Some Truth I Must Accept About My Life

I was born with blessings and some curses.  I suppose that is not unusual, that’s what a lot of people would say, but let me fill you in on mine.

My blessings were a brain that has an IQ of over 150, and a big strong male body with a tolerance for pain.  My curses were I was born somewhat autistic (Asperger’s is the closest on the spectrum) and I had severely crossed eyes, indicative of central nervous system issues during gestation.

I probably would have been OK with the Asperger’s alone because of my intelligence, even with all the other issues I have had long periods of “success” in the workplace, but clearly people would have still thought I was a bit goofy.  Well of course if you are goofy and successful then they call you “eccentric.”

But when I was five, between kindergarten and 1st grade, my family made the decision to correct my eyesight with eye surgery.  I don’t blame my parents for this decision, they had to make it and I think they did the best they could, there is no doubt in my mind that they loved me deeply.

What happened is one day my mom gave me a book to read like “Tommy Goes to the Hospital”  It was really a picture book with a few words that mom and dad read to me.  Then one day mom gave me a little red pill to take, I took it and laid down to take a nap.  When I awoke I was in the hospital.  It was scary, and I didn’t know why I was there.

Very early the next morning the nurses gave me another red pill and then an hour or so later they strapped me into a gurney and wheeled me to the operating room.  I was awake, and my memories are of a couple of doctors and a couple of nurses in scrubs with masks on, and the very bright light straight above me.  I was strapped down, I couldn’t move.  After that they put a mask over my face and gave me some ether as a general anesthetic.  I will never forget that sickly sweet smell!  I think it knocked me out for a few minutes but I awoke to experience torture –  I was awake while someone (another human being) was sticking a sharp knife in my eye.  This was torture that I experienced, and it has had profound effects on my entire life.  I am not bitter at the doctors, in one way the surgery was successful and I have had a lifetime of relatively good eyesight.  The problem is that they knew I was conscious, I was screaming!  I could not escape.  The doctors I guess had to make decisions too.  They may have figured that a young child would not remember bad things like that, or they may have calculated that more anesthetic would risk killing me.  I am not telling you this to fix blame on them, you just need to know what happened, and you need to know that young children DO remember trauma.

I had recurring memories of  the hospital stay and the surgery (complete with ether smell) throughout my childhood, though curiously the memories themselves did not bother me much.

When I reached the age of 18 and went off to college, I was sitting in a math class one day (a class I really enjoyed, no math anxiety here) when out of nowhere BOOM I started sweating, shaking, I had trouble breathing, I had to jump up in the middle of the lecture and run out of the room.  After about 10 minutes things returned to normal.  I had had the first panic attack in my life. A week or two later, in the same classroom, I had a second panic attack, even more severe than the first.  I really thought I was having a heart attack!  It too subsided but the next day I went to student health services and they checked me out, said I didn’t have any heart problems, I was a healthy 18 year old, and that all that had happened was that I had got some “nerves.”

Back in 1968 very little was known about PTSD so I don’t fault the people at the clinic.  There were at that time literally thousands of WWII and Korean War vets on the sidewalks in Skid Row Los Angeles.  Back then they were called “bums.”  Just like people call the homeless “bums” now.  Some things never change.  Now we know that these vets were suffering from what was called “combat fatigue” but what we call PTSD now, and they were self-medicating with alcohol and other drugs.  Even to this day there is a stigma attached to PTSD with some people at least, because it is clear that some people go through the same or similar bad experiences and don’t get PTSD.  The deniers of PTSD simply say that those who acquire PTSD are “weak.”

What are the consequences of having PTSD?  First, panic attacks, which I believe are brought about by a constant high level of adrenaline in the body.  I think that what happens at the moment of trauma is that your body is overwhelming swamped with adrenaline, fight or flight, but that you become traumatized because you are in a situation (restraint, wounded, incapacitated) where you can neither fight or flight.  When that happens, the adrenaline remains in your system for too long and literally burns up some neural pathways.  In many situations, the act of fighting or fleeing provides exercise to your body and the adrenaline is burned off rapidly.  Where the damage occurs is in the amygdala  and associated regions in the central part of the brain, that ancient part that is often referred to as the “reptile brain.”  The damage to the brain is organic and probably irreversible, certainly not by surgery and it is impossible for me to see how a drug therapy can repair physically damaged neural pathways deep in the brain.  Recent advances in medical imaging technology have confirmed that there are indeed physical differences in the brains of the traumatized and untraumatized.

