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16 Months Benzo Free


[J ...]

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Sorry this post is sort of unorganized. I started writing this at my one year benzo mark and then I hit a wall. I made it past that and I am now feeling pretty good again. I jumped in March 2019 and felt really well in Oct and December. For some reason November was hard. Again, I hope readers can make sense of my writing. So many write such eloquent posts.

 

One Year Benzo Free March 2020

 

I want to start by saying I feel much better. Am I healed after one year, 12 months, 366 days? I don’t know, but I continue to improve. Taking a benzo for as long as I did, about 18 years, I had a normal that I was used too. At one year I feel good, my cognitive skills have improved immeasurably but there is room to improve.

 

I lost so much in the last 20 years from jobs, my wife of 22 years, and a strained relationship with my son and daughter. Friends fled as well. I am not going to relive my story of the anguish benzos had on my life, I think most have a similar story.

 

I know many will read this hoping to find that silver bullet but you won’t find it here, I never found it either. The “success” stories did give me hope and I read them many times. It was HOPE that kept me in the fight. I will check this post and will entertain questions and answer them based on my journey.

 

Based on my reading Benzobuddies I think my journey was not as severe as some but no less tragic. We all have suffered pain and tragedy as a result of our common journey. With that said let me move on to my story.

 

One Year Benzo Free

I want to start by saying I feel better, am I healed after one year, 12 months, 366 days? I don’t know, but I continue to improve. Taking a benzo for as long as I did, about 18 years, I had a normal that I was used too. At one year I feel very good, my cognitive skills have improved immeasurably but there is room to improve.

 

I lost so much in the last 20 years from jobs, my wife of 22 years, and a strained relationship with my son and daughter. Friends fled as well. I am not going to relive my story of the anguish benzos had on my life, I think most have a similar story.

 

I know many will read this hoping to find that silver bullet but you won’t find it here, I never found it either. The “success” stories did give me hope and I read them many times. It was HOPE that kept me in the fight. I will check this post and will entertain questions and answer them based on my journey.

 

Based on my reading Benzobuddies I think my journey was not as severe as some but no less tragic. We all have suffered pain and tragedy as a result of our common journey. With that said let me move on to answering basic questions.

 

What helped me the most? sleep and time.

I have said that when I slept well I was golden. I jumped March 14, 2019! A day I will never forget. Did anything miraculous occur? NO! In the months ahead, I found sleep very difficult, my thoughts would not turn off and I was usually exhausted. It occurred to me one night that I had some Trazodone I had saved. I started taking 100mg of Trazodone, it helped slow my thoughts down and helped me sleep a little better.

 

It seemed it was taking forever to get better. Days turn into weeks then to months. Every day was not a bad day as there were okay days and good days and when I would get a great day I had hope. A good day(s) at month three was welcomed, but a good day at month six was a better day. As I sit here at month 14 I feel great relative to one year ago. Do I still have bad days? I do. This past weekend was not a good one but we all have those weekends. I don’t like to think of waves and windows. I have learned to realize when I am experiencing a depressing day. It happens.

 

I am an electrical engineer for a Navy contractor.  During most of my taper I was working days, lots of management types both Navy, civilians, and shipyard mgmt. A shipyard can be a brutal place if you are not prepared and even worse if your cognitive skills are close to non-existent. My lack of abilities were noticed and the fact I was falling asleep at lunch was not received well. I was basically kicked to evening shift which in hindsight was a blessing.

 

Working evenings allowed me to sleep in, less stress, and allowed me to go outside in the sun. My take away is: Less stress in terms of a daily job and less stress in waiting on the clock alarm at 0530. Evening shift allowed me to roll over if I didn’t sleep well, eventually my sleep pattern improved. It was during this time I began to feel better, my desire to accomplish tasks around the house improved. Lots of improvement during this time.

 

Again, less stress with more time to adjust me sleep. Eventually, I was moved off the shop and back into engineering where I was able to perform, it felt good to realize I still had skills. But there was room to improve my cognitive ability.

 

I read everything I could related to sleep. I have the most comfortable bed, the darkest room, I sleep with darkened windows but, most importantly, I have my best friend. He has four legs and loves me unconditionally. It is therapeutic to take care of him.

 

What were your withdrawal symptoms?

I was such a mess mentally I cant remember. I do remember being extremely paranoid. My behavior was way off. I was never mean or violent but my behavior was noticeable to the point I was moved to evening shift as discussed above.

 

Cognitive skills were lacking. Once I walked up behind a couple of shipyard engineers and I heard them talking about how stupid I was and where did I buy my degree. I have an MS in Electrical Engineering and I hold a Professional Engineering license but my ability to understand simple concepts was gone. I could not maintain focus and my memory was nonexistent. I could not remember my passwords, once I could not get money from the ATM.  And part of my job was to write reports, I have reread some of them and they read like a grade school kid wrote them. I could not function at a level expected for an engineer as my cognitive abilities declined drastically. 

 

Extreme anxiety towards the end of my taper and into month two but that improved around the second or third month. It was awful! I would wake up in terror and projecting the “what if this happens” from the paranoia.

 

I had no emotions, none! No interpersonal skills, no sense of reality or time. As time progressed my emotions returned. Now I cry up thinking about the way I treated my wife, not mean but emotionless and cold. When I tell my story I sometimes break down or at minimum get very teary. Is this manly? I don’t care. And now I have lost my daughter too……breaks my heart. All I can do is concentrate on getting better and being a better person and father. Its hard!

