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Help with this nightmare...


[R....]

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It has been over a year since I have detoxified myself from the drugs Heroin and Cocaine, and dropped the casual use of all recreational drugs. Since then, I have recovered from street drugs and managed to write a book over the course of two months. I think it was simply to see if I could do it. For five years I have been on the medication Clonazepam (a moderate 2 MG a day) to treat epilepsy, anxiety and essential tremor, but more recently I had begun to note a substantial increase in my fear and anxiety while still on the medication. In July or early August, I somehow misplaced my prescription and began full withdrawal from Clonazepam. I didn't know then what I know now. Here is what I experienced, as I will highlight every detailed feeling exactly as it was felt. Please note that this is truly the worst withdrawal I have ever experienced, as well as the most terrifying. I was a smoker for nine years, and literally dropped it like a bad habit (with ease) as soon as I felt what it was to go through what I believe to be benzodiazepine withdrawal. Here are the symptoms exactly as they began to surface: Irritation, heightened tremor and painful muscle spasms, days (a week at the longest) of mind-numbing insomnia, HEAVY heart palpitations, tingling all over and the falling asleep of whole appendages, diarreha, gastric and other internal disturbances (literally feeling your stomach, intestines and insides "move"), skin crawling and burning, the same metallic taste associated with seizures, heavy sweating without a fever, blurred vision and hallucinations, a generalized fear and anxiety directed towards everything, a total fear and loss of interest in things you would ordinarily find engaging, loss of appetite, slowed thought (completely clouded or cluttered and non-linear thought), head and body aches (internal and external, to include marked flank pain (kidneys) and other unidentifiable pains from within), extreme sensory sensitivity (I noted that hearing (as it spikes the heart-rate and there can be a ringing) is the most effected sense (although everything seems to be affected)), amnesia (memory loss now felt even when I take the medication at times--and the most frightening element of this experience in retrospect), and what I call "The Waking Nightmare," or the effect when all of the previously stated symptoms are simeultaneously stacked, you feel like you are in some kind of dream, and you not only feel as if you have lost your mind--others can see it! My girlfriend is an RN, and she believes that I am crazy. Out of desperation from the symptoms, I returned to the medication, but have a fear to go off of the medication again--but a new passion to do so. My doctor does not want me off of the medication as he feels it is "good for my anxiety." With all due respect to the doctor, and with epilepsy no longer a viable factor in my life, I never want to endure again what I have in the last 1-2 months. I am now a day off of the medication again, and am going to try to wean myself off of the dose. My first question is: Am I crazy in thinking that this medication is producing these effects? I have never felt anything like it (and I have felt quite a bit), but when I am told I am crazy can't help but feel that I am that way. I admit that when I was without the medication I acted EXTREMELY irrationally, but miraculously returned to normalcy when the medicine was reintroduced. Second: What is the general concensus on how to fight this nightmare if the reason I am feeling these insane symptoms IS indeed the medication? I believe with all my heart that it is the medicine, but could use some help that doctors cannot provide--personal experience with fighting this. My greatest concern at this point is that I might have a seizure and die going through this. I apologize if all of this sounds so insane, because it is. The pain of this withdrawal far surpasses that of opioid withdrawal, and that was horrible. I have never felt anything as volatile as this--like a roller coaster that just fell off the tracks--and if you saw me in the heights of this and you were a doctor you might just diagnose me with every mental condition known to man. If anyone can provide insight, I would be so very grateful. I want to be purged and clean of every medication possible, and this is the last of the narcotics to go. I have a baby on the way, by the way, so a great deal is leaning on my sanity and ability to be a solid parent. Inside, I know that if I can endure this I can conquer anything. It is a matter of checking my sanity and finding out what works with this withdrawal. I am willing to go to whatever lengths to put a stop to this unbelieveably powerful and long-lasting nightmare. My utmost respect and heart goes out to those of you who have endured many months of this. For me, it felt like I was staring death square in the face for the first time.