And I think once you have had a panic attack, you are more likely to have more, you are likely to become predisposed.  This is because a panic attack is a horrible experience.  You literally feel like you are having a heart attack, like you are going to die on the spot.  You become worried that you will have another panic attack, and you become “hyper vigilant”, a part of your brain starts constantly monitoring your bodily functions like heart rate, perspiration and breathing.  A little up tick, caused by something minor like a rude check out person at the supermarket or someone butting in line ahead of you, or someone cutting you off in traffic, can put you right into full panic if you are hyper vigilant.  Why?  Because there is no rational reason for your body to feel that way, so it must be another incipient panic attack.   There are cues in the environment that are triggering your panic, but until you get more aware of how panic works you will simply assume that you must have a physical problem (like a heart attack.)

Another consequence of PTSD is anger.  This is usually directed inward towards yourself and outward at the same time.  I think that it is directed inward because somehow you feel that you could have done more to avoid the situation where you were traumatized.  Anger directed inward seems to lead to depression, complicating your life even further. Anger is directed outward at society as a whole, because in your mind it is unbelievable what some fellow human beings did to you.  Needless to say, anger directed outward can have some bad consequences.  But I don’t think most people with PTSD anger are dangerous.  Several times I have encountered a vet walking down the street yelling and screaming at all the world.  Sometimes I have engaged them in conversation, and all the ones who would talk to me had a decent coherent conversation with me for five or ten minutes, they told me their story, and then they went off down the street yelling and screaming.

Just in the last four years or so I discovered within myself a direct link between panic attacks and anger.  I discovered that if I let myself get really angry, then a panic attack was almost surely to follow in its heels.  Since I made that connection, I strive not to be angry.  It is not always possible, but sometimes walking away is good for your health.

It is curious that many children who are traumatized at an early age do not show any symptoms until they reach adulthood.  In my case I started getting serious panic attacks at 18-19 years of age, and they continue to this day, though in the last few years they have lessened.  The only symptoms I had as a child were an incredible fear of doctors, hospitals, medical devices, needles, etc.  Also around age 16 I developed serious insomnia, which left me haggard almost every day.  It took me hours most nights to get to sleep, and that continued up til about 6 years ago, when a therapist hypnotized me.  Of course in my mid-life I used whiskey to go to sleep, that was the only way I could have enough rest to get up and work in the morning.  It was a short term solution and seriously bad for my health.  I did also have vivid  recurring memories *visual, smell, taste, pain) of the torture all through my childhood but they didn’t seem to bother me.  After I started getting the panic attacks, I stopped for the most part having those memories return.

I think the reason that traumatized children are shielded from some of the worst effects of trauma have to do with the biology of  human evolution.  We are standing on the apex of several million years of hominid evolution, and for 98 percent of that time, most humans never reached the age of 30.  It was important for the survival of the species that juveniles reach mating age, without the problems that PTSD would cause them, but it was less important that adults have that genetic protection.  Children and juveniles were raised in common by the tribe or clan, all the children had lots of “parents” so adult shielding from trauma was simply not needed for survival in the evolutionary sense.  Evolution is economical.

Insomnia is debilitating, and many PTSD victims suffer from it.  They have nighmares.  They have worrisome recurrent dreams with unsolvable problems.  They are hyper vigilant, so when they lay down to sleep every little tinge in the body that is unusual is cause for concern.  Many of them turn to alcohol – like I did – in order to get to sleep at all.  Of course sooner or later you get the rebound – the alcohol wears off in a few hours and you find yourself wide awake at 3 AM.  In my case I also had hypnagogic jerks.  This is the sensation you get when you are almost asleep, but you get “jerked” back awake, like someone has startled you.  Another factor is that when I was 16 I witnessed my father have a stroke and dying while he was sleeping.  It was not pretty, he had lost all bodily function and control, with his eyes wide open but blank.  By all measure (maybe his heart was still beating) he was dead before the ambulance left.  For years after that (until a few years ago I was terrified that I would die in my sleep.   I felt this terror every night.  By the time I was 30, I needed to have the lights on in order to go to sleep, I had to have the TV or radio on to go to sleep, and I had to have some whiskey in me to go to sleep.  There were two things in my life that complicated my sleep problems at that time.  First of all I was a heavy tobacco smoker.  Tobacco constricts the blood vessels, and when I lay down to sleep my heart was always pounding like a hammer.  Since I was hyper vigilant you can understand where that took my thoughts.

