Withdrawal Symptoms and Mental Health

“Despite what appears to be a low risk of addiction in naïve, chronic pain patients, it is reasonable to ask how much harm is actually done to patients with chronic pain by withholding opiate analgesics.” ― Howard L. Fields

About a week after I was discharged from the hospital I started having migraine headaches. Usually when they happen it means I have ate something that triggers them. For the life of me I could not think of one single thing that had changed in my diet. I am very careful about processed foods that may contain tree nuts, they are one of my triggers, the other is raw onions.

Then several days ago it dawned on me what might be the possible trigger. Before my discharge the surgeon instructed me to ask my GP to wean me off of the pain killers. The doctor started slow by reducing them by 3mg each week on renewal. This is what I believe is happening in my body.

The last time I came off of opioids it was with Oxycodone and Fentanyl. For that I asked my GP and my psychiatrist to admit me to the mental health ward while being weaned from those opioids. Withdrawals are real, whether it is from prescribed medicines or street drugs like heroin.

I am happy that I am being weaned from the pain killers, but I can sympathize with those who after coming clean fall back to the use of the drugs.

So dear reader, let me ask, have you ever gone through withdrawal symptoms, if so can you describe them for me and other readers?

The Other Side Of Healthy

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It was early part of  the nineties where I found myself out of work living in a bachelor apartment where I just was totally burned out.

I was trying my level best to put on a brave face, inwardly though I was in total turmoil. Conflicted about the very things I had been taught within a Christian family, at least on my mother’s side.  My paternal grandmother was a died in the cloth Roman Catholic.

A friend I had allowed to get close to me was smothering me day and night.  I do not know what is to experience drowning, yet that is how I would describe my mental health.

It is funny, no one wakes up in the morning and places on their to-do list that they will allow depression to enter their life.  It sneaks up on you, probably for years.  Mornings when you just wake up in a bad mood, the sudden outbursts of anger without any just cause, causing hurt to family and friends.

Then one afternoon everything just boiled over.  In a moment of total anger at this friend I grabbed my prescription bottle of sleeping pills, went to the bathroom and downed the entire bottle which had basically been filled.

I woke up in the mental health ward the next morning.  My memories of it all were spotty at best.  Most of the details filled in from hospital staff and my friend.  I was told while in emergency they gave me a charcoal drink and was not combative like most are in the same situation.  So began over twenty-five years of battling depression, being dianosed as bi-polar.

That is the short version of the other side of healthy!

In Case Of Emergency!

About fourteen years ago I was a total wreck, suffering with extreme back pain.  It controlled everything I did.  My doctor at that time had me on Oxycontin it’s strongest dose allowed/recommended.  That turned into a nightmare for me and my best friend.  As I have written before he would come over to check on me and find me in the strangest places.  I woke up each morning looking in the kitchen sink trying to determine what I had eaten the day before.

I finally reached a point where I voiced to my doctor and psychiatrist that I wanted to be weaned off of all my pain medications.  During this time I had also used Fentanyl.  Well I had a choice stay at home or voluntarily admit myself during this process.

It was nearing the time of me being discharged.  My psychiatrist wanted an apointment with my best friend and me to have a plan in place once I left the mental health ward. The plan was I would no longer control my meds, instead my best friend would manage all of them.  That is still in place even now in 2019.

Several years later I was having difficulties with mobility.  Several times falling in my home and having to crawl to the phone to call my best friend.  There were also times I needed help just getting out of bed. I have always had a phone by my bed, at the time I could not see the dial pad in the dark.  To remedy this I went shopping – I wanted a phone that lit up in the dark, large buttons, and one with a button that I could push that would dial my best friend.  I found one, bought it, and have it by my bed.

Those two plans were part of “in case of emergency” times.

I encourage you the reader if you do not have a “in case of emergency” plan to put one in place.

Be prepared, in case of emergency!

One Size Dosen’t Fit All

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

In my discovery of a whole new world, was all of the different authors writing about mental health issues.

