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MJM

Checking in – June 2018

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MJM

I'm not sure what the rules are here about starting a new check-in month, but let's see what happens. Seemed silly adding a comment to May when, well, it's not May anymore.

What a crazy few weeks it has been. I stopped smoking about 3 weeks ago using Zyban. I had hoped that it would also work as an anti-depressant (it's the same drug as the anti-depressant Wellbutrin) but as I posted in the May check-in, it did the opposite for me. I became anxious  (a known side-effect), more than I have been in a long time.

I stopped taking the Zyban just over a week ago because I could not stand the anxiety and, well, depression. Crying a lot, when I think about it, about my mum - who died 2.5 years ago, feeling bad about poor decisions I've made etc. I became so depressed this week (although the anxiety left soon after stopping Zyban, thank christ) that for the first time ever when sober I began to think of ways to end it all. That was a bit scary.

That bleak view of the world, where I could not see me being in it any longer, seems to have lifted in the last day or two. 

I have not been able to work much in the last week or two either. I'm hoping as my mood lifts (just hope it does) that I will also be able to work properly again.

A friend reminded me last night that I have done some fairly significant stuff lately. Have not had a drink for 3 months (longest period sober in many years, although I have done 2 month stretches often since starting to take bac 3 yrs ago) and have stopped smoking.

I think it is so hard because I no longer have the alcohol, cigarettes or anything else in my life that allows me to escape or brings me happiness. Not my family, not hobbies. It's not such a great space to be in, even though I am sober, nicotine-free and exercising for 30min a day.

Oh, I have been getting stuck into food in the last week, so my weight is creeping up a bit. At least I have one of the seven deadly sins going on. 

I've started seeing a psychologist again although i don't know what help she is really giving me at the moment.

My wife has not been drinking much at all for the last week or so, as she's been taking Naltrexone. I'd like to say I've noticed what a difference that makes but there's been so much else going on for me that I haven't really noticed.

It's true that the new-found relief from not being hung-over or ashamed about drunken behavior doesn't last very long when you stay sober. Life is still life, and it can still suck. At least you have a fighting chance of fixing shit in your life. For some of us, there seems to be a fair bit of shit that the drinking was covering up.

 

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StuckinLA

Thanks for the June check in! So glad you're coming out of the anxiety and deep depression. Truly hoping your mood lifts further. And congratulations on passing that 3-month hurdle! For some reason I've always felt that was a big one. Like you, I made it into month 2 a number of times before long AF periods set in.

If I had anything to update on, I'd update but just the same ol' same old 'round here. A bit more stressed than usual, as classes are over this coming week (which should be a huge relief, freeing up all my time to write) but no job prospects on the horizon. Been moping around and taking a lot of naps. Buying O'doule's and when I get home chugging like half of one before remembering it doesn't work that way...

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Felina

Happy June @MJM! There are no rules here about posting threads, glad people are still here and starting conversations.

Congrats on your sobriety, and on kicking the smokes as well! It's also really good to hear that your wife is getting help via Naltrexone. Sounds like things are going well. I had the same effect with the Zyban/Wellbutrin - severe anxiety etc. I behaved like a bipolar person when I was on it.

It can definitely be tough to navigate the world without having the alcohol, cigs etc to hide behind. I'm glad you're seeing the psychologist. I remember, after hitting my "switch" on baclofen back in 2011 (!), I went from euphoria to a sort of calm, then to loneliness and boredom and depression (and then to a relapse). It sounds like you're doing all the right things. I hope your mood lifts and your life continues to improve.

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Mom2JTx3

Happy June!  Where did May go??  I’m with Stuck on the same old same old.  Can’t get below 60 mg Baclofen. Arghh!  

I’m happy for your wife @MJM.  I hope you continue to feel better.

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StuckinLA

Can we go a couple days without a celebrity suicide, thanks.

Nothing new here. School's over, still no word on a job. Just hanging around at home doing a whole lot o' nothing. 18 months AF today. 

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Felina

I am still shocked and horrified. My punk uncle! He has been such an inspiration to me. And to many, many people. It truly hurt to find out he had died. And then all the assholes come out of the woodwork to proclaim the act as "selfish." Sigh.

