Another day in the life

I am marginally better from my low which really peaked on Christmas day. (can a low peak? ha!) The day after I wrote the piece I link to (the 25th) I continued to barely function. After administering an emergency .25 mg of Klonopin and finding that it basically made me OD, (I was drugged into a stupor, which is very strange given I’ve taken up to 6 mg a day at one time—there is a puzzling reality about these drugs for many of us—that we discover when we withdraw—we become extremely sensitive to them and often times, many other chemicals in the environment and foods as well) Anyway, by the day after Christmas I wasn’t quite as sick. I resumed taking 2 mg of Klonopin at bedtime, up from the 1.8 mg that I was at for only 2 days which led to the really ugly few days. My withdrawal had gone to fast even with 5% cuts.

A friend who has successfully withdrawn from benzos now (and it took her several years) suggested I not cut more than 1%. And so the next time I cut I will heed her advice. I did manage to do the first 1 mg of the 3 mg I needed to come off quickly and easily in .25 mg increments, which led me to believe I could get away with what I tried. Basically we need to reassess over and over again in this process.

I’ve been on the 2 mg now since the night of the 25th. Slowly but surely I am a bit better. Nauseous less frequently and able to sustain a bit more concentration on the internet or a book or a DVD.

All things being relative though, this is what I did today. I am by no means well.

I went to my favorite low-cost clearance supermarket. Virtually everything in it is organic and some of it is stuff that will expire soon so it’s slashed by at least 50% and sometimes even more. I buy tons of stuff there. The produce is fresh and so are other key items like milk, eggs and yogurt. Though again it’s all at at least 50% less than if you went to a regular health food store.

When I go I load my cart with my favorite staples. Plain yogurt, eggs, grass fed meats, boxes of organic chicken and vegetable broths that I use as my soup base for all the soup I make in the winter. I get cans of organic soup for quick lunches when I’m too sick to cook as well.

Lots of boxes of herbal teas that I make into a weak solution of ice tea so that I can get my gallon of water in a day with some flavor involved. I make the tea by the gallon and drink one every 24 hours.

There are always delightful treats that aren’t expected as the merchandise is constantly changing. Once I got a huge jar of caviar for $8.99 (we’re talking about 16 oz!) Specialty olives for $1.99. Olive tapenade. Coconut water as a beverage. Pure cranberry juice with no sugar added! This unsweetened cranberry juice generally costs about 8 to 10 bucks in the regular health food store. Today I got three bottles for $2.99 a piece. I use it to spike my water as well. It’s delightfully tart and very high in antioxidants and no sugar!!

This is my favorite place to shop—an organic food lovers paradise.

Anyway, in spite of loving to shop there I ventured forth today with great hesitation. I felt pretty damn sick, but I was also in one of my damn it all moods in which I say “I’m not going to stay trapped in this damn house anymore!” So I went out. Still very sick, but able to stand upright for the first time in days.

I made it through the market and to the check out stand and as I stood there I knew I could not continue. I’d run out of steam. The line was long and I was too sick to continue standing—weakness and nausea were beginning to overcome. I could call my husband to come purchase the items while I sat in the car….or, I could sit down against the wall that was to the side of the check out stand.

That is what I did. I sat. On the floor. With my groceries standing in line for me. There was actually only one person in front of me but she had a ton of stuff, and while the guy checking her out is a really nice guy I’ve run into before, he also happens to be the slowest checker I’ve ever encountered anywhere. So I was on that floor a good ten minutes. The thing is I needed to be on that floor. I needed to rest before I could get back in the car and drive home.

The guy at the counter looked down at me and joked, “Am I too slow or are you tired?” I responded, “no, I’m really sick. I’m going to need someone to help me bring the groceries out.” He asked me if I needed a drink or anything else. I said I had already helped myself to a water from their cooler which I had in my hand.

I sat there and as the lady ahead of me got ready to leave I heard over the intercom, “Would the person driving a blue Honda Accord please move your car—we need to get to the dumpster you are parked nearby.” I stood up without thinking and said out loud, “Fuck, that’s me.” Yeah, I even have a potty mouth out in public when I’m not feeling well!  (I can control it in most circumstances when I want to!! At least when I’m well—I was a professional for many years!) The checker, whose name at this point I discovered was Steve, stopped me and said, give me your keys I’ll get my assistant to move it for you. And so I did. He ran all my items through the check out process and then asked someone to replace him and walked me out himself and loaded all the groceries in my car.

