Friday, 25 May 2012

Yum.

For MANY months, I lost my appetite.  While I was tapering off of Clonazepam/Diazepam, I rarely craved food.  And now 10 months med free, I still struggle to "feel" hunger.  Every now and then I will feel the deep gurgles and gnawing burn of a hungry tummy...but most days I don't feel it and have to remind myself "oh, it's dinner time!".  However, after months of food having little taste and/or interest, I can now TASTE my food.  So I am always looking for meals that bring lots of flavour.  Here is a new favourite of mine and great for lunch!

Cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2
Chickpeas, cooked (idea adapted from the ohsheglows.com blog...by far my favourite blog)

I slice the veggies and put them aside.  In a frying pain, I add 1T of olive oil.  Once hot, I add 1 can of washed and drained chickpeas (PC Blue Line's chickpeas has the least amount of Sodium).  I cook the chickpeas for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I then add salt and pepper to taste as well as 2 heaping tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast (this can be found in your health food section of your local grocery store).  Stir well and then let it "fry" for several minutes (5-10) till browned.  This makes the chickpeas a bit crunchy...but SO good.

Let them cool or add them right away to the cucumber and tomato mix.

Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2-3T of Concentrated Lemon Juice)
2 T Dijon Mustard
1 T Maple Syrup
1/4 cup water (this thins it out as tahini is quite thick)
salt/pepper to taste
Crushed Garlic - optional

Toss the veggies with the dressing (I make extra dressing and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days...I put it on every thing I eat).  Enjoy!  Keep in mind you can put your own stamp on this.  Throw in some walnuts, sunflower seeds or slivered almonds.  Or how about some dried cranberries or raisins?  Switch the Dijon mustard for curry and cumin for an entirely different taste.  Have fun with it!





 Nothing beats food that is colourful, healthy and tasty...enjoy!

Friday, 18 May 2012

2am...

It's one of "those" posts.  It's 2am and I'm awake.  I haven't slept yet and I'm not sure when I'll go and attempt it.  I'm not sure if this is hormone driven...as I try to find an answer to it all every time.  But here I am.  Stomach is rumbling.  Heart is racing.  Chills come and go.  Intestines and pelvis burn.  Mind is racing.  Head is spinning. 

Is this withdrawal still?  It's what I ask almost daily when the physical "stuff" sets in.  The further out I get from my last dose of Diazepam, the more I fear it's not withdrawal.  And yet why do I believe it when I read "it can take up to 2 years OR MORE to fully heal from Benzodiazepine Withdrawal"?  I believe it, until the symptoms set in.  Then all the knowledge goes out the window and I become "Scared Sarah".

In one day, I will celebrate 10 months freedom of medication.  When I had my very last appointment with my Psychiatrist before she discharged me as a patient, she said that I should bake a cake in the shape of a Diazepam or Clonazepam to celebrate.  Not once have I felt like doing that because I don't feel ready to celebrate.  I hope that day comes soon, and like she requested I'll be sure to send her a photo. 

With a big deep sigh, I ask (or plead) right now, "please let this be over soon?".

Is it cake time yet?



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

34 Reasons To Be Grateful

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I'll be 34 years old.  I am excited this year.  Last year I wasn't.  Last year I was so ill and could only fake my way through the normal birthday phone calls and "thank you's".  This year, although still being hit daily with a strew of uncomfortable physical pains, I feel content.  Another year older, and MUCH wiser.  I have learned so much about my body and how to respect it through this experience.  I have a keen interest in health and natural remedies.  Instead of popping Tylenol for my ovarian pain today, I am just making sure to drink plenty of water and I'll take a shot of apple cider vinegar as it is a natural anti-inflammatory.  I feel in control of my body - and control is something I lost for many years.

So Happy Birthday to ME!  To celebrate, I'll list 34 things I am grateful for:

My Husband - who remains positive every step of the way.  He's my best friend and nothing is better than our evening chats on the front porch as the sun goes down.

My Daughter - who at the age of 8, has enough empathy to fill a room.  She's a girl's girl, a tomboy, a prankster and lovable.  She smiles all day long like her Daddy and makes life much more interesting and fun. 

My Parents - who are supportive as they come.  They have stood by me since I was a little girl, allowing me to grow at my own pace and not live up to society's standards of what "perfect" is.  They are my parents, but I can sit and have a conversation with them like friends.

My Friends - who most I have known since I was a little girl.  It's rare that so many friends stay in touch for so long, but we have.  They have all been so patient with me and have been there to answer the phone these past few years when all I could do was cry. 