Another complication was my work schedule.  At around 30 I got a job as a supervisor in a casino, one of the youngest in that position in Reno.  The problem was it was a relief shift.  That means I had to work 2 graveyard shifts 1 AM – 9 AM, Two day shifts (9 AM – 5 PM) and one swing shift (5 PM – 1 AM) EVERY WEEK.  Although it was a good job opportunity I have to say in retrospect that working that schedule for 3 years was very destructive of my health, both then and in years to come.  For someone who already had serious sleep problems, I am lucky it didn’t kill me.  I would never do it again, I wouldn’t ask anyone to do it, and I think work schedules like that should be illegal.

I worked steadily all through my 30’s and did not have many panic attacks.  I was self-medicating with alcohol (but not at work, I was a conscientious employee.  I did need a few shots at the end of the work day to get right.

At the age of 42 my life fell apart, I used to say it was like a bomb went off in my life.  Separation and divorce, child custody fight, bankruptcy, several relocations, the beginning of real health problems like dental disease, loss of our home to foreclosure, and the loss of my career in the casinos.  Any one of those qualifies as one of the most stressful events in life, and I had five or six of them in one year.

I spent the next 8 years working in minimum wage jobs, some of them heavily physical, which at my age completed the breakdown of my body.  About that time I came the closest I have ever come in life to killing someone.  I got hired on at a pallet plant – a place where they scavenged broken pallets from around the area and then tore them apart and rebuilt them.  Hours of work there was 6 AM until 4 PM with one half hour lunch and two 10 minute breaks.  The work was outside in the sun (I was working in August) and there was no shade.  They handed me a nail gun and pointed to a stack of pallets and told me to get to work.  The pallet yard was next to an elementary school and since I had no idea what I was doing, about 5 or 6 times a day I would hit the board wrong and a nail would go whanging off into the distance.  I could hear it ping in the school yard when it landed.  There were two brothers who ran the operation and they were both abusive drunks, one of them was worse than the other.  (A few years later one of them went to jail for attempting to murder his sibling.)   One day they asked me to sort some boards into piles, but they assumed that I would know the criteria of how they wanted them sorted.  I did the best I could, but around noon the little bastard came up to me, using the foulest language called me the stupidest person he had ever met.  I was tired and cranky and I had a 2 x 4 in my hands.  My impulse was to simply split his skull with it, and I was a big strong boy then.  Thankfully I didn’t kill him, but I looked him in the eye and layed the stick down.  Somehow I think he knew what I was thinking.  I finished the shift but never went back.

All during this period I was aware that I had some mental issues.  I knew I had panic attacks and anxiety.  Sometimes I was extremely depressed for a couple of months.  I experienced agoraphobia at times.  I developed OCD.  I searched constantly for a psychotherapist to help me.   I found a few in that period but most of them were not very good.  One good one I had dropped me when I lost my job (and my insurance) when the casino I was working in folded.  One problem I have had with psychotherapists is that I am much smarter than most of them.  A few were bright, but with those I would rather have an intelligent theoretical conversation than do therapy.  It is a problem for a therapist when your patient is constantly critiquing your methods and even the basis of your mode of therapy.  Most of them don’t enjoy it.  I know that now.

