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Could use some advice from experience.


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This is my first post to the forum, I never thought that I would need the aid and knowledge of a group of people when my doctor prescribed me Ativan 3 months ago.  I was originally diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan in 2007.  Since then I had made major strides with my psychologist and hadn't needed any type of medication to recover.  I worked away at getting some college courses finished up in the past years and then took the paramedic program at college.  Everything went fantastic until a few months ago when I developed terrible health anxiety for some reason and wound up in the Emergency Room convinced I was having a heart attack.  After ECG's and a follow up echo I was told that my heart is in immaculate shape like a 26 year old heart should be.  I was given Xanax by the emergency room physician and then put on Ativan by my family doctor.

 

I was taking 1.5mg sublingually a day of Ativan to fight off the anxiety along with my psychologist's assistance.  I have now been on anti anxiety medications for about 3 months and am feeling almost back to normal as far as anxiety goes.  I have tapered myself down to 0.25mg of Ativan a day.  I am planning on discontinuing my Ativan on Friday after my final exams for school. 

 

During my tapering I have been hammered by headaches in my temples most of the day.  Jaw pain that seems to be the worst in my parotid gland region just belong my mandible.  Sternocleidomastoid pain as well as a feeling as if someone is sitting on my head and there is a rediculously tight hat on my head.  My vision seems to be extremely poor and I am very sensitive to bright light.  I wake up every morning with pain in my rib cage that moves around to different parts of my ribs throughout the morning and usually dissapears by the afternoon.

 

Before benzo use I was 100% physically healthy and a competitive hockey player.  I now find it incredibly difficult to go to the gym or maintain a physical activity regimen anywhere near my past levels.

 

The main point of my post is to try and ascertain whether all of these physical feelings that I have can be traced back to my tapering and withdrawal.  Mentally I am 90% better and hopefully I don't suffer to much rebound anxiety during my withdrawal.

 

I thank any and all advice I receive from this forum.  Thank you all and I wish you all the best in your withdrawals.

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Hopefully you will hear from a lot of people, but I think it's safe to say that muscle pain and general feelings of malaise are a normal part if coming off benzos. I'm in a c/t from 14 years' use and just getting up to come to the computer takes all the mental and physical focus that I can generate.

 

Your sxs sound pretty normal to me, and I congratulate you on your ability to stick to a taper. I never could, which is why c/t is the only way I can get this crap out of my body and let my brain heal.

 

Hang in there. I wish you the best.

 

Tucson

 

Me on Day 15 of a reinstated c/t:  :idiot:

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Thank you for your reply, the taper I did was pretty rapid actually (about 3 weeks) I tried going cold turkey about a month and a half ago, but the crippling anxiety made me last about 4 days so I reinstated.  I just wanted to get to the bottom of these physical symtpoms, as blood work and everything else has come back fine on me and to go from having no pain whatsoever before benzos, to the almost debilitating pain I am in now is quite a shock.  I am sure people have suffered far greater pain than I have, its just going from 0-60 in a few months needs some reassurance I suppose.
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This is my first post to the forum, I never thought that I would need the aid and knowledge of a group of people when my doctor prescribed me Ativan 3 months ago.  I was originally diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan in 2007.  Since then I had made major strides with my psychologist and hadn't needed any type of medication to recover.  I worked away at getting some college courses finished up in the past years and then took the paramedic program at college.  Everything went fantastic until a few months ago when I developed terrible health anxiety for some reason and wound up in the Emergency Room convinced I was having a heart attack.  After ECG's and a follow up echo I was told that my heart is in immaculate shape like a 26 year old heart should be.  I was given Xanax by the emergency room physician and then put on Ativan by my family doctor.

 

I was taking 1.5mg sublingually a day of Ativan to fight off the anxiety along with my psychologist's assistance.  I have now been on anti anxiety medications for about 3 months and am feeling almost back to normal as far as anxiety goes.  I have tapered myself down to 0.25mg of Ativan a day.  I am planning on discontinuing my Ativan on Friday after my final exams for school. 

