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☼ Brassmonkey: Talking about myself

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brassmonkey

Well the sleep patterns are starting to normalize.  That will help get the eating patterns back in balance. So everything is sorting itself out.  Finished the first pass at the pictures last night.  We've managed to cut things down to about 500 from the original 5500.  Going through them really is like taking the trip all over again, which we are planning to do.

 

We do, however, have a load of "real life" stuff to handle, such as getting the kitchen finished and unpacking the house.  Not to mention several other trips in the offing.  With all the rain we've been having here the wild flower season this spring should be amazing, so we're looking at Death Valley in May for a few days.

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doggiemama

Nice to have you back sounds like u had a great time. Get some rest then tell us all about the trip

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brassmonkey

I finally have some of the pictures I took ready to share.  The site doesn't like the file size for most of them so I will have to do a bit more work.  But here are two just to tease you.

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brassmonkey

Okay, I think I have another one ready to post. I'm really hitting the file size limit here so I will probably have to only post a couple a day.

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nz11

Brilliant !

Cant see any bars in front of that baboon and it seems very 'close up'....scary.

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AmyK

Ah! Nice pictures! You have been really close, it must have been so exciting!

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brassmonkey

The joys of telephoto lenses.  He was only about 20 feet away though.  We were able to get very close to a lot of the animals, but had to be very careful while doing so.  The entire time we were riding in trucks and not allowed to get out at any time so things were relatively safe.  There were a couple of times with big bull elephants where they came like 5 feet in front of the truck which was too close for safety so we had to reverse away from them.

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nick1990

Cool shots Brass! Glad you had an amazing time :) what camera were you shooting? Any wd come into play with all the circadian changes ?

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mustangwoman

Wow!  Just amazing!

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brassmonkey

Hey Nick--  Nothing that I could count as WD.  All the changes really caused havoc with the sleep cycles though.  It's taken just over a week but things seem to be pretty well back to normal.

 

Last summer I bought a Nikon P900 especially for this trip. I couldn't be more pleased with it. Technically it's a point and shoot because it has a fixed lens and a slightly smaller sensor (still it is 20 megapixels) but has all the capabilities of a DSLR.  The lens is the big selling point at 83X on the telephoto end.  To buy an equivalent lens for a DSLR would cost five or six times the entire price of my camera.  It has a few drawbacks, but for bang for the buck you can't beat it. It was pretty much designed with this type of photography in mind.  If I had used the entire telephoto capability on the Baboon with his mouth open I would have just gotten a couple of his back teeth.

 

For the most part we were able to get to with in 50 feet of many of the animals.  Our guide had been doing this sort of thing for about 30 years and really knew his stuff and never put us in danger.  One of the most amazing sights was to see the herds of Wildebeest grazing.  There were several times the herd would stretch from horizon to horizon and number in the thousands.  Just breath taking to see.  There were other times when the herds were smaller but would be a mix of Wildebeest, Zebra, several types of Antelope and some Elephants all at the same time. I'm getting chocked up just remembering it, it was so amazing.

 

We would go out on "Game Drives" twice a day.  The animals are most active during early morning and and evening.  So we would go out at 6:30 in the morning until lunch time.  Go back to the lodge to eat and rest for a few hours then back out on a drive from about 3 until after dusk.  It was all on very rough dirt roads in 4 wheel drive trucks, so there was a lot of bouncing and dust and a lot of great sightings.  We went into it expecting to have some fleeting glimpses of animals in the brush at best. But we were very pleased with the sheer number of animals we got to see. Not just the African Big Five ( lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard and rhino) but also zebra, giraffe, warthog, ostrich and over a dozen types of antelope, not to mention all the different birds.  Being the dry season, many of the animals had recently given birth so there were a number of lion cubs, zebra foals and little elephants all having a good time causing trouble.

 

Each night we would return to one on the three different lodges we stayed at to compare stories with the other groups we were with.  There were 18 of us all  together, divided among three trucks.  Then off to our netted beds to get some rest.  The insects weren't bad but all the beds had netting to keep them at bay.  The next day would bring new adventures.

