Merry Christmas to All

I just realized that I have abandoned this blog, charliebrowntreewhich is a thoughtless thing to do, especially coming from someone who has severe abandonment issues ūüėõ

I hope everyone’s holiday season has been well. I find holidays difficult- family get-together trigger me, and I’m clearly reminded that I don’t have a life of my own, having to tag along to my sister’s Christmas celebrations. However, I tried to stay positive (thank you Wellbutrin!), focusing on making cookies for my co-workers and neighbors, sending Christmas cards, volunteering for the Christmas Kettle, watching many Christmas movies, and going on snow walks. I can’t say this was my best Christmas but it sure beats past ones…

Actually, I should be celebrating because three years ago I OD’d and spent Christmas, New Years and my birthday in the hospital, and I haven’t been hospitalized ever since then. I have come a LONG way in three years. My psychiatrist says I’m doing a marvelous job with recovery. It’s still extremely frustrating, two steps forward, one step back. Actually, it doesn’t even follow a consistent pattern like that. Sometimes I’ll leap ten steps forward, fall flat on my face, and be unable to function for several days- that’s more like it. But all and all, as the year comes to a close, I’m grateful for the progress I have made and my current stability.

I wish everyone peace and health in the New Year!

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Hello, World

gardener-1015584_640I’m slowly starting to return to¬†this world. I’m 10lbs. lighter and I will have missed two weeks of work when I officially go back at the end of the week, but at least I didn’t end up in the hospital or SI or anything.¬†This was, in fact, an episode of DID- not depression, although from an outsider’s perspective it pretty much just looks like I had a nervous breakdown and fell into depression. (Not to mention that in the midst of it, I still always forget that it might be a DID episode, as amnesia is a key a part of the disorder.) The road back in different though. I need to stabilize my nervous system, as opposed to loading it up with antidepressants. Up goes the Topamax and Latuda and down goes the Zoloft.

I’m still not back to my fully functioning self. I managed to go to a half-day work training session today but I was majorly panicking the whole time, and was almost in tears when I had to fill out a simple form and realized that my brain is not working right yet- a form? How do I fill out a form? (Even blogging is quite the task. I’ll keep this¬†short.) I checked my work email¬†to find over 300 emails, which overwhelmed me even more. As did interacting with a few co-workers. I’m still getting those “crazy looks.” I’m not sure exactly what I look like right now- Is it because¬†I’m pale? Have dark circle under my eyes? Lost weight fast? Look stoned on more medication? Am still dissociated? Or can people actually see crazy. See that something’s not right. Whatever it is, I’m getting those looks still. One more short training session tomorrow; two more days of rest, and then I officially go back to work. I pray that I’m more stable and strong by then.

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I have crashed into that dark world of depression, once again. Either that or it’s a different, dark DID state; I can’t be bothered with particulars. My brain is no longer working. I’m semi-mute, crying constantly, terrified, sleeping excessively, plagued by guilt, and having dark thoughts. I want to escape.

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An Episode

This is what an episode of DID looks and feels like on me. I know now, after years of therapy, how to recognize and identify what’s happening. ¬†Before I would simply think I had gone mad, sometimes resulting in time off work or hospitalizations. I’m not sure how this episode will pan out, as I’m non-functional at the moment, but at least I know what’s going on.¬†I do still fluctuate between states on a daily basis, but it takes much¬†more now to make for a full-blown “episode”.

DIDMy stress level had been pushed to its limit lately with my new job. I resorted to benzos to help deal with the anxiety. I lasted awhile this way, functioning pretty well because my anxiety was managed, but then I developed a tolerance to benzos and realized it probably wasn’t wise to be drugging myself so much that I’d be nodding off at red lights on the way to work. So I quit benzos. Quite proud that I kicked the habit. However, it hit me this week that the only way I had been getting through this job was by drugging myself. Not all of the job, mind you, but the presentation-type parts where I’d be on “display;” where I couldn’t hide my anxiety.

After last week my brain snapped. I wish I could look into a brain and see exactly what happens when it simply says “NO MORE.” I had two back-to-back presentations. I took clonazepam but it barely helped. When I’m afraid, the child part of me comes forward¬†and center and I’m literally a child who must do this adult job and perform in front of all these scary people. I was terrified. I dissociated. It was blur. It was like the people were objects and I was supposed to be interacting with them but I was talking at them because they were merely objects- not people. After my blur of 70 scary, intimidating faces, and tears on the way home, my brain simply broke. It was hazy after that. The next day I spent sleeping, and since then I vacillate between mind-numbing depression and skin-crawling, jumping out of my¬†seat anxiety. (The fact that my building is testing the fire alarms today is not helping.)

