroom so hopefully no one here's me wail".  Whew!  These past 48 hours have been eventful to say the least.  It all started with sudden stomach pains two nights ago.  I was folding some laundry when suddenly this pulsating pain came on the right side of my abdomen.  The pain had started earlier as lower gas-like cramps after dinner.  I walked around the basement and told myself "it's just a new pain...nothing to worry about".  But what I really was thinking was "new pain...on the right side...near my navel...oh my goodness I am going to have my appendix taken out...which means I'll be put under (anaesthetic has Benzodiazepines in it, so if I take it I COULD set myself back recovery-wise)...which means I'll need antibiotics after surgery (antibiotics often play on the same GABA as Benzodiazepines do...which means I COULD set myself back again!)...which means I'M SCREWED!".  Talk about "what if" thinking!

Fast forward to 24 hours later.  Last night my daughter had a friend over after school.  I walked them home.  Made them a yummy dinner (their words) which consisted of 1/2 a grilled cheese with Gouda cheese and Sourdough Bread, and a side dish of homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  The dishes were practically licked clean.  For dessert?  Good old processed chocolate.  Aero balls and Smarties.  The girls were happy.  But the entire time, the pain was worsening.  It radiated from my ovaries to the navel and at times was a dull ache and other times was a sharp pain.  After "Googling" the location of the appendix, and researching signs and symptoms, my husband and I decided it was best to get it checked out.  So at 8pm I walked into the packed waiting room of our small town's small hospital.  The paint is chipped off the walks, it smells...stale, and people were coughing left, right and centre.  Perfect.  A friend came to sit with me so my husband could stay at home with our daughter.  We talked, and talked...and talked, till finally at 11:30pm I was taken to an examination room.  Blood work and urine samples were taken.  I found out I had a TINY trace of blood in my urine and an even tinier trace of infection.  So nothing could be done.  I was asked to go home to sleep and come back at 8am for more blood work and an ultrasound.  It was 1:30am when my friend and I left the hospital.  I came home, cried from exhaustion and pain and went to bed.  The clock woke us up at 7am.  I slowly got up and had a nice, hot shower.  And off to the hospital we went!

Blood work was done (the most amazing nurse ever...I didn't feel the needle go in OR out! - I made sure to tell her - I think it made her day as she walked out with a skip to her step), and then I had an x-ray and ultrasound.  An hour or two later, the results were in...I have evidence of ruptured cysts on both ovaries as well as pooling of fluid around both ovaries.  There is 1 new cyst in tact though it looks ready to rupture (4cm).  And...2 gallstones!  Gallstones?!  I was shocked.  And then I cried.  And then I apologized to the doctor for crying and said, "I'm just really tired out".  She gave me a sympathetic nod and understood.  Now, my gallbladder shows no evidence of being in distress.  I have never had an attack before, so that is a good thing.  Although I will see my family doctor on Friday to discuss it with her, the ER doctor felt I wouldn't need surgery at this point - if ever.  I'm hoping she is right.  I'd like to keep my gallbladder if possible.

I am overtired now, and still in pain from the cyst.  I had my good cry and now I think my mind can rest tonight.  The one thing I need to note is that I handled this all SO well.  Not to toot my own horn, but the "Old Sarah" would have been having diarrhea, crying in the waiting room and unable to handle all the stress of these past 2 days.  The "New Sarah" was nervous, and I shook like crazy while they took my blood (I have no fear of needles...but it made it all "real" when they took the blood - I was scared of the results), but I did it!  I didn't have a nervous stomach, I didn't have to go the washroom once, and I just "rolled with it".  You want me in ultrasound?  Sure!  Oh, I need to go pee in this cup now?  Why not?!  You want my blood?  Go for it!  So I'm not surprised that tonight I needed to finally let it all out.  I feel extra sleepy now and I hope for a solid night's sleep.  I hope to beat the gallstones naturally and already have read that the lemon water I've been drinking for almost 2 weeks is PERFECT for shrinking the stones. 

When life brings you lemons...make lemonade!  I just happen to skip the sugar when I make mine. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Pet Therapy...

