Wednesday, 27 February 2013

World Changer

My daughter is in grade 4, and in grade 4 the children learn how to prepare and present a speech on a topic of their choice.  My daughter has been thinking about this speech for many months - anticipating the moment her teacher would announce, "Okay class, this week we are going to begin preparing a speech that you will present in front of your classmates...3 winners will be chosen to then present in the gym in front of the school".

The day it was announced, my daughter came home with a nervous expression across her face.

"She said we don't HAVE to write a long speech...we can write a short speech, a poem, or make a Power Point presentation....but the only way to make it to the gym is to write a long speech.  Will you be upset if I don't write a long speech, Mommy"?

"No", I replied, "of course not...BUT...I think you should think about at least trying...nothing bad can come of trying, right"?

So off she went to her room to think.  She always needs this quiet, alone time to think things through.

"Mommy", she said as she approached me in the kitchen.  "I think I've decided to do the long speech to see if I can make it to the gym". 

So then came the topic.  Very quickly she decided to choose "Natural Remedies" as her topic.  It was a topic she knew her Mommy and Daddy would know a lot about, and it was something different that most wouldn't discuss.  Within a few days the speech was written and the practising and memorizing began.

Up to her room she'd go to "present" in front of her stuffed animals.  Each evening she'd do this, and then finish off with one more round in front of her Daddy and I.

By speech day she was fully prepared - and nervous - and excited.

She was so proud that evening when it was all done - well, quietly proud, the way she always is.

Days later she came barrelling out of school with a smile almost as big as her face.  "Mommy, Mommy, guess what?  I made it to a SPEECH OFF in front of the class with five other students"!

This meant that her teacher couldn't choose 3 winners from the class, so she'd need to hear 6 speeches again to make her final decision.  A couple of days later, she would present in front of her peers again.  She was so excited to have this opportunity to possibly make it to the gym.  But that Tuesday afternoon, when she came home after learning the results from the speech off, she cried, "I didn't make it".  And just like any other Mom, your heart drops and you hug your child and hope that a snuggle and kiss on the head will make her feel better.  But it doesn't.  So up to her room she went where she cried to her Bear while I sat on the couch and listened.

That evening while chatting with her about her day, I said that the main thing was that she TRIED.  She tried and made it as far as the "speech off".  THAT was something big to be proud of.  I said that the next morning she needed to go into her class and become a "coach" of sorts to those who did make it to the gym and needed practice.  She knew that one boy in particular was very nervous, so I said it would be nice to offer help to him in ways of being a "listener".  She loved that idea and proudly walked into school the next morning ready to help if need be.

We have friends who share our interest in natural remedies and if fact they are the people who initially inspired us to look at what we eat and put into our bodies on a daily basis.  They have shared many of their thoughts on nutrition, and what's great is that they don't expect others to take on their ideas...they encourage you to form your own with the information that is available.  So we have.  We have read, and read, and read some more...and we have agreed with some things and disagreed with others.  We've picked and chosen what works for our small family. 

This friend was someone who I shared my daughter's "speech story" with as I know she and her husband would appreciate that our daughter had absorbed all this information and was developing a passion for health.  It was so exciting to hear our daughter come home from school and say, "One of the boys went home and told his Mommy and Daddy about the natural remedies we use for colds and his Daddy said they might try them next time they are sick"  Her speech didn't only reach out to some of the classmates, but also to their parents!

SO, this is where we get to the title of this blog post...World Changer.  When I wrote an e-mail to this Mom who has inspired us these past few years, telling her that our daughter didn't make it to "the gym" and was disappointed, the Mom wrote me back later that night and told me to let my daughter know she was proud of her and that she is a "world changer".  She then told my daughter in person the next day after school, and it stuck.

