I know I have written other blogs on anxiety, but there is always so much new information coming out since it appears we have a full on epidemic in this world.
I also wanted to share more detail about my own journey with anxiety and present a little information about some of the things that I know have been very effective in my healing and recovery. These things have to be an individual choice, and ultimately they took a lot of discipline and persistance. I was in such a horrible place the last couple years of my taper, that I was willing to try ANYTHING. At first, I was a little resistant because I have already had to be so disciplined throughout my life with being a musician. I couldn't imaging attempting to ad all of the things that I do for myself now back at that time. This is a step by step process of how I slowly got on track with a routine that has really helped, and I didn't do it overnight or all at one time.
Since I had already been into yoga, that was the easiest and most obvious thing to ad first. I started back when my adrenals were blown after the testosterone overdose and withdrawal. All I have to say is, don't wait to get in the shape that I was in before you attempt to make changes. When you have to, it's not as much fun as when you make a conscious choice to change your lifestyle. I was so weak from the stress of the hormone overdose and benzo taper that most days during that time I could only lay on the floor with my legs propped up against the wall doing deep pranayama breathing to calm my heart rate down. There were many days I was too weak to even walk to the mailbox, and when I did my heart rate would just go crazy.
I started with very gentle stretching and restorative yoga positions that were given to me specifically for overstimulated adrenal glands. Each week I would challenge myself to add a new stretch, and after months of discipline I was finally able to get up and around more. It was very frustrating because it seems like I would make two steps forward and then have a huge step back. There were days I had no idea how I would even take care of myself.
The really big changes came for me about the last four months of my taper where I had a huge setback and had to be pretty much down in bed most of the time. I rarely left the house other than to do what I absolutely had to. I remember just getting to the end of my rope when I just couldn't go anymore. I had been trying to make things happen for so long that this really forced me to have to learn to let go and let God.
I was so desperate to feel better that I just prayed for any guidance I could receive. I combed the internet for answers and finally came across a guy on You Tube named Earl Purdy who did videos on A Course In Miracles. He was a God send for me, and I hope if he ever reads this he will know what an amazing impact he had on my life. He has hundreds of free videos on You Tube, and for a couple of months that was all I did was listen to one video after the other. He uses music to tell stories and shares things about synchronicity and how he came to the path. I loved his sense of humor, and it was something that during those long, lonely, sleepless nights of withdrawal that I came to appreciate everything he was teaching.
After running out of videos of his that I hadn't listened to at least ten times, I came across many other spiritual teachers on You Tube that all kept saying the same thing, yet in a different unique way of their own. That was to be still and hear the voice of the spirit of the universe inside you. Let that voice guide you, and allow all that is peaceful and good to reside within you. They all spoke of the power of the connection to the divine creator within each of us, and how we have the power to create whatever we want if we just set the intention and allow it to flow into our lives. Now I was no stranger to spiritual concepts in my life, as I have been studying a lot of this for a good part of my life. There is nothing like benzo withdrawal though that makes you listen a lot harder, and given that it didn't appear I was going anywhere for awhile, I decided to really apply all of these ideas until I could really turn my life around.
I didn't really grasp all of it at first until I came across Ester and Jerry Hicks and the spirit she channels that they call Abraham. I finally really started to get that big AHA moment in my life where I could see how much negative programming I was hauling around. I started to understand how I had really been repeating a lot of negative behavior patterns that were just different versions of the same drama that I kept attracting over and over again at different stages of my life. I think somewhere in all that drama was where my anxiety surfaced, and I didn't even understand how much of it had carried over from childhood as we didn't recognize anxiety then. As I look back though, I know I had anxiety, but I had just gotten really good at managing it over the years. At least so I thought. The truth is, I had just kept myself so busy that I wouldn't have to look at it very closely.
I think most of us do that in today's world because we are taught to "Cowboy Up" and just keep plowing forward. We really don't take time out for ourselves in this world, and that doesn't mean kicking our heals up on the coffee table after dinner and watching three hours of T.V. before bed. I mean really taking time out to meditate, pray and be in nature where we can connect to the flow of life that gives us an unfolding that most of us are I think afraid to be with. I know I was so filled with the noise of my childhood and subsequently frantic life, that I felt really uncomfortable when there wasn't constant noise and distraction around me all of the time. I know now I have come to appreciate my aloneness without feeling lonely.
Without the deep, dark night of the soul that I went through in withdrawal, there is no way I would have stopped long enough to explore the inner terrain of this broken human being I had become. I was forced to spend many hours alone in the deep dark shadows of my soul. It was a darkness I hope I never have to see again, but one that I'm grateful I did come through.