By my late 40′ s I realized that I was drinking too much – that I was likely an alcoholic. I know, some of you will say I should have figured it out 10 years earlier, but it was alcohol that allowed me to function in any way near to normal, and it didn’t cause me major problems in my life.  (I didn’t have any DUIs, I didn’t get into bar fights, I didn’t beat the wife and children.)  I did quit for a couple of months in 1996.  But I was suffering then from extreme agoraphobia (I could barely leave my apartment) and I got referred to a program run by the University.   That’s when I met the SSRI family.   I had two months when the only time I left my apartment was the once a week journey 8 blocks to the group therapy session that was supposed to help me.  Well it was a cluster fuck.  I was extremely agoraphobic, but I was being forced to be in a room of a dozen or so strangers, most of whom were in their 20s and they were there for amphetamine or heroin abuse, or for domestic violence.   We had absolutely no commonality.  After a month of that I started drinking again in order to be able to go to the meeting!

The psychiatrist who was in charge of the program gave me Zoloft to help with my panic and agoraphobia.  It didn’t work.  As a matter of fact, when I was taking the Zoloft it was the first time in my life that I felt “crazy.”  Up to that point I knew I had problems but I had never felt like that.  I found myself walking down the sidewalk, and all of a sudden I would find myself “stuck”.  I could not move either forward or back.  Sometimes I would just stand there for up to 10 minutes before the stuck feeling went away.  After 10 weeks or so of the Zoloft I convinced her that it wasn’t working and she switched me to Paxil.  She started me off with (I found out later) double the normal therapeutic dose.  I took Paxil for the next 17 weeks and it was the absolute worst period of my life.  My agoraphobia deepened.  I kept all my curtains closed because I was afraid that the sun would come up.  (Meaning that when the sun comes up you should go out and function.)  A couple times a day I could crack my door open and peek out.  I had plenty of food because at that time I was an OCD hoarder – I had stocked up!  I was no longer going to group therapy because the group had ended.  The presumption is that 8 weeks or so of therapy is enough.  Around this time, since my panic was worsening she gave me a bottle of 100 ativans.  Now lots of people like benzos, I don’t, for me they were similar to drinking alcohol but without the happy.  I went through the ativans in a month and she gave me a bottle of klonopins, another benzo.  I was still taking the Paxil and I wasn’t drinking.  My agoraphobia deepened further and my panic became almost constant, from the time I awoke in the morning until I went to be at night.  Some times I would awaken to a full on panic attack.  For the first time in my life I developed tremors, in both arms and both legs.  At one point I could recognize seven distinct varieties of tremor in my body, and I even had some idea of the types of thought that triggered each one.  I could not stop them.

After 2 months of klonopin and paxil I had a heart to heart talk with her over the phone.  I had reached the point where I was in constant panic, so the way I used the klonopin was to take one and see if I could sleep.  I would wait a half hour or so and take another one.  Sometimes I had to take 4 in order to sleep.  They didn’t help at all with my panic, I panicked right through the klonopin.  Of course the way I was taking the klonopin was dangerous, and she knew it and I knew it.  I was honest with her.  She asked me how many klonopins I had left and I told her I didn’t have any.  She told me that the klonopins weren’t working so I needed to stop.  So I cold turkeyed off 5 klonopins a day because I didn’t have any and I had no access to any.  That was about 3 days of pure hell, far worse than quitting alcohol cold turkey.  I don’t know what she was thinking about, but she shouldn’t have a medical license.  What she put me through was dangerous.  When coming off these drugs, you must taper down.

It was around that time that I had the first suicidal impulse in my life.  I had walked over to the shrinks to get the prescription for my second months of klonopin and I was on my way to the pharmacy which was located on the other side of the railroad tracks.  As luck would have it, a freight train was coming down the tracks.  I had a sudden impulse to step in front of it.  The impulse was pretty strong but I didn’t do it.  I never felt that way again until about late 2005.  But the thing about suicidal thinking, once it happens to you I think you are prone to get it again.

In that year also I had my first experience with AA.  I had quit drinking, but the people who were “helping” me put pressure on me to go to AA.  So I went and it was a disaster.  I am not an AA basher.  What happened is the night I chose to attend the meeting they had a “candlelight” meeting.  I found myself still in high agoraphobia, sitting in a dark candle lit room with 40 strangers.  There was a constant movement of people in the dark around me as those 15 or 20 who were there under court order went up and got their attendance verified.  I made it to the end of the meeting, when all of a sudden everyone stood up and clasped hands.   I was trapped inside the circle.  I had to leave in a hurry thankfully I didn’t run anyone down on the way out.  I had to walk past several bars on the way home and somehow I managed to stay out of them too.

