Skillful means

Last night I was so raw and crazy I didn’t think I would ever go to sleep. At 4 am I decided to take the advice of two veterans of recovery who had read my blog and had recommended two things in common, among other suggestions. The two things in common they recommended was marijuana and benzos. Just as an emergency measure. One of these people said plainly and from her own experience, “these symptoms are not you, they are your nervous system.” I refused both peoples advice out of hand as pot makes me delusional (it helps both these people feel very calm—they are not advocates of daily marijuana use, you must understand—they were seeking to ease my suffering—both are drug free now and they understand that that too is my goal) and I’m addicted to a large amount of benzos already so I told them it was out of the question that I should take a benzo for relief. But as the night proceeded and my nervous system screamed bloody murder it struck me that I might be being masochistic. I’ve been such a hard-core purist.

I took some Klonopin. I slept. And I awoke feeling good. How simple was that? Klonopin has an 18 hour half life so I’m still well under the influence of it. I am calm and able to function. I’m making chicken soup to freeze and later I plan to make a turkey meatloaf. I love cooking and that I feel good enough to take on two projects is a good sign. What will happen when the Klonopin wears off? (I took 2 mg, mind you—I really went for it) I don’t know what will happen, but I know I will have gotten through day 4 of my taper off of Lamictal. (one of the men who left comment on Furious Seasons in my post below said day 3 – 5 after a taper was the worst) I’ve already decided I will not take Klonopin more than 2 days in a row no more than every one and a half or two weeks. So I have to time my tapers in such a way that I won’t need Klonopin to ease the suffering more than very infrequently. I know that I took up to 6 mg of Klonopin a day when I was in my drug use days. But I’m addicted to only 3 mg because I never took the 6 mg more than a couple of days in a row. So I know I’m safe if I stick to this plan.

My husband this morning spoke of a Tibetan Buddhist Llama, Tarthang Tulku, who wrote a book called “Skillful Means.” It’s a form of Buddhist pragmatism. He said that that is what I was practicing. This was to reassure me as I felt a bit awkward having diverted from my path of nothing but taperings and heaven forbid, no PRNs!

I will not be able to take Klonopin to ease the pain of withdrawing from Klonopin. But for now there is no reason to suffer more than I have to when there is not risk of additional addiction. That is a truly pragmatic reality.

Thank you both of my friends for thinking outside of the strict drug-withdrawal box and giving me the idea that it is okay to practice “Skillful Means,” especially because it was seeming counter-intuitive to me at first. I had put myself in a box.

****I wrote the above this morning while still feeling fresh and symptom free. It’s now 8:30 pm and well past the 18 hour half life of Klonopin. The raw nerve feeling is coming back—with a vengeance. I have to decide whether I will take Klonopin again tonight. It’s a lousy feeling. I don’t want to take it. I also think that had I not taken it at all last night into today my suffering would have been immeasurable. It already was when I took it. But there is no road map. No one to guide me ultimately. My friends last night felt like lifesavers, but today confronted with the pain returning and not really knowing if it will remit in the next couple of days, I am left wondering what to do. I will decide later. I will see if my regular night time meds which I take in about half an hour help the withdrawal symptoms abate as they generally do in between tapers.

I want to believe that each time I taper from Lamictal I will have two, three days max that I will feel like hell and then it will become tolerable. But I don’t know now, do I? At some point, tomorrow for sure, I will have to suffer the pain without the option of the Klonopin.

Oh right now I want to ask, why me? I don’t think I’ve actually done that before. It’s always just been the way it is even if I can’t figure out why the hell there is so much suffering in the world—I struggle with that all the time—and not just with my suffering, but the suffering of humankind. I just don’t get it.

Anyway, I may have to taper in smaller doses as a couple of people suggested in comments. But shit—that projects the end of my withdrawals even further into the future. Can you all feel how impatient I am? It’s a tangible ugliness in my life.

Universe, please help me find patience.

11 thoughts on “Skillful means

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  1. Giannakali

    Thank you for your advice.

    My story is rather complicated. I did come off lithium last year in a 3 month plan by my cons. psych. The result was that I shot right into a manic state. I was controlled on other drugs for 6 months, but whilst coming off them I went off into a graduated manic type of behaviour. My Gp wanted me put back on lithium, nearly a year to the day that I was taken off the lithium.

    Being off lithium was like being taken out of the freezer. My mind was my own. I was more alert, communicative, emotional and human. My eyes changed, they lost that very dark colour and changed to a lighter and brighter colour. I laughed more. My face was relaxed, and not so tense. I liked my life. I know I was also on other psychotropic meds whilst coming off the lithium but I could feel the difference.

    When I was put on lithium 800 mg, I could feel the difference after a few hours. My high state had completely gone. A few weeks later my dose was increased to 1200 mg. I was on this for 3 months. I had never been on such a high dose. It sedated me so much.

    I am looking forward to meeting with my doctor and my husband. I am going to take it very slowly, maybe a year to 18 months. My cons. although he took me off the tabs too soon, his beliefs are good. He believes that psychiatric tablets are not for life.

    Thank you for the opportunity to express myself.


  2. Ametyst,
    welcome and thank you for your good wishes.

    Remember when you start to come off Lithium that there is nothing wrong with going 10 x slower than the doctor recommends. Try to make sure you get to control the schedule.

    good luck!!