 

During my tapering I have been hammered by headaches in my temples most of the day.  Jaw pain that seems to be the worst in my parotid gland region just belong my mandible.  Sternocleidomastoid pain as well as a feeling as if someone is sitting on my head and there is a rediculously tight hat on my head.  My vision seems to be extremely poor and I am very sensitive to bright light.  I wake up every morning with pain in my rib cage that moves around to different parts of my ribs throughout the morning and usually dissapears by the afternoon.

 

Before benzo use I was 100% physically healthy and a competitive hockey player.  I now find it incredibly difficult to go to the gym or maintain a physical activity regimen anywhere near my past levels.

 

The main point of my post is to try and ascertain whether all of these physical feelings that I have can be traced back to my tapering and withdrawal.  Mentally I am 90% better and hopefully I don't suffer to much rebound anxiety during my withdrawal.

 

I thank any and all advice I receive from this forum.  Thank you all and I wish you all the best in your withdrawals.

 

Hi Rusty,

 

It sure sounds like withdrawal (w/d) symptoms to me. The thing about tapering benzos fast is it takes your brain a little while to catch up and start to regulate the natural calming chemicals it naturally makes and our CNS is waking back up at the same time.

 

I've had the temple pounding headaches, sensitivity to sound and costochondritis (inflammation of the sternum and ribs) when I cold turkey'ed before. 

 

For some reason a lot of members say it's more difficult toward the end and slow down their taper to accommodate their physical symtoms, like jumping at .0625mg instead of .25mg, but everyone is different so the important thing is to listen to your body and slow down if need be.

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Hi Rusty,

Yes, it definately sounds it is due to the benzos. The ones you mentioned I have seen posted here!  The physical symptoms are a reality and new ones come and old ones go - that helped me a lot to be able to deal with it - I knew it could happen and just had to fight one day at a time.  Our good days are ahead Rusty!

 

I did a rapid taper of 3 weeks, but it was the 3rd and 4th months that were just not bearable. If only I knew about BB then. I thought I was home free because at 3 or 4 weeks had some symptoms but docs told me it couldn't be benzo w/d since it was out of my system. Such a crock! I reinstated, educated myself and leveled out. Been doing an extremely slow taper since then. It's been much more manageable. As much as i want this junk out of my body and brain, I want to minimize the w/d symptoms, so even if it takes another six months decreasing my last .5 mg dose of it, I will do that if needed.  I'm so sorry for all you have been through especially as you have sacrificed for our country. Keep in touch and hoping to hear from you on the forum.

amb

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Hi Rusty,

 

Sorry to hear about your w/d symptoms but I can assure you I've been there done that. For me the physical symptoms have been at times disabling. I never knew my body could hurt so much. That being said, know that you will heal. It just takes times for the brain to stop sending these weird messages to our bodies. I went from being very active to doing nothing. I stared biking last month and bike 3-4times a week now. I even ran this week.

 

Just listen to your body and try not to push it. It won't make the healing come quicker.

 

Best wishes on your healing.

 

Pianogirl

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Hi Rusty

 

When I was getting off of my benzo and for the first 2 to 3 months I had an uncomfortableness on my left side just at the ribcage and it went under the armpit into my back and I believe this was due to severe muscle tension that was going on. It did leave eventually, but has recently returned with some added stress in my life. I was definitely sensitive to bright light and nosies at that time too, but that has left. Still have vision issues though.

 

Wishing you the best in your healing journey!

 

Marta

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Thank you all for your words of wisdom and wishing me the best.  I am not a very easily emotional figure most of the time, but your kind words really make me feel like I have support during this.  My wife is helpful but like most others they don't seem to believe that a prescribed medication can have physical withdrawal symptoms such as I am experiencing.  Thank you all for your help.
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Rusty

My husband for the most part tries to understand, but I think when you have no experience to relate to this, it is hard to understand or imagine. My husband was recently sick with the flu and he said to me that he tried to imagine what it would be like to feel that crappy all the time, so I know he thinks about it and just him saying that made me feel supported. At times it does wear on him though as I am not participating in things around the house like I normally would and he is left to carry the weight. I look at it this way, its hard enough for me to always understand what I am going through, so I can only imagine someone who can not relate must have great difficulty.