When we have children, we hope they will be respectful and kind.  We hope they will be sympathetic enough that they can cry with a friend, but strong enough to stand up to the plate once in awhile.  We hope they will learn to accept others but be aware of right from wrong.  So when my friend called my daughter a world changer, it gave me this overwhelming feeling of "I've done my job". Not because she wrote a great speech, but because she had been able to learn to look past the "who won" aspect of it and instead looked at how she had affected others with her words. 

Each and every one of us has little "World Changers" at home.  Because every child is capable of kindness, respect and creating new ideas.  They may not all be straight A students or top athletes - but they can learn that a simple smile can make another child's day.  They can learn that perhaps those 20 Barbies can be divided and 5 can go to charity.  They can learn that as they grow older, they shouldn't fear every stranger that crosses their path, and instead greet with a "hello" while in passing.  And most importantly, they can learn that the words they choose to use can have a great impact on others. 

It's not the marks my daughter brings home from school that tell me "I've done my job" - because she did that on her own.  She has a passion for school and with that comes an interest in learning.  But she still has her academic struggles from time to time, as most children do.  So when that report card comes home, it's not the A's and B's that make me feel proud - it's the words her teacher says to describe my daughter's kindness and willingness to help others.  That's when I beam.  And that's why my daughter - at the age of 9 - FINALLY just understood the relevance of those "A's and B's".  I've always focused on the words and not the letters.  I allowed her to figure out the letter grades on her own, because at the end of the day, as long as she has tried her best and put respect first, then THAT is why I think she'll become a World Changer.

Our children are these beautiful little sponges that take in more information than we are aware of.  They watch every move we make and listen to every word spoken.  It's why my counsellor (who I visited when I was tapering off of Benzodiazepines) taught me not to hide my emotions from my daughter, but to instead explain them to her...because "what you teach her from your fears, frustration and tears, is more than she will ever learn from a textbook".  Words well spoken. 

"Children seldom misquote.  In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said".  ~Author Unknown

Friday, 22 February 2013

19 Months Free...The Really Good, And The Still Lingering

I am officially 19 months and 3 days free.  Free of ALL meds.  Never again will I take one and NEVER do I have the urge to go back. 

You know it's a serious issue when t-shirts are made...courtesy of zazzle.ca

Things have steadily improved since I last wrote.  I needed a break from the blog as I felt I was becoming a bit of a broken record, and I prefer to write when I have something new and hopefully enlightening to tell.

I had a wonderful Christmas, and though I still felt some physical side effects and the occasional bout of tough anxiety, I truly enjoyed it this year.  The past 2 were pretty tough - lots of anxiety and nausea.  It was nice to genuinely enjoy it this time.

The last full blown "oh my goodness this is going to do me in" panic attack was at the end of November - and it was a tough one.  I was up till 6am with aches, pains and fear.

That WAS the last one, until this past Friday night.  One week ago.  I had felt it brewing all day but never thought it would turn into "one of those".  But it did, and it hit hard.  My arm was jerking, body tense and in pain, and the tears flowed for quite awhile.  I was up till 3:30am with that one.  So not AS bad as the one 3 months ago...but not fun at all.  Since that night things have been a bit intense physically.

The internal restlessness has returned just a enough to remind me of "those days".  The lower back pain has slowed me down (just a bit) and the nausea has reared it's ugly head a handful of times.  But the thing that is bringing me down is the IBS pains.  The lower cramps are at times enough to put me into a sweat.  And I don't have a clue what to do.  I eat healthy foods ALL the time.  I only drink water.  What else can I do?  I've done some yoga, I walk each day and I keep active at home.  But the pain just won't end.

So here I am , it's 1:28am, and I can't sleep.  I am tired, but the pain is like a spasm that has me running to the washroom - only to rarely turn into anything at all.  So I just sit there in pain.  My ovaries ache as well, which then makes me mind spin and wonder, "Is this something else?  Am I putting the blame on Benzos when something sinister is growing inside of me?".  My head is spinning tonight as I'm tired out and ready for a good night's sleep, but my body refuses to allow it.

