My Story as I Recover - April to July 2014
It's been nearly a month since last writing here but I’ve been waiting to see what’s happening.This has been a strange period of ups and downs and difficult to assess exactly what my brain is trying to do.
I hit an acute wave on the night of June 21st that echoed the waves of my worst weeks at the beginning of 2013. We had finally managed to get away for a few days in our motorhome. I felt a gradual worsening of anxiety during the evening but things got unbearable the later it got. Eventually I was texting my friend for support to keep me positive. I concentrated on EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique of which I will write more later) and needed to pace but space was restricted in the van, no floor available for me to go walkabouts on! I just felt intense panic with many physical symptoms plus pain. I had been reasonably ok for the previous couple of days then this seemed to hit out of the blue. I write in my journal of feeling sick, stomach moving, hot, shaking, dry retching and painful muscles asking myself, “Why, why, why?” Inevitably I had no sleep that night and the next day my husband drove a100 miles like a bat out of hell to get me home as quickly as possible. I always feel safer and more able to cope when at home.
It all went as suddenly as it arrived and apart from occasional reminders I’ve been absolutely fine ever since and even managed a week away, walking and eating out.
I feel that this period is like trying to find my feet and perhaps the intensity of the wave opened the door to my final recovery. I do so hope so. It’s now over three weeks since it happened and I am beginning to feel stronger than I have for several years. I’m reluctant to write more incase this is just another window but it does seem different and so many bad symptoms have dissolved into oblivion. I can only hope they stay there.
I haven’t written for a few weeks because I felt I’d turned a corner and entered a new, calmer phase. Sadly yesterday, the window slammed shut and I’m back in a wave feeling many physical symptoms as well as unmotivated and tired.
It’s so easy to be duped into thinking recovery has arrived and this is it now. I find it difficult to believe how well I felt on Monday, even managing to drive quite a distance, when today I’m shaking and tired. I thought it may be helpful to list the problems I experience when a wave threatens. I don’t think anything can be done to divert a threatening wave but forewarned is forearmed and I can take it easier and not push myself too far. Here goes…….
* I feel ‘revved up’ internally with a faster pulse rate
* My low back pain returns or intensifies
* I get stiff and become more exercise intolerant
* I feel cold and often can get cramp in my feet during this period
* My head becomes foggy and I’m very tired and unmotivated
* Sleep is disturbed if it comes at all
* I’m more irritable
Eventually these symptoms cause a downward dive for however long it takes the wave to pass. I just have to keep going and not aggravate the situation. Today, I’m pottering about in a mist and not able to go away in out motor home as we were planning.
When a wave threatens like this it’s hard not to believe that it’s been triggered by something I’ve eaten, by exercise or just by overdoing the stress in some way. I know drugs and supplements can precipitate this but when nothing is obvious it must be a healing process. I do find a little Propranolol (10 mg) helps keep my heart under control and stop some of the symptoms from escalating. I don’t take it continuously but have always resorted to a small dose when I start sinking.
I will be back when through this present downturn and hope to report a period of serenity that stays for longer than a few days.
Thank you to those who have been following my Blog or making email contact. I’m happy to answer any questions either about my journey or to give you advice on how I may have tackled a problem. This is hard for us all and if I can help others in any way at all then the process has had some validity.
I’m sitting here writing this with my nose streaming, red, sore eyes, dry skin, itchy ears and bad cog fog. It seems, at this point in time, I’m sensitive to everything. It’s really hard to identify any one substance or foodstuff that can trigger the allergic response. I believe it was the face cream I used this morning.
I couldn’t stand the dry skin any more so applied just a little of a mild, Boots’ day moisturiser. Since that minimal application my symptoms have flared.
I know I’ve had drug and supplement sensitivities during tolerance and full withdrawal and have avidly avoided any of these. I’m aware just a tiny bit of aspirin can trigger a rough day. If I needed medical treatment of any sort its hard to know what would happen.
I now seem more sensitive than ever and since last writing I’ve had a bad wave plus these allergy symptoms. This wave was the result of less than a teaspoon of flaxseed added to my breakfast or lunch for obvious reasons. I needed the roughage to keep me regular. I was ok initially then after a few days the pain and foggy head became unbearable. I was waking in the night with worse sweats than ever and could hardly move to turn over. My whole body was stiff and painful as if the pain was flowing through me. I’ve never regarded flax as a supplement but, oh dear, it is foreign to our bodies and anything ‘foreign’ for me causes an eruption throughout my system. I stopped the flax. A few days later the worst of the symptoms have disappeared but the allergic rhinitis, sore eyes and itchy ears remain to flare up worse than ever if they’re further encouraged by another onslaught on my body, this time possibly the face cream.