 

Marta

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My doctor also seems to think that I have not been on benzos long enough or had a high enough dose to experience withdrawal.  It is frustrating that the medical community in general doesn't realise how potent these drugs are.
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My doctor also seems to think that I have not been on benzos long enough or had a high enough dose to experience withdrawal.  It is frustrating that the medical community in general doesn't realise how potent these drugs are.

 

I agree, but my experience is the same as far as I should have been pat it within a month. Since there is more and more stress in the world I 'm sure there are more and more people being prescribed these things that eventually there will be enough people that they will have to put 2 and 2 together. At least this is my hope.

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Even though I am only a paramedic I am going to do my best to at least spread the word as best I can about these drugs.  The best thing I can take from this experience that now I at least can understand what a patient with anxiety is going through as well as dealing with benzos and the pain that both of these can make you feel.
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Even though I am only a paramedic I am going to do my best to at least spread the word as best I can about these drugs.  The best thing I can take from this experience that now I at least can understand what a patient with anxiety is going through as well as dealing with benzos and the pain that both of these can make you feel.

 

Rusty,

 

I think you have a great attitude. The more medical professionals who understand what benzos do and have compassion for benzo sufferers the better off the world will be. :thumbsup:

 

There is a really good book called Benzo-Wise, A Recovery Companion written by Bliss Johns, a woman who went through benzo withdrawal. I have read it and showed it to my family so that they understand what I'm going through better. It helps.

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Thanks, I will look it up.  I am battling a terrible headache at the moment.  It seems the longer the day goes on the worst the headache gets.  Its non existent when sleeping and when I first wake up.
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HI Rusty,

 

I am also a short term user...if you look through this site you will see a couple of "short-term" threads...

You are not alone in having symptoms much longer than the doctors suggest...all of us have been told there was no way we could still be suffering. While it is true that the Valium I took was out of my system within a month or so and to many people--it might not have caused any w/d issues, my brain receptors did not recover in that time frame.

In my case, the jaw pain has been significant...I have had clogged ears along with this that has been annoying.  I  had the chest pain and terrible stomach problems in the early days when I stopped at 2mg of Valium.  (.25 Ativan would be more than that)

That came with severe anxiety.  Those symptoms all were a little better in the evening after the first few miserable days when everything was really intense.  That lasted for a few weeks and then I was better for about a week and then a second wave of visual stuff and malaise hit.  My only remaining symptoms are the clogged/pressure ears, headaches which can be bad but come and go, and face/jaw pain.  It is pretty manageable though.  I c/t beginning of June, so it would be 3 1/2 months. 

I think the short term/relatively low dose user generally gets off lighter for a shorter time frame as the research suggests, but for many of us, it is more intense and longer than the doctors tell us. 

On another note, my daughter had PTSD (adopted) and EMDR was effective.  I know they use it for returning Vets---also, I have read that the drugs they are using to treat PTSD For the vets are proving to be ineffective.(and dangerous)

All my best

Michele

 

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Thank you for your reply.  It seems that the way to treat veterans with PTSD is to give them drug after drug until they are either doped up enough to give up on things or they have run the gammit of drugs and are back to square one.  I was prescribed, seroquel, paxil and xanax and never took them.  The only reason I gave in finally after 4 years of this was I was in college and stressed out enough as it was, they caught me at a weak point and now I have to pay the consequences getting off benzos.
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Rusty123

 

Just listened to a really interesting webcast from a radio show by Dr Peter Breggin about pharm drug use in the military.

It is on his website  breggin.com

If you look to the left side of the site, there will be something like Live Radio--if you go to the achives, probably on page 2 it is the show with Bob someone that I listened to, but there are others.  Also on this site, there is a video of what he told congress -

You may find this really interesting...it will definately validate your experience.

Shell

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