Tuesday, 24 April 2012

My Right Side No Friend Of Mine.

So, forewarning, this is not one of my positive posts.

I am 9 months and 5 days benzo-free.  The pain is at times borderline intolerable.  And it's all on the right side of my body.

The nerve pain is almost constant.  Zaps, pinches and prickles hit my jaw, neck, shoulder, back, ribs and pelvis.  Some are subtle and some are enough to jolt me and sending me into deep breathing.

My muscles from my shoulder to my pelvis feel pulled and are in pain.  A heating pad is the only thing that gives SOME relief.  Meanwhile the left sided muscles feel 100% fine.  You could literally draw a line down my body and the right side would be screaming, while the left side would be asking, "What's YOUR problem?".

My teeth ache...again, only right sided.  It's a constant throbbing pain in my lower teeth and jaw.  Accompanied by the occasional "firework-like" pain of nerves shooting off in different directions all at once.  It's enough to make me wince and it takes my breath away.

The shingles-like pain is still lingering.  To be honest, out of everything I have, I believe this is the one I can tolerate the most.  Is it irritating?  Yes.  But it's the one side effect that does NOT make me feel anxious.  When I feel the shingle-like tingles through my skin and muscles, I instead can "visualize" my body working hard to repair itself.  And often a sense of calmness comes over me.  I've noticed that if I'm having stomach pain that scares me, if the shingles-like pain comes at the same time, it counteracts the fearful feeling and brings me back to a certain calmness.

I am not where I thought I would be my 9th month off of Benzos...it's proving to be a tad more difficult.  However, although there is a lot of physical pain right now, I STILL can see through it (most of the time) and I know I'm healing.  Some days I doubt it, but then I snap back to reality and feel hopeful.

I had quite an episode 2 nights ago that led to a full blown panic attack that lasted hours.  It even required a "call to mom and dad" at midnight.  It was bad.  I felt alone, terrified and completely in fear of just about everything.  There was pacing, borderline screaming, punching my legs, punching the couch...and yes even a fan - not my proudest moment.  But it took over me like my body was possessed.  And it felt like it would NEVER end.  I had a hot shower and sobbed as I literally sat curled up in a ball on the shower floor...all while sobbing.  I only ended up with a few hours of sleep that night which made for a tired day yesterday...but I did it.  The panic attacks don't come often and it's been quite awhile since I had one like that...perhaps THAT was my last one.

Benzo withdrawal is no joke.  Once I am healed I plan on "doing something" with the knowledge I have.  I've started by educating people through my blog, but that only reaches so far.  I hope a lot of good comes from this experience.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Positivity, Distraction, Dreaming and a Wish List...

Sometimes when I feel particularly fed up with this withdrawal experience, I try to think of something to perk me up.  One thing I am going to start doing is a "Sketch A Day".  I got the idea from the famous tattoo artist Kat Von D.  She posts a "Sketch A Day" on her Facebook page and her pencil sketches are something to be admired.  I've always enjoyed drawing - I remember taking art classes as a young girl.  And now that my daughter is 8 years old and beginning to show more interest in "perfecting" her drawing skills, I am noticing that love is still there inside of me.  So today I purchased a small sketch book and pencils at the local dollar store.  For a whopping $3.00, I have my new hobby read to begin. 

I'm also learning to "give the finger" to my lingering side effects.  Some days it's easier than others.  As I type this, my tongue is cracked and sore and the nausea is somewhat relentless...however, POSITIVE I will be!  When I feel things brewing and I can tell a wave is ready to set in, I try to say "Screw You!" and walk it off.  I'll garden for an hour or two, and even though my stomach turns every time I bend down to pull a weed, I just continue.  I know I won't throw up - it's all sensations - so I breath through it and move on.  When I can feel tears coming on but have to go somewhere public and there is no time to cry, I just go and finish what needs to be done, and then reward myself with a GOOD cry when I'm home and in my safe place.  I let it ALL out.  I scream into a pillow if need be.  It feels great.

And then there are the "wish lists" - a perfect distraction.  I've made many since the days I was tapering from Benzos.  My husband and I often play the "what would you do if we won the lottery" game.  Our lists includes things such as paying off our mortgage, providing for our daughter's future...and then the "fun stuff" such as a new camera or a new tattoo (okay, those are my ideas).  It's fun to dream, and the act of writing it out as a list is unbelievably therapeutic.  So what would be on my list?  Keep in mind this is ONLY the fun stuff.

A new camera...my husband and I love taking photos and I've always wanted to make it a hobby of sorts.  Although I'm not looking at the top of the line DSLR camera - something a little more "fancy" would be fun!

A new tattoo...or two.  I have 6 tattoos and love each of them.  I have ideas for a few more and would love to begin getting some new work done in the near future!  This photo is of my most recent - a peacock I had done last Spring on my forearm.

Sterling silver jewellery.  I love it - especially rings and necklaces.  My favourites are Gothic or Bohemian inspired pieces.

Some new "bohemian/hippie" flowing dresses to go with my new "natural, med-free, hippie-like" way of life.  A perfect match for the earth-loving girl in me.

