One year off update

9/12/11—In my eleven months off update, I said this …

“I anticipate a better twelfth month and promise a very comprehensive progress report; one that compares my symptoms now to where they were a year ago.”

On August 24 (my one year off anniversary), I couldn’t bring myself to write my one year off update. Months ten and eleven were bad. Month twelve was worse. Severe tension headaches forced me to withdraw from my fall semester college class.

I know that some people with similar histories to mine, but who aren’t as far along in their benzo journeys, read my blog for some idea of what they might expect. I so very much wanted to be able to give them some good news, but benzo healing has a mind of its own. What I offer up is this instead. In particular, item #4 …

It is very typical to have setbacks at different points of time (these times can vary). These setbacks can be so intense that people feel their healing hasn’t happened at all; they feel they have been taken right back to the beginning. Setbacks, if they occur, are a normal part of recovery.”

This is not news to me. I’ve parroted these words to friends as they’ve encountered setbacks. However, I find the words much more difficult to accept now that it’s me. Anyway, here’s where I was on August 24. I’ll do the comprehensive comparison update once I’m past this wave.

These are my symptoms, listed in order of severity (most to least), each rated with a number 0-10 (0 = nonexistent, 10 = unbearable) …

Muscle tension headaches—8 (at eleven months off was a 6)
This symptom has been very bad; so bad that I finally broke down and went to the doctor for it … even though I know what’s causing it and know that there’s not much to be done for it except practice patience. She prescribed Imitrex and gave me some samples of Fioricet. Neither worked. Probably just as well, since Fioricet contains barbiturates.

Muscle symptoms & resulting pain—7 (at eleven months off was a 6)
I believe the increase in this symptom is contributing to my severe muscle tension headaches. I’m considering trying massage.

Insomnia—5 (at eleven months off was a 4)
Pain is affecting how much sleep I get and also my sleep schedule. Lately I’ve not been falling asleep until 2 a.m. and sometimes not waking up until 11 a.m. or noon. This is very unlike me.

Dizziness, light-headedness & poor balance—4.5 (at eleven months off was a 3.5)
This symptom has ramped up some.

Internal pressure—3.5 (at nine months off was a 3.5)
No change.

Tinnitus—2 (at nine months off was a 2)
No change.

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9 Responses to One year off update

  1. Rob says:

    Thanks for the updates! Sorry to hear that tension headaches have become a bigger problem for you. Unfortunately I know how you feel all too well. Mine doubled in intensity and became basically 24 hours a day for me at around my 12 months out. I am sure that you are already familiar with all of the possible coping tools (ice packs, yoga, deep breathing, light activity, etc). I was barely able to work, but headaches overtook my personal life. Now in my 23rd month off Ambien, I am starting to have pain-free windows. To have a whole day go by without a headache is joyous. Once exercise intoerance and headaches resolve, I will consider myself to be healed from this long process that was so difficult for me to believe that I could survive it. Stick with it… you have so much to look forward to once it’s all behind you 🙂

  2. Thanks, Rob. Yeah, I’m familiar with the coping tools. I’m trying to pursue physical therapy, but my health insurance is putting up hurdles. Pills are so much more … cost effective. :-/

  3. Hopeful says:

    I come here frequently to read your posts. I wanted to say ‘Thank You’ for taking time to keep us posted on your progress. I am tapering from Ativan (milk titration still using Ativan) with 8% left to go. What a journey but my God has been with me through it all. I am learning everyday.
    I am concerned for you though because you hadn’t posted the 13th and 14th month yet. I’m hoping that things are better for you. I know it’s also time consuming for you but if you have a moment post back just to let me know you are okay.
    Again, thanks for your blog and the envouragment you are giving. Take care!

    • Month 13 was bad (a repeat of month 12), but somewhere between month 13 and 14 the wave finally ended. I’ve been out of state visiting family for two weeks, so I’m way behind with the month 14 update. I’m back to feeling pretty positive about this thing, so it’ll be a good one.

  4. dawn says:

    I just found your blog. I’m at 11.5 months out from my taper and the last few months have been hard. I am hoping for you that you have not posted to your blog because you are feeling much better. This sure is a difficult journey isn’t it!

    • I’m 18 months off as of February 24. I had planned to do a really comprehensive 1.5 year off update, but I continue to struggle with tension headaches. They make it hard for me to write and hard for me to maintain positivity, but I’m still hanging in there. It hasn’t been all bad since my one year off update. I’ve done some traveling and even managed a move to a new residence. I’m really hoping for some noteworthy progress in the next six months as that’s when many see it. Keep on keeping on. We’re both closer to the finish line than the beginning.

  5. andrea says:

    My husband is almost a yr off benzo an has had a real set back in the last few weeks. It has been really hard on him.

    • We tend to get hit with waves at significant milestones during our healing: 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, etc. This can be disheartening as we like to celebrate those milestones, but may not feel particularly celebratory. Still, the milestones are worth noting. The longer we’re benzo-free, the closer we are to our eventual healing. Many of us think the waves represent times of intense healing taking place. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it can make the setbacks easier to bear if we think of them as our body hard at work resetting itself back to “factory specifications.” I hope his wave passes quickly.

      • andrea says:

        It is hard because he was leaving the house a little and walking a little, but the last 2 wks things have gone backwards and it has been hard for him to handle it. Thank you for sharing!!!!!!

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