Friday, 28 September 2012

4:45 am...You Know This Can't Be Great

4:45 am.  My husband and I went to bed early tonight.  An hour or so earlier than we normally would.  And now I am up at 4:45 - NOT getting the extra sleep I thought I would get tonight.  I woke up slowly - like in a dream.  I wasn't sure if I was actually awake or just dreaming I was waking.  I got up to go to the washroom quickly and then came right back to bed but I knew fairly quickly what was going to happen.  I told myself, "this doesn't HAVE to happen...maybe you can control it."  So I sat in bed and breathed deeply till I could hear less of a heartbeat drumming in my ears.  I slowly slid my legs under the blankets and then lowered my body into bed.  But my heart beat louder.  I breathed and breathed.  I rested my hands on my body to ground myself.  But my stomach began to gurgle, pop and turn.  Then the chest pain.  The chest pain is fairly new.  I never had it in the past with panic attacks.  It isn't a steady pain...more like a jabbing pain that comes and goes.  Sometimes it can be a crushing pain that leaves my arms tingling. 

I knew staying in bed wouldn't cut it so I got out, grabbed the laptop and decided to "set up camp" in the basement.  Our hamster, Lucas, greeted me happily.  Poor guy is nocturnal and rarely gets visits at 4 in the morning when he's ready to party...so at least someone in this house is happy right now. 

All I can do is cry.  I am so worn out and angry with how hard this it at 14+ months out.  Sleep is rarely good and some days I wonder how I'm even getting through the day like a "normal" person.  Humans need sleep!  Apparently I'm proving we don't need quite as much as we think.  My eyes burn 24/7 and my body has this constant buzzing.  It's difficult to think positively at 5:00 am...so I'm not at my best right now.  You are getting the "oh my gosh this HAS to end...please can I have a break...I just want to cry" Sarah.  I didn't have panic attacks like this before all these meds.  Not that I can remember.  I never had chest pain till I was 8 months free of them.  I didn't have these wild mood swings that leave me in shock.  I never had muscle pain, dental pain and bone pain like I have now.  So it is the meds.  I just have to reassure myself of that over and over and over. 

Now I sit here...5:40am.  I won't go back to bed.  I am listening to a song that is sung by a young woman - a celebrity - who has battled depression, anxiety, an eating disorder and cutting.  She's been open about it publicly and I respect her for that.  Because people can really judge you when you discuss any issue that has the word "mental" in it.  It suddenly becomes YOUR fault.  It's not a song I would normally listen to, but the lyrics hit me and are familiar after this experience. Only, where she is singing to people who have hurt her (I suspect), I replace the people with pills. 

Good night...or morning, to all.  Another night down, and another day to face that may be better than yesterday.  I will end this with a good cry and move on.  It can only get better.



Monday, 24 September 2012

3am...Never a Good Thing

3am wake up call.  I woke up feeling insanely hungry.  I smiled to myself as I assumed it was morning and I had successfully slept through the night.  But quickly realized when I noticed how dark the room was that it wasn't at all morning.  And that's when it happened.  My stomach flipped, a lump came to my throat, my heart beat so loudly it sounded like drums in my ears, and out of bed I flew...literally flew.

Now I sit in the basement behind my laptop.  I'm shivering and my stomach is rumbling.  I am scared out of my mind and would give anything to call a family member, friend, or wake my husband.  This isn't a fun way to begin the week.  My hands are shaking and my body is freezing.  My back is covered in the shingles-like prickles and I'm frozen with fear. 

My stomach hurts and the gurgling is nothing short of ridiculous.  Something I know often happens when I'm this anxious.  My throat is raspy and burning and I believe that during my panic episodes I seem to get a type of heart burn...so it often leaves me with a weak voice.

I just wish I could wake my husband.  Nothing is worse than sitting through this alone.  I often wonder how people do it without support. 

I keep hoping this is my last night-time post.  I hope that day comes soon.  I hope this isn't me. 

14 Months Free - Itch Itch Itch

I am 14 months and 4 days free of all meds - specifically Benzodiazepines.  There are some amazing changes, and some frustrating ones.  I'll start with the negative and then end with the positives.

The itching has returned with a vengeance.  If it was humanly possibly to reach into my body right now and itch my uterus, ovaries, spine and intestines, I gladly would.  You know when you get that itch at the back of your throat and the only thing you can do to relieve it is move your tongue back and forth?  It's similar to that only magnified, and there is not one thing you can do.  It makes me squirm.  It sometimes makes me cry but that's only after hours of it and not knowing when it will end.  It can make me want to pull my hair and let out a brief scream.  But instead I try to remain extremely calm and breath through it as much as I can.  There is always an end to it...I just have to be patient.


 The "benzo flu" has visited me several times this week alone and it still gets me every time.  "Do I just have a real bug?"  I'm never sure.  But it does seem to start with my legs aching.  Deep aches that remind me of growing pains.  Then my back begins to ache and sometimes my arms.  I'll get a very low grade fever OR feel like I'm burning up with a temperature of only 36.5 degrees Celsius.  My throat will feel thick and I'll develop pressure behind my eyes.  I will get chilled to the bone sometimes and I become extremely anxious.  It fools me each and every time and I truly loathe it.  No one wants to flu every other day.  It boggles my mind that it hits me so often lately...but it's just part of healing once again and it will pass.



Aside from the aches and pains that can come along with healing, a few good things have come around.  The past 2 nights I have slept quite well.  This follows a string of MANY bad nights that were filled with teeth grinding and nightmares.  Now my sleep has been more solid and I'm not as anxious going to bed.  Only when I first get under the covers do I feel jittery and scared.  I often shake and whimper to my husband that I'm scared...and it's a very real feeling.  It's pure fear that hits me, but does not last.  I have asked my husband countless times, "When do you think I'll stop being afraid at bed time?".   We are still waiting for the answer, but seeing as how I was NOT like this prior to benzos, I have to think this too will pass.