I gave him a hug goodbye.

Small things can still make me happy. There are good people in this world.

One of my favorite things to do these days is interact with people behind the counter of stores I go to because they are almost the only people I see since if I feel well enough I do try to run errands in order to spare Daniel from doing everything around the house. Also since I feel improvement so sporadically I’ve given up seeing most of my friends as they don’t tend to be free at the last minute which is all I can manage. And so grocery shopping is actually one of the great pleasures in my life. Really. Oh my.

I miss people, but can get joy from even small interactions in public. Thank you Steve the check out guy!

Oh the Beyond Meds Social Network is off to a great start with over 40 members. Please check it out if you’re not already a member. If you are not a member you can only see the first page as it’s set for privacy purposes.

12 thoughts on “Another day in the life

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  1. I wish we had a store like that. How in the world do the producers of the food make any money at all.

    I also had check out lines. I try to buy just a little bit and go at odd times of the day, and I am not even sick…just very tired.


  2. katie,

    I always appreciate your visits and comments.

    I can’t say it’s true in every instance but it’s my guess and observation too, that many people’s bipolar that gets worse– gets worse as a direct result of the meds.

    I posted a study on this site once that showed a longitudinal study of 15 years—people with psychosis of all kinds, schizophrenia and bipolar both and the people who did not take meds had the fewest relapses.

    Robert Whitaker, a well-respected journalist and author of Mad in America is writing another book on mental health, this time documenting evidence that since we started medicating the heck out of people, debilitation and disability has sky rocketed. His thesis, if I understand correctly, is that the drugs lead to chronicity and disability.

    I can say I’ve seen it happen and that it happened to me…


  3. so many thoughts and emotions came up reading this post:

    first, how amazing that you’re doing this – one day at a time, you’re taking care of yourself the best you can, and trying to clear your system of these toxic chemicals.

    second – this store you describe sounds like heaven – oh how i wish we had something like this out where i live.

    and i felt myself cheering inside that you were so tired that you sat down in line, taking care of yourself because you needed to. (and why shouldn’t be we sit down in line if we want or need to?!!)

    you are an inspiration, truly. i am mosty off the klonopin except when i start to get manic and panicky and angry and out of control feeling, then i take it, maybe a couple days in a row sometimes, and it helps. i’m afraid of mood stablizers anymore, and i’m also afraid of my moods when they get so intense in one direction or the other. i wonder if what i read about bipolar getting worse (both pysiiologically and mentally) with time will happen to me. my shifts do seem more dramatic and the rapid cycling more often but could that be my faulty memory just remembering that way? i’m doing the best i can too, one day at a time, taking the least amount of meciations i can get away with.

    wishing you all the best, now and in the new year.



  4. I feel the same as Kim about this post being beautiful….Gianna you are so gifted at writing, so expressive! Thank you for sharing such everyday moments….so much like capturing moments in a good photograph or a painting….the artist captures that beauty of the moment be it as it may…..its life, your precious life……thank you for sharing it all with us!

    And thank you too Deborah!!


  5. Thank you Deborah,
    for saying what I wanted to but really couldn’t, not being in your shoes…

    I know lots of people who have done it with no one. Too many. But it’s done all the time…

    you said:
    I am a total wimp, a coward and a lily liver. I do not deal well with adversity. I’m lazy, I whine. I have not much of a spiritual life. And I’m here to tell you one thing. I am doing it. Of all the insecure, buy-what-the-psychiatrist-is-saying-so-she’ll-like-me, pathetic pharma druggies you’ve ever met, I am in the top 10.

    Well…I don’t believe you are a wimp, coward or lily liver…but hell I feel all those things with some frequency too!!

    Anyway, yes, I believe anyone who sets their mind to this can do it…but it takes preserverence and a willingness to make radical changes…not everyone is up for that and that’s okay too.

    But Carrie, I think we all are stronger than we think….

    I’m a major wimp…I feel pathetic all the time…but I also have some deep source of something that makes me keep going…

    I bet you could find that inside you too and do things you wouldn’t have believed possible.