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brassmonkey

Just finishing up a very busy weekend.  Saturday I ended up being an impromptu wedding coordinator for a ceremony that Monica was officiating. Things ended up going pretty smoothly and the bride and groom were pleased, which is all that counts.  Then yesterday we drove to Palm Springs CA. to attend a business seminar that was today.  We went yesterday so we could sight see a bit.  Took the Arial Tram ride 8000 feet up the local mountain side to get some magnificent views then went to the hotel.  The hotel was hosting a "Cheerleader" convention, which ended up being about 5000 screaming teenage girls.  Things finally quieted down just before midnight.  The hotel staff was in as much shock as we were.  Went to the seminar all day today and got a lot of good information.  Then had a wonderful drive home through some dark low stormy clouds.  Now for a day or two of peace and quiet.

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SkyBlue

Hi Brass! Great to see you are doing so well. Those pictures look like they're from Nat'l Geographic--really amazing.

 

I think someone just asked that baboon if he wanted to start SSRIs and maybe a benzo for sleep. He's howling with laughter, "Noooo wayyyyyy!!!" 

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brassmonkey

I just posted this on another thread and want to keep a record of it here:

 

We are talking about two totally different forms of WD here. Narcotics and alcohol cause a chemical dependent physical addiction which the body has to clear out or "detox" and then learn to operate without the stimulus of the drug. With ADs/APs the situation is different.  The drug causes physical changes to the brain and nervous system, in fact every system in the body, in effect they "rewire" them to require the presence of the drug to function.  Without the AD/AP the brain is thrown into chaos because it can't function, so the drug must be removed a little at a time to allow the brain to "re-rewire" itself to function normally with out the drug.  It is a slow painful process because every system in the body has been compromised and has to be rebuilt while the body tries to maintain functionality. 

 

Through the painful experience of thousands of people we have been able to determine that, for most people, removing the drug at a rate of 10% of the previous dose every 4-6 weeks will allow them to eventually become drug free while suffering a minimum of  WD symptoms.  This is a general guideline from which each individual must find a variation, which is frequently slower, that works for them.  There will always be exceptions, but we have found that people who try to go faster than these recommendations will eventually have trouble, because the changes caused by each dose reduction have not been fully allowed to resolve themselves and accumulate in the background until one day they cause the entire system to destabilize and experience severe symptoms.  When this happens it is very difficult and very painful to regain stability and the system is sensitized and more likely to loose stability in the future.

 

It is a very daunting prospect to face spending years tapering off of a drug, but it is absolutely critical to take the time required.  When I started my taper five and a half years ago I didn't think it would take nearly this long.  My initial calculations showed it to be a bit over three years.  As I tapered I learned more about the process and discovered the the lower doses were the more sensitive ones and required even more diligence to navigate.  I will be ending my taper soon, and as I have mentioned it will have taken just over five and a half years.  I consider it time well spent.

 

The time has been painful, frustrating, frightening and a lot more. BUT, I have done so much better than friends who, for what ever reason, CTed the same dose of the same drug at the same time.  I am in the process of transitioning, almost symptom free back into life, while they are still suffering with symptoms of acute WD.

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mustangwoman

You are an inspiration to many with your example!  Slow and steady wins the race.

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apace41

Great post, Tom.  Congrats on how far you've come.

 

I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being a little GREEN with envy!

 

Enjoy it all!

 

Best,

 

Andy

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aberdeen

Sounds like your trip was wonderful Brass, amazing pictures too. Not long now and you'll be finished with the taper!

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brassmonkey

Things have been relatively quiet for the past couple of weeks.  It's made for a good time to try and get some control of the house.  We're still in the middle of the remodel and have people coming this week to measure and install the counter tops, then we install the appliances and flooring, do a few small things and it's done. I was able to take a few days and work on cleaning up my studio, it really does have a floor and work surfaces.  I've also been able to start a couple of projects that have been in the works for years.  Had to cut that short because of the rain, but got a good start on them.  We've also been able to get to taking down the last of the Halloween stuff, should finish that this afternoon, the neighbors will be happy.

 

I guess it hasn't been all that quiet after all.

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Shep

Sounds like progress is being made. Lol! Glad you're finally getting the Halloween stuff down. From what you've written, you do a LOT for Halloween, so I'm sure that's a major project. 

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brassmonkey

Well the next big adventure is afoot.  We just booked a seven day cruise on the Nile river in Egypt for the end of this month.  Add in a couple of days for side trips and viewing the pyramids and we will be there for twelve days all together.  Very excited.