This is how my DID manifests. It’s similar to re-experiencing trauma, as with PTSD but I also know that I’m not myself right now.¬†I know that I’m in a dissociated state (thanks to therapy). My eyes are glazed and have a haunted, frantic look. It’s like being in a lucid dream. You know it’s a dream but you’re living in the¬†dream world, none the less. I want to scream at myself “Wake up, you’re not under attack! Nothing is happening now.” But I can’t seem to snap out of it. My amygdala has been hijacked. I get disoriented, forgetting where I am, what day it is etc. I can type and make logical sense of what’s happening, but emotionally, I’m non-functional. If I go to Starbucks, I almost burst into tears placing my order, speaking to another person. My child self is right out in front, in control of my emotions, when it’s supposed to be my adult self running the show. This is why they say that people with DID fluctuate in their ability to function. Sometimes I’m awesome, supervising others at work, confidently doing my job; other times I’m too scared to leave my house.

I need to breathe, and pool the wisdom I have learned from my Shrink over the years. My nervous system is in¬†overdrive, so I need to do everything to calm it down. I’m already meditate everyday, running, and taking my supplements. I’m starting back on Zoloft tomorrow- I had taken a few days off because of side-effects (bad idea.) I could go back to a higher dose of Latuda because my grasp on reality is getting weak/becoming very distorted (I can recognize it at times) but I don’t want to go back to being a lazy, vegetable. Anti-psychotic apathy is a real thing. I want to give Zoloft a chance to see if it will calm me down, thus bringing me back into reality.

I know I sound totally rational right now, but if I were to leave my house (“No, please don’t make me!”) or (“Gasp!”) interact with another being, my reality would start to crumble again and this rational “voice” that’s speaking would abandon me.

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Queen of Side Effects

Queen of Side Effects

Queen of Side Effects

Zoloft. Is. Slowly. Killing. Me. I can’t believe how hard this drug is hitting me, especially since I’m on the lowest possible dose, and I’m no stranger to psych meds. (I took 60mg of Celexa for a year, which is now considered a toxic dose.) I’ve been in bed for the last two days, utterly exhausted and zombie-like. I feel like I have the flu.¬†Needless to say¬†the fun, “spazzy” effect lasted a very short time. (I’m not sure why anti-psychotics are the ones with such a stigma- Latuda or Abilify¬†seem like candy compared to Zoloft.)

What irks me, is I know that this med could really help me. My heart slows down considerably after I take it, compared to its usual pounding in my ears/chest rhythm. I’m already starting to feel calmer, but I really can’t function like this. How do people have the luxury to adjust to psych meds when they have a job? Every other time¬†I’ve made significant med changes I’ve been on a leave from work or I’ve been in the hospital. Now that I’m working, I feel stuck. If I continue with the drug I’ll probably end up missing work due to side-effects, which I really don’t want. If I quit the drug, I might end up missing work due to “craziness” but I could always go back on benzos to get me through the work day, even though¬†that’s just a temporary, band-aid approach.

Oh, how I wish for a perfect world where health was the top priority and you could easily take time off work for mental health issues.¬†When I’m Queen one day, I’ll make it happen.

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Bye Bye Benzos

Twenty days since my last post and I’m off benzos! I had my (hopefully!) last clonazepam a week ago, and before that, I went several days without taking one. My symptoms didn’t last as long as I thought they would, thank goodness. I assume that’s because I wasn’t taking clonazepam for that long, compared to people who have been on them for years.

Unfortunately my anxiety did come back with a vengeance. It’s not necessarily a re-bound effect but more so the reason I resorted to benzos in the first place. I’ve had problems with anxiety since I was seven years old, and despite supplements (taurine, l-theanine, magnesium, b-vitamins, and fish oil), meditation, healthy diet, no alcohol, running and therapy, my anxiety is still crippling and severely impacting my life. So, my psychiatrist and I decided that I should try Zoloft because it’s a safer, non-addictive treatment for anxiety. I started last week, and so far I haven’t had any major side-effects. I’ve been on SSRI’s numerous times in the past and always responded well. I have, however, gotten a bit “spazzy” when starting SSRI’s a few times in the past, which lead previous doctors to think I was bipolar. I get a bit too happy; sleep a not quiet enough, and find myself giggling at random things, feeling high. I felt a touch of that yesterday when I thought about how well Zoloft was working already; how I loved Zoloft, wanted to marry it and have little Zoloft cartoon babies- the happy ones, not the sad ones. Okay, it does make me a little “high” at times, but that effect usually passes in time. Here’s to my current cocktail: Zoloft, Latuda, and Topamax- cheers!

