Jump to content
brassmonkey

Tao of the Brassmonkey

Recommended Posts

jen84
On 5/7/2018 at 12:29 PM, brassmonkey said:

 

Anhedonia can be a real relationship challenge.  I went through that for quite some time.  I learned that even though I couldn't call up or experience the feelings they were still there inside, just not accessible.  At the time I had been happily married for 33 years but couldn't summon up any of the feelings I had for my wife.  I mentioned this, and it lead to several "late night discussions".  Once we both understood that it was a manifestation of the drugs things started to improve.  After I had been tapering off of the Paxil for a while the feelings slowly started to show themselves, until, now I am more in love with her then ever.  We celebrated number 39 a couple of months ago.  It's a big test of a relationship, but if the feelings are true in the first place and both people trust each other it is something that can be gotten through and make the relationship all the stronger.

First of all, congrats on your successful taper! You give hope to so many of us.

 

thank you so much for sharing this Brass monkey. I am relieved to read your success story, and even more relieved to read that you and your wife got through this together. Thank you!

 

I will be trying your slide taper soon, and am hoping that will help ease the anxiety for me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

WDNormal

 

I see WDnormal as the overall baseline of where you are in general. The place you are when you're not feeling good, but you're not feeling bad. Sorta a rolling average of the past couple of months between the windows and waves.  Watching the level of WDnormal is a good indicator that things are improving.  Over time you should be seeing a raising of the standard for WDnormal.  So how you're feeling now is better than say six months ago. It changes very slowly but is a really good indicator.

 

 Many people have the idea that stability is feeling good again, when in fact it's feeling the same level of blah day after day with no big swings to the better or bad. When a person does a decrease in dose there will be a corresponding increase in WD symptoms over the next few days.  These symptoms will resolve themselves over the following several weeks and return the person to a slightly raised baseline of discomfort. The time frame and severity are dependent on a huge number of factors and end up being unique to each individual.  But the pattern remains.  This is why paying attention to your WDnormal is very important.  It is also referred to as listening to your body.  After a decrease in dose and the symptoms have resolved to WDnormal the person then should wait a couple of more weeks to let things really settle out (there are a lot of little unfelt changer still going on) before considering doing their next drop.

 

During that waiting time people may think that they're not doing anything and want to get on with it.  When in fact doing nothing is very proactive.  It's those little unfelt things that need to be finished up before the next step can be taken.  It's letting the glue harden, the paint dry, the cement cure.  The things that need to be complete before the path is safe to walk on again.  If these details are ignored then they start to pile up and compound each other, then somewhere down the line the foundation slips out from under us and the whole thing collapses.

 

As good as it gets for that moment.  WDnormal is a sliding scale of reference for tracking overall improvements in one’s condition. As you're learning this is a very slow process and at first changes in WDnormal are very small and slow in coming. As time passes and one’s body heals those changes become more pronounced and more frequent. But it can be frustratingly slow at first.

 

I'll bore you with a bit of my history, so you can see how I came up with the idea of WDnormal.  Many people find the time frames upsetting but I truly advocate going very slowly.   I'm one of the "lucky ones" in that I was only been on one drug, all be it for 23 years, which makes things a lot easier to sort out. I originally started on Paxil for Spontaneous Outbursts of Violent Anger and it really helped.  In reality I should have been through counseling instead of being drugged, but that's an irrelevant part of the story.  After many years on the drug it wasn't working as well so I updosed.  That helped sorta but a few years later I needed to updose again.  That helped for a few months, then I started downhill.  It took several years and becoming totally messed up to figure out I was in severe tolerance, or what we lovingly call "poopout".

 

Just making the decision to do something about it was a terrifying experience but after 18 years of being drugged, my marriage on the rocks and about to lose everything (probably even my life) I decided to do something about it.  Again, I was lucky and found a site called PaxilProgress before I made any changes. That started the entire process.  I liked the idea of the 10% taper but made a couple of modifications to make it gentler and started with that.

 

Nothing happened. I felt as bad as I had been.  Six weeks passed, and I did my second drop. Nothing happened, except maybe I felt a bit worse.  This pattern kept up for about 18 months.  When one day it hit me, "I hadn't felt as crappy for the past several weeks".  It took another six months before I again noticed that things had improved.  During this whole time all I could do was move doggedly forward making the best of it and learning to put up with and work around the symptoms.  I really had no other choice.