My husband and I have made the decision that we are "small pet people".  I ADORE cats, dogs, horses...even squirrels make me happy.  But the cost of owning one has proven to be a bit too much for us.  So hamsters and fish it is!  We have 2 adorable Russian Dwarf Hamsters, named Mimzy and Lucas. And as of this morning we had a great little Beta fish named, Luna.  Luna passed away this morning...she has now joined Ladybug and Yogi in Fish Heaven.

Meet Mimzy...look at that face!

We also have about 5-10 cats that randomly visit our front porch daily.  Octavius, Fuji, Sammy, Jingles, Tiger, Lucy, Gerdy, Oogie and Mickey are just some of the cats that come over for some lovin'.  And lovin' they will receive.  They each have their own personality and they each enjoy being rubbed a different way.  Fuji likes his tailbone rubbed, whereas Octavius will ONLY approve of his neck being rubbed.  I love each of them and they bring a smile to my face every day.  Thanks to neighbours with outdoor cats, we get to enjoy a little "pet time" without the responsibility!  

Say "hello" to Fuji, Octavius and Jingles, sitting on our front porch

Animals are amazingly therapeutic.  They can lift your spirits instantaneously.   They will love you unconditionally and will "listen" as you cry.  They sense sadness and they are there to comfort you through rough patches.  These furry faces have helped lift me on several occasions.  And all the squirrels and robins that roamed my yard this past year...they'll never know how much happiness they've instilled during my most difficult days. 

The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.  ~Robert Brault

Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.  ~George Eliot

An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language.  ~Martin Buber

Monday, 19 March 2012

8 Months Free...Rollercoaster Anyone???

I am typing this after a good cry.  Nausea has hit me once again.  I am having a bit of a "woe is me" moment, as I woke up with horrible pain from what I believe to be ovarian cysts...which led to a bad headache that nothing would take away...which led to the infamous nausea.  It is now 7:41pm and I am curled up on the couch having a mini-break from laundry.  It is the strangest nausea I get with the withdrawal.  I just spoke to (well, cried to) my husband about it, and it's as though I'm hungry and sick.  I feel like a cookie right now, and yet I also feel if I lean over too far I'll throw up tonight's dinner.  Smells rarely bother me and I can prepare food while nauseous.  My body seems to be giving off mixed signals, which makes sense since it's my Central Nervous System healing.

Today marks my "8 Months Free Of ALL Psychotropic Medication".  Zero meds of any kind (with the exception of the occasional Tylenol for head pain).  I never once have thought about taking a pill since my last dose.  My fear was that I'd be unable to handle stress or anxiety of any kind and that I'd need to rely on little pills to get me through tough times for the rest of my life...that fear is now long gone.  Only once in a blue moon does it cross my mind - like a whispered "What if...?" in my ear.  But as quickly as it comes, it then passes.  FREEDOM.

This past weekend was a good one.  Aside from this ovarian pain, I had many symptom-free moments.  I even made it to a pub for St. Patty's Day with my husband - something that would have been unimaginable last year.  While people danced around in a drunken stupor, I happily sipped my Perrier water.  I haven't touched alcohol in over a year as it completely elevated my withdrawal symptoms.  Alcohol acts on the brain's GABA the same way Benzos do.  Drinking it during withdrawal can make you go nowhere fast or even worse when trying to heal.  I enjoyed the evening with my husband and felt great the next morning.  It's probably been the most consistently good weekend since this mess.  I am thankful and it gives me that boost of "hope" I needed.

I don't know what this week will bring - never mind the next hour.  But I know there must be more great weekends on their way.  I get scared every now and then that I'm NOT going to heal fully.  That nausea will hit me for the rest of my life.  My husband reminds me time and time again that things will get better...but that fear of "being the one who does not heal" plays in mind during the rough moments.  I think I've always been a fairly patient person, but these past 2-3 years have REALLY tested me and I think I've only grown and strengthened.  I think I'm coming out of this a better person.  And I look forward to seeing where this experience can take me.  There are many blessings in disguise - much like my smile.  The future looks bright.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

1am...We Meet Again

I don't get it.  I had a relatively good day.  In fact the past week has been all and all pretty good.  My main issue has been non-benzo related as I have been experiencing a lot of pain due to ovarian cysts.  Today I've had my fair share of mild nausea, but it was tolerable.  I ate well and everything sat well...and then about 10 minutes before bed time I began feeling waves of slight nausea.  Not horrible, but I was fully aware of it and it was a bit unsettling.  Now at 1:19am, I am on the sofa curled up under a fleece blanket and all I want to do is cry.  This nausea almost seems "real" to me.  By "real" I mean, possibly flu-like.  I'm scared.