It's fun to dream, and as long as you don't take it too seriously the frustration won't set it.  I think dreaming got me through some very rough days this past year or two. 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Living With Anxiety...Not So Much Nowadays

For years I tried to combat the anxiety I lived with.  My anxiety was never constant.  It would wax and wane over the years and at times was barely existent.  When I began taking Benzodiazepines on a regular basis, that's when the anxiety really went through the roof.  For a year or two I believed it was "me".  I didn't realize at the time that the reason my anxiety level was so high was because I was continuing to take these meds on a daily basis.  THEY were creating the unreal amount of anxiety and panic.

When I began to taper off of the medication, one of my MANY fears was that once this medication was gone and there were no more pills to take, then how was I going to deal with anxiety?  I took Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for months and found it to be extremely beneficial, however the real test would be when the meds were long gone. 

Now at almost 9 months med free, I can HAPPILY say that although I am still living with some unpleasant withdrawal effects from the Benzos, the one thing that has vastly improved is the anxiety.  Gone are the days of dreading doctors appointments, or worrying about plans that are weeks away.  Of course my mind is still busy at times, but it's different now.  I feel I have more control of my nerves - which makes sense as in the past my nerves were controlled by medication.

Each day I get further away from taking medication, I become stronger and I gain more control of my future...that feels amazing. 

Monday, 9 April 2012


Just another update:

The chest pain was extremely painful and almost had me going back to the hospital.  Today it has lessened.  The nausea was extremely bad yesterday afternoon and right into the evening.  Several times I thought I'd need to run to the toilet.  Today was the same, but it is now 4pm and seems to be passing.  My skin from my ribs to my neck feels like it's covered in small needless.  Every movement I make, makes the skin feel on fire as my clothes rub against it.  It's the feeling of shingles - which I had as a teenager and to this day can remember the exact sensation it brings on.  When I itch there is little to no relief.  My chest muscles feel extremely itchy and no matter how hard I itch, the feeling just won't go away...so my chest is left red and irritated.  All of this from pills I took for 3 years, and haven't taken now for 8 months and 3 weeks.  I am waking up feeling depressed and would prefer to pull the covers over my head and sleep the day away. 

My daughter keeps me going right now.  She smiles and gives me hugs.  I put on the "brave face" and then crumble when she's in the shower or across the street at a friend's house.  She'll come home and sometimes notices the blotchy skin on my face - evidence of tears.  She'll smile a "oh, you're not feeling good...I'm sorry mommy" smile.  I look at her with a look or reassurance and say, "It's okay you know...Mommy is going to be fine".  She smiles back and says, "I know".  But how many times have I said that line in the past 2 years to her?  Too many times. 

When I cry or even laugh, my ribs hurt and feel bruised.  Laughing is by far the worse and I find myself holding my ribs in for fear they'll actually break from the laughter.  I am so extremely hyper-sensitive right now.  Even a hug from my husband hurts my skin.  Noise is bothering me again - though not as badly as it was months ago.

The positives?  I am sleeping a solid 5-6 hours most nights right now.  I function...laundry, dishes and food preparation is always done. 

What a journey...it's not a fun one, but I still believe I'll come out more patient and stronger than ever.  I'm thankful for the good things that have come from it, and I'm extremely amazed and touched by the support of my loved ones. 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Pain Pain Go Away.

I'm not sure where to begin, except to say I'm in a tough spot.  As I posted before, I found out that I had a new cyst on my ovary and 2 small gallstones.  Since finding this out, I've been in a downward spiral.  It's as though I can't figure out how to process this information.  I obsess about every single feeling I have.  And it doesn't help that there has been a truckload of feelings this past week. 

Rib pain
The feeling of my rib shifting and rubbing
Back pain
Shingles-like pain in my ribs/back/arms (it even hurts to have my clothes on)
Chest pain that nearly floored me
Nausea...just as I was loving food again

The pain in constant - not a second goes by during the waking hours without it.  I am emotional - crying several times a day.  I am scared - fearing my gallbladder is failing on me.  In the end, this could ALL be related to the pills.  Just look on a forum for Benzo Withdrawal, or research it online and you'll find "rib pain, nerve pain, zapping pain, muscle pain".  It's all there.   But what still shocks me is how bad it can be after not taking 1 single pill for almost 9 months.  Because of all the reading my husband and I have done, we know very well this can happen...but unless you're living it, it really is quite unbelievable.  I'm at a point now where I cringe to talk to my family or friends about it.  It's been the same old story for many months now.  I was really seeing improvement these past few months, but now I feel like I've hit square one in many ways.

I don't know what else to say.  I don't have any words of wisdom for anyone going through this.  Not everyone will hurt like this - emotionally or physically - when coming off of Benzodiazepines.  But if you are one of the people who DO, it can really wear you out.  I am too tired to come up with anything bright to say on my blog, so instead I've given you an update.  If you are supporting a loved one going through this, just listen to them. They may repeat 100 times a day how scared they are, or how much they are in pain - just know they REALLY are scared, and their fears and obsessions feel real to them even if they know deep down they are not.  I have never felt so lonely before in my life even surrounded by so much love and support.  Now time for a cry.