**Today is technically day two of sobriety, and I may very well have to take the helm at this point in weaning myself off of Clonazepam since the doctor is uninterested in doing so. I am very passionate about fighting this if withdrawal is what I am facing, but am honestly afraid of what I felt during the first go around (I went to the hospital several times out of sheer fear). I feel like a wimp in not being stronger...but I can't imagine anything worse, and have never experienced anything close to the agony I described...so here I am in search of answers and aid that much of the medical community has demonstrated they cannot give. Mild symptoms had begun to present themselves while I took the medication, so I seem to be cornered right now--a unique position that I've only ever felt with this medication (and I know it is this medication). How can a medication that produces these kind of symptoms be marketable or legal? Heroin was so much easier to break!

My current medications are as follows:

*Clonazepam 2 MG per day (1 AM, 1 PM)

*Divalproex (Depakote): 1250 MG PM

*Geodon 160 MG (80 AM, 80 PM) for Bi-Polar Disorder.

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Hi R.D.,

 

You don't have to feel like a wimp when it comes to Benzo withdrawal, it's a hard, tough, battle, but you will do it. I see that you are having many of the classic withdrawal symptoms.

 

Keep asking lots of questions. There are many folks here who will help and support you.

 

Good luck to you. Congratulations on the forthcoming baby in your life.

 

pj

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you are not alone in here. i thought i was insane the first few weeks off xanax and had many of the same symptoms.  i was so afraid that this was the new normal for me and was very scared, couldn't sleep, had serious anxiety and depression. i started to excercise regularily, watched my diet and started to pray alot. the process seemed so slow but here i am at the 10 month mark of being off the living hell. i still have some issues but it is so much easier to deal with the symptoms which seem to be less frequent and less severe. i remember how slow time would progress, however i never thought that i would get to 10 months. you can do it. i really think it's the medicine. it would't hurt to get a physical and find out for sure that you don't have any other physical problems. there were so many times that i questioned whether benzo withdrawal was really the problem or something else. you can and will feel beter. everyone is different and so don't get too caught up in reading other posts in this site.
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PJ,

Thank you. I am new to this withdrawal and its horrifying effects. For now I am trying to simply cope with the early stage of cold turkey, but am trying to find a proper method to lower my dose. As tapering is suggested and I still recieve a prescription, does anyone have an idea on how I might be able to come down from a 2 MG/day dose of Clonazepam? A 10% drop off of a 1 MG pill is a little difficult to cut. Should I half my dosage? My endurance is high, and I have very little time to drop this medication. I want it gone, but it has shown itself to be wildly difficult to simply quit. Getting people around you to understand what you are going through is also incredibly difficult. The fact that ANY drug produces this number of symptoms is stupifying to me. I never would have guessed its power until it slammed me in the face. I'm ex-military, and have been on this medication since the military. This is rough stuff.

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Denden,

Prayer was about all I did the first time I dropped the medicine. I was scared mindless, and sure I was going to die--though I know I will make it through with support. I have been to the hospital and have been evaluated and am physically healthy. What they told me, however, was quite interesting. They dosed me on 1 MG of intravenous Ativan and indicated that my withdrawal was over at about fifteen days. Approximately four days after the Ativan dose the symptoms came back full power--if not stronger! It is scary to me that a doctor would indicate that withdrawal is complete at a certain time when the symptoms are in fact increasing in severity. I gave it an equivalent amount of time out to check that the doctor was not correct, but about fifteen days after the Ativan dose my symptoms were still escalating.

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PJ,

Thank you. I am new to this withdrawal and its horrifying effects. For now I am trying to simply cope with the early stage of cold turkey, but am trying to find a proper method to lower my dose. As tapering is suggested and I still recieve a prescription, does anyone have an idea on how I might be able to come down from a 2 MG/day dose of Clonazepam? A 10% drop off of a 1 MG pill is a little difficult to cut. Should I half my dosage? My endurance is high, and I have very little time to drop this medication. I want it gone, but it has shown itself to be wildly difficult to simply quit. Getting people around you to understand what you are going through is also incredibly difficult. The fact that ANY drug produces this number of symptoms is stupifying to me. I never would have guessed its power until it slammed me in the face. I'm ex-military, and have been on this medication since the military. This is rough stuff.

 

Very few people can understand the pain of withdrawing from benzos, it is something that has to be experienced. How can you explain to them that such a little pill can pack such a big punch?