No one likes getting the stomach flu.  The hours of vomiting and diarrhea and the endless dry-heaves towards the end - not my idea of fun.  But a few years ago I developed a great fear of this.  It's called "Emetophobia" and it's #4 on the list of most common phobias.  A phobia of vomiting.  It began to consume me.  Every single day I feared "the call" from my daughter's school stating, "your daughter has a tummy-ache, can you please come pick her up?".  I began fearing germs in general and that is when the slightly obsessive hand=washing came into play.

Now months off of benzos, I've noticed this fear is slowly diminishing...but it still lingers.  And now tonight I can't figure out what is going on with me.  One minute I feel intense hunger pains.  But I ate well today.  Although I ate dinner very early - around 5pm - and it's 1am it could be hunger.  I have what feels like truckloads of saliva in my mouth with every swallow.  My stomach, intestines and even my esophagus are all gurgling and popping.  I tried to meditate in bed and it almost worked as I slowly began to calm and settle in...which tells me this is anxiety related.  But then my mind tricks me and I feel "something" in my stomach that tells me "you are officially sick".  I am terrified right now.  I don't want to be sick.  And I kick myself for knowing there's a good chance this has NOTHING to do with a bug and I could just be asleep right now.  I am more than likely in panic mode.  But how come after all this time, I still can't figure it out?  How is it that it always fools me?  My husband will say to me, "Sarah, you've felt this SO many times and every time it ends up being a panic attack...not the flu".  And I KNOW this...but to ME, it feels "different" every time.  A different kind of gurgle.  A different "pop" in the stomach.  The saliva kicks in and it's hot, just like when you have the flu.

I think back to what I ate today.  I ate a cucumber and tomato salad for lunch - raw veggies are something my system isn't use to anymore.  I ate a homemade dinner of whole wheat pasta with fresh tomato and basil sauce.  Tomatoes are acidic and in the past didn't sit well with me.  Add in the fresh raw garlic that I crushed in the pasta...and maybe that's it?  But then I get angry with myself for looking for answers.  I've always needed "the answer".  And sometimes there is no answer.  Or sometimes - well, most of the time in my case - it's all just after-effects to these silly meds I was on.  I've read enough to know that these strange physical and mental side effects can wax and wan for up to 2 years.  So why can't I just "let it be" and accept the fact that 99% of the "strange sensations" I feel for awhile are going to be related to the healing of my central nervous system?

Lots of questions that can't be answered.  This post is just me thinking out loud.  .Putting my obsessions, fears and thoughts on to paper.  I'm scared, I feel alone, and I want to cry.  I HATE what these pills have done to me, and as positive as I try to remain, I can't help but wonder if I've been permanently damaged in some way.  Will I always have problems with nausea?  Will my IBS flare up more often now?  When I'm not up at 1am and feeling positive, I know the answers to these questions.  But it IS 1am (now 2am) and I'm not feeling the most positive, so now I fear I'll never get better.

If there is one thing that stands out the most with benzo withdrawal, it's the obsessive behaviour or thoughts that come along with it.  So many people experience this but in their own way.  Some begin to irrationally fear death.  Some fear leaving their home and become agoraphobics.  I fear illness.  The fear of never healing from this seems to be the most common.  And rightly so.  After working so hard to properly wean off of these pills, I am still left (almost) 8 months later with a list of side effects that hit me almost daily.  It doesn't seem possible.  But then you have to remember how intricate the central nervous system is, and that's what has been affected by these meds.  These meds have numbed the system and now it slowly comes back alive.  And unfortunately it doesn't know how to send the correct signals.  So physical and mental feelings become exacerbated.  The simplest stomach gurgle feels like balls rolling through the intestines.  A feeling of sadness can turn into hours of uncontrollable sobbing.  And a simple comforting touch to the back can feel like a crushing hug.  Our system becomes so extremely sensitive.

