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NMP2011 Intro


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In 1996, while trying (unsuccessfully) to cope with multiple stressful situations, I went to a counselor.  After a 30 minute appointment, he told me I was bipolar II--which is what I realize they call you when you're not really bipolar but want to give you medicine anyway--and referred me to a psychiatrist who put me on clonazepam 1 mg three times daily.  Perhaps this was appropriate, as I was having "anxiety" (I now see all psych symptoms more in a spiritual light, and don't like using these terms).  Perhaps it was inappropriate though, because he was aware I had a history of drug and alcohol abuse.  I was also tried on a battery of other meds, none of which seemed to do anything except produce unpleasant side effects.

 

I took 3 mg clonazepam daily until June 5th, 2009, at which time I entered a treatment facility for alcoholism and at that time the clonazepam was stopped cold-turkey.  I experienced all the symptoms one would expect in such a situation; the most pronounced ones were depersonalization and an obsessive terror.  All the physical stuff also, but was phenobarb-loaded for 3 weeks so no seizures thank God.    I was placed on Tegretol 800 mg daily to help with "post-acute withdrawal" and it did seem to help.  I was also discharged on 300 mg Seroquel daily (a holdover from my admission, and a med I have long-suspected does more harm than good).

 

When I got home I got on a benzo w/d support site (sadly no longer in business) and kept moving forward.  At 9 months I felt very good and tapered the tegretol to off completely.  Also tapered my inderal because my blood pressure and general health were excellent.  I had the Seroquel down to 100 mg at bedtime and was planning a taper.

 

Around 16 months (my timing gets fuzzy) I came under some stress and began having some depersonalization and obsession again--very similar to what I experienced in acute withdrawal, though not as bad.  Honestly, I brought a lot of this stress on myself by pushing forward a bit too fast in certain areas of my life.  I tried increasing my exercise, doing more service work in AA, etc.  It didn't help.  I went to my pdoc and told him I was having a recurrence of symptoms from benzo w/d.  He wanted to start me on Saphris.  I tried it for a week, but wasn't comfortable with it so stopped.  I restarted my tegretol, which does seem to have helped.  I sought a 2nd opinion from another pdoc, who flat-out does not believe in benzo w/d (we agree to disagree on that) and he wanted to up my Seroquel (to 300 or 400 mg), which I tried--with resultant nightmares and very uncomfortable akathesia. 

 

So, here I am literally 2 years to the day of my last benzo dose.  I am on 750 mg Tegretol and 150 mg Squel daily; also back on inderal 25 mg daily.  My thinking at this point is I am definitely not bipolar as I never really had any symptoms of bipolar disorder until I was cold-turkeyed from benzos after over a decade of use.  I don't believe this current episode is bipolar disorder as the key symptoms (depersonalization and obsessive, irrational fear) are exactly the same as the ones experienced in acute withdrawal.  My conclusion is I tapered the tegretol too soon and too fast, then invited some stress into my life and have ended up jamming-up my compromised CNS with some benzo w/d symptoms.  My plan this time is to first taper the Seroquel (because neuroleptics are just nasty and I never had an indication for it in the first place), and then the Tegretol.  I am on this site hoping to find people on similar paths for mutual support.

 

I am very grateful this site is here, thank you for letting me share my story.

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Hello NMP2011, Welcome to BenzoBuddies!

 

Thank you for letting us know a bit of your history, I'm very sorry to hear you've been hit with symptoms again, but I can relate just a bit.  Since my cold turkey, I've not had a return of symptoms, but I notice my CNS is not as tough as it once was.  When I'm faced with a stressful situation, I can feel the old humming in my body start to rev up, and the trembling is close to coming online.  But thankfully, I calm down soon and it's as if it never happened.

 

I would imagine you've correctly deduced the reason for the appearance of your problems, stress coupled with medications too quickly tapered or tapered at all.  Our bodies take a beating from these drugs, I wish I'd never taken any of them, except that I learned a valuable lesson.

 

I'm very glad to hear you don't buy into the label the Dr gave you, who needs anymore of those?  We're glad you're here, and you'll find we have a few folks who are benzo free as long as you are and still faced with some challenges.

 

Pam

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Thanks very much.  I highly suspect my current meds were/are a part of the problem (possibly prolonging withdrawal), though I honestly don't know.  That I was practically med-free for several months and then "relapsed" is puzzling and honestly, when I'm having a bad day (ie depersonalized and obsessive) I start thinking "maybe the psychiatrist is right", but then I return to the fact that I had NONE of these symptoms until the cold-turkey of the clonazepam and assure myself otherwise. 

 

I look forward to meeting people with similar experiences, particularly those tapering tegretol/Seroquel in the presence of being benzo-free.  Also those who developed new, intrusive, self-defeating obsessive thoughts while in benzo w/d.

8)

 

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Hi NMP2011,

 

I was also erroneously labeled PTSD for pill pushing purposes.  I truly wish these people would get a clue as to the long term suffering they are causing people with these brain altering drugs.  But the good news is you saw through it all and are working hard at doing what needs to be done to over come the situation.

 

You really have done a lot of work so far.  You are an inspiration to many.  Keep up the good work and remain strong in faith that this is not going to continue forever.  Best Wishes!

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Hi NMP2011,

 

Psychiatrists have to put labels on their clients in order to justify the drugs they prescribe.  It is not unusual, although not common, to get hit with symptoms at the 18th month mark.  Our minds and bodies stay so sensitive to stress for a long time after our last doses.  Also, many of us have learned not to use the word 'withdrawal' when talking to our docs after the first couple of months.  We have had an injury to our brain which affects alot of our bodily systems.  The good thing is that our brain is resilient and will eventually become healed.  You are definately on the right track, IMO.  Welcome to BB.