About 2 weeks after I cold turkeyed off the klonopin I called her again as I was running out of Paxil.  I told her my condition (constant panic and extreme agoraphobia)  and she decided to take me off the paxil.  She asked me how many I had left and I told her that I had one tablet left.  She told me to break it in half and take a half each day.  That’s how she tapered me off paxil!  I had an extremely rough five or six days.  One thing you have to experience is the “snaps” that is the snap, crackle, pop that you hear INSIDE YOUR HEAD when you are coming off paxil.   For 5 or 6 days I had the strangest dreams I had ever had in my life, though not all of them were scary.  The sensations I experienced in coming off Paxil were similar to the sensations you get when you are coming on to LSD.  One night I had a vivid dream of Satan.  One night I had a vivid dream of the gorgon Medusa from Greek myth.  I had a dream of my own birth, sliding down the birth canal and taking my first breath.  I have never had dreams like these before or since in my life.

There is a reference to panic and PTSD in Greek Mythology, and that is the story of Perseus and Medusa.  Anyone who approached the gorgon Medusa and looked at it was immediately frozen into place.  This is similar to the effect of a visual cue for a panic attack.  You look at it and suddenly you are frozen by fear.  Perseus solved this problem by looking at Medusa in a mirror, looking at the fear in an indirect way, and thus was able to slay the monster.  Out of the blood of Medusa sprung winged Pegasus.  I have taken cues from this myth in my own program of rehabilitation, trying to find indirect means to attack the panic.  The early Greeks at the dawn of civilization were a warrior race, and most certainly were aware of the effects of trauma in their fellows.  I think that this was expressed in myth.

Once the paxil was out of my system the constant tremors went away, but I have been bothered with them ever since intermittently, especially when I am facing some stress.  However I did lapse into a severe depression, about 6 weeks, the deepest depression of my life.  I could not get out of bed.  I did realize after a few weeks that I had to do something or I would simply die.  I went and got some whiskey and found myself a job.  I still didn’t drink on the job, but by now I sure needed that bottle by 5 or clock or so.  I was working doing heavy duty lifting in a warehouse at age 48 and alcohol was my only medicine for my agoraphobia and the constant pain of neuropathy and dental pain.

All through this period my dental health was deteriorating as well.  In 95 I was working at a casino and I bought the insurance plan.  I even paid extra for “dental coverage.”  I went to the dentist (I had to go with my therapist to keep me calm) and he said he could do the work required for five or six hundred dollars.  It turned out that the dental coverage I had been paying for covered only one exam per year, but no real dental procedures.  I was barely surviving at that time I had no extra income above my basic requirements of food and rent.  A year or so later I got sent to another dentist by the vocational rehab program in town.  When I told the dentist that I got panic attacks, he told me that he couldn’t treat me because “he didn’t want to get attacked.”  What a moron.  I could tell you lots more about dentists but I am starting to get angry.

In November 2000, my health collapsed.  I was working full time, but one morning I simply couldn’t get out of bed.  I called in sick.  I had liver disease, my skin was yellow and my belly and legs were swollen.  My sister took me to the hospital and the nurse asked me how long I had had liver disease.  It was a puzzler for me, because I didn’t know I had liver disease.  I  think I may have died that day, briefly.  I know I saw the light when I passed out in the exam room.  I have not had a sip of alcohol since.

By early 2001 I had landed in a half way house in Reno.  I weighed 230 lbs. when I entered the hospital, and in six weeks my weight went to 155.  I had lost 75 lbs. in six weeks.  My arms looked like pipestems.  I spent 19 months at the halfway house.  I will say this, they kept me alive.  Some people are under the impression that these county half way houses are run at the expense of the local taxpayer.  What happens really is that the social worker signs you up for presumptive SSI, maybe $800 a month or so from the federal government.  The county takes all of that money every month, we were given an allowance to spend of $82 a month.  So it is really the federal government and the residents who are paying for their stay.  If you are on SSI, you are not allowed to seek employment (that is how it was then) but you did have to apply for permanent disability in order to continue staying there.  I applied for SSD as they asked me to and I was sent to a doctor for a review.  The doctor examined me and asked me “Why do  you think you are incapable of working?”  I answered him that I thought I was capable of working.  I was probably wrong, but I had worked all my life and I still had the ethic.  My application got turned down and again I was forced to appeal it.  I had to hire a lawyer $4000 contingency and when the judge decided I was disabled I had also repay the county $7000 that it said I owed them for my time at the halfway house.  So basically I paid the county $25000 for 19 months of two meals a day and sharing a bedroom with a stranger.