 

A little after two years I had my first widow.  It lasted about fifteen minutes, and it wasn't until several hours later I realized it had happened.  That was the point that it sunk in that the process really did work.  Except for that window the rest of the time was heavy brain fog, DR, no short-term memory, dizziness, all the symptoms we know and loath.  Another window opened briefly a few months later, and I noticed that I wasn't as "out of it" all the time and that I was gaining a little control over the symptoms by Acknowledging them, Accepting them and letting them Float off as I went about my life.

 

Finally, after three years of tapering I felt like I was making progress. I could see that I was improved from where I had started even though I knew I was by no means better.  I also could see that I was doing better that I was just six months before.  I realized that my "base line of feeling like crap was improving or how my WD symptoms normally felt was improving.  Hence WDnormal.

 

The last two and a half years, it will be a total of five and a half for the entire taper, brought fairly steady improvement.  I was able see improvements on a month over month and sometimes week over week basis.  To the point that many people would say I'm back to normal by the way I function. The last several months I know I wasn’t because I was still taking the drug. During my time on and tapering off of paxil I have learned a huge amount about myself, life and how to deal with things.  

 

So WDnormal is a pretty easy concept once you think about it. In a nutshell it’s ”as good as it gets at that time.”  It’s not feeling really good, it’s not feeling really bad, but rather a consistent level of feeling crappy that doesn’t change a lot from day to day for weeks at a time.  The length of time involved in seeing changes in your WDnormal is the most frustrating part. The improvements don’t happen from day to day, week to week or at times month to month.  In the beginning it can take six months to a year of more just to find what your WDnormal is and another six months to a year or more to see any significant improvements.  However, it is the best baseline for noting that improvement

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
elbee

Thanks for creating this essay on WDnormal, BrassMonkey. I gravitated towards the idea of WDnormal the first time I came across you using it. 

On 12/9/2018 at 3:27 PM, brassmonkey said:

I see WDnormal as the overall baseline of where you are in general.

 

That is a great minimalist definition. AND, it's so important in this process to begin finding ways to pay attention to myself without obsessing over each detail. In my withdrawal process, a lot of feelings, sensations, "intuition" is coming back online that had been deadened for many years. It can feel really overwhelming at times! But learning to pay attention to this information without getting completely overwhelmed and/or lost in the detailed nuances has been a really important part of my "recovery." To know what my WDnormal is, I have to begin re-learning the language of messages my body is telling me.

 

On 12/9/2018 at 3:27 PM, brassmonkey said:

Watching the level of WDnormal is a good indicator that things are improving.

 

This has been really important for me, too. In my various recovery communities, I've discovered that it's oftentimes much easier to see improvements in others than it is in myself. This is another reason why finding healing community is so important, like with this website . . . my fellow travelers help me see my own improvements that I can't see in myself. But as I've learned what my "WDnormal" (baseline) level is, I am in fact seeing the improvements in myself too. THANKFULLY! :)

 

On 12/9/2018 at 3:27 PM, brassmonkey said:

This is why paying attention to your WDnormal is very important.  It is also referred to as listening to your body.

 

Indeed! This falls under the umbrella term of "SELF-CARE." Unfortunately, the "experts" led me astray when it came to my mental health and well being, and I believed the lie of the "chemical imbalance" story I was told. It came to a point for me that something "clicked" and a stirring inside me said that something wasn't right. Looking back, that's when I started listening to and trusting in my body again. So I started doing a lot of research, found Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic" . . . and thankfully found this website! Ultimately, I came to the realization that I myself need to be the one who decides what is right for me in my healing process. Listening to my body (and in my case, my "inner children") has become my new compass.

 

On 12/9/2018 at 3:27 PM, brassmonkey said:

I'll bore you with a bit of my history

 

THANK YOU for "boring" me with your history! Our stories are our truth and are incredibly powerful.

 

And I appreciate you @brassmonkey sharing your experience, support, and wisdom with me and the larger community! :)

Edited by elbee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

Starting tomorrow I will be going on an extended holiday.  It will involve a lot of travel to exotic places several of which I know don't have internet that will work with my devices. So for the next several months I will be pretty much unavailable.  When I get a chance now and then I will be checking in to say Hi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wantrelief

I hope you have a wonderful time on your holiday....it sounds very exciting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rabe

Have a safe and lovely trip brassmonkey....sounds so so wonderful...and what a gift after all you have been through...to take this trip with the one who has stood beside you through it all.  It really is 

a story to be written.  Take care!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

Leaving the MATRIX IN 3.....2.....1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

London calling.  Sitting in our hotel room watching the London Eye just across the park. The flight over was a bit cramped but managed to sleep most of the way.  Off to the British  Museum tomorrow. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rabe

How truly lovely brassmonkey!!!  Grateful you had a safe trip!  