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AmyK

Wow, Tom! I am happy for you, enjoying life!

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Shep

Wow, that sounds great, Tom. I'm happy for you. Don't forget to take a picture or two to post for those of us who are living vicariously.

 

Happy travels!  :)

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nick1990

Brass! glad your life is in full swing mate :)   Im still tapering slowly and not having too many issues at all. I was wondering though, throughout your taper did you have fatigue much? What was your exercise regime and did it knock you for six?  Did you find over exertion ramped up symptoms at all?  Im just really interested to know how it all went for you - as your my number 1 inspiration in this journey.

Many thanks,

Nick

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brassmonkey

" Im just really interested to know how it all went for you - as your my number 1 inspiration in this journey."

 

Oh the pressure, the pressure. LOL :lol:  Thanks Nick, I'm really glad that I can be of help and that things are going smoothly for you ATM.

 

I did not follow an exercise plan.  The work I did at the time involved walking 3-5 miles a day and frequently very repetitious moderate to heavy lifting, clamping things in place with one hand while working on them with the other and the like.  All in all I got a pretty good workout every day.  But it didn't stop with work, there was all the upkeep on the house and yard and then the setup and take down of the haunted house, during which I would frequently run the younger guys into the ground. But it did take  it's toll and if I pushed too hard I would pay for it for several days.  More in the burnout, fatigue department than with increased WD symptoms. Sometimes it would also cause my underlying anger issues to ramp up.  Once I figured out my pacing things went pretty well.  I would however, always end up pushing myself to keep going.

 

I'm coming up on the one year mark of my retirement in a month or so and only since the end of January have I noticed that my muscles are starting to unknot and relax to the point that I should be able to start exercising again.  I still get the workout of the house/yard upkeep and the haunted house, but I can do those at my own speed and schedule so they aren't a problem.  I have been very lax on my yoga for the last year and need to get that going again.  I'm also planning to add back in swimming, which I love and haven't done for years. I'm planning on getting a dive certificate in the near future so Monica and I can head out your way in the next year or so to look at the pretty fishies.

 

Fatigue was and still is a big problem.  By pushing my self I learned that the fatigue was more of an emotional response than a physical one and if treated like a neuroemotion it was possible to keep going long after the fatigue said to stop with no adverse effects.  Like a neuroemotion though it can wear you down and I had to plan days off to recover and rest.

 

The other big problem was the body aches and pains.  They can be a big part of tapering for some people and frequently get misdiagnosed as fibromialgia (sp.) Combine that with the over exercise caused by work and things were quite painful at times.  Especially early in my taper. Over time those have diminished and are no longer a problem just leaving the results of years of physically abusing my body to contend with.

 

Hope that sheds a little light.

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nick1990

Thank you Brass, that pretty well sums it all up ! I too tend to push myself too far.. hell ive just surfed for 11 days straight, as well as work most days and im wondering why I feel a bit off. I think for me I blame the most recent drop for feeling craap whereas its more likely to be from pushing myself too hard.

Sooo great to hear your planning on heading over here. Doing you PADI is such a cool experience and we have MANY epic coastal dives, especially shipwrecks! Swimming is the best cross training for dive fitness and I reckon yoga could be most beneficial aswell. Congrats on the one year retirement. . I am yet to start my" career" hahaha

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brassmonkey

Got hit by a wave yesterday.  I should have seen it coming, all the signs were there, increased twitching in the eyes, hands and legs, general tension and increased irritability. I'm a bit upset I didn't see it coming because of the outbreak it caused. But I'm very glad I didn't see it because that means I'm not micro-focusing on symptoms and moving on with my life.

 

We have a ton of stuff going on right now.  Plans for the new trip are going well.  I don't want to loose track of it, as it's only a few weeks away.  Got the new counter tops installed and they look fabulous. Decided that the new floor we picked out is all wrong, so have to start over from square one on that.  Spring yard work is starting.  I have several haunted house projects going, and Monica's starting to work on rebooting her acting career.

 

All the rain this winter means that the spring wildflower season should be amazing this year so we are planning a road trip to the desert in the next couple of weeks for that.  Need to let the current storms work themselves out first.

