Handle With Love

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

I find that quote absolutely true for every good and bad situation, event and person in my life. When I think of my first good memories, I remember my Grandpa Meyers. I do not remember many of his words and even if I do, I remember how those words made me feel. I remember some of the fun, kind and caring things he did for me and my gang of friends at the time, but most importantly I remember how he made me feel. My Grandpa Meyers always made me feel like I was special and loved deeply by him.

Feeling special + Feeling loved = HAPPINESS

Of course, my children provide most of my positive memories since the second I first found out I was pregnant. It is mostly loving them unconditionally forever from the instant I conceived and being loved back by them that gives me the most joy and purpose in my life.

On the flip side, my most vivid negative memories are associated with feelings of shame, anger and sadness. For example, when I was punished for wetting the bed nearly every day until I was twelve years old, I remember the negative shameful words because of how those words made me feel. I cannot remember the physical pain caused by the spankings, but I still unfortunately feel deep rooted shame and anger towards my father for causing it to happen. I was punished and shamed for a behavior I had no control over. I continue to recover and heal from the painful emotional wounds I have now learned affected every aspect of my life.

The most traumatic memories are remembered most vividly and are impossible to forget. We cannot forget them, but we can learn to live with them in a healthy and safe manner. This of course takes time and work. Mindfulness has greatly helped me and continues to.

Other people in your life may have experienced or witnessed the same event but may not remember it the same way or at all, because it was not traumatic to them. You on the other hand remember every detail of the event.

When looking back at your life, what are the memories you remember the most and how did they make you feel?

My negative memories are filled with feelings of anger, shame, and fear.

My positive memories are filled with the emotions of joy, pride and love–loving others and/or feeling loved.

In everything we do with others, I think we should always remember the quote by Maya Angelou,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.”

To make a positive difference in the lives of others always listen, love deeply and make them feel like you care about them. Make them feel special. Let them know they matter and have a great purpose in this lifetime.

I think I always tried to treat people the way I wished I would have been treated. Growing up I had little to no self-esteem. Honestly, deep down I was ashamed of myself. My parents instilled that in me from a young age. I wished I felt good about myself, so I wanted to help others feel good about themselves. I guess I treated people how I wanted to be treated and feel. I never wanted others to feel the way I did.

Helping others helped me feel better about myself. It was and is a win win situation.

In the process of helping and loving others, eventually I learned to help and love myself.

Self actualization and loving myself are lifelong lessons I continue to take and experience. I am currently being home schooled every day by the faculty of myself, my family and everyone around me. I also learn from books, blogs, social media, television and movies–I learn a lot from documentaries. These all continue to be a big part of my curriculum for my lifelong lessons on love and the meaning of life.

——————————

Thank you for reading. I have been so busy, I have not had time to write for a while but I always miss it and need it. Writing has always been very therapeutic for me. Plus, I miss all the amazing people in this fabulous blogging community that actually helped save my life. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe during this difficult time of Covid-19 and the United States election. I was thinking of taking a long nap until the election was over. Just kidding, but I am looking forward to when the election is finally over. Please VOTE. I know I will.

Much love always,
Sue

© Copyright 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope 

Photo Credit: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash,com

I Still Have Anxiety

I had severe painful anxiety and panic attacks in my early twenties (thirty years ago) and have had anxiety off and on ever since–increasing in severity after my postpartum depression and bipolar diagnosis and the start of being giving the revolving cocktail of psychotropic medications.

Medications never helped my anxiety, but instead made it worse. Klonopin helped and rescued me initially but after a while my anxiety and other symptoms of mental illness increased. Also, I was super sensitive to the side effects of other psychotropic medications and had adverse reactions to many of them.

I was one of those people who could not take psychotropic medications, They never seemed to help me but instead made me feel worse. Medications help many people. I was just not one of them.

I stopped taking Klonopin one year and five months ago and soon after stopped taking all psychotropic medications (medically supervised). When I first went off Klonopin, it felt like I didn’t have anxiety anymore. This surprised my Psychiatrist as he has helped many patients go off Klonopin and other Benzodiazepines and noticed great improvements in all of them. However, he said they still had some anxiety.

After finally stopping Klonopin, the contrast and beauty of feeling the difference of inner peace and well being (for me) was so sharp that I thought I no longer had anxiety. Recently I’ve learned I am still experiencing some anxiety but much less significantly. My anxiety is manageable and I have learned better coping techniques than I had before.

After reading, researching and watching many videos on the subject, the light bulb finally went off in my head. For years the increase in my anxiety, manic like symptoms, insomnia, depression and suicidality was blamed on me and my own increasing mental illness and inability to cope with it.