 

I just know you secretly would love to back here with the "in crowd".... ;) 

 

Enjoy the museum...bet it is amazing!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

For those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas Eve from London.  For others of us Happy Solstice a few days ago, and seasonal greetings to the rest.  Internet has been very poor here and I don't even know if this will post. Always have had a soft spot in my heart for London, ever since I lived here so many years ago. It's changed a lot in some ways, but still has a lot of the old charm. Off to Paris the day after tomorrow. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

After having to change trains before we left the station, we made the two and a half hour trip to Paris in just under five hours.  Even though at one point we were moving at 334.5 kmph. It's been a few years since I've gone that fast and was still on the ground. Managed to find a bus to get us to the hotel and settled in for the night.  Today we rekindled our love affair with the Eiffel tower. Fell in love with on our honeymoon all those years ago and still are breathless at the sight.  Internet here is almost as bad as it was in London so we shall see.

Edited by brassmonkey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

Well after three plane rides and a five hour drive, we are back home.  We've been talking non stop to insurance companies and doctors and have been up for almost forty hours straight.  Have an appointment for a CT scan in about an hour to verify the location of the remains of the 9mm kidney stone I tried to pass and have an appointment first thing in the morning to have it blasted.  I've hardly eaten in days, but at least where the stone is lodged it doesn't hurt any more.  The initial passing has made me rethink my definition of intense pain.  The blasting is meant to be quick and easy and a quick recovery time so we will be able to pick up our trip in the middle and only miss the leg to morocco.  With any luck I should be able to get to bed in eight or ten hours to get a bit of rest before tomorrows procedure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rabe

Wishing you the best brassmonkey!  So you came back home to deal with this and then are returning to the travels?  WOW!  Im so sorry this happened, on the other hand grateful it is something that can be quite easily addressed and not something more serious, though kidney stones pain is serious pain!  Take care and may your procedure and  the rest of your trip be uneventful!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

Thanks Rabe.  The procedure isn't going to happen this morning as I thought.  All this will be is a consultation to figure out what the next step is.  With any luck we can schedule the procedure for the next few days.  I have to say that my GP and her staff have really busted butt the last two days to make this all happen and I am so grateful to them.  Finally got some sleep after being up about fifty hours in a row.  Monica is purring softly beside me on the recliner, she was up even longer and bearing the brunt of getting things coordinated.  I so love that woman.

 

Having a strong partnership/relationship is a very important factor for making it through life.  The divided load and common goals make a twosome so much more powerful that the sum of their parts.  Having to go it alone would be so much harder.  I have talked to many members who are having relationship problems because of their ADWD issues, and I have to say, even if the feelings aren't evident at the time, but deep inside you know that the relationship is right, don't question it, but do everything possible to believe in a positive future and make it past the bump in the road called ADWD.  Lovely mushy feelings are important to a relationship, but it is more about the trust, mutual understanding and desire to make it work that will get couples through the prolonged rough times caused be ADWD.  The bad parts don't last for ever, in the scheme of a lifetime they hardly even count. 

 

The drugs play mind games with us at all times during ADWD.  They make us think we are not worthy of love, we are a burden to our partner, and we don't want to put then through this. But from our partners perspective, although it is very painful to watch, all they want is for us to get better so the "good times" can return.  Belief in the relationship and your partners love and desire for you to get better is fundamental to both the relationship and your recovery. 

 

It doesn't have to be  committed relationship either, for our single members there is frequently that one person who always seems to be there.  Don't push away people who want to help, but try not to take advantage either and always bear in mind that if you can't pay is back someday at least try to pay it forward when the time comes.  Building relationships can be hard at the best of times.  While in ADWD we face an extra challenge but it can be done and it is so worth it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nick1990

The kidney stone sounds painful ! Sorry to hear of it, but I’m glad you have a plan in place. So cool how much travelling your doing Tom !