I also have written about my journey with my own mental health issues of being a bi-polar person.  Writing about such issues as journaling, diet, medications, and stays within the mental health wing of the local hospital.

Here is what I found with all my reading.  Just as each person is unique, so is the treatment for each.  All are tailor made for each individual.  Yet, there are some common things within each treatment of the issues.

So, even though I have read all of the wonderful people dealing with their own challenges – I must use discretion on trying to fit others treatments in my own handling of being bi-polar.

One size does not fit all!

What’s In A Name?

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“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”  William Shakespeare

I have been thinking about this post for several days.  I hope I can put it in writing like I am hearing it in my mind.

There are names that when they are mentioned you have a distinct definition of what they are.  Cancer, Diabetes, Arthritis, Blindness, all these we at least have a general knowledge about them.  All of them can be shown in x-rays, bloodwork, and other detection methods.

However, mention the term ‘bi-polar’ most are not sure exactly what it is.  For others they seem to have an image that is totally wrong.  Bi-polar is a distinct as the person who is suffering with it.  It is a disease that as of this moment does not show on a x-ray, or under a microscope in a blood test.

Bi-polar does not define who I am.  I am more than the disease, I am male, fifty-seven years old, and has various interests ranging from Gospel Music to Sherlock Holmes.  I am a father of a daughter, a grandfather to three grandchildren.

It does not determine my future, nor keep me trapped in the past, for I determine my day by placing my feet on the floor each and every morning when I awake.

I would like to challenge every reader to define yourself, do not let the disease difine you!

Educate Yourself

I can remember my first stay in treatment I would attend groups and it all sounded like Greek to me.  I had no understanding whatsoever was being discussed. Terms like; ‘manic depression’, ‘bi-polar’, plus many others.  I can remember after a discussion on being bi-polar I asked for the definition of manic depression only to learn the terms were inter-changeable.

My pyschiatrist would talk about different medications that she was going to prescribe and I was totally lost.  My problem was multi-fold, I didn’t know how to ask her about side effects, what the medication was targeting, etc., etc.,

My second stay went much smoother.  I knew what to expect like meal times, group sessions, follow up questions both in groups and with my doctor.  I was more comfortable opening up during the groups and also with my pyschiatrist.

It has been close to fifteen years since that first stay in treatment and I am still trying to educate myself on myriad of issues.

By educating myself was also arming myself for others who would ask me questions.

Moral of the post, never stop learning!

A Practical Gospel

Mar 12:29-31 MSG
29  Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one;
30  so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’
31  And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

I have always known that the Gospel has to be practical.  People on the whole need help in all manner of things on what to do where the rubber meets the road.

Lesson Learned

These past several days have confirmed to me that people want preachers, pastors, teachers are like them.  No, they want to believe those leaders are not mired in the same sins as those who are listening.

When I was in the ministry I was never open about what was happening in my personal life.  I kept it shielded, compartmentalized, only let it out when I was by myself or with a close confidant.  I found that many Pastors are in the same boat.  They feel constrained, the burden of ministry weighs on them 24/7.  Some don’t even confide to their wives which starts to cause major problems within the marriage.  Pastors and those involved in the ministry are some of the lonliest people in the world.

Since I have started writing about my problems with depression, bi-polar, etc., the readers have shown me that I made the right step.  It has opened a whole new world to me causing some of my lonliness to disappear.

It now it is my fervent prayer that I can share more of my battles in life, yet at the same time share the Gospel of the Cross to the readers of my blog.

Road To Recovery

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It now is twenty plus years since my journey began.  Attempted suicide using the sleeping medication, “amitriptyline”.  Extreme mood swings and a feeling like I was alone, that no one understood what I was going through.

2004 my depression mixed with the grief of my grandmother broke my spirit completely landing in the mental health ward of the local hospital.