Instead the severity of my mental illness symptoms increased because of the side effects and my adverse reactions to the large cocktails of psychotropic medications I took for over two decades of my life.

“You do not have Bipolar Disorder,” said Dr. S., my new psychiatrist about a year ago. “You have PTSD and borderline personality disorder but you do not have bipolar disorder.

“But I had all the symptoms of bipolar,” I replied dumbfounded.

“Borderline Personalty Disorder has similar characteristics and in time people can learn coping strategies so they no longer need medication,” Dr. S. replied.

“But I was so sick. My symptoms were so severe.”

“That was caused from the Klonopin. Klonopin can cause a lot of damage, especially when using it as long as you did at such high doses.”

It was a lot to take in at first but in time I embraced the release of my bipolar disorder label.

Since becoming psychotropic medication free, I feel better than I ever have since I became diagnosed and labeled with many labels of mental illness over twenty-six years ago.

Once I was thrown into the mental illness club and psychotropic medication club, they were hard to leave. The mental illness club is an exclusive membership and it seems once a member always a member. The psychiatrists never want you to leave and say you can’t. I was brainwashed until I believed and accepted I had bipolar and other mental illnesses. I had no choice at the time, but to accept it.

“You will never be normal. We can get you to live a functional life, but you will never be normal,” said a psychiatrist soon after my initial diagnoses.

“You must take these medications for the rest of your life. You can never stop taking bipolar medications.”

Those are devastating, destructive, defeating and heartbreaking comments for anyone to hear, especially at the prime of their life–like I was.

Today we are finally more informed and we do have a choice. I fought my diagnosis for years for a reason. The reason being… they could be wrong and they were wrong. I was misdiagnosed.

I just wanted to add… This is my story and does not happen to everyone. I just want to increase awareness and give people hope if I can. Please always remember everyone is different and everyone’s journey of recovery is unique.

I am psychotropic medication free, mentally well, am living a good life and am fully capable of doing anything I want currently in my life. My only problem is now picking up the pieces from the destruction after living a mental illness life for two decades.

After I became medication free, I realized that my anxiety is very manageable and I don’t have other symptoms of mental illness. Therefore, my severe symptoms were not caused from mental illness but were from the side effects of psychotropic medications and MOSTLY from my physical addiction to the Benzodiazepine, Klonopin and the withdrawal effects from it.

When I first started taking Klonopin twenty five years ago, after I had been using Klonopin for a few months, my body adjusted to the levels of Klonopin in my system and cried out for more–mimicking increased anxiety. My doctors and I blamed my anxiety while all along it was the adverse reactions, side effects and withdrawals from Klonopin.

There is no other explanation. There just isn’t. My pain and severe symptoms and years of suicidality came from the damage caused by using Klonopin and other psychotropic medications for too many years.

To reiterate, my psychiatrist believes I was misdiagnosed and that I never had bipolar disorder. At first, I didn’t believe that but now I do. I have PTSD and borderline personality disorder but no bipolar disorder.

There are many people misdiagnosed with bipolar when they have PTSD instead and/or borderline personality disorder.

I lost years of my life and yes things could have been different, but this is my reality and I will make the best out of the rest of my life. I will keep fighting and finding new joys and purposes for my life.

I know how blessed I am and am enjoying the beauty of living.

Recovery is possible: I am living proof. 

© 2019 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

Photo by boram kim on Unsplash

The School of Hard Knocks Opens the Door to Recovery

If you have been following my blog or story for a while and are familiar with my story, I apologize that some of this post repeats my story and journey. In case, someone is reading my blog for the first time, I didn’t want to confuse them by leaving out pertinent information necessary for clarity. So, I repeated information about my life I have shared before. Sorry about that, but please keep reading because there is new writing and information in this post. I promise. There is even a (silly) QUIZ at the end of this post (just for fun). Please keep reading. Thank you. Much love and hugs, Sue


Living with bipolar disorder is difficult in many ways, and one of them is the unpredictable nature of this illness. I have bipolar 1 disorder with rapid cycling and mixed episodes and my mood poles used to switch often from a hypomanic mood pole to a severe depression, sometimes many times within the same day. Because of that I have learned to keep an open mind about life.

Image result for school of mental illness life

I had the same psychiatrist for about twenty years until he retired. Even though my psychiatrist was the one that initially prescribed my Klonopin no matter how many times I overdosed on it, I do not blame him. He tried his very best and truthfully saved my life many times, maybe unknowingly killing me at the same time, but hindsight is 20/20. He helped me more than anyone ever has — never throwing me away like many others did over 25 years of living with a severe mental illness. It helped me tremendously to know he was there for me — even calling me sometimes at 9:00 at night. He truly cared about his patients and humanity.