Socializing.  I have a good group of friends.  Most of my closest friends I've known since I was a little girl.  I feel so fortunate to have them in my life and of course I adore seeing them.  But socializing became close to impossible while tapering off of benzos.  Somehow I pushed myself to get through showers, getting dressed and convincing myself "you can do this!".  I got through most things unscathed, but ti was not easy.  This past weekend we had plans to visit an old friend who I have not seen in a long time.  We were invited to her home for dinner.  2 things.  We go THERE.  And we eat THERE.  A year ago, this would have petrified me.  The distance would have made my mind spin and the thought of not eating in my "safe place" (home) would have driven me mad.  But now?  I did it!  And with very little issues. 

I was upfront and honest about my "eating habits" with her...we wrote each other 2 days prior and she, being sensitive to what I've been through, knew I had some food limitations.  We agreed to a meal and I offered to bring a salad I knew I could eat (my "go to" quinoa salad for many social events as it's healthy and packed with flavour).  The day of the visit, the "OLD SARAH" would have been a wreck.  In fact I would have been a wreck 1-2 nights prior as well.  This time?  Not an issue.  Only about 45 minutes before we left did my nerves rev up.  My heart rate picked up and my stomach felt like it was in knots.  But then I noticed something.  My husband was pacing a bit and he seemed to be "jumpy".  So I asked him, "do you ever feel nervous before going somewhere?".  "Yep...all the time...but not really nervous, just excited", he replied.  So maybe this is somewhat "normal"!  Maybe what I feel is something many do!  That made me quietly smile.

We drove the hour drive to my friend's house.  Located out in what we lovingly call "the boonies", it was a beautiful drive.  Lots of scenery to admire and it always feels good to be out in the country.  When we got out of the car I took a deep breath.  The fresh air was incredible.  It just felt healthy.  From the moment I stepped out of that car, I just had a good feeling. 

The visit was amazing.  Easy conversation and lots of laughs.  It was the most relaxed I have felt during a social outing in probably years.  I only had one very tiny wave of "nerves" while there and was pleasantly surprised when it passed quickly.  Otherwise I felt "normal".  I smiled, laughed, and in no way had that "get me out" feeling I used to get so often.  What a great way to boost my confidence.  I hope this is a sign of good things to come.

So with the negatives come the positives.  This still proves to be a roller coaster but in some ways the roller coaster is finally becoming "fun" at times.  I think my main complaint is that my body and mind feel very worn out.  I am ready for this to be over more than ever and when I think it could go on for a few more weeks, let alone many months, I want to quietly cry.  I just want to wake up and have it all over with.  I look forward to that. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Change.

There must be a change going on, because I am up at 1:30am with a busy mind and I don't want to be.  I know the change very well.  Tomorrow my daughter enters grade 4 - after a fun-filled summer, she heads back to school.  She's only gone during the day and I walk her to and from school each and every day.  But it's a change, and it has me full of nervous energy.  My bowels are acting up and I have the feeling of a fever brewing, but of course my temperature is 100% normal. 

This is progress though.  In the past, a change like this would have brought on DAYS of crying, panic, worries, fears and "bowel issues".  I was fine yesterday and the day before that...and even today.  It hit me after dinner.  I knew we'd have some time to watch television and I would paint my daughter's nails for her first day back to school (she chose silver and gold).  Then came shower time.  Then "time to brush your teeth!".  And then bed.  We let her sleep in our bed tonight - only till it was our bed time and then my husband would carry her up to her own bed.  She loves that.  Nothing beats that warm and safe feeling of curling up in your mom and dad's bed. 

Now here I am.  I'm not crying, even though I want to.  I was able to fall in and out of sleep a few times already, but the sleep was so light that the slightest noise or movement from my husband would jolt me awake.  Then my bowels began to cramp and once the sweats came I was out of bed. 

I had hoped I'd get through this "change" unscathed.  That perhaps, for the first time in years, I would go to bed tonight as though it was any other night.  But really, my sleep is far from perfection lately.  Most nights I am up at some point with cramping, nerves or sweats.  So I shouldn't be surprised that tonight I am up with the jitters. 

I'm not sure what I'm worried about.  I know my daughter will enjoy school as she always does.  I do anticipate some "nervous energy" from her in the morning as she also has the "first day back jitters".  I think my fear stems from having to be "on the ball".  I have a fear that I won't be able to keep up.  If I had a bad night this past summer, I could sleep in an extra hour if need be.  I could be a bit more "lazy", or while my daughter played outside in the sun, I could have a cry.  But now the routine comes.  I have to be up in the morning to make her breakfast and pack her lunch.  I need to be out the door by a certain time each morning to walk her to school.  It may sound simple to most, but for me it makes my mind spin.  It's spinning less than last year, and MUCH less than the year before, but it still spins.  And maybe it always will to some degree.

I try to sit here tonight and think of the positives.  I LIKE the routine of the school year.  I tend to get more done and the early mornings motivate me to start my day.  I enjoy the morning walk with my daughter as we have our best chats during that time.  I enjoy having some time to myself when I get home.  I enjoy the social aspect of my daughter attending school as I have made great friendships with some of the fellow "school moms".  It's great to see them all again and to catch up.

I handle change better nowadays that I have in several years.  But I can't help but wonder, "is this as good as it gets?".  Will I always have issues with change?  Will I always have nervous bowels that wake me up or keep me up at night?  Will I always get the sweats and feel like the room is spinning?  And will I always have this underlying sadness that comes with change?  I hope not.  I hope that as I continue to heal and grow into my own that much more of this passes.  I hope I can learn to embrace change.