A few years later I had my experience with Effexor.  The therapist I was seeing worked with a doctor and she prescribed me Effexor.  Given my experience with Paxil I was not eager to take it but I did.   I took it for 6 weeks or so and I found myself becoming more and more aggressive.  I was living in one of those low income apartments where you share a kitchen with three other units.  Well if you have a miracle that works out but most of the time one or two of your kitchen mates are addicts, thieves, or paranoid schizos.   I got sideways with one of my neighbors a guy as big as me but a few years younger.  I found myself walking up to him in the lunch room and calling him out to his face, I took off my shirt and roostered around the complex, I became very aggressive.  I am ashamed of this now, I have never acted like that in my life, and since I quit the Effexor I haven’t acted that way since then.  It is not in my nature.

I realized that the Effexor was causing me to act that way.  It was making me aggressive.  I called up the doctor and told her that the Effexor wasn’t working.  She said she would work something out and I should call the pharmacy in a couple of hours.  It turned out when I called the pharmacy that she had decided to tritrate my dosage UP.  The other thing is that up until then she had given me free samples.  I was poor.  I had less than 10 dollars to my name.  The cost of a months Effexor for me at the new double dose would be almost $250.  That was a friday night, and I was about to have a very bad weekend cold turkeying off Effexor.  Maybe it was a lack of communication, but I clearly told her that the Effexor was making me feel violent.  I literally wanted to beat my neighbor to death with my bare hands.  I knew that I couldn’t take the Effexor any more and at any rate I couldn’t afford to fill the prescription.  Effexor is a double medication, it contains an SSRI component and an older anti depressant component.  Bottom line is that quitting Effexor cold turkey is like walking off a cliff.  That weekend I experienced the worst panic attack of my life and a quick sharp descent into the unspeakable darkness.  Among other things I did that weekend is I gave away my car to a stranger walking down the sidewalk.

Yeah sure, taper off.  You can see how well that works in real life.

I know this has been a long depressing monologue, but somewhere around 2004 I started getting SSD, and I was able to stabilize my finances, rent a better apartment and do a bit better in general.  I started getting politically active, because I had come to see how corrupt and greedy our health care system is.  When it became clear that our government was torturing people, I started working to impeach George Bush and that gang of criminals around him.

I would say that the last 3 or 4 years of my life has been blessed.  I have not conquered all my fears or solved all my problems but I have more friends now than I have ever had.  I have music.  I live in a beautiful part of the world.  I stopped being angry at women and started simply enjoying their beauty and accepting from them what they could give me willingly.  I accepted that the chances of an autistic like me for a long term relationship with any woman are slim.

have a peaceful day,

Bill

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10 Responses to “Some Truth I Must Accept About My Life”

  1. […] reading here: Some Truth I Must Accept About My Life « HighBoldtage Tagged as: a-hammer–, a-heavy-tobacco, always-pounding, blood-vessels, constricts-the, […]

  2. I can relate to much of your story. I suffered from severe generalized anxiety for years without treatment, other than self-medication with alcohol. It was always difficult, but I survived, until finally developing agoraphobia and becoming mostly homebound. I went through the gambit with SSRI’s and benzos. I was seeing a general physician, not a psychiatrist, who took me off 5MG’s a day of xanax cold-turkey. The withdrawal put me into a series of seizures that likely caused permanent damage to my brain. It is slowly getting easier to get out without booze or pills — I have found finding ways to relax works better than anything. The panic attacks still occur frequently but I have learned to handle them better.

  3. I feel like I know you.
    So much of what you talked about happened to me too.

    I suffer from PTSD related to my time in Vietnam and Cambodia. I still have panic attacks. I bunker up a lot. I went through the suicidal phase several times.