 

I can't give you advice on tapering, since I went c/t from this poison. I'm sure others will chime in regarding the best way to taper. You can also check out the tapering forum for information. Thank you for your military service.

 

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PJ,

Thanks so much for your reply. I may very well go C/T as well if I don't find a tapering plan. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms despite dosing, so going through the madness head first may be for the best. This site is truly fascinating. I've been reading some of the threads and feel so very comfortable hearing the support of the members and the fact that they are going through or have gone through THE SAME THING. To me, it's completely unthinkable! It's good to know I can find some level of comfort here as I let me body return to its normal state. I'm sure I'll be posting updates on everything as my brain begins its journey back to its ordinary state. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to the computer without getting freaked out! God bless, PJ! If you pray, keep me in yours.

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Dear RD

 

You are not crazy!  What is insane is that this so called med is still given to people and that the medicall profession doesn't know about this!

 

Every symptom you have mention is common in benzo withdrawl.

 

I'm 21 month now, and still struggling.  So much has gotten better, but far from what I used to be for sure.

 

Hang in there and use this experience for your next book.  It will be a national bestseller.  Over 3 million prescriptions are handed out each year of this poison. 

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PJ,

Thanks so much for your reply. I may very well go C/T as well if I don't find a tapering plan. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms despite dosing, so going through the madness head first may be for the best. This site is truly fascinating. I've been reading some of the threads and feel so very comfortable hearing the support of the members and the fact that they are going through or have gone through THE SAME THING. To me, it's completely unthinkable! It's good to know I can find some level of comfort here as I let me body return to its normal state. I'm sure I'll be posting updates on everything as my brain begins its journey back to its ordinary state. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to the computer without getting freaked out! God bless, PJ! If you pray, keep me in yours.

 

 

Please don't go c/t. A seizure is a very real possibility. I'm sure you will find a tapering plan that will suit you. I will pray for you and your wife and that precious baby.

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I'm discussing with her how I am going to taper now, per your response, PJ. She said a pill can be cut into halves or a quarter, so I am going to attempt cutting down from 2 MG to 1.5 MG per day to see where that gets me. My plan is to journal everything, even when writing becomes impossible or I sound like a madman, because I feel that it's important to understand how the medicine is directly effecting me during the taper (if at all). Let's hope not at all, but writing has always been something I can do EXCEPT during the month I was without Clonazepam. If I can push myself to write during this phase, I feel that it will greatly benefit both myself and my general ability to function. As for the industry, it is unfathomable to think of the volume of people (men, women, CHILDREN) that are prescribed benzodiazepines each year for various issues and just how both knowledgable and ignorant the medical community is on the issue. I was checked into the hospital for the withdrawal of heroin, but that period of time was short. The withdrawal from the benzodiazepine is far worse to be felt not only because of the symptoms alone, but because the symptoms hold the potential to be questioned while they are very real. Normal people do not stay up for a week at a time, their heads shoved into a pillow begging for mercy, searching for answers as they look around and think simply, "How is this level of agony possible? And how exactly do I survive this?" Those are the questions I asked myself--the few simple moments in bed that I can remember, since I simply could not move anywhere else without someone accompanying me and forget so many moments I'm sure were essential as time stood still. I'm sure the withdrawal is so much worse for people who have sustained high doses while mine is moderate. So, I am going to attempt the wise approach to this and gradually taper myself as little as possible. Any kind of input at the approximate time I should stay at this level is highly appreciated. Unfortunately, there are apparently very few doctors (even psychiatrists) who seem to comprehend the true feeling of this medication on the same level as their patients, and I would agree that this has to be felt to be believed. It made me question everything.
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Hi R.D.

 

I know you want to be done with this drug but it may be best to take it slower than you are now. If you go too fast you can risk having protracted withdrawal symptoms that will make this process last a lot longer. Can you get your doctor to prescribe a .5 mg tab or switch you to Valium? Valium lasts longer and you can take smaller doses, this might be easier for you, it looks like you're having a rough time.  

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I'll have to ask him about the Valium on Monday, but that sounds like a great idea due to the half-life issue and the wider range of dosing. I'm not sure what to do if he is not on board with the Valium, as he didn't want me coming off of the Clonazepam at all. I'm sure if I convey that I want to see if I can safetly come off and push it he will aid me in doing so. I'll have to see what he says this time.
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@[RD...]