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Benzo Withdrawal

I haven’t written much, mainly because my life recently consists of nothing more than benzo withdrawal. Now I understand the dreaded withdrawal they speak of; how many professionals say that benzos are more difficult to quit than heroin.

I’ve had a prescription for clonazepam AKA Klonopin for several years now. However, I would only use it to combat my flying and dental phobia, which would be no more than a handful of times a year. I knew better than to take it regularly, despite the relief it provided for my life-long anxiety. I’m not a dumbass; I have a psych degree, and I know benzos are¬†highly addictive. However, I didn’t know just how quickly one can become dependent on these drugs. Clonazepam has a very long half-life, meaning that it takes anywhere from 18-50 hours for half of the drug to leave your system, which ultimately means that even if you’re not taking the drug everyday, your body still has enough of the drug in your system for a dependency to develop. This is why benzos are supposed to prescribed for short term use only, or like my in case, only when I’d go to the dentist or fly.

I messed up. I admit it. It started 7 months ago when I began my new job. I wasn’t prepared for the stress it would bring. I didn’t have a “toolbox” of coping strategies nor did I have a support system to turn to. I starting feeling like I was drowning within a week. In order to literally show up at work, I started taking clonazepam some mornings when I’d panic on the way to work etc. The stress and pressure starting to build- more meetings/outreach events/public speaking etc., all new things out of my comfort zone, and I turned to clonazepam more frequently. In hindsight, I should have told my psychiatrist how out of control my anxiety was getting and I should have gotten a prescription for the (non-addictive) Propranolol at that time to help with the anxiety.

After a couple months I started building up a tolerance. My regular dose would wear off so fast, and the re-bound would be terrible- anxiety and horrible sensitivity to noise; everything was so loud. I started to notice if I delayed my now daily dose that I would get pins and needles in the legs. I was going through withdrawal without even decreasing my dose- that’s how fast tolerance builds up.

Since my regular dose was now doing nothing I started to decrease because I wanted to get off this drug that I was now officially getting addicted to. I would have clonazepam in the pocket of every pairs of pants I own, in my wallet and in my purse; I’d start off my daily deciding how much and when I would my dose that day. It was starting to control me and I was feeling trapped.

My psychiatrist told me to start supplementing with magnesium, l-theanine, and taurine to help calm my nervous system so I could get off the drug more easily. It did nothing for the burning/pins and needles in the limbs, and I still went through a few weeks where I couldn’t go to the grocery store without a panic attack, but with the help of these supplements, I was able to start decreasing.

Which bring me to today- officially two days off clonazepam. And I feel like I’m dying. I’ve been in bed pretty much all yesterday and today. I’ve “cold-turkey’d” off SSRI’s many times in the past and nothing compares to this.

  • Extreme fatigue/exhaustion
  • Chills/shivering/freezing alternating with sweating
  • GI issues
  • Nightmares
  • Brain fog like I’ve never experienced- my head feels like a giant balloon
  • Dark depression- scary dark
  • Burning/tingly/numb/pins and needles in arms and legs
  • Pounding heart (but the supplements help with that)
  • Fear/agoraphobia
  • Dizziness
  • Hands shaking
  • Nausea and random gagging
I have to work in a couple days, so I may end up taking a small amount of clonazepam just so I can function. I wouldn’t be able to drive/leave my house today. Part of me so badly wants to take a pill because I know these symptoms would stop if I did, but then what? Stay of the drug forever?
I keep asking myself how I got myself here? I knew benzos were addictive, so how did I let this happen? ¬†They’re sneaky and seductive and tolerance builds up faster than you’d think is possible. I know there’s some people who are totally fine on these drugs, but for others they can be a disaster, hence the many benzo treatment facilities. I just wanted to put this out there so others know what can happen; be very careful with benzos!
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