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Symptoms? I've had them all.


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Oh, let's see. I'll divide this up into common trouble areas, and I'll lend advice for the most obnoxious ones.

 

Head:

-Migraines

-Tension headaches

-Headaches that last 3 days

-Exertion headaches

-Strange cool-tingly mini bursts deep in the head (during withdrawal/tapering)

-Significant pain on the skull in certain spots

 

Chest:

-Sharp pains

-Chest soreness

-Squeezing in the chest (like a hand squeezing my heart)

-Tightness in chest

-Palpitations

-Slow beats (37 bpm)

-Fast beats (140+ bpm)

-Skipped beats

-Vagus induced ultra-rapid beating

 

Stomach:

-Stubborn, persistent nausea

-Diarrhea

-Frequent going

-Fullness, like a softball stuck in my stomach

 

Overall:

-Persistent vertigo

-Dizzy spells

-Near fainting episodes

-Visual over-stimulation/sensitivity

-Audio over-stimulation/sensitivity

-Fuzzy vision

-Difficulty concentrating

 

 

Advice on Head:

-The top cause of headaches is dehydration. Try drinking water. It could be too late, but sometimes if I hydrate well, the headache goes away in 2 hours instead of 2 days.

-Take headache medication as early as into the pain possible. At the same time, don't take it too often because you may have rebound pain.

-Stress causes headaches. Just try calming down. Overall, it should help. Not a magic wand, but it's a contributor to helping.

-Strange, cool/tingly bursts inside your brain: I'm not even sure what this is. When I started tapering off Xanax, I felt them from time to time. More weird and slightly scary than symptomatic. Drink water, keep calm and disregard. Mine went away in 2 days. It could be an active nerve or something. I don't know.

 

Advice on Chest:

-There is so much that can contribute to chest pain. Chest muscles, chest cartilage, chest bones, esophagus, windpipe, lungs, etc. Don't go right to heart.

-I had chest pains for a long time. Then one day, I massaged the inside of my shoulder, my inside deltoid muscle and muscles under my collar bone, and WOW, they were sore. I couldn't believe it. And as I massaged it, I felt the pain refer into my chest. So, generally speaking, clasp your hands behind your back, spread your shoulders back and stretch out your chest with your chin raised. I do this 3 or 4 times a day, and suddenly, the six heart attacks I was having everyday (har har) were gone.

-Right now, try feeling your inner deltoid muscles and the muscles under your collarbone. Flex them and see if you feel that familiar chest pain. Try expanding your chest. See if you feel those chest pains. If so, you're cured! You're mentally cured because you know it isn't cardiovascular. Shoulders back, people!

-I had a squeezing heart sensation and went to a doctor. I even got a false EKG telling me I'd had a small heart attack. After seeing a specialist, he was almost furious with me for wasting his time. He kicked me out of his office after numerous tests, and I went over to the nurse for some plain English. She said you don't even have XYZ that most people have your age. You are totally fine. It was almost English, but I understood what she meant. She said it was probably GERD or a moment of stress-induced sleep apnea, that is, empty lungs clamoring for air, thus the squeezing sensation.

-Skipped beats: I kinda learned to accept these. It skips, yeah, but it also kept beating. You'd know immediately if your heart stopped beating. Well, maybe you wouldn't. You'd just be horizontal. Caffeine and nicotine, guys. That's going to cause these things. Plus stress adrenaline. All these stimulants make you get a little skippy. No doctor ever has ever said, "OH CRAP, YOUR HEART SKIPPED A BEAT!" They say, "Yeah, it happens. Lay off the coffee, kid." It's a twitch as benign as an eyelid twitch.

 

Advice on Stomach:

-Stomach problems don't concern me too much as they don't relate to death. For me, the most effective tool against nausea is Pepto Bismol. Two notes: Don't water it down with beverages after you take it. And, you can take it every 30 minutes I believe. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 doses. It does work though.

-A general practitioner gave me a prescription for Bentyl once. It's a very old, very common drug. It just gently calms the stomach. I think it might be OTC in some places. Very good for sore/shocked stomach.

-I don't have Crohn's or IBS, etc., so I might not be the best adviser on stomach problems. What I do know is that there is a direct, tangible link between stress/anxiety and stomach problems.

 

Advice on Overall:

-I believe that Xanax contributes to vertigo. As I use it less, I have less vertigo. Remember that vertigo can be visual thing, not just cardiovascular. Your eyes might not be accustomed to stimulants. If you've been mostly inside for a few days, then your eyes might be a little shocked to see the grass, trees and skies. So here, my advice is, get some outside exposure. Just sit outside a bit more until you adjust. I don't think you need to run in the park. Just sit outside.

-I also believe that computer use and video games contribute to vertigo. Your brain adjusts to the screen, especially if you're at the computer for 6 hours a day. Some people are staring at a screen for 20 hours a day. How in the hell can you expect NOT to have vertigo? Your world became the software. Your brain got smart and optimized itself for daily screen viewing.

-Remember how dizzy we were the first time we played Wolfenstein 3D? Good lord. Our brains weren't adjusted. Now it's a damn cinch. But yeah, if you do that for hours and hours, years and years, then the outside world becomes the Wolfenstein, so to speak. Just gotta adjust.

-Dizzy spells or near-fainting spells can be scary. The first thing is that a rush of adrenaline can cause dizziness. So can prolonged anxiety. The short story going on here is that your body is drawing blood to the center of you, where your hands, feet and head are compromised. There's still blood in there of course, but your body is rushing blood to the middle, and now you expect it to be in two places at once. So, here my advice is, forgive your body a little bit. Give that sucker a break, and don't expect it to channel full blood volume to two places at once. Calm down, and your body will resume a more equal distribution of blood. You should be able to avoid most dizzy spells if you can keep calm. Calming your anxiety doesn't happen instantly, so give it some time. Be fair to your body. It's trying!

-Of course, long term, improving circulation will help. And you can improve circulation with regular exercise. Walking is good, running is even better, and if you can add weight-training, that's really excellent. However, if you're in a position where you get dizzy spells, I know this is a daunting task. Little by little, my friends. You'll get there.

-One of the most annoying symptoms is hyperstimulation. Lights can bother me. Sound can bother me. Going to a store, with those ugly fluorescent lights and rows of colorful boxes, can be a real challenge. My theory here is that Xanax slows your central nervous system down, and the stimulation signals are getting jammed into your brain faster than your brains wants.

-When you're low on Xanax or tapering off, your brain is like UGHHH to all of the stimulation. Think of it like this: On Xanax, your brain is a young child in bed. Doesn't want to wake up for school. Remove the Xanax, and the young child is forced out of bed, sluggish and slow and irritated.

-Another way to think of it is that Xanax is like keeping your eyes in a dark room. Turn on the lights and YUCK. Two options in those first few seconds with the lights on: (1) Turn the lights back off so your pupils can remain dilated (akin to taking more Xanax) or (2) Leave the lights on and slowly let your pupils adjust. It'll take a minute, but your eyes will come back to normal. And so will your body after Xanax.

-Your brain needs time to heal, time to adjust running at a normal speed. This is a gradual process, but I say again, be fair to your body. You've been feeding it Xanax, slowing it down, and suddenly you want it to process information at a normal speed. That's not fair.  :)

 

Questions, comments, advice?

 

K

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