  6. Carrie, I’m pretty much on my own as well. No family, no significant other. And I have a 20 year history with psych meds…multiple meds, abrupt changes (poop-out leading to cold turkey) and no help at all when I decided after 18 years to stop taking benzos and beta blockers for anxiety and panic in public…No information – NO COMMENT from my psychiatrist when I declined refills on drugs like klonopin, serax and inderal…after 18 years!!!

    I am a total wimp, a coward and a lily liver. I do not deal well with adversity. I’m lazy, I whine. I have not much of a spiritual life. And I’m here to tell you one thing. I am doing it. Of all the insecure, buy-what-the-psychiatrist-is-saying-so-she’ll-like-me, pathetic pharma druggies you’ve ever met, I am in the top 10.

    When I pooped out on Celexa in 2005, I got so sick from that I lost my job. Then instead of tapering off of it, I switched over two weeks to Cymbalta. I was taking 1000mg of ibuprofen per day for the head pain the drug caused…I had suicidal ideation, dry eyes, nausea, brain fog…and still I adjusted to cymbalta because I believed that I had a chemical imbalance.

    Then in 2007, my p-doc wanted me to swithc from Cymbalta to Effexor because it doesn’t cause as many side effects(!). I was surfing the net looking for herbal remedies to help with the symptoms of what I now know is cold turkey, when I discovered the this site, then withdrawal and recovery, then paxil progress…. I ended up losing yet another job due to all the problems I was having…that’s when I started to think for myself.

    I have to make concessions to being on my own. Like tiny tapers. Like no drops for a few months when things are too stressful. But it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get off. Like putting up with symptoms without support and having to just – tough it out – sometimes when I want to cave and go back on benzos – or try alcohol for stress relief…

    But taking back my power feels pretty darn good even when I’m not feeling so hot – or only going to work and sleeping/not sleeping well and being exhausted and irritable. I am much more productive at work and like my company better than anyplace I have ever worked. I have dropped almost a third of the cymbalta, my last drug.

    I have managed insomnia, panic, anxiety, confusion, brain fog, the deaths and departures of people I love the most in the past three years. I’m not great or strong. I’m a 57 year old person with minimal social life, but I do have a life and it’s better the farther I go down my own path.

    Just sayin’


  7. for some reason i find this beautiful, sad and fucking hilarious at the same time. (yes, i have a potty mouth, too!)

    first of all…I wish we had a store like yours in my city. wow.

    secondly, sometimes it takes all of my energy to get dressed, get in the car and drive the 2 minutes to the grocery store. even though for different reasons, i can relate…

    lately my husband has been doing the shopping, what little we can afford. but two days ago, i went and as i was leaving the grocery store, i was feeling extremely lethargic. one block from home and a big stack of firewood and sign caught my eye. i called the number and asked how much for the firewood (a trunk-full) it was cheap and he said he was just one minute away. this older gentleman pulled up in a beat-up truck and i just wanted to get the firewood, pay him the $10.00 and get the hell out of there…back home into my PJs. instead, we spent the next twenty minutes talking. well, he did most of the talking. he noticed my bumper sticker and we started talking about Obama and the next thing I know his arms were flailing and he was quoting Abraham Lincoln, going on and on and on. It was beautiful.

    i drove home with a smile on my face…a complete stranger, who i was meant to meet, lifted me out of a bad place, if only temporarily.


  8. not depression, no not at all…I’m always chomping at the bit to get the hell out…and do stuff… a good depressive doesn’t want to do anything…I’m always stir crazy except when I’m so sick I can only writhe in pain…

    I am profoundly physically ill from chemical injury caused by the drugs and exacerbated by the withdrawals…

    nausea, weakness, flu-like pain and all sort of bizarre neurological sensations that have no name because they simply aren’t natural…it’s toxicity and poisoning…

    oh clarification…my circumstance is indeed depressing, but I’m doing it all so I can attain freedom and I am not in the traditional sense depressed.


    1. well…it tends to be an up and down proposition that stays on the down end of the spectrum…I’ve been somewhat bedbound at least 50% of the time for over a year now…but yeah, I’ve got a killer fighting spirit…most of the time…like when I’m not feeling totally pathetic!!




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