 

Patty  xo

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Thanks everyone!  Obviously, I am leaving quite a bit out of the story; I will just say my spiritual life wasn't what it could have been and I believe that has contributed also (to the symptom resurgence).  I'm working on that track.  And there are the very real life stresses--four small children, work, etc.

 

I agree-very unwise to talk withdrawal at 18 months to a psychiatrist who doesn't believe in it at 18 days! 

 

Trying to discern what is anxiety and what is akathesia.  I believe the two often overlap.  Since becoming "therapeutic" on the tegretol (along with the Seroquel), I have some days (like today) where my brain is quite foggy--almost to the depersonalization point--and I feel I could fall asleep at the drop of a hat, but at the same time I have that inner restlessness.  Plus the emotional lability and a little of the weepies.  All of this I recall from the acute withdrawal period.  I believe this is indeed (mostly) akathesia from the Seroquel.  I believe there must be a "discussion of symptoms" thread somewhere here and will find it if I ever get these kids to bed!

 

I am aware we are not here to discuss Seroquel/Tegretol withdrawal; I do so only as they are intimately intertwined with my benzo w/d journey.

 

Again, much gratitude for the board.  Goodnight!

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I've heard about the links to akathesia and Seroquel, very troubling.  You're welcome to discuss your other medications on the Other Prescribed Medications board, we understand many of our members are poly drugged. 

 

Have a look around the forum when you've put the kids to bed.  ;)

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I did just that and found a link to something I'd heard back on Benzo Island--atypicals actually contra-indicated in benzo w/d.  Easy to understand why--give someone who is already quite anxious a generous helping of akathesia and everything gets worse.  Understanding now that my own benzo w/d was made worse by large doses of Seroquel. 

 

It takes time to sort things out. 

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Hello NMP, welcoming you to BenzoBuddies.

 

I am sad to read about the symptoms you are dealing with due to stress and other medications so far out from your last benzo. I'm glad to see that you managed to avoid reinstating on benzos.  One thing I was pretty amazed at was how you managed to stay on 3 mgs of klonopin from 1996 until 2009 without increasing your dose.  I have known people on small doses for long periods of time but usually once they start getting into the higher dose territory the tolerance occurs at a quicker rate (my observation).  The fact that you were using a lot of alcohol probably masked some of the tolerance withdrawals but at the same time may have increased your tolerance to klonopin.

 

Back in the middle of April I was worried I may be Bipolar II but like you I didn't display any of the core traits like manic-depressive symptoms or hypomania.  After I had a bad reaction to an anti-depressant I went online and found that people with bipolar disorder don't tolerate ADs well and I immediately self-diagnosed and made the connection.  Long story short, my panic, stress, and worry led me to taking 4.5 mgs of klonopin within several days which led me back into horrible withdrawal for a few weeks.  I survived and I am now on the road to recovery.

 

I agree that stress coupled with the fast tapering off tegetrol and inderal, and the fast tapering of seroquel (as well as its side effects) may have been too much for you at that time.  There are several members here who have had issues with tapering seroquel as well as getting off of beta blockers.  The good news is that all in all you haven't really set your recovery back from benzodiazepines, and that is a huge positive.  I think this time you should nurture yourself a little more and taper 1 med at a time at a rate your body agrees with.  Do your best to keep unneeded stresses out of your life until you are far off in your recovery.

 

I hope you stick around so we can support your through the rest of your wellness journey,

 

Crono

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Hello all and thank-you Crono,

 

That's a point I've thought about also (why didn't use of klonopin escalate)--I reached the same conclusion you did--the alcohol "helped".  I am very grateful to be back on the road to being med-free.

 

Honestly, I still have those lurking fears "what if the psychiatrist was right", but then I come back to the fact that I experienced NONE of my troubling symptoms until cold-turkeying clonazepam in June 2009. 

 

My recent Seroquel experiences have helped me realize it was indeed making the withdrawal worse. 

 

Currently I am sleeping just fine on 100 mg Seroquel at bedtime and the akathesia I had at 200-300 mg is gone completely.  Also, the nightmares are gone.  I plan to taper 25 mg a month, on the first of each month.  I'm increasing exercise, watching my diet and doing more meditation--all things that were helpful in getting med-free the first time.  My Tegretol I have at 750 mg/day and will probably go to 700 mg.  I'm not trying to taper it right now, but I get a little nausea (not terrible, just a little annoying) and some night sweats from it at 800 mg.  My plan is to probably taper it 100 mg/month after the Seroquel is gone and I'm sleeping well.  Cross that bridge when I get there.

 

As always, I have the temptation to taper rapidly when I'm feeling good.  But I no longer think this makes me bipolar; I think it makes me human. 

 

I have also experiences a significant reduction in depersonalization/intrusive fear BUT--I still can't go to the movies in a theater.  When I was still in acute withdrawal in June of 2009, I took my stepson to see a Harry Potter film and was sick (nausea, vertigo, terror) for 3 days after!  Way too much stimuli.  Going into theatres still gives me this lousy "underwater", bizarre feeling.  I tested it out taking the kids to a movie yesterday and it flipped my switch the wrong way for sure. 

 

Interesting sidenote--I have a friend who has been living abroad for the last decade--he has returned home with a benzo-dependence thanks to the doctors across the pond--I was able to tell him about this site as well as pass on some literature from Dr. Breggin.  It feels good to spread the word, I really believe this movement is going to continue to grow and eventually effect large-scale change.  One person at a time!

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I wasn't able to go to movies for over a year after I quit Klonopin, so what you're feeling is perfectly normal, or should I say common?  I'm glad to hear you were able to provide your friend with some information, hopefully he'll be able to find his way to freedom.
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