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My Benzo Story


[Ar...]

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Starting in late January I was in a situation at work where I was completely worried about keeping my job with the massive amounts of budget cuts happening and it seemed as if people were getting laid off left and right.  It was really causing me a lot of anxiety, especially since I need to help take care of my wife and two kids with our two incomes.  I saw a psychiatrist for the first time in my life in early February about my anxiety.  He prescribed me Lorazepam (Ativan) .5mg to be taken up to 3x a day (90 pills).  I had never taken any psychiatric medicine in my life and had no knowledge about any of it.  So, I took it about 2 times a day for the first two weeks and then mostly relied on it occasionally to sleep at night.  What I didn't know was that it was a benzo and that they can possibly be addictive (my psychiatrist never told me anything about that).  I took 85 pills over the course of 114 days.  So, a pretty low dose, but over the course of about 4 months.

 

In mid-April I had another bout with depression and anxiety.  That was when I sustained a nerve injury.  As a few weeks went by the pain didn't subside and I was beginning to get worried.  I checked websites about nerve injuries and began to get scared that maybe I had a permanent nerve injury.  It hurt to walk, sit down, and play with my kids.  I was in total misery.  I saw a doctor and a urologist and they just told me to give it time.  I'm not a very patient person so it really began to get to me and I'm positive that I drove my wife crazy with my anxiety about it.  At around 7 weeks the pain almost seemed to be worse and I could only sit in my office chair for about an hour at a time before it was too painful.  At that time I decided that I needed to do something about the pain and my depression and anxiety.  I met with the psychiatrist again and they had prescribed me seroquel for my anxiety (I've later learned that was a strange choice for them to prescribe to me as it is a powerful drug).  Later that week I decided that maybe I needed to get an antidepressent.  First, they prescribed me Citalopram (Celexa, an SSRI).  I only took about 2 pills before I saw one of the commercials for Cymbalta that talked about how it could help with depression and pain.  I figured, GREAT now I can take a pill that can help with both!  So, I contacted my psychiatrist office again and they immediately put me on Cymbalta 30mg.  I was supposed to take that for a week and then move up to 60mg after that.

 

Well, as I said I've never been on an anti-depressant before so I had no idea what to expect.  That first day that I took it (in the afternoon... bad choice!) I felt super light headed and my heart was racing about a million miles a minute.  I immediately went home and asked my mother to watch over me (she's retired) in case I needed to get rushed to the hospital.  I didn't expect it to affect me like that at all.  My wife convinced me to keep with it as she had heard that it takes a while for these to kick in and that they can sometimes have a rough start.  So, I reluctantly took it for another 5 days (6 days total) before I couldn't take it anymore.  On day 2 I felt like I was in a brain fog and loopy.  My head felt full and it was difficult to concentrate.  I also felt short of breathe and I had no appetite at all.  She encouraged me to press on through the weekend.  The symptoms seemed to gradually get better, but it was on day 4 that I first got woken up in the middle of the night by the dreaded jerk.  I thought it was just a strange incident that would go away (little did I know!).  The next day was when I began to notice my right inner elbow twitching and a jerking feeling in my left shoulder and abdomen.  That was when I knew that I needed to get off this medication.  My wife agreed and I just stopped taking it after the sixth day.

 

The jerking and twitching continued and it was completely unnerving for me and still is.  Luckily, the twitch in my right arm has gone away, but I still occasionally will get the jerk in my left shoulder and in my abdomen.  The lack of sleep REALLY got to me in the 2nd and 3rd week and I felt as if that I was a zombie.  I can say that I've never experienced anything like this before.  I'm almost scared to go to sleep at night, because of it.  My wife has been very understanding, but I can tell that it is really taking its toll on her too and its been very stressful on our relationship.  I'm trying to hold it together and still do my best to be a good husband and father to my children.  I'm hoping that I can work with my family doctor to continue to try and find ways to sleep.

 

I am now on day 33 of the sleep jerks.  It began four days into taking the Cymbalta and 4 days after my last Lorazepam.  My abdomen jerks/twitches seem to be getting a little better over the course of the past few days, but those were pretty minor anyway.  It was good to see that my twitch in my inner right elbow hasn't resurfaced in a couple of weeks as well.  Other than those symptoms post-Cymbalta and Lorazepam, I had some cloudiness in my head for a couple of weeks, but luckily that has passed as well.