 

Blurry eyes! I had the worst case of blurry eyes and floaters. This lasted the longest. Many days I had to struggle to see through the blurring. My ophthalmologist examined my eyes and found nothing. I did tell him of my benzo predicament.  It seems everyone has tinnitus. I don’t pay much attention to it but if it improved I would be grateful.

 

Random thoughts

What made me decide to get off benzos? I had cataract surgery in March 2018 where they barely put you under sedation. They woke me up early because my heartrate dropped to the high 20’s. I asked why and he told me most likely the benzo. Also, if during a hurricane or similar I knew I would be a burden to my family (this was when I still lived at home). I could not protect them; they would have to take care of me. I began my taper April 24, 2018.

 

During my taper I rather quickly went from 4mg to 2mg in about 6 weeks. I would cut ¼ of a one tablet every two weeks. It went well, I would experience a higher level of anxiety but nothing too drastic. I thought this is not going to be that bad.

 

THEN: Days before July 4th I had cut my ¼ going from 2mg to 1.75mg…holy cow!!!!!!! This was the weekend I hallucinated. On the 4th I was fine but the next three days were awful. I decided to hold. I read about liquid titration here on BB. I purchased a pill crusher, 20mL syringe and a 50mL beaker. I was ready to start my science experiment.

 

After this episode I did a hold until I figured out how to do continue the taper. I found on Benzobuddie’s the liquid titration method. So I figured it out and started my science experiment.

 

I created a spreadsheet doing the calculations. I used this method from the 1 mg to my jump. In retrospect, I would use this method from beginning to end. This method is easier to control your dose and to gradually reduce the mg. I have made posts of the steps I used. Beware I was a little screwy on occasions. I should go back and review my post.

 

The last two months of my taper were the worst. As mentioned above I had paranoia, blurry eyes, muscle cramps, cognition issues; overall I was not doing well. I should have taken a couple of months off from work. It was awful but it was my normal.  There were OK days mixed in there and the occasional very good day. My last month of taper, I had the flu and outpatient surgery. I do not know how I got through that month, it was cold and I was all alone. That was the month I put my 45 to my head.

 

Things improved in May. End of June, three months jump, had a real hard time. I had the worst anxiety trip ever with the worst paranoia. The X came over and took me out to eat and I had a beer which seemed to calm me down. I had stopped drinking beers about a month before. Alcohol affects the same GABA receptors as the benzo so maybe I needed that beer. I did not drink a beer until Christmas Eve in 2019 and I had to no effects from it.

 

I use a Fitbit to monitor my sleep, heart rate, and weight. The app allows me to see my sleep patterns. The sleep and heartrate graphs definitely show my improvements from before my jump to now. I can look back and see when I was having a difficult time. It’s a cool toy that I find useful, I showed the graphs to the doctors I would visit. Some would poo-poo my data. One other thought it was great.

 

At 16 months I have lost 20 lbs, I have a clean diet eating mostly nuts and twigs LOL. Salads with pecans, chicken etc. and reducing my sugar. I had started my weight loss before I was diagnosed with fatty liver. During my years of taking my benzo I would drink two to three beers most everyday. I was self medicating since I had hit dose tolerance.

 

In January, month 10 post jump I had a bad cough and started taking Nyquil at night. I slept better. But when I stopped doing the Nyquil I had a return of the w/d symptoms from previous months. I remember on my one year anniversary how I felt disappointed. About two weeks after my one year mark, I was back at 5 hours of sleep, total lack of concentration and cognitive skills in the toilet.  I would say three to four weeks and I started healing again. Lesson: don’t do Nyquil!!!!!

 

At 16 months I notice I can lay down and fall asleep quickly. I have taught myself to write down my issues so I can relax my brain. My fitbit sleep pattern is very much improved. My social interactions are improving, I am more aware of myself and my thoughts.

 

Now I have to try to put my life back together or what is left of it. Benzos destroy lives! My daughter and X will never understand even with all the articles I sent them to read.

 

In closing let me say I am sorry as I am not that eloquent of a writer, many that post write so well and in a logical sequence. I have written this over a three month period and it is disjointed.

 

My prayers are for those still in the battle, it’s a real battle for your life. You cant give up ever! You will feel better and life will go on. I would like to thank a few I have communicated with. Strive2B is a real scholar and inspiration. He too seems to struggle.  BabySpice, Pelota and a couple others. I wish we all could meet one day.

 

I will check this post to answer any questions you may have. Time and determination are the keys, eat healthy, find a friend whether it be two legs or four. It is with tears in my eyes that I realize how hard this has been. May God Bless all of you in your benzo journey recovery.

 

PS: there is a documentary on BenzoInfo.com called “Medicating Normal”. I saw a preview of it last October and it was great. It will be emotional!!! I encourage everyone to watch this.

 

Again, God Bless All of You. You will get better, it takes time and self care.

Ron

 

 

 

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Wow!  Thank you for writing this.  I too am a fellow long term user.  The suffering is hard to put into words but you did a great job.  Way to stay in the fight!!  Medicating Normal will be available Saturday to everybody.  See Benzo in the news for the link.

 

Thanks again Ron.  Your story said it all.

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I am teacher, teaching engineering, your brain is strong despite what benzos has done to it. Your story is STRONGER. You are on your way to  great healing!

 

Take Care

 

KB

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