My Home - we bought this house 6 years ago and I can't imagine living in another home.  It has character, property and is filled with love. 

Books - after not being able to just "sit and relax" for two years through the tapering, I can now do this again.  I love books and can't stop reading. 

My Yard - the yard my husband and I didn't want as we hoped for a very small property, has now become my favourite place.  It is filled with flowers and shrubs and 6 summers worth of work (thanks to my Dad for his help). 

Birds - I love them.  I can sit for an hour just watching them, and like my daughter I notice EACH and every single one of them.  Robins are my favourite - they embody peacefulness.  And a sign of rebirth.

Squirrels - just because.  They are hilarious.  They are cute and their little hands wrapped around a nut makes me melt. 

Tattoos - I will never adorn an entire body's worth of work...but I still have a few lined up for the future.  I love each of mine and I like the story they tell. 

Music - as our home is NEVER without music.  Although while at home I normally just listen to the radio, I love love love music of all kinds.  Some favourites are:  Sarah McLachlan, Metric, Queen, Aqualung, Florence and the Machine and Sia.  And I can't resist a good rap or dance number...or even Classical. 

Movies - our #1 hobby.  My hubby and I watch movies almost EVERY night.  We are not overly picky and will try just about anything.  Some personal favourites are Practical Magic, Friends With Money, The Jane Austen Book Club, Empire Records...as well as The Underworld series, Resident Evil series and The Matrix series.  

The Sun - I love a sunny day like most.  Our home has a lot of windows which was very important when we bought a house.  

The Moon - as it reminds me of my husband.  He has a passion for astronomy and his interest is infectious.  I have a whole new appreciation for the Sun, Moon and Stars because of him.

Our Hamsters - we attempted to be "dog people" and unfortunately it did not work out...I was very saddened by the whole experience and it took me MONTHS before I could let it go and just accept that it was not the time for us to be dog owners (I adore dogs).  So we became "hamster people".  We own two Russian Dwarf Hamsters and our daughter named them Mimzy and Lucas.  They are adorable and lovable.  I never knew such small animals could bring so much happiness.  They have great personalities and even my husband has a soft spot for them both.  

My Daughter's School Friends - because we have made some wonderful friendships with the parents of her friends.  I didn't think that would happen, but it has, and our lives are richer because of the wonderful people we've met through her school.  

Gardening - something I didn't think I would ever do...and I've discovered I really love it.  I had to put it off last year while I was feeling so ill and I was extremely frustrated that I could not do more.  This summer I'll be able to do a lot more and I look forward to it.  

A Chemical Free Life - okay, not completely chemical-free, but we have taken on a whole new interest in what we eat, what we bathe in and what we apply to our bodies.  Organic food when we can.  And no more antiperspirant in our home!  No more perfume or cologne....but we have yet to give up our Bath & Body Works soaps...priorities...not ready to let that one go yet.  

Chickpeas - I have eaten SOOOO many chickpeas this past year or two.  Why?  For some reason, hummus was the one food I could consistently eat while sick last year.  I lived off of hummus and unsweetened applesauce.  Now that I can eat a much wider variety of food, I still have yet to let go of my chickpeas...only now I cook them with a bit of olive oil, salt and peper, and nutritional yeast and throw them on whole wheat pasta or in a cucumber and tomato salad...yum.  

Photos - I never tire of looking at old photographs...even if I don't know the people in the photos. 

Water - I drank Coke A LOT before my benzo withdrawal life began...but once I became ill, I cut out all the sugary drinks and switched to water.  Now it's all I drink.  My favourite treat is S. Pellegrino (bubbly water), but most days it's just a simple glass of room temperature water. 

Chocolate - I will never give up chocolate. It's my one true treat.  Most of the chocolate I consume is in home baking, but some of my favourites are Kit Kat, Cadbury's Milk Chocolate with Mint, and a chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks with my favourite "Calm" tea

Laundry - nothing makes me more happy than spending some time in my laundry room...it is currently being renovated and I often sit and dream about cleaning my clothes in my beautiful new room.  There is something very relaxing about doing laundry (to me).  

MP3 Players - for this I am thankful for...it has been a life saver.  My iPod has serviced me well these past two years.  I listen to it every night to fall asleep.   When I began having anxiety from Benzos, the worst of it was at bedtime (and still is) and every single sound in the house would keep me awake.  At first we tried a sound machine with "white noise", but although it helped ME sleep, it made sleep more difficult for my husband as he found the white noise irritating.  So now I pop in my ear buds and on goes my relaxing music.  I have several playlists so I have variety each night...and on a good night I am asleep by track #3.  