I hate this sensitivity but it seems common to many in withdrawal and I can only hope that, once again it will, one day, leave me for good. For the moment I have to watch everything I put in my mouth, on my skin or even inhale. Chemical household cleansers can be a nightmare. What havoc all this plays with our brains and bodies and how unbelievable it must seem to those able to go about their lives not worrying about what they eat, smell or use on their bodies. I must admit I’m envious!
We must never forget that everyone who suffers withdrawal is different. Nothing works for everyone because there is no magic solution. We just have to do what we feel is right for us.
Within the paraphernalia of life everyone has different experiences and faces different challenges. We are unique not only in the genes we inherit but also in the lives we lead. Even identical twins still have different life experiences and can never be truly identical. It stands to reason therefore that reactions to the drug withdrawal are never going to be the same for the many sufferers.
It's not only life experiences that may determine the passage and intensity of symptoms. What about age. At nearly 70 and after long term use my recovery is inevitably going to be different from that of a teenager after four or five months usage. The resilience of youth verses the creakiness of old age! It all gets thrown into the mix and stirred around to produce different emotional and physical reactions.
All this and many other individual differences must influence how we perceive our withdrawal problems and what we do to lessen them. For some the taking of other drugs and supplements is not a problem to ease their way but for others these only serve to intensify symptoms. I'm one of the latter and know to steer clear of anything that my body looks upon as interference. Nature should be allowed to unfold and create the healing that is right for us whether it's aided by supplements or left undisturbed.
Yesterday was rough for me. I suffered a wave of flowing pain and stiffness throughout my body. It made it difficult to move around and my low back pain flared up badly. I rested but it lingered and kept me chair bound. On these occasions I tend to look for cause and effect but nothing was obvious. It has eased today but I'm still resting, reluctant to press the pain buttons whatever they are. Some never suffer pain others are badly affected and have to contend with this as well as the mental turmoil. Whatever makes an appearance accepting and keeping positive is the only answer.
We all deal with withdrawal in our own way. We find our own way of tolerating the suffering and eventually our own way of re-entering life. However different each of us may be, we all heal!
It’s 18 months today since I quit Nitrazepam and entered withdrawal hell. It’s been a journey of nightmarish proportions, of stops and starts, of hope and despair but most of all it's been one of intense learning. I’m still far from myself but I have come a long way. I may still have a way to go before I reach the finishing line but at present it’s a tolerable road.
I thought I would be recovered at six months, then at twelve and now at eighteen but still I’m plagued by unwanted physical symptoms and some anxiety. It’s better not to count the months or years and not to set targets for recovery but to appreciate that every day healing is happening however small. I see friends I speak to doing better than I am and I’m happy for them because I know my healing is unfolding at its own pace. It can’t be compared to that of others.
So what have I learnt over the last eighteen months? For a start I’ve learnt that no-one can appreciate the suffering unless they’ve been through this themselves. This means that support is very limited and most of the time I’ve been totally dependent on inner strength to get me through. I sometimes wonder where this strength comes from but somehow it comes. Friends have slowly forgotten me but this I’ve learnt to accept and appreciate that in future, if someone needs me, I will be there for them, however long it takes. I also understand how difficult it is for those without the withdrawal experience to ever believe how so much suffering is possible. It has shown me how strong I can be when the need arises and not to rely on other people. I mustn’t try and force them to understand it only alienates them further.
I’m no longer afraid of death. I believed myself very close to it when at the acute stage. My heart threatened to explode in my chest, my legs no longer supported my weight, my blood pressure rocketed, and pain flowed throughout my body so death seemed the easy way out. I prayed for release. Luckily God didn’t hear my prayers instead he gave me the power to hold on and somehow accept the suffering. At this stage I find it hard to remember the details of the hell I was in at this time. Luckily, with anything that is too intense and frightening our memories seem to cloud over the suffering and leave just a shadow of the stress that was endured. I’m thankful for this.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself and am still learning. I know I must accept myself as I am and not try and change to please others. I am what I am and hope one day to be a ‘whole’ person again. I still feel that parts of me are scattered about and need collecting together to be reassembled as the ‘me’ that has disappeared with the withdrawal process. This disintegration of my personality is something that still prevents me from taking up my former life and starting to live again. It may be that I never resume the life that I had but follow a new path. I was a different person then.
So the learning goes on and later I will list all the processes, meditations, books and foods that have helped me and kept me going. I remain positive that my recovery is well underway at the eighteen month mark.