So there is my answer for tonight.  I am still typing 1 hour later with no vomiting.  My stomach still gurgles and I still feel off, but I'm not sick.  My system is just being "loud".  I will attempt to go to sleep again soon.  I think - and hope - it will happen.  I'm sure it will.  And I'll have another 1am visit to the sofa under my belt.  I remember reading a story about a man who spent 2 years healing from benzo withdrawal, and at the end, he bought a brand new sofa and completely demolished the old one.  It was his way of saying "good-bye" to withdrawal.  I think his idea was perfect, because I'm really beginning to hate this sofa. 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Celebrate The Good Moments.

I began to think my last wave of physical and mental side effects were more than likely hormone related, however it seemed as though I wasn't going to catch a break and the symptoms just kept flooding in.  Although my sleep has been more adequate, the panic attacks came back and were reminiscent of the ones I experienced during my taper.  This past week was another tough one, but it's another tough one that didn't take me down completely.  So if I do the addition, I've been going through the throes of benzodiazepine withdrawal for 76 weeks (that's not including the year I was ill while still on the Clonazepam).  So...

Sarah =76
Benzo Beast = 0


I was concerned I wouldn't feel very good this weekend, and it's a weekend I REALLY wanted to feel good.  My husband and I were to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on March 9th.  Originally, we had thought of having a big party at our home with ALL of our friends.  However, with not knowing when I'll be nauseous, we decided to hold off for now.  Parties can happen any time.  Our daughter went to stay with my mom and dad for 2 nights - she was equally as excited as we were.  

So what did we do???  We...relaxed.  There was a period of 24 hours where I felt REALLY good.  We played music, we talked about our "dream list" for our home.  We went out for a tea.  We window shopped.  We ate yummy food at home instead of eating out.  We watched reruns of Star Trek (Okay, not my first choice, but if you could see how happy it makes him...).  

I decorated the home with cheesy balloons and rose petals and painted a large banner for the front of our home that welcomed him home from work and let the world know we were married for 10 years...or at least our neighbours.  He appreciated my cheesy approach...and he helped me sweep up the rose petals later that evening as the mess actually really bothered me. 

And then he decided to bake a frozen pizza.  He brought one up from the downstairs freezer and as he opened the box, he let out a cry, "OH NO!".  So I quickly walked into the kitchen expecting to find mould all over the pizza.  What I found instead was a perfectly frozen pizza, and on the perfectly frozen pizza was a shiny red box wrapped in a gold bow.  Cue the "AWE's".  I smiled and shrugged and then proceeded to carefully open the present.

Inside the pretty red box with the gold bow, was a BEAUTIFUL necklace.  Made out of "Blue Goldstone" and surrounded by sterling silver, it is PERFECT.  The Goldstone looks like a trillion stars and that is what makes it so perfect.  My husband adores astronomy.  He knows so much about the stars and he can often be found gazing up into the sky at night.  Now I have a little piece of what he loves around my neck.  It is beautiful.  

We thoroughly enjoyed our 10th wedding anniversary.  I am fortunate to have met a man who is my best friend.  We met when I backpacked in Europe and we fell in love very quickly.  We got engaged after being PHYSICALLY together for only 16 days.  We married and had our daughter before we bought a home (spending the first few years of married in my parents basement).  And now here we are today.  

We love each other stronger than ever before, and as he has respect for my strength and determination while taking my health into my own hands these past 2 years, I have respect for him for his commitment to me and his overall passion for life and the people in his life.  He's a truly beautiful man inside and out and I feel fortunate to be married to him and look forward to at least another 50 years together.

I love thee, I love but thee
With a love that shall not die
Till the sun grows cold
And the stars grow old.
Bayard Taylor

Friday, 2 March 2012

1:00am...Oh How I Loathe You.