Journals - I have kept a journal for the past 3 years and I am so thankful I did.  It's helped me track my entire experience and allows me to look back and see the progress that's been made.  

My Too-Big Black Pants - they were once fitted pants from when I was at my heaviest and now barely can stay on my hip bones...but I love them and I make sure to wash them quickly so I can wear them most nights.  They aren't pretty, but they are so incredibly comfy.  

Live Clean Body Wash - I have become so sensitive to fragrance, and although this body wash still has a scent, it's subtle and it doesn't make me want to gag while showering.  I get the kind with the colour "green".  

Showers - I love my showers and could have several a day...but normally settle for one or two.  When I shower, all of my physical aches and pains seem to subside.  I get a break.  I focus on the hot water running down and the sound of the water hitting the ground.  I often stand there wishing I didn't have to get out.  

Salmon - something I never like before has now become a favourite.  I don't enjoyed it canned or on a sandwich, and I'm not a fan of smoked salmon...but if cooked on the BBQ, by my husband?  Then it's amazing!  With some olive oil, lemon juice and pepper and salt...it is perfect.

Our Town - we live in a smaller town and I adore it.  It's friendly and clean.  There are beautiful parks.  There are hiking trails on one side and the lake on the other.  I will never leave.

Canada - as I sit here watching the news and war in other countries, I am even more grateful for the peace and beauty in my own country.  I think it's a unique country as each Province is different enough to keep it interesting.  I look forward to future vacations spent in my own country...out East being #1.

Paint - Nothing cheers me up more than a fresh coat of paint on the walls.  I love what paint can do and how it can help create a mood.  It's a cheap(ish) way to completely change a room. 

My Bedroom - it was more than likely meant to be a family room...but we made it our bedroom.  It's huge, but cozy as we've filled it with rich coloured furniture and bedding with red, orange and deep pink.  

Foot Massages - and I am spoiled than most with this one!!!  Just about every night, I get a foot massage.  It's become a routine now.  I sit on one of the couch - my husband at the other end.  An hour or so later my legs become stretched across the sofa so that my toes reach his legs.  I wiggle my toes and out comes his hand.  And then for the next hour or so, I get a wonderful massage.  He doesn't even realize he's doing it after awhile...so I don't remind him.  I can be feeling adrenaline rushes or even nausea, and those foot rubs bring relief - a wonderful distraction.  

Well, there it is.  34 reasons to be grateful - thankful.  Happy 34th to me and here's to many more healthy years.



Thursday, 10 May 2012

How The Mind Thinks During Benzo Withdrawal.

I slept poorly last night.  Bladder spasms came on, which turned into a left temple pain that scared me and led me to believe I'd die from a brain aneurysm.  I was so convinced of it at one point that I almost woke up my husband to tell him I love him and to ask him to tell my daughter how much I love her and always will.  It was not a good night.

Now today I am "weak".  My mind isn't thinking clearly.  I wrote about it on the forum I visit and I was reminded of by members of the "cycles" we go through while healing.  So for me, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months have all proven to be hard.  I get hit with so many symptoms during these milestones. 

So how does my mind think when I'm at my worst?  I'll lay it out here as the thoughts come.

I'm scared.
My diaphragm hurts so badly and it makes me scared to eat.
I am losing weight again, yet eating...so is there something else wrong with me that is making me lose weight? 
My chest hurts and no matter how much I rub and massage it the pain won't go.
I'm afraid that after fighting this long, I'll find out I'm dying from something unrelated - so was this worth it?
I don't want to leave...I'm not ready to go.
I can't stop crying and wonder when the tears will end. 
I want to call everyone I know just to "let it out".  I need support, but also want to be alone.
I want to putter around the house, but I also want to grab a blanket and curl up in a ball...I won't though...I never do.
I'm confused, scared and yet hopeful.

This is how my mind thinks at my worst.  I know it won't last and I just have to work trough it.  I feel almost embarrassed writing this post.  I feel vulnerable and wonder if I'm sharing too much...but it's the truth behind Benzo Withdrawal.  And the truth is that although some people can come off of these pills with very little problems...others will suffer greatly and they need to know that there will be an end to it.  This is not permanent and it's not their fault.  No one would "choose" to feel this way.  It is what it is, and all you can do is TRY to not get frustrated with the process and just allow it to happen.  Easier said than done.