  3. Thank you very much for sharing your withdrawal from drugs with us. It is very imformative and has helped me a lot. I am in the process of coming off Lithium. I see my psych doctor in January for a plan of coming off 800mg Lithium.

    I would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and a New Year that is full of spirit and hope to you and to all people who are coming off psychiatric drugs.


  4. Wow! I thought tryptophan was still banned! That’s why I jumped at the chance to get Zenbev. I may try the less expensive capsules over Zenbev. If it works as good then I will just take the capsules. I am just thrilled that tryptophan is no longer banned!

    I read on the Zenbev site that tryptophan needs to be taken with B vitamins and carbohydrates in order for it to cross the blood brain barrier. Zenbev is unique in that it has just the right amount of sugars in it in order to do the job. But you’re still suppoed to take the B vitamins.

    Anyway, I think I’ll try the tryptophan supplements and add the carbs and B vitamins myself. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for letting me know that tryptophan is back!

  5. Just for the record tryptophan does not agree with everyone. I find it useful occasionally — it doesn’t bother me but it often seems to do nothing at all.

    Some people do get vague adverse effects though.

  6. Jayme,

    I was ignorant enough to think that tryptophan had been banned (it had been for a while) – didn’t realize it was back on the market until very recently…….

    Anyway, I get mine at Swanson’s Vitamins online –

    Tryptophan really helps me – but, I want to try the product you put on your post – this ‘Zenbev’ – the name sounds wonderful – anything with ‘Zen’ sounds wonderful (even to this cradle Catholic kid) – I like this Buddhist Zen stuff – the world should practice it – it would be a better world……
    (oops, getting off the subject).

    I sent off to the company that makes this ‘Zenbev’ – interested to see what clinical trials they’ve done.

    I’m interested in the connection – the brain chemistry of all of this – Niacin is such a key player – used by Orthomolecular Medicine to send their psychiatric patients home – Tryptophan is involved in this Niacin synthesis; also, serves as a precursor to Serotonin (by day), and Melatonin (by night).

    Have heard (through Mercola, et al) that pumpkin seeds may be the absolute best source of natural tryptophan – and this Zenbev seems to be made from this source – pumpkin seeds… fascinating.

    UTSW Medical School did a survey last year – Colleen McClung, MD – found bipolar to be related to a ‘biological clock’- sleep patterns, cardiorythms, etc – this was ‘found’ years ago – continues to be ‘found’…..What did McClung do with her ‘findings’? – What any ‘best and brightest’ young researcher would have done – placed a syringe of lithium into the rat’s brain……..brilliant, just brilliant……

    Have been reading a great deal lately – ‘new’ research seems to be indicating a connection to ONE (not several) amino acid – as the ‘problem area’ for ‘bipolar’ – however, rather than looking searching for something natural, the drug companies will now be standing in line – Lilly, Merck, Pfiezzer – ready to get ‘first-dibs’ on a new ‘miracle medicine’ to make the brain work right – the perfect chemical to make the brain produce this ‘mystery’ amino acid……

    They won’t mention what the amino acid is – my (best guess) – Tryptophan.

    Tryptophan is a miraculous amino – it ‘knows’ when it’s day and when it’s nighttime – able to convert to serotonin by day, and melatonin by night – as a Biology Professor in college used to say “This stuff will keep you in church – or in a bar”……

    I miss those drinking days (sometimes)…….been 21 years……no, actually glad I quit drinking……….as far as ‘church’ – meditation and family – they are ‘church’ – love and forgiveneness – these things are ‘church’…….

    Rambling today – forgive me – very excited about this ‘Zenbev’ -thanks for posting.


  7. Jayme,

    Have been taking tryptophan – it works pretty well (just ran out, and was going to order more).
    This Zenbev sounds very interesting – got on the webiste.

    From pumkin seeds, uhh?
    Do you find it more beneficial than tryptophan?

    Thank you for the information –


  8. I’ve heard of Zenbev. I will try it. I don’t think it would have cut it for the extreme distress my nervous system was experiencing as a result of the withdrawal though. This was not ordinary sleeplessness.

    In any case the Klonopin worked wonderfully and I didn’t need to use it again last night. I think I have my answer for this part of the withdrawal with Lamictal. Like I said above—I won’t be able to use Klonopin when I’m coming off of Klonopin (obviously) , but I see no harm in what I did. I see healing. I’m well today.

    If I only need to use it once per taper while I’m doing the Lamictal I don’t believe it will cause problems.

  9. Gianna, I know that feeling that Klonopin gives. And the peaceful, deep sleep. I finally had to quit taking it because I read somewhere that it weakens your immune system. It also screwed up my balance worse than it already was.

    Luckily, I was so scared of ever getting addicted that I used it sparingly from the start. It was hard for me to get. I used to beg doctors for it and assure them that I was not addicted. Nothiong could make me sleep like Klonopin.

    So without Klonopin, I really had to find something else. I found it last week! It’s called Zenbev, and it’s is source of natural Tryptophan. It’s made from pumkin seeds. I’ve been taking it for a week now, and it works wonderfully. The web address is (straight to the order form because I had a hard time finding it when I was ready to order). It’s expensive, though. And you have to take B vitamins with it. It knocks me out within an hour of taking it.

    Unfortunately, it does not have the anti-anxiey effects like Klonopin. But it may be worth a try.

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