It's 1:17am, and although there are less of these nights, they are never where I want to be.  I've had a relatively good week.  The nausea still rears its ugly head most days, but it's very rarely a full day, and today I had almost no nausea!  Normally an hour here or there...maybe a few hours in the evening.  I still have the "dry heave" feeling which can be unsettling.  The adrenaline rushes and overall anxiety have not been bad at all this week which is always a nice break.  I think back to when I was only weeks off of Benzodiazepines and I was just wired all the time.  So much nervous energy that never seemed to go no matter how much I moved.  Now I can sit still more comfortably and even began reading a book this week!

Now at 1;21am, I just want to cry.  I have horrendous gas pains that won't let up.  The adrenaline is so prevalent that it's almost as though can hear my body buzzing.  I have my iPod on.  Relaxing music is playing.  I tried the deep breathing.  I visualized.  I contemplated waking my husband.  I watched some television.  And now here I am.  When all else fails, try writing! 

Each and every time I get hit with a night like this, I wonder "is this the last one?".  How will I know when I'm just experiencing "normal" anxiety or "normal" panic attacks?  What I have right now I don't believe is "normal".  I firmly believe it's still related to my central nervous system working hard to recover from the Benzos.  And how do I know this?  The buzzing.  I never experienced buzzing like this before this experience.  It's as though each vein, muscle, tendon, and my skin are vibrating.  I am aware of just about every square inch on my body. "Hyper aware".  It's uncomforable and most of all extremely unsettling. The worst part is that no matter what I do, I can't make it go away.  I have to wait it out.  So now at 1:26am, my eyes burn.  My face is so tired that even my mouth hangs open.  My breathing is slow even though it feels as though my heart is racing.  My head bobs after each sentence I type and I close my eyes for just a few seconds before a jolt hits me and keeps me from being able to fully give in to exhaustion.  My mind wants to sleep, but every time I attempt it, my body screams, "oh no you don't!", and a jolt of electricity shoots through my body.  I hate this.  I want to cry.  I don't want to be alone.

Now the pains are setting in.  It's like nerve pain all over my abdomen.  I almost feel sick with it so of course I begin to worry that I really am getting sick.  Is this the beginning of a very long night?  I have thought this about 1000 times throughout this process - if not more.  "I think I'm really sick this time".  And really, what does it matter?  The fact is, I FEEL sick so often.  I'm not full of bugs and bacteria, but the sensation is still there.  So why is it so bad if I really get sick?  I can't answer that.

My legs are shaking.  My mind is racing and I find that typing out the thoughts as soon as I think them is somewhat therapeutic.  But then I take a break for only seconds and my body shakes and the pains come back.  I feel like I'm in a movie.  I am crying now and I am so scared.  I wish my husband could hear me.  My ribs hurt and I feel like I'm exactly where I was months ago when I first came off of the meds.   I don't want to get through this alone right now. 

I was so exhausted before bed tonight.  I felt like I could fall asleep and sleep for hours and hours on end.  So why this?  Why the minute I put my head down, does this all unfold?  I could feel it immediately.  I pulled the blanket up to my neck.  I turned my music on softly.  I felt warm and comfortable.  And then, "buzz".  It starts out mild and I know that it may not turn into anything, so I take a few deep breathes and think of something that makes me happy.  Then minutes later, I begin to hear my heart beat loudly in my ears.  It's louder than the music and at that point I am aware that I may have a problem...but again, things have settled before at this stage and I am often able to fall asleep comfortably.  Then the pains began.  Lower intestinal pain.  Like gas cramps but it often feels like it's coming from my ovaries.  My heart beat becomes louder now - and faster.  And yet my breathing is "normal".  I go through these sensations for several minutes.  Close to a half-hour.  And then this one tidal wave hits me.  A jolt, and wave of nausea and a trembling all at once.  I know I'm in trouble.  I immediately sit up and grab the laptop as it is a distraction and that is the next step to preventing this from going any further.  Often if I grab a journal to jot thoughts into, or the laptop to type on, the sensations begin to lessen.  Tonight though, this was not going to be good enough.  I ended up in the washroom.  Not with "the runs"...but I did have to "go" and it was painful as my intestines felt like they were contracting uncontrollably the entire time.  At this point I wanted to call out for my husband, but instead I cried as quietly as I could while I rocked myself back and forth on the toilet.  Quite a sight tonight. 

