Facing the fear!

My heart is beating fast and I have butterflies in my tummy because it’s been so long since I wrote anything at all. A lot has happened in the time that’s passed and figuring out what I want to say is hard. So bear with me whilst I find my way!

In March earlier this year, I started the scary journey of seeking help with my addiction to co-codamol. I was such a mess when I went. I couldn’t focus, forgot what had been said as soon as it had been said. I was a shell of myself. I don’t remember too much about the beginning of the year. I remember feeling that life wasn’t worth living and that my marriage was a farce. I was a terrible mother and I think I had given up on living. I couldn’t go out, I freaked out about all sorts of things and I felt completely disconnected from everything.

Going to the drug programme was terrifying because I knew I was going to have to give up the one thing that shut my head up. However, despite how hard it was and the first few weeks were afterwards I feel that it is the best thing I have done for myself since I had my breakdown.

Subutex was prescribed as the substitute medication as methadone could have reacted badly with other medications I was on and cause possible heart problems.  I hadnt realised at the second appointment that this would be the last time I would take a tablet. I had to go cold turkey for as long as i could manage before starting on the new medication.

We started low, on 4mg for a couple of days, then increased to 6, 8, 10 and finally 12mg. I tried just being at 10 but wittlhdrawal was still a problem so I was stablised on 12 mg although I could have gone up to 16mg.

For 12 weeks I collected by medication daily from the pharmacy local to me. It was a chore but this was the way I had to do it. After 12 weeks I was considered trustworthy enough to be allowed to go 3 times a week. I collected on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

After 3 months of being stable and feeling much better than I had done it was time to discuss how I should reduce. It was left up to me to do in my own time but I should only reduce by 2mg at a time and allow sufficient time between each reduction to stabilise.

So between some point at the end of May to now I have reduced the amount I am on from 12mg daily to 4mg daily.

Making the reductions from 12-6mg wasn’t too bad, I perhaps experienced a tiny bit of withdrawal but nothing in comparison to real withdrawal. Anyone who has experienced any form of withdrawal will know how awful it is. I was amazed at how easy it was to do. However! 6-4mg has been much harder and I’ve had a lot more withdrawal symptoms this time. It’s been almost a week and I think I’m through the worst of it but I know from this point onwards it’s not going to be easy.

I met with my very lovely key-worker today to discuss the next steps. I’ve had a tough week as my meds got messed up by the doctors surgery and the pharmacy so I’ve had no zopiclone for two weeks and no citalopram for the past 4 days. I feel really rough and my planned reduction from 4-2 mg this weekend is put on hold.

Instead I’m going to stablise myself again and slowly reduce to 0.8mg. I’ll start this next phase in a couple of weeks because I know that i need some help with pain relief for the hernia and ibs I have. My ibs has been fairly well behaved for a long time but in the past fortnight I’ve been in hideous amounts of pain and I really need some help. I am seeing my gp to ask for an alternative medication for pain which doesn’t contain opiates. I was on co-codamol for pain relief initially and now I am too scared to go near it because of its addictive properties and my own psychological dependence on it. I couldn’t take it now anyway because of the subutex so the only option has to be non-opiate.

I have been on a lot of medications and quetiapine was something which I was prescribed last September at 50mg and then increased in January this year to 100mg. I tried it at that amount for 3 weeks but it just made me feel really unwell. Given how much cocodamol I was taking at the time it was hardly surprising. Subutex and quetiapine didn’t mix too well either so I reduced quetiapine down too and got myself off that as well as reducing venlafaxine from 300mg to 225 mg. I’m stable with my mental meds at the moment but I want to reduce them down too. I feel like I have lost a part of me and no matter what I do i just can’t get it back so I think reducing them slowly with my gp supervising will hopefully really help.

Then there is zopiclone to consider. This I still use but I have been able to use less of it. I can cope with half the dose I was taking but because I ran out I’m exhausted so I’m going to take a full tablet and sleep for a few days and then halve them again. My key-worker will then use the zopiclone to help Mr with the final reduction and withdrawal. At which point I will then start to address my use of it.

I have made a lot of progress in the last 5 months. It has been far from easy and filled with pitfalls and hurdles to deal with along the way. Mentally I am far better than I have been in a long time. I know I still have a way to go yet but I feel like I’m finally on the right track. Progress is slow for anyone in this kind of situation and the wishful clicking of fingers to make everything better is just a dream. Getting well isn’t a quick thing. It’s bloody hard work. It’s emotional, filled with ups and downs which will frustrate you and those around you. For professionals you have to show that you are making progress in order for them to believe it and the expectations of them on you are high. With family the realisation is that it’s not about proving to them that your getting better and how you’re doing it etc, it’s different. It’s about stability when your with them. It has been very confusing at times and frustrating to say the least. I know I’m making progress but at home it’s been harder to convince them which has pissed me off…but then they are not professionals, they don’t understand all the stuff in the same way. I didn’t see that and got frustrated and like I was banging my head against a brick wall with them all. But we are getting through it slowly.

I am really proud of how far I have come in only a few months. I know I have worked hard and that whilst it’s not perfect I’m on my way. This is far better than going further and further down and losing myself completely.

As I said at the start of this post, a lot has happened and there are many things to talk about. But this is the biggest thing to have changed and the one I am most proud of.

My heart is still racing but I managed to find some words to convey something to you all.

Thank you to everyone who is still here. Who has stuck by me and continues to follow this journey. Thank you so very much, it really does mean a lot to me.

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