He was a rare gem of a man. I used tell him, “You are Jesus like. You save people’s lives through your compassion, kindness, and genius.” He was a very humble man and my complimentary words usually made him blush.

He had a severe illness but worked until he could no longer work and had to retire about 5 years ago. I have not had a Psychiatrist since that time. It was not for a lack of trying. I tried for a little while, but couldn’t find the right one for me at the time.

One P-doc said I was ADHD because I was shaking my leg. What? I did not know that was how you diagnosed it. I was probably shaking my leg because of my anxiety or side effects from my medication at the time or experiencing withdrawal effects from the Klonopin I was attempting to reduce the dose of and eventually wean myself off of. I was unaware of the dangers of doing this at the time. Back to the ADHD diagnosis. I knew the last thing I needed was another medication, especially a stimulant that would make me fly higher and faster internally more than I already was.

The next P-doc was a handsome young man and resembled Lin Manuel the creator of the Broadway musical Hamilton. I have to be honest. At first, I thought it would be a nice bonus to have a good-looking young Psychiatrist. At my first hour-long appointment I told him an overview of my life history. I am older and mine is very long. Plus, I talk too much so that appointment took even longer than it was supposed to.

As I was leaving his office, I heard him say as a by-the-way comment, “Oh, and I know how to get you off your Klonopin.”

Those were the last words I ever wanted to here. I thought, “What? Go off my Klonopin? No way. I love my Klonopin. I need my Klonopin. It is the only thing that helps me and it doesn’t have side effects.” So, I put a kibash on that doctor. I thought he was wrong and stupid to try to take me off my Klonopin. Klonopin and I went together like two peas in a pod — so, I thought. I was having nothing to do with going off Klonopin or him.

Image result for open the door to recovery

At that time, I decided I could do this on my own and felt I had to at the time. I ended up going to the county health department to make sure I got my Klonopin and Trileptal. I saw a psychiatrist there a couple of times but she wasn’t very thorough or effective and I saw a nurse every once in a while to get my medications. The effectiveness and success of my treatment at that time in my life was partly my fault. I didn’t tell them my whole truths as I didn’t completely trust them or maybe even want their help at the time. I told myself the lie that I could do this on my own and I was going to be okay. This worked for a little while, so I thought or told myself the lie that it was working. Actually, it was not working at all and my mental health was slowly deteriorating right in front of everyone’s eyes.

After about a year, I was forced to stop taking my Trileptal — a mood stabilizer used to treat bipolar disorder that I had taken for over eight years. The Trileptal had caused severe adverse reactions that could have killed me, so I was forced to stop taking that medication cold turkey. This is a link to my post titled, “My Bipolar Medication Nearly Killed Me Because I Didn’t Get My Sodium Levels Checked,” which describes the syndrome in case you are unfamiliar with it.

I only had one medication left to take. I took 3 mg. of Klonopin daily to treat my bipolar, anxiety, and PTSD. I found out later, the hard way, that Trileptal actually had been helping me more than I realized. Taking only Klonopin was not working. I never realized that the severe symptoms of anxiety and suicidal ideations were caused from the fact that I was messing around with my dosage of Klonopin because I wanted to see if I could stop taking it. I took two mg. Klonopin at night for sleep and one in the morning. I had already decreased my prescribed Klonopin use from 5 mg. to 3 mg. on my own.

Image result for open the door to recovery

I was on a quest to take even less. I tried nearly every day not to take them. Little did I know that I was putting myself in a perpetual withdrawal syndrome by adjusting my dose without the guidance of a medical professional. I didn’t understand that when I took less after two days my brain and body went into withdrawals already and cried out for more. The withdrawal symptoms mimicked severe anxiety and suicidal ideations, My brain was hurting and slowly becoming destroyed from my own doing and the power of my Klonopin-Benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawals. I had been unknowingly abusing Klonopin and was addicted to it for over twenty years.

“Hello, I am Sue and I am A Klonopin addict. I am a Klonopin abuser. I survived Klonopin withdrawals,” I would say at the meetings I would go to for Benzodiazepine/Klonopin addictions if they had them where I lived. I sure wish they had those kind of meetings because they would be very helpful for me. I must admit that I was a substance abuser and a drug addict for over twenty years. They were prescribed to me but I was still physically addicted.

I overdosed many times on Klonopin. My body and brain craved Klonopin every day of my life. It was a strong force and craving that overpowered my mind.  I never understood what was wrong with me for always overdosing. I sure wish I knew then what I know now. I NEVER would have taken Klonopin to begin with if I knew the damage it can and did cause to my brain, body and life for over twenty years of use and misuse.

The lesson here, of course, is something I needed to know then and need to always remember. It took my severe suicide attempt to realize I must keep an open mind and I need help. I cannot do this on my own.