    Withdrawing from Klonopine is pure hell. Been there and done that down in Ft. Miley when they put me in a drug program (I had to be “clean” to get into the PTSD program) and they took all of my medications away!

    I tried to leave the hospital and was detained by about six security guards with batons who beat me so badly that they broke two ribs. Then they took me into lockup and I was strapped down for three days, until I agreed to their terms on some stuff.

    They say PTSD is an invisible wound – but I don’t believe that in the sense that the manifestations are there for all to see.

    These days I’m happy to plug away on my blogs and to write a newspaper opinion column. No interaction with people. I do make an effort to go to places with my wife. She understands my limitations and works with me. I’m blessed in that way…and many more.

    Reading your heartfelt post this morning reminded me that I’m not alone, and that there are other people who face many of the same challenges I do.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Of course you know me Dave,

    we are brothers.

    have a peaceful day,
    Bill

  5. I enjoyed reading this, thank you. I experienced an increase in aggression while on Xanax. I’ve also noticed it in the behavior of friends. I believe it also caused at least one of my friends to do something illegal that he might otherwise not have done.

    Ppl (like me) take benzos (Xanax, etc.) to get rid of fear. Instead, it made me completely fearLESS.

    Living without fear is dangerous. It can’t be healthy.

    Of course, I still need help, even though I’m no longer eating 2mg white bar Xanaxes every day. So my treatment continues.

    I’m on my ninth day of Pristiq, a medicine in the same family as Effexor. I had a bad experience with Effexor XR and just never took more than one because it messed me up so badly. I’m on Pristiq now because all the conventional SSRIs they’ve tried over the years hasn’t worked.

    I’m hoping this one will help. It’s scary to feel like you’re running out of options, which is how I feel.

    The most useless med I’ve encountered in attempts to get my Agoraphobia/PTSD/Panic would have to be buspirone (Buspar), which did nothing but make it worse.

    Before the internet I had no idea how many other ppl out there are also suffering from the same things I am.

    It’s awesome that there are ppl with the courage to post about it on the net so that others don’t feel so isolated and alone.

    So thank you for that.

    Polly

  6. ShirleyValentine Says:

    Thank you for sharing so much of your life! I experienced those “brain zaps” when I ran out of Cymbalta that I take for Fibro.

    I came to check out your blog to see if you were out of the hospital and are OK. I enjoy your comments on Heraldo’s blog and really enjoyed reading your own blog. I hope you are on the road to recovery and will be back to posting soon!

  7. Thanks Shirley,

    I am still in the hospital. I hope to be out in a few days but I am not sure though recovery is likely to take a few months.

    have a peaceful day
    Bill

  8. justprescribedlexapro Says:

    Thanks for sharing your life story with me and others like me. We have a lot in common. When I was 5 years old, I ripped my gums open falling into a sharp corner of a table. I ended up in the ER with one of those muslin cloths with a hole in the center on top of my face, and a straight jacket to keep me from thrashing about the operating table. I could go on but I think the point I want to make is that I also didn’t realize I had serious issues until now (I am 48). I struggled through every phase of my life, I was date raped at 16, my parents were emotionally and at times physically abusive and they are still emotionally abusive even as they are weakening and elderly, I was in a physically abusive relationship with an alcoholic that almost killed me. All this was years ago but I am growing more and more dependent on alcohol to get me through the day, and I am in my 3rd marriage. In spite of all this, I have a lot to be proud of and happy about now but cannot seem to directly experience my life. It seems as if everything that is good gets filtered and distorted through the negative identity I developed over the past. That is what made me think that SSRI’s might be the answer. You know, just take a pill so it goes away, so I can exist in the moment instead of interpreting every feeling through the filter of my past. I guess it just is not that easy.

  9. justprescribedlexapro Says:

    Oh, I forgot to thank you, sincerely, thank you.

  10. thank you for sharing this I can identify with lots of it, it shows to me that I am not the only one who went through this shit and survived. I hope what Neitzche says is true, what does not kill you makes you stronger. Right now I should be stronger than average Joe Blow , hope so. But it ain’t easy. thanks again for the blog I really like it.

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