I know that with a bad day like today, a lot of good can come out of it.  I could feel very good tomorrow...or even hours from now.  I sometimes tell myself, "I think I can do this for 2 more months...if I know it will end in 2 months, then I'll suffer till then".  Or, "I can do this for another year...what's one more year?  Just please let it end after that".  Then this morning, it was, "Please let this end...I can't do this for one more day...this is unfair and it needs to end...I did everything right and this has to stop now...no more".

Whether it ends tomorrow or a year from now, I will keep "blogging" my journey.



Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Still Healing...

9 months, 2 weeks and 6 days med free. 

I have mixed feelings every time I hit a new month.  Another month med free.  It's wonderful because I know that for 9 months, my body hasn't been filled with horrible chemicals.  But I'm scared because I'm not better yet.  Some days I think I'm maybe 75% better...but then I get hit with a bad day or two...or three or four...and I feel like I've made very little progress. 

I visit a forum daily that is strictly for people struggling with Benzodiazepine withdrawal.  This forum has been a life saver to me and hundreds of others suffering.  People from Australia, England, The Netherlands, USA and Canada...to name a few...meet there to share their stories and thoughts regarding withdrawal.  Some people were on them for 20+ years and are now off and healing, while others were only prescribed them for 4-6 weeks and are suffering greatly 1 year after their last dose.  Such a wide range of stories and experiences and although it's comforting to "meet" people who are struggling as well, it's so sad to think that hundreds out there are put in this position. 

Since I had my visit to the hospital over a month ago and discovered I had a descent sized cyst on my ovary as well as 2 gallstones, I have had right-sided pain daily.  And it has me obsessed.  I have become a nervous wreck in regards to my gallbladder.  I think about it day and night.  I never had pain in that area prior to knowing I had gallstones, so is it really possible I've somehow created this pain myself?  I have searched time and time again on the forum and have discovered a large group of people who have also suffered from right-sided pain.  Many of them have scheduled appointments for scans and tests, only to discover there is NOTHING wrong with them.  Some have a theory that our bodies are riding of the toxins caused by the benzos, and perhaps our over-sensitive systems over-react.  It's the same way sound still affects me.  Example:  just as I wrote the last sentence, my husband dropped the remote control onto the hardwood floor.  That could startle anyone, but for me, it's as though you have honked a horn right behind my head...or hit a pot above me.  Every nerve in my body "charges" and "electrifies".  My heart jumps beyond a normal level and I feel instantly agitated and annoyed - as though he dropped it with the sole purpose of trying to scare me.  It takes me awhile to come down from it...as I type this sentence, my stomach is gurgling and my body feels like live wire.  My breathing is heavy and my fingers tingle.  All from a dropped remote control.  So perhaps that explains why little twitches and twinges inside of my body feels like an alien travelling through.  Or as though something is going to pop right out of my body.

Two nights ago I had an new all-time low.  I was in pain and panic mode the ENTIRE night.  Not one minute of sleep.  Horrible.  My ribs hurt and my chest had pain all throughout.  I couldn't get comfortable and although the pain was not excruciating, it was bothersome enough that I couldn't fall asleep with it.  By morning, my husband was up for work and I was a mess.  Crying, sobbing, blubbering on about who knows what.  I couldn't think straight and I knew it was stemming from zero sleep.  I cried like an inconsolable baby who has been kept up past his or her bed time. 

It is shocking that I still get hit with those nights.  It is jarring and makes me wonder when this will all really end.  I knew when I began tapering from benzos that it could take up to 2 years to heal...even my pharmacist warned me of this...but when you're living it, it becomes so unbelievable at times.  If I had a dime for every time I've thought "how did those tiny little pills create this big of a problem?"!!!

My journey is not yet over and I have no clue how or when I'll know I'm really "me".  I'm scared one moment and then I'm excited the next.  Excited, because I like to think that all of this happened for a reason and that somehow I will be able to do something good with it.  And excited because it has taught me to respect my body so much more than I ever did before.  Now I do all I can do to try to keep it healthy. 

I thank you for your patience as my wrist was not up to typing recently.  It is still stiff and sore, but good enough for a blog entry.  Now off to heal some more...in more ways than one.  Perhaps that magical day is on its way where I will wake up to the "healed me". 

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
- Hippocrates



Friday, 4 May 2012

Mini-Break

I apologize for the lack of posts.  I have recently hurt my wrist and it has made it very difficult to type.  I have to take it easy for a short while but will be back with more posts hopefully very soon...

Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.  Tori Amos