After listening to all of Ester Hick's You Tube videos about a hundred times, I felt like I was really beginning to understand how spirit works in your life when you allow that force to move through you. There were many little miracles that happened over that next two years. I found this small guest house that I have mentioned where I could regroup and heal. I started rediscovering myself as a musician again, but more importantly I found who I was as a spiritual being that just was a vehicle for music that moved through me. I began writing things that I was even surprised about. Everything this last year began to shift and change after I was free of the drugs and became more connected to my spiritual source.
My friendships were already great, but they became stronger. I was so grateful to feel better that I gave gratitude and appreciation for things I used to take for granted. I had truly been humbled in ways that I never thought possible, but benzo withdrawal brings you to your knees. If you allow the journey to make you stronger and more compassionate, it can really change things in your life that you never thought were possible.
Right now I am at the fine tuning stages of my recovery. Since anxiety if so much about how we flow (or don't flow) in the world, it has a profound effect on our adrenal glands as many of you already are aware. Our adrenals really take a beating in withdrawal, and I had to be especially mindful given the Addison's episode that I had, how much I pushed myself. One of the things that I added about a year out from my benzo withdrawal was TM. I had read about the science behind this type of meditation and how they had discovered that it lowers cortisol by 30%. That was all I needed to hear before I signed up for the class, and what a difference it has made in my life in the few months I have been doing it. Since you do two twenty minute meditations a day, it puts your body in a rhythm of rest and activity. My world began to unfold in an easy and gentler way, and I felt no need to force the flow. I used to plan every detail of my day down to the color of underwear I was going to wear. Now, I go about my day and just seem to feel when I should do something or not. I'm happier than I have ever been and look forward to every day.
I also felt like I needed to have all of my hormones tested again since I still didn't feel quite right on all levels. I know I have advocated a higher protein diet for recovery, but I made some recent discoveries that have forced me to make a few tweaks in my general approach to healing from these drugs. I do believe that eating more protein during recovery is beneficial short term as it really helped me balance my blood sugar and get some badly needed grounding back. However, when you have adrenal issues, eating too low of a carbohydrate diet is not so good for your thyroid function. I found that my Free T-3 had dropped significantly due to eating too low carb.
After a lot of research, I found that when the adrenals are stressed you will have trouble converting Free T-3 from your inactive thyroid Free T-4. These hormones convert in the liver and the adrenal glands, both of which are under huge stress during withdrawal and recovery. I looked up the best ways to rectify this problem and found the best ways to calm the adrenals down and support my liver more. I went back on a low dose of Nature Throid which I had taken several times over the last decade with all of the hormone issues I had been having.
I also went back on a product called Seriphos which is a form of phosphorylatedserine. Serine phosphate derivatives may help optimize brain neurotransmissions, or communication between nerve cells, especially in the hypothalmic-pituitary area. I did a lot of research on this product, and it did have great reviews for other people with cortisol issues from benzo withdrawal. It appears it works like an adaptogen by lowering excess cortisol in your system. I added that and about 3000 mg of vitamin c into my routine, and within a week of taking these things with the Nature Throid, I couldn't believe the difference. If you are having conversion issues due to adrenal overload, it's almost a constant feedback loop that you can't level out without the right combination of things. If you don't have some T-3 on board than your adrenals will keep producing cortisol to make up for the energy demands it has from not having enough T-3 which gives you energy of a different kind. At the same time the adrenals are producing cortisol, the cortisol is preventing your T-4 from converting to T-3. If you have touchy adrenals, this can be hard adding enough T-3 into your system without overstimulating your already sensitive system. However, it appeared that my adrenals had recovered enough that just adding a little thyroid into the mix to give them support was all I needed to improve my sleep and some other existing issues I was still having.
I also mentioned in my last You Tube video that I had been taking DHEA for some time at this point. I do believe that gave my adrenals enough of a rest that I could handle adding more things to my cocktail. I have some compounded DHEA, but I also take a 10 mg oral capsule that I get from Douglas Labs. Make sure you get a micronized form of DHEA if you buy it online or at a health food store. Micronized DHEA will get into your cells more effectively due to the molecules being smaller. Withdrawal and benzos really mess up your endocrine system so do your research, and find the right combination of things that can work well for you. Learn to pay attention to your body when you give it something to see how you react.
I know it's easy to write every little symptom you have off as withdrawal, but I had read other articles of people that went on thyroid medication, and most their symptoms cleared up when they thought they were still related to withdrawal. Indirectly they are since the drugs are what knocks all of this out of alignment in the first place, but sometimes you just have to know when it's the right time to try something again after you have given your body enough time to recover from the withdrawal itself. Whatever you do, be safe and go slow in order to give yourself enough time to adjust and heal each layer of the onion, both physically and spiritually.