Now on the bathroom floor, I feel scared, cold and so alone.  I know I could wake my husband, but all that will do is create 2 tired people in the morning.  I am accustomed now to the lack of sleep.  I can go on three hours sleep better than I could in my 20's.   But I also know that my body hasn't had a run of more than 3 nights in a row of a solid 6 hours in months.  Since the end of November, I have had the rockiest sleep of my life.  I felt so fortunate my first few months off of Benzos when I was able to sleep up to 7 hours per night.  Now, since being 4 months off, sleep has been a major issue.  I feel fortunate as I know that some people who come off of Benzos, spend months - even up to 2 years - of 2-3 hours sleep per night.  They are walking zombies and it really plays with their mind.  I don't feel that bad, but I do feel "fragile". 

Next week is my 10 year wedding anniversary.  I am so excited, and yet a bit more stressed than I think I've even allowed myself to believe.  Months ago, I had a "vision".  An "ideal scenario" in my head.  I thought that by the time our wedding anniversary rolled around, I'd be close to "healed".  I assumed that I'd have no problem planning a party for 20+ friends and that we would celebrate our love for each other with good music, food, dancing - all while surrounded by people we love.  Now, it's a week away, and no plans have been made.  And the main reason is really because I am no where near to being "healed".  I am well on my way, but it's still very difficult to make plans of ANY kind without knowing, "how is Sarah going to feel?".  It's so frustrating and I feel a bit angry at times.  I wanted this perfect party where I could celebrate with my husband - the man who has fully stood up to the plate and made "in sickness and in health" his number one mission.  And now at 2am, I sit here on the bathroom floor, twitching, crying and scared. 

We will find our own way to make it special.  We love each other and we know our friends love and care for us.  We don't "need" a party to prove that.  But after spending more that a year, using our home as my "safe place", I just wanted to be able to use it as a "happy place".  A place for celebrating. 

An hour later, and I know I'm nowhere near out of the woods yet tonight.  My lower back is so sore right now as it always gets this way from the tension.  I don't even notice it most of the time, but I hold my breath and tense all my muscles in my core while I'm going through this.  My back sits very straight and I have to roll my neck from side to side "stretch out".  I don't want to leave the bathroom floor.  I have the space heater blowing on the me and the warmth and noise that comes from it is soothing as I am so cold and afraid of silence. 

I don't know how many more of these nights are in my future.  Like I said, it's more like a "Central Nervous Attack".  My system goes haywire.  Even now as I begin to settle a bit, the nerve pain in my upper abdomen and ribs is so intense there is no way I could sleep with it.  My back feels like it's covered in tiny needles - prickles everywhere.  I so badly want to be able to write on this blog with only good news.  I realize that's not very realistic in ANY life, but I would really like a break and get tired of sounding like a broken record.  I sometimes wonder if people think, "does she ever have anything positive to say?".  But then I know deep down I've kept a fairly positive attitude throughout this entire ordeal.  I also wonder if people question why I'd keep a blog.  "Is she THAT important that she thinks everyone wants to read her blog...that's about...her?".  But then I figure, if you're reading it, then there's a general interest there.  I began this blog to reach out to not only others thrown into the world of anxiety and depression AND/OR living with the possible negative effects of being medicated for these issues, but also to the family members, friends or loved ones who support those in this position.  An equally difficult job in it's own right.  In the end, this blog has become part of my therapy.  It's where I go at 2am when I'm alone, scared and needing someone to listen.  I feel like when I type it out, you are sitting there with me.  Living it and encouraging me to keep going. 

And I will continue to keep going.  I know 100% right now that I am improving greatly.  The healing is well underway, and tonight is just an unwanted moment that may not happen again for days, weeks, months...or maybe ever.  I may not always feel like I'm heading in the right direction, but when I can take the time to sit back and really look at how I was months ago, I have come a LONG way.  I never think about "needing" medication to get me through anxious situations.  I now know my body and mind are fully capable of getting me through just about anything.