I have not been treating my anxiety since I stopped my clonazepam in February. Mostly because I don’t like the fact that I’m going to have to go through the Russian Roulette process to find one. After what happened to me last October on gabapentin, I’m afraid of the trial and error method with finding a decent anxiety medication.
For those who haven’t been blog followers for a year or longer, last October I nearly killed myself and didn’t realize it. I started counting out all my medications one night and thankfully someone walked into the room and asked what I was doing. I didn’t know what I was doing. When I relayed that incident to my nurse practitioner I was moved to Lyrica. I don’t like Lyrica, but I haven’t tried to kill myself on it.
In my quest in my late teens to stop the panic attacks and exploding head syndrome symptoms I was put on a variety of SSRIs, NDRIs, and tricyclic antidepressants. Eventually my psychiatrist put me on clonazepam a benzodiazapine and it worked great for 19 1/2 years. But then I developed CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) – or rather, I’d had it for many years – but it moved to the nerves in my hip joint causing me excruciating pain. And CRPS can be treated long term effectively with opiates. So I’m on hydrocodone (along with Lyrica and muscle relaxers). Sometimes it works great, sometimes I still want to chop my leg off after taking it. However, benzodiazapines can cause an increased rate of metabolism of hydrocodone. So I had to choose, treat my pain or treat my anxiety. Treating my pain won out and I stopped taking my clonazepam so that I could have better control over the fact that my hip constantly feels broken.
In the last month and a half, my panic attacks have come back as well as my symptoms of exploding head syndrome. My primary care physician has done what he can for me, but as he and psychiatrist discovered in 1998, I have very sensitive brain chemistry and he doesn’t want to risk my having a bad reaction to a medication he prescribes, especially since he isn’t a psychiatrist.
I thought I had found one, but after the initial “test” visit, my insurance decided they wouldn’t pay for her. So, I remain unmedicated, but I’m going to have to get back on top of it. I have sleep phobia, which is a bit different than insomnia. I’m a vivid dreamer who has a lot of nightmares and knowing I’m going to dream and remember them (something I rarely did on clonazepam) makes it so my body tries to keep me from falling asleep, hence the exploding head syndrome and the occasional panic attack. I also don’t have an off switch when I go to bed. Some people have periods of time where their brains refuse to shut down when they go to bed and they suffer insomnia. Mine does that every night. For the last seven or eight months, I’ve been drugging myself with either Tylenol PM or Benadryl at night to get some sleep.
I wish there was an over the counter Vicodin PM since my sleep is now also disrupted by the pain in my hip and yes, I feel it even in my sleep. I often dream about my hip when I sleep, and even in good dreams, I’ll find myself limping in the dream. Which is crazy, but not totally unexpected. I have talked to more than a dozen people with CRPS that say they too dream about the limb or body part that has CRPS in it when they sleep. And like me, most of them have to drug themselves to sleep because of the pain. Adding in that I already had problems sleeping and there are nights that even if I go to bed at my normal time (1 am), I see 4 or 5 am, even when I’m exhausted and have taken 3 Benadryl and a Tylenol or 2.
Oddly, before I stopped taking my clonazepam, I used to worry I’d accidentally kill myself because of a bad drug interaction (and I never developed a taste for alcohol because I knew that mixing it with my clonazepam would leave huge memory gaps that I was conscious for but couldn’t remember), so a single adult beverage or two was normally my max – I don’t say always because there was a night I had way too many Jell-O shots at a dart tournament) and I guess I took my clonazepam because my memories of that event come from other people.