HUGE CONGRATS on your 18 months, @StuckinLA

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idefineme

erm, well I'm still a lurker for sure! Still can't quite commit to anything. I'm glad to see that the community is still at large, not so happy to see that NE has been MIA. I hope things are going good for NE. A check-in would be appreciated. I've had experience with antabuse, what's the sinclair method drug? and baclofen. Each one different. I think one HUGE piece of this puzzle is that people in the medical profession are still pretty much in the dark ages as to how to treat alcoholism. I think there is some reluctance, at least I know that is the case with my doctor. He was willing to try bac with me, but was VERY uncomfortable with titrating to 90 mg let alone above that, which he was unwilling to do. As a result, things were dead in the water at 90 mg. I had symptoms mostly of tingling in extremeties. He did refer me to a doctor in St. Paul who is internationally known for medication for alcoholism, but I shied away from that. Finances and all. I won't give up, though. Life is too precious.

 

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Jetsman32

@MJM Congratulations on both the smoking and the 3 months of sobriety. I know that doing either is hard but to do them at the same time successfully truly shows how dedicated you are to change. Things are going fairly well here for me. Today marks two weeks that I have Baclofen free! When I was at 310 I never thought I would be able to come off of it completely but here I am. So far the urges to drink have been minimal. However, on Saturday night I did take part in to much rum however, I set a time to stop and stuck to it. I'm beginning to think that I can't drink at all anymore. It's strange but every-time I drink (the last 5 times at least) I will wake up in the middle of the night with severe anxiety. So much so that I need to take Klonopin to calm myself down. I find this weird because it feels like withdrawals but that doesn't make sense if I'm only drinking one night per week or every two weeks. Pretty sure that being on Bac for so long changed something related to Gaba in my brain and now alcohol has serious consequences for me afterwards. It's that or God just decided that my drinking days are over! I've decided that I'd like to make some changes in my life and have been reading a lot of self help books. I started with Tony Robbins Awaken the Giant Within and while I found it enjoyable it seemed way to long and didn't give clear directions on how to change my mindset and form new habits. The book I am reading now, and really using is called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. So far I love it. It talks a lot about positive affirmations and gives a near perfect outline of how to form new lasting habits. For instance, last week, every morning I got up 90 minutes earlier to study for my PHR exam and to ride my exercise bike for 25 minutes. I've also started taking very cold showers every morning. I read a ton of articles that talk about how it makes you more alert throughout the day while also helping to control anxiety. So far doing all of these things has really just made me feel like a more productive person and I plan to continue to build new habits on top of these. The last thing I wanted to mention is that if anyone needs baclofen please feel free to personal message me. I might know a way for you to get some for free. 

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Otter

All is well here.  My wife is still on a combo of 40 mg of baclofen a day and Campral.  Seems to be the right medication for her. It's also changed her from being irritable in the morning to being even tempered, which is great.  I've taken some of the same combo and it seems to have a generally calming effect.  Trouble is I'm so chilled I fall asleep in the afternoon and then end up awake all night.  I think with coming off baclofen you have to be a bit careful not to think you can't slip back into a drinking binge.  It's easily done but the great thing is you can then reinstate your dosage and get though it.  Over the years, my wife went from seeing baclofen as a pain in the bum because of the side effects, to realizing it worked at the right dosage, but not engaging properly, to relapsing and then taking it more seriously, to taking it routinely but finding it didn't hit all of the psychological problems she had, ie., anger. Then, with some pretty horrendous but short relapses and with getting onto Campral, she's now come to the conclusion that it just is not worth drinking and that it's too easy to get a false sense of security.  We are in year 9 of this after a twenty year addiction.

The family have now come around. They are all here working and over the past couple of months everyone is again talking, which makes life easier all round. 

I heard from the French side and it seems the court decided it was not going to overturn the decision of the ANSM without full hearings but they did allow high dose baclofen, I think for anyone who wants it, but the RTU at 80mg is still in place.  I'm not sure of the exact situation but hearings are scheduled for over the summer.  It's really impossible for a court to made a decision to allow prescribing when the government's own advisors have made a decision. They've got to hear evidence on all sides as to what the basis of he decision is.