 

That being said, I have heard (mostly from a previous doctor) that some people can handle making cuts like that without a problem.  There is the chance that you may be in that category.  I don't think many people on BB have had that experience though.

 

You may want to read up a little bit about issues related to crossing over to V.  I've heard of some people having a hard time with it (at least initially) because a comparable dose of V after crossing over from 2mg K will make you very sleepy.  For some reason a lot of doctors don't like writing scripts for large doses of V also.  I'm sure that they worry about people not really needing so many pills and selling them to friends.

 

In any case you definitely don't want to start off tapering with 1mg pills.  The shape of them makes them very difficult to cut right, and the dosage makes it near impossible to make small cuts.  .5mg is a good place to start

 

The pdoc that I saw during my taper didn't like the idea of me cutting pills, so he rx'd .125mg tabs that would dissolve in your mouth.  After months of obsessing over trying to cut my .5mg tabs exactly into 4 pieces, they made life a lot easier (at least until I started making smaller cuts than that).

 

Take care,

 

Mike

 

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I'll have to ask him about the Valium on Monday, but that sounds like a great idea due to the half-life issue and the wider range of dosing. I'm not sure what to do if he is not on board with the Valium, as he didn't want me coming off of the Clonazepam at all. I'm sure if I convey that I want to see if I can safetly come off and push it he will aid me in doing so. I'll have to see what he says this time.

 

If nothing else maybe you can talk him into the .5mg tabs. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this, I hope you give us an update on your plan.

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I'll definitely talk to the doctor about the smaller doses. That sounds like a brilliant plan. I think at this point dealing with the social aspect of this is what is affecting me the most. Having someone that supposedly cares about you call you a freak for being so concerned about this particular issue is not something that is easy to deal with, but I'm certain that I am not the only person who copes with that reality. Perhaps there's no better word for me than "freak," because I really do feel petrified of the withdrawal. I am very afraid of it, and I know that the fear of the fear increases and blindsides you to real symptoms. I've felt what this withdrawal can do, and it is unlike anything I've ever known. This is not going to be easy, and I know it's going to take me some time. It's nice to know there are people out there like yourself, Mike, who have withstood this tidal wave and can help newbies like myself out. I can feel my heart just start to pick up pace right now, my hands shake and my head begin to feel as if there was something swirling around inside of it. Day two of withdrawal: Anxiety.
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Early on in my recovery I'd wake up in the morning and the first thought being -noooo not another day of this torture - I didn't feel at the time that it would ever leave me but it did. This drug has an amazing way to convince us that this fear is real, that the sun will never shine again, that we are doomed to never recover. It just isn't so, we do recover. Your mind and body is trying to right itself of the absence of the drug, you're not a "freak", you're healing. Try to spoil yourself a little and not give into the thought that you're 'crazy' or a freak. You will come out of this in time, it may not be as fast as you'd like but it will lift and you'll come out of this a stronger person with a much richer perspective of life.

 

Hang in there R.D. this will all be a bad memory someday. You'll be so much stronger for having the resilience to endure, and you'll gain a very unique ability to not sweat the small stuff.  :mybuddy:  

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There are several others on here who are also tapering and dealing with epilepsy....David49 and Sigma0123. David is making small cuts to avoid seizures.
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Starbird, Klondike...thank you! Starbird, I'm hoping and praying right now that my understanding of this grows. I remember at about fifteen days C/T waking up and thinking "NOT THIS AGAIN!" after going days with no sleep. A horrible analogy, but it was like taking the most bitter medicine as you got up. I remember a distinct feeling that is beginning now that concentrates itself in the head around the back two hemispheres of the brain and sort of echoes down into aches and pains throughout the body as you "wake up" and move around. Right now, I find it funny how much I can "feel" my brain. I don't know if anyone else felt this way early on, but I recall this from the first w/d. Once you get moving, the day is definitely tolerable at points...but painful the entire time to some degree. I've not been far enough out to experience any kind of normalcy. Some of the memories are starting to come back to me now, but I'm taking your advice and trying to focus on warm, fuzzy, happy things. That seems to be working right now.  :)
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