For the longest period I was constantly asking the question in my mind, ‘why me’?  I was raised to believe that God worked miracles.  I still believe it but I had to go back and study the Scripture again.  I finally reconciled that God sometimes let us go through trials.  I no longer asked the question of why me.  God sent help my way in the form of my psychiatrist.

Now I am on the road to recovery accepting the fact that it may take many years. It took over thirty years for things to go off track. I have reached the place I call acceptance. The anger I experienced left when I did accept with what I was going through.

So, I will keep on this road, staying the course determined that I do not want to fall back into the abyss of depression.

If you are like me just keep going on your road to recovery and you will be totally fine.

Depression + Opiods=Downward Spiral

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First, I would like to thank those who liked my article on my battle of being bi-polar and my battel with depression.

I have decided for this article not to use any Scripture for I cannot think of one that would be appropriate for this topic.

In around 1987 I was a passenger on the back of a motorcycle.  The driver and I both worked at the same factory and also lived in the same little town.  We were on our way home in the month of August travelling on the major highway, the 401.  I am not sure where the driver’s attention was, but, he ran directly into the back of another vehicle.  The impact sent me air bound and I landed on my rear.  When I hit the pavement it tore away the muscles and such from my spine.  The next morning in the hospital I learned what the doctors thought about my injury to my back.  The nurse that came in that morning reacted to me moving around and dropped the tray she was carrying.  I asked why that happened.  She proceeded to tell me about the report that was given.  They were told I would be a quadriplegic.  After about a week and some therapy I was released from the hospital.

That was the beginning of a thirty year plus battle with opioids.  It started with minor pain relievers eventually in around 2004 I was taking the highest dose of oxy allowed here in the province I live in.  On top of that I was given fentanyl patch.  Now let me say I cannot recall if I was using both at the same time or separately.

The oxy started on a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  I was going through some weird things.  My best friend would tell me about a conversation we had, but, I would not have any recollection of it.  He would come over in the mornings and find me in the weirdest places.  Once laying under my sewing machines.  I would wake up in the mornings and would have to look in my kitchen sink trying to figure out what I ate the day before.  This continued for the longest time.  The problem was I wouldn’t remember taking an oxy, so, I would take another one.  I was double dosing.  In Canada and the province I live in you cannot double doctor, or, have a prescription filled several times by going to different pharmacies.

Finally, I followed my best friend’s advice and spoke to the psychiatrist and I said I wanted off these heavy meds.  The psychiatrist, family doctor, my friend and myself came together with a plan.  On my request I asked to be admitted because I truly felt it would be the best place.  Also, the plan included that I would no longer have control of any of my prescriptions.  They would be handled by my best friend.  Today, I am totally free from the opiods.  The strongest pain killer I take now is Tylenol 3, those also are managed by my friend.  This is going on now to be fifteen years.

What kept me on track was all involved helped me by encouragement.  I had some truly rough times for about a year.  Here is the problem with opioids.  They are given for pain for a short time.  My new family doctor, my current one at the time was retiring, told me about these pain killers that when you are on them for longer periods of time, they quit relieving pain and start doing the very opposite.  It becomes like a never ending circle.

My best friend never once tried to shame me about my issue.  That is the key.  If you know someone who is addicted to any opioids do them a favor and do not try shaming the person.  This will only cause them to shut down and keep out you and everyone else including the professionals who needs them to be honest and open about what they are experiencing.  Sometimes, they don’t need for you to speak, it may be that what they need more than anything is a sympathetic ear.

If you are a pastor there are probably some in the congregation that are battling these opioids but are suffering in silence.  Please, get educated about this terrible epidemic in North America.

I am aware of most in the United States the costs of being hospitalized is a factor.  Many probably do not have coverage. Let me be honest, I do not understand the system in America, so I really cannot comment.

I pray that if you are reading this and are going through your own battle, do not keep it to yourself.  Talk to someone you trust, call a help line, and most definately seek professional help.  Do not feel shame about your issue with opioids.