 

Thank you for your post about relationships and love - it’s really so true what you say and I greatly appreciate you bringing it into discussion . 

 

Hope the procedure goes well .

talk soon

 

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Carmie

All the best with getting rid of that nasty kidney stone Tom, I’ve had gallstones and the pain is horrific. I feel for what you’ve going through. 

 

Thanks again too for double checking my calculations despite what you’re going through. You’re a trouper. 💚

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rabe

Hi brassmonkey...just thinking about you and hoping you are doing ok.  

Wanted to say what you wrote was beautiful!!  Still think a book is coming from you...it is so heart warming...such depth of love is something to behold!!

You are both so lucky to have each other and to have had each other through out your journey!  

It can be very lonely.  Take care!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

In the months before having my gall bladder removed, all those years ago, I suffered through at least seven "gall bladder attacks" and learned the true meaning of the word pain.  A few years later I had a good round of pancreatitis which redefined it. The intense pain that lasted for several weeks with out stopping was quit a thing to experience.  I now think that spending several days passing a 9mm kidney stone has surpassed even that. Not for duration but for intensity.  I have also relearned just how physically taxing such ordeals are on the body.  All of ones resources are focused on survival and every bit of reserve one has built up is used. This is true for almost every sort of traumatic experience that a person can experience, and close to the hearts of all SA members that would include ADWD.

 

Something I have learned over the past two years is that it doesn't end at "0".  Becoming drug free is really just the start of recovery. Yes healing is going on all the time during a taper.  Which is why a long slow controlled taper is so vital.  But until the drug has been fully removed from the scene we can not engage all our resources in recovery.  The manner in which we treat ourselves during our taper is critical to how that post "0" recovery proceeds. 

 

While tapering our bodies are literally fighting for their lives and we have to do everything possible to aid in that fight.  That includes not depleting our resources. Life style and self imposed responsibility are two of the biggest challenges facing a person during ADWD. I see it every day while reading the forums.  People insisting on continuing extreme exercise programs while experiencing acute WD symptoms, people causing themselves serious mental anguish over not being the best person/parent possible while they have very limited control over their mental faculties.  For people in ADWD life has changed, the normal rules no longer apply and life is going to be placed on hold for a long period of time.  The things we want to do, love to do, and think we should be doing are all going to be on hold for the foreseeable future.  Because our bodies require all of our energy if we are to make it through the process we have started.

 

The stress caused by long distance running or extreme exercise depletes the body and manifests by causing insomnia, hormonal spikes and more, not to mention using up the strength that is needed to make it through that nasty wave it trips off.  The worry and self flagellation caused by thinking we are not providing out children the ideal childhood experience is exactly what is causing that to happen.  The breakdowns and crying fits, cancelled play dates due to stress are all caused in part by the worry that we are not being "model parents" and are causing more problems then if we just would do the best that we can.  Children are very flexible things and will be able to roll with it, but they can pick up on the stress and and react badly to it, if we allow the stress to control our recovery.

 

In the end ADWD is, by definition, a very selfish process and one that requires all of our personal resources and more to get through.  It is very important  that we use our strength wisely and allow ourselves to recover in our own time.  The few years that are spent in ADWD are just a small part of a lifetime but if not handled correctly can cause problems for  long time after it should be over and done with.  We must treat ourselves gently to make it through is as whole a manner as possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Out2C8383

Awesome. Thanks... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rabe

Thank you for that Brassmonkey...another beautiful post!  And one I needed to read today.  Bless you!  Hope you are feeling better and better!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

Well that didn't go as planned.  Did all the tests, all the prep and showed up on time, got wheeled into the operating room and knocked out.  Woke up an hour later to find out that the doctor couldn't finish the procedure. The stone was too big and my duct was too small for them to fit in the laser to break up the stone.  So the stone is still there and they put in a stint to make things flow properly and stretch the tube a bit.  I'm okay to travel, once the aftermath of the procedure has calmed down.  But I'm not looking forward to doing it all again in several months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rabe

Well that explains the really horrendous pain you had!  Wow!  Im sorry it didnt go as planned and that you will have to have it repeated.  However I am also so glad to hear you will be able to return to your travels soon!!  Yay for that!!  Will be thinking about you.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nick1990

Oh wow sorry to hear about the situation with the stone Tom . It’s really good that your ok to travel though 😊

 

Your post about treating ourselves gently and putting life on hold got me curious .. 