My own feeling on it is that the decision to reduce dosage is a result of a fundamental problem with how baclofen is delivered and overseen by doctors.  Sure, users have ended up in hospital and some have committed suicide.  Suicide is very high among alcoholics in any event so I wonder what the comparative statistics are.  

The problem I see is that the way baclofen is taken,on a daily, divided dose basis, is impossible for a doctor to manage for a patient who takes it at home, unsupervised.  Alcoholism is such a serious illness.  Severe alcoholism seems to respond best to alcoholism.  Severe alcoholics are most in need of in-patient treatment.  Baclofen is not administered on an in-patient basis.  So, it's a mess, to put it bluntly.   Doctors hand out the pills, and say, "get on with it".  How do they even know the patient is taking the drug?  It's not properly monitored and it needs medical backup if it can result in hospitalisation.  Are medical back up procedures being put in place?  I doubt it.

 

The French ANSM who decided to reduce the daily dosage did so in exercise of their pharmacovigilence role in ensuring safety of drugs.  This idea of looking at drug safety arose out of the thalidomide cases back in the 50's.  In that case, the only issue was the safety of the drug and whether the deformities were worth it for the benefit of the drug in making deliveries more comfortable.  There were no wider public health and social issues like there is with alcoholism which need to be weighed.  Taking thalidomide didn't reduce the crime or family breakdown rates, for example.  All of that needs to be looked at in a risk/benefit analysis.  Also, the fact that there are deaths associated with a drug is not a reason for denying it to patients.    I looked into chemotherapy and found that there are a lot of deaths among patients just from the toxicity of chemotherapy itself, nothing to do with the cancer, and they don't suspend or limit the use of those drugs.  

 

Anyway, it's an interesting time.  I've taken a bit of a break from it as we've had lots of other things going on. I've been offered a position here and I'm working on some legal problems for an organisation I belong to.  We're also trying to set up a business to give us a steady income and my wife has done all the work on that, which is a huge change from several years ago.  I didn't actually ever think I'd see this day.  It's such a shame that stories like this are dismissed by the academics and politicians as anecdotal.  I thought we were in a more compassionate and intelligent world but we still seem to have to suffer with people who really don't care and don't want to know, but hold power over us.  Such is life.  You just have to go forward. 

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StuckinLA
23 hours ago, Otter said:

Severe alcoholism seems to respond best to alcoholism.

:D:D:D

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Mom2JTx3

@Jetsman32 I’m glad you posted. I was wondering how you were doing.  It is my belief that if you want to go very low or off of Baclofen then abstinance is the safest choice.  

@Otter  Thanks for the update. I’m glad things are going well!

@StuckinLA How’s the job search?

My family is heading to Hilton Head soon for a week of vacation.  I’m looking forward to some beach time.  Hope everyone else is doing well.  BTW, I’ve been dabbling with Kratom on a few occasions when I’m going out and everyone is drinking.  I’m giving it a thumbs up. :) 

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StuckinLA

The job search is F'ed, as always. Got a COBRA notice in the mail, that's sure a heck of a way to learn you're not being hired back at a place (for our friends who have universal healthcare, COBRA is a program that allows you to purchase at full price your insurance benefits that you had at work for a short period of time after you lose your job). So looks like one of my schools won't be inviting me back. Haven't heard from the other one either way, and I've never been the sort to believe no news to be good news. 

I keep on throwing applications at just about every job that's announced. Even far afield, like Wyoming and North Dakota, like really out in the midst of nowhere. The only positive lead thus far is an automated email from one school, which said there's a possibility for classes but it may take a while for their budget to sort itself out. No idea what "a while" means in this case, but it's at least a hope to hold on to. 

Waiting and uncertainty just make everything else harder. Instead of sitting down to work really hard on writing that I want to work on, I'm constantly checking my email. Instead of focusing, I'm distracted. Guess we're only a week or two into the summer, so there's still time to turn that around though, and believe me I'm trying.

Anyway, thanks for asking @Mom2JTx3. Probably told you a bit more than you meant to learn :D. What's Kratom, again? I've been having thoughts of drinking just about every day for the last four or five months. The whole first half of this second year of sobriety has been an annoying bitch, and lately I've just been getting high and watching a lot of TV. Better than drinking, but I totally shut down and zone out when high - not conducive to being around other people or even getting anything done here on my own. 

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