 

The mixture of the klonopin and beta blocker has been a good one for me to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep.  However, I notice that if I wake up in the morning and try to get another little bit of sleep that the jerks return.  I've noticed that when I lay on my side and if my hand is open that it will jerk into a closed fist.  Crazy, right?  Or, I'll have my hand, shoulder, abdomen jerk and wake me up.  I wouldn't mind it as much if it didn't wake me up, but it does.  I'm going to try and test going to sleep without the klonopin this evening.  I went to a local health food store and spoke with an employee and she suggested two things to me: valerian root and a magnesium powder.  I thought that I might give it a try and see what that does for me.  She had said that melatonin could be a possibility, but that if you take it too long that your body could get accustomed to it and not produce as much melatonin.  I had read that somewhere online too so I think I might stay away from that since I'm not sure how long this is going to last.

 

So I have a strange situation where I'm not sure if my current situation has been caused by the Cymbalta and/or by the Lorazepam.  That is why I'd like to try and see if I can stop taking the Klonopin and find another way to get sleep.  I did take a drug called Sominex which has the same ingredient as Benadryl, but I've heard from numerous people that you don't get the R.E.M. sleep that you need off of that type of medication and I was only getting 3-4 hours of sleep on it anyway.

 

Why does it take so long for this drug to get out of peoples' systems?  Yikes!  I'm trying to make a strong commitment to get more exercise and I'm seeing a counselor now every week to try and deal with my anxiety without the need for medication (I'm a little scared of it now!).  I'm also trying to find better ways to relax and deal with stress.

 

Thanks for letting me share my story.

 

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Thank you for the warm welcome.  Can anyone provide me tips to trying to get a good sleep?  Since having these sleep jerks it has really messed with my sleep.  What strategies have worked the best for you?
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Hi Arcelus, welcome to BenzoBuddies

 

Sleep problems always seem to be an issue and adding a benzo sometimes can rob us of good, genuine, healthy sleep. Here is a thread with tips for getting good sleep if you're interested; http://www.benzobuddies.org/forum/index.php?board=83.0. I have the sleep jerks too, I know it's really annoying, it has gone away for me for the most part. 

 

How much Klonopin are you taking now and for how long? Did you want to taper off the Klonopin? we're here to support you any way we can.

 

Star

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Welcome aboard Arcelus!  :yippee:

 

So glad you joined the family!

 

There is a lot of very useful information on this Forum. If you type in the topic you are interested in, on the home page, you can search and discover many issues and suggestions previously discussed.

 

Also, under the insomnia thread, you will find a lot of good information. I like the body scan meditation before bedtime, it helps me to relax and let go.

 

Take care,

 

Lida

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@[...]

Yes, I think I would like to probably taper off of the klonopin.  I initially used 85 pills of .5mg Lorazepam in 114 days time.  Then, once I noticed the muscle spasm & jerk and the sleep jerks after being 4 days off of the Lorazepam (coincidentally it was also my 4th day on Cymbalta; which I've stopped).  I stopped both cold turkey for a couple of weeks.  Then, I decided that maybe I needed to get back on the Lorzepam to stop the symptoms that I was experiencing.  So I went back on .5mg of the Lorazepam for 1 week and then to .25mg for the next week (as told to me by my psychiatrist).  She didn't believe that I would experience any of my symptoms from either the Lorazepam or the Cymbalta because I was on the lowest dosage of both.  Ugh.  So, when I went to see my family doctor he prescribed me attenenol 25mg which is a beta blocker to help with anxiety and klonopin .5mg.  He wants me to be on the attenenol for the month to see how I do with that and then I can taper off of that when I need to.  He also wanted me to take the klonopin for 10 days (I'm on day 9) to help with the sleep jerks and then take "as needed".

 

So, I guess I'm wondering.  Should I try to get to sleep tonight with just the beta blocker and if I need to use the klonopin for the sleep jerks then I can try to take .25mg by cutting the pill in half?  What would people suggest?  I know through reading through posts that people try to do 10% reduction per week or every other week.  I only take one pill in the evening.  I know about the Ashton Manual as well and tapering by transitioning to valium as well.  However, since I'm still experiencing these sleep jerks for so long (33 days or so) I just want to get these drugs out of my system and try to get back to normal sleep.  Boy do I wish I never took these drugs to begin with.  These doctors need to do a hell of a lot better education for patients before subscribing these drugs.  :(

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Since you've been on Klonopin for only 9 days I think it may be safe to taper from that fairly fast, some may tell you you can cold turkey at that point but I'd find out first, you definitely don't want to take that long term and wind up in the mess like I did. I get wary of the "as needed" aspect since "as needed" can become habitual real easy, be very careful with that.

 

 

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