I understand that during the process of tapering antidepressants we shouldn’t be overdoing things and we should be keeping everything as calm and balanced as possible and allowing our bodies to heal.

But when it comes to putting life on hold , isn’t the purpose of a slow taper to minimise symptoms enough so that we can lead functional lives?  Without pushing the boundaries ofcoarse .e.g running marathons, partying, travelling the world with a backpack etc etc ..

 

I feel for me personally, a huge part of this process being successful is to not stop living my life. And still do the things I want to do, within reason . Does this sound fair or am I kidding myself ? 

 

Thanks Brass 😊

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

It's all a balancing act Nick.

 

"But when it comes to putting life on hold , isn’t the purpose of a slow taper to minimise symptoms enough so that we can lead functional lives?"

 

"Functional Lives", this is the key.  Getting up, getting washed and dressed, holding down a job are all things that need to be maintained during ADWD.  But in many cases this is the extent of what is possible.  Yet too many people are very upset because they can't maintain the "life style" they enjoyed before the ADWD started.  While going through acute WD many people think that they can maintain the intensive gym workouts five days a week, clubbing till all hours, running marathons, drinking, taking street drugs and the like, and that  is not the case.  For people going through ADWD life has changed for the foreseeable future and the focus is now on the basics required for getting better and not on the "style choices" that we think make us individuals.

 

ADWD cycles through different intensities as it progresses.  This is where the concept of WDnormal comes in.  While in an "acute" phase there will be little that a person can do besides the basics required to maintain their health, eat, wash, sleep and the like.  During window periods there is much more opportunity to try and "push the bounderies" of what can be done, but one has to be careful because it is so easy to over do it and throw oneself back into a wave.  For me, I was always pushing as far as I could, while all the time monitoring how I was feeling so as to not over do it.  The limits have to be gently pushed in order to stretch them and gain ground. Learning when to take breaks and catch ones breath is very important and being kind to oneself when you can't do what you think you should be able to do.

 

ADWD takes a tremendous toll on the body, the extent of which we are still learning.  The internal tensions, lack of sleep, stress and anxiety all add up to deplete the body of any extra strength a person has.  Intense exercise, and life style choices all drain this strength even further leaving the body short changed when it comes to the energy it requires to heal.  It is appearing that this will continue well into the post "0" stages of recovery.  The energy expended during ADWD is not recouped until well into the recovery phase after all drugs have been removed from the body.  So it is essential to maintain ones body as best as possible, but not to waste energy on extraneous pursuits. 

 

So it might be a bit miss leading to say that life must be put on hold for the duration, when in reality it is ones "life style choices" that must be curtailed.  When in ADWD ones prime focus is doing what is required to get through the process, everything else needs to be put aside, reevaluated and either discarded or resumed at a later date.  At it's most basic ADWD can be viewed as a trial by fire where all but the most essential elements of life are burned away.  We can then rebuild from the basics up and incorporate only those things that we find to be truly "us".  By being stripped back to the basics we have been give a real "second chance" to build a life that is true to ourselves and our beliefs and not what society dictates , because we've been there and back and now know what is truly important. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nick1990

Tom mate , that hit the nail on the head. Beautifully written and so descriptive.

 

It is what I was thinking too , that it’s more to do with lifestyle choices and putting some of those on hold. 

It’s so amazing really how we get a chance to reevaluate life and our beliefs and ways of living and thinking, even if its uncomfortable at the time.

 

Thank you BrassMonkey!

 

Hope your feeling ok with that dam stone !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brassmonkey

Starting to count things down, our flight to Rome is Saturday Evening.  I have a followup Dr appointment on Friday as a final check that I'm okay.  Things have been going well with no real pain.  I can still feel the stint and probably will until it comes out when we get home.  I still feel a bit under the weather, but I think that this would be pretty normal for the amount of stress that my body has been through over the past several weeks.  It's also giving me a bit of a time table for recovery when I have to go through this all again in April some time.  We are having to do a lot of reshuffeling with our packing.  Kenya has outlawed the use of all plastic bags and is fining people who try to carry them into the country, and that includes the ziploc that you carry your toothpaste in to keep it from getting all over the inside of your suitcase.  We had to go to the Dollar store and buy a stack of makeup bags to carry everything that was in ziploc bags, but we are even more organized now.  Final packing tonight and tomorrow, Dr appointment and some business stuff and then off we go again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×