When I first became "Benzo Free", I just assumed deep down that I would be healed by the 18 month mark.  So when 18 months came, I had a real mix of happiness and frustration.  Happy to be FREE of the meds, but frustrated my journey wasn't over.  I have no clue when this will end.  My family doctor told me an upwards of 2-3 years for many - and I've read that online over and over.  But of course you want to think optimistically - "I will beat this quicker than you all!".  I LOATHE talking about this anymore which is why I've been neglecting the blog as well.  I truly want this over with.  I know I may deal with anxiety for the rest of my life (though I'm confident I've learned so much from this journey that I will cope well with it), but this part of my journey can't end soon enough.  Just to get through an entire day with NO pain.  I don't know what that's like anymore.

If I look back at all the symptoms I've had throughout this recovery, the ones I'd say are gone or are rarely seen:

Tinnitus
"Itchy organs"
Fear over exercise (I've recently started to "really" workout - going well)

Arm jerks (only during a full blown attack)
Heavy head 
Head pressure
Finger/joint pain
Depression
Electric shock feeling
Insomnia

The ones that linger every so slightly:

Headaches
Neck stiffness and pain
Dizzy spells
Crying spells (that come out of nowhere)
Full Panic Attacks
Nervous energy

The ones that are sticking around for a while longer:

Nausea
Rib pain
Intestinal pain and cramping
Muscle aches in legs and back
Shingles-like pain (nerve pain that is sharp and prickly)
Pain under right rib cage (this was gone for some time but is back now)
Adrenaline rushes

 Mentally, I feel good. I'm still working through anxiety that comes on out of nowhere, but I am very HAPPY.  I smile a lot and laugh.  I enjoy life.  I feel very fortunate for not only an understanding and supportive husband, but also a daughter (who at 9 amazes me daily with the amount of love and empathy she has), parents, brother and sister-in-law, family and friends.  I have some pretty amazing people in my life.

I'm definitely at a point now in my recovery where I can sit back and think, "WOW, it was really THAT bad!".   All the sleepless nights, the 5+ hour long panic attacks, the CONSTANT fear of anything and everything.  I was basically a ball of nerves 24/7.  It went on for MANY months and it was totally and utterly exhausting.

But here I am at 19 months with another bump in the road.  Hopefully it becomes smooth again soon and stays that way for awhile.  And ONE day (hopefully in the near future), my official "It's all over!" story will come.

On a side note, it was recently Mental Health Awareness Week here, and it really brought on the passion I now have for this.  If you read my blog and aren't a "believer" in the pain (mental and physical) anxiety and/or depression can cause, then I hope you sit back and think to yourself:

If you sat here in your bedroom today, looked outside and thought - "I don't want to be here anymore.  I am nothing but a nuisance to the people I love.  I hate having to fight to get through each day.  I hate having to cry myself to sleep.  I hate feeling lonely even though I'm surrounded by people I love" - would you not hope you had just ONE person in your life who cared enough to stand up for you, hold you, love you, and tell you, "YOU ARE WORTH IT...we can do this together".  If you went to work each day - to a job you once loved - but couldn't put a single thought on paper, couldn't socialize with co-workers as it brought on instant anxiety, and cried alone in your car or in the bathroom...wouldn't you hope that someone, just ONE person, stopped by your desk one morning and said, "Hi...I know something's not right...please know I care and if you need someone, we can talk"? 

So many people struggle with these issues - whether med-induced or not.  It's one of the loneliest places to exist, and unfortunately with all the material out there at our fingertips, many still don't "get it".  It doesn't mean you have to understand the way they feel as not everyone does experience these emotions...but where is the empathy?  I have been fortunate to have all but a few people in my present life "get it as much as they could".  They took the time to read "Benzodiazepine Withdrawal".  And that meant the WORLD to me (and my family) during my darkest time ever.

I leave you now with this quote that sums it up perfectly:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 
- Henri J.M. Nouwen