 

So my general feeling is "wave, what wave, I don't feel no stinking wave" AAF  LOL

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nicolantana

Hey brassmonkey,

 

Thanks for replying to me on other thread. said I'd nip over for a look at your story...

 

However, your thread is huge!! Have you experienced anhedonia and come through it?

 

How are you feeling in general?

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brassmonkey

Hi Nicloa--  Just to "brag???" this thread ain't the half of it. I spent the first three years of my taper on the now non-existent PaxilProgress where my thread logged in at 85 pages. It took me three hours to copy and past it the day PP closed down.  I really wish there was some way to repost it here so people could get the whole story, but I haven't found a way yet.  Other people have admitted to reading the entire one here, so it can be done.

 

My original thread on PP was tilted "Letters from the Island of Anhedonia".  It's the first real symptom I identified when I was slipping into "poopout" many years before I started to taper off of the paxil.  I can still remember the exact moment I realized it.  Through out the years of poopout it grew much more pronounced and was a major symptom through the first three years of my taper. I was several months into year four before I really noticed that it was lessening, and not until year five that it was no longer a problem. Now that I'm at five an a half years it is still present, but at a very low level and intermittent in nature. The big challenge now is learning to cope with my emotions as they "come on line" after being drugged for so many years.

 

In general I'm feeling better that I have in decades.  I won't be drug free for a few more months and will then have to spend a while in recovery, but I know I will get better still. 

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Cheeky

Hi Brassmonkey,

 

I just would like to congratulate you on your success at tapering, I hope one day I can follow your footsteps.

Can i ask you what method you used for tapering, did you use a scales or get your medication compounded. I want to start my tapper again and am going to do your famous "brassmonkey slide"

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brassmonkey

Hi Cheeky-- Thank you, it's not over yet, but very close. A lot of people have been finding the Brassmonkey Slide a very effective method to taper. I have been using the Gemini-20 scales the entire time. With changing the dose amount so often it would be rather tricky and probably expensive to have the pills compounded and I really doubt that you'll be able to find a doctor who will write all the needed prescriptions . By using the scales you're much more in control of the dose and the length of time that you stay at each level.  Making up the doses is really no trouble, a couple of minutes each morning or about fifteen minutes once a week.

 

I see that you're starting out from 40mg like I did.  It's going to be a long ride, but so worth it.

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Cheeky

Yeah Thankyou for that I will be happy to be off by the time I'm 50, I've got 10 year till that happens. Keep going strong your an inspiration

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manymoretodays

You're going to Egypt to see the desert blooms???  :)   Yes, the extra water from the sky and snow has been great this year........except for the mudslides and floods now that have hit a few areas......

 

I like what you said about the fatigue...."Fatigue was and still is a big problem.  By pushing my self I learned that the fatigue was more of an emotional response than a physical one and if treated like a neuroemotion it was possible to keep going long after the fatigue said to stop with no adverse effects.  Like a neuroemotion though it can wear you down and I had to plan days off to recover and rest."

 

I loved seeing your animal photos.

 

Best,

 

mmt

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nicolantana

Thank you for getting back to me brassmonkey. 

 

in severe anhedonia most of the time. so always good to hear of people experiencing it and coming through..

 

can you remember periods where you felt absolutely nothing and then had a window? was it subtle or like a flash of lightning??

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brassmonkey

Hi MMT-- thanks for dropping in. We're going to Egypt for the pyramids, seeing some desert blooms would be a great plus.  For the flowers we're basiclly going out the back door. It's a short drive to the south east of us to get to the Anza-Borrego desert.  Then we'll just cruse the back roads and enjoy.

 

Hi Nicola-- for me the windows just happened. I would just realize that I was feeling good for a while and then they would fade.  My first one lasted about fifteen minutes and I didn't even realize that it had happened until several hours later.  A few weeks later I had another.  After that they happened more frequently and lasted longer. But each time it was a quiet realization that I was feeling "right" at the time.

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nicolantana

wonderful. And now you feel 'right' most of the time??

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brassmonkey

I'm still sorting things out.  Learning to live with emotions after so many years of having them drugged away is a bit of a challenge. But I'm feeling pretty right most of the time.  There are the normal ups and downs during the day, some brain fog still and short term memory problems.  Once I'm completely off the drugs they should sort them selves out, but for now I can deal.

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Aeroman

Glad you are doing better!

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