Sunday, June 15, 2008

Clarification About my Recent Benzodiazepines Post

I received interesting comments from my last post (thanks everyone who responded to it). I think though that I may need to clarify what the post was about.

It was not about my difficulty coming off Valium, or my dependence on Valium, or any kind of desire to come off psychiatric medications. Rather, it was about the stigma I feel and the corresponding pressure I feel about being on medications that some people feel are too addictive and dependency creating to, as a pdoc, prescribe or, as a psychiatric patient, take.

It was also about the struggle I have in therapy to be independent and autonomous, yet needing to have my pdoc say; that may not be a good idea when that needs to be clear. Dr. X's supports our having an ongoing, autonomous Dr/patient relationship. I need that. I have many, many problems with autonomy, and independence and dependence; especially where men are concerned and even more so if that man is perceived as an authority figure by me.

I stated in my last post: "So, in keeping with not wanting to be addicted, and not wanting to be a drug seeker, also, because I was afraid the Valium was masking my possible TD mouth movements, three weeks ago I decided I should try to get off Valium."

Dr. X. never once has said I was addicted, or a drug seeker, nor has he ever even hinted at it. He has explained that taking these medications is like borrowing money from the bank; there is always a price to pay.

That price being dependency if I continue taking them, which may result in my needing more medication for the anxiety as time goes on. At which point there has to be a balance between our increasing the dosage to help my anxiety remain stable, and our looking at the side effects an increase in dosage might bring (i.e. memory problems, balance problems, attention or concentration problems etc.), and withdrawal effects should I decide to stop taking Valium.

It is me who feels the guilt and stigma of taking "momma's little helper". The fact that that term even exists speaks volume to how many people look at these medications with derision.

However, what if it really is "my little helper". What if ,taking it with my mood stabilizer and my antidepressant, it actually wards off my anxious depression? What if I can function better when I take it? What if this combination makes my life better.

Am I still addicted if I need a benzodiazepine just like I need an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer? I do believe I need medication, so why do I feel no stigma about needing Tegretol and Prozac, yet so much pressure to stop taking Valium?

Dr. X never told me to stop the Valium, in fact he subtly (maybe too subtly) questioned my reasons for wanting to go off and in his quiet, and unobtrusive way suggested staying on might be better for me.

So my post was not about me or him wanting me to stop taking the Valium, rather it was about the impetus behind my wanting to stop taking Valium: My feeling like I was a bad person for taking it.


Michelle S. said...

Sorry if my earlier comment seemed to imply anything other than support for your situation. I know what you mean about feeling a stigma even when one might not be overtly stated. These meds we need to help us be the people we really are when we are not depressed or anxious are too often judged by others who don't full understand them. I wish you the best of luck in your decision, just know that if you do need the Valium, there are many others who totally understand.

Aqua said...

Hi Michelle,
No need to apologize, you are always very respectful. I appreciate that.

I wasn't writing this post for any comment in particular, it is just that as I read the comments I realized I wasn't really clear about what my dilemma fact maybe I did not really fully understand what it was until I read the comments.

I often use people's comments as a sounding board to clarify things within my own head, so all comments are helpful to me. Thanks.

Coco said...

That's what I thought your post was about, but thanks for clarifying. ~coco

The Silent Voices in my Mind said...

Once, when hospitalized, I had a psychiatrist call my Xanax "evil little pills" and it really shook me. I freaked out and made my doc let me go off it. Yeah... it didn't go so well. (Not because of withdrawal; I am on a low enough dose that I didn't have a problem with that.) I ended up right back in the hospital. It wasn't pretty.

My psychiatrist made it clear to me that I function better with it. He reassured me that he was watching it and me closely and that, while he has been treating me for years and years, I had only seen the other doc one time while I was seriously messed up.

I don't take them to numb things or to avoid my life. I don't take them to get high or to get a buzz. I don't take them because I can't not take them. I take them to function. I take them to calm down enough to use the coping skills I'm being taught, not in place of them.

In short - I'm not doing anything wrong. And it sounds like you aren't either. It's really unfortunate that because it is misused and abused by some people, that everyone bears the stigma of it.

And if we do need to change doctors at some point that is one more thing that will make finding a new one even more difficult and traumatic. As if that won't be hard enough. :-(

I understand the stigma associated with taking benzos. I don't tell people I take Xanax. I have to rely on my doc's assessment and my own experience. It helps me function and I consider that more important than the opinions of people who don't know anything about me. (Not that it doesn't bother me when people say things because it does.)

And as for that other doc... we now refer to him as "the evil little doc" and use him to symbolize all the ignorance of doctors and people who use blanket labels for people or medications.

Aqua said...

Coco: I went to your friend's website and it was very interesting, and I understand that some people want off these medication...Thanks for thinking of me, and your kind words.

Silent Voices: Thanks for the reassurances that I'm not the only one who takes these medications and doesn't get "high", or try to "disappear". I feel like I take Valium, because off it I am so anxious I cannot function, leave the house, do the things I need to do to heal myself.

Annie said...

Aqua, I want to support you once again and say that you and your pdoc are managing your medication.
The issue of you feeling misunderstood is clear in this post. I think there are some well meaning folks who unknowingly come across as judgemental. They think everyone needs to be off of meds.
I need my meds to remain stable. One of those is clonazepam at bedtime to help sleep. I do not fear addiction. I do still feel judged by some for taking the route of meds. I can not let that distract me from working on my wellness. I hope you do not let others distract you from working on your wellness. You deserve to speak your mind and not be judged. I suppose you can tell by the awkwardness of my comments that I have similar feelings. I have been hurt by some comments on my posts about me taking medication.Bipolar is a spectrum disorder. We are not just one diagnosis. Each of us are unique in what we need to be well. Take care, I hope you feel support from these comments. Annie