Related image

Being medication free is new and foreign to me, but it is something I want to continue. I strive to remain medication free. I am keeping an open mind and will pay close attention to my mental health. I feel better than I have in over twenty years.

The mystery or possibly the obvious answer is that I stopped taking Klonopin cold turkey almost six months ago after a severe overdose. I do not take any other psychotropic medications and I have not started therapy yet (I want to but have not been able to get in yet). My life is basically the same except I finally feel much happier, clearer, more focused, grounded and feel more at peace than I ever felt. My brain moves slower and is not overcrowded from rapid-firing thoughts at all times of the day or night. I believe I feel the way a person with a “normal” brain may feel. 

I do not have an explanation for this. Doctors do not have a sure fire explanation for this. I have been medication free for six months but suffered severely for two months going through Klonopin withdrawal syndrome. That is a horrific painful story for another day. These are the possible reasons for my psychotropic medication free mental wellness for over four months. 

  1. I am psychotropic medication free after over twenty-six years.
  2. My brain/brain chemistry changed favorably after years of taking psychotropic medications.
  3. My brain/brain chemsitry changed favorably due to having over a hundred ECTs (Electro-convulsive therapy treatments) over a twenty year time period.
  4. My brain/brain chemistry changed favorably due to the aging process.
  5. Menopause changed my brain/brain chemistry favorably. I just now went through menopause.
  6. Years of using and misusing Klonopin caused many of my adverse symptoms.
  7. I was addicted to Benzodiazepines for over twenty-six years and did not know it.
  8. I was wrongly diagnosed and treated. This one baffles me because I had too many bipolar symptoms. I had them all. At the time I tried to fight the diagnosis, but it was as if I was a poster child for bipolar. It was like the diagnosis was written for me because I had every symptom listed for the bipolar one diagnosis.
  9. Prayer always works.
  10. God healed me.

These are possibilities, but there are no definitive answers. The answers would help me solve my mystery but they do not really matter because it is as it is. My life is the way it is. I accept it as it is and I am truly happy and grateful for my new life and brain as it is right now.

Don’t get me wrong because I still have occasional setbacks. I am unsure at this time if they are symptoms or are from learned behaviors of living a mental illness life as long as I have. Hopefully, some questions will be answered at my next P-doc appointment. I am going to have some genetic testing done then and hopefully that help answer some unresolved questions for me. We will see what it can tell us and how it can help me. I will let you know.

Until then, please let my life and situation be an inspiration that life will get better. I am living proof of that. Keep keeping on and keep fighting. There is hope.

Also, don’t forget to pray. Prayer works. It sure helped me. God bless you all.


Please take the following quiz. It’s easy…

Please remember when reading the questions and taking this quiz that these questions and answers are for me. They are appropriate for myself and for my life at this stage of my life.

Everyone’s journey of mental illness, recovery and wellness is different. Everyone takes a different route. Everyone has a different time frame for healing. Everyone has a different treatment plan and medication plan . Everyone’s answers are their own. Everyone’s answers are correct. There are no wrong answers as long as you are trying your best and YOU NEVER GIVE UP.

Please remember to study hard. Learn everything you can about mental illness and wellness, about your treatment and medication options. Study hard. Retake your quiz of mental wellness as often as  you need to get it right. Take your time.

Always remember to be proud of your achievements.

Image result for open the door to recovery


Quiz:

What are the changes that occurred in my life since my overdose four months ago and are the reasons for my positive recovery, growth and mental wellness. Pick the best answer or answers:

  1. Writing my blog and memoir are extremely therapeutic for me.
  2. I have five amazing children (two are married to my children).
  3. I am almost finished writing my second draft of my memoir, which encourages me to keep fighting and gives me hope.
  4. God healed me to the point he wants me to be healed.
  5. I do not take any psychotropic medications, right now (but those doors and windows are always open).
  6. When I help others essentially I am helping myself.
  7. I am blessed beyond words and measure.
  8. God healed me to the point he wants me to be healed.
  9. This is my mantra… “People need love the most when they least deserve it.”
  10. All of the above.

Correct answer/s:

10 – ALL OF THE ABOVE 

What answers can you choose or write for your own life?

How do you score on your school of life exam or quiz?

Write your own material. Write your own quiz. Study hard. Take the test. Learn more. Always keep learning new ways of living and thriving. Retake your test as often as you need. There are no right or wrong answers for your life.  Write new questions. Make new answers. You can never fail as long as you keep fighting and doing your best. Your best is the right answer. Just find out what your best is and achieve it over and over and then overachieve it and surpass your goals. Make new goals. Keep on keeping on.

Remember recovery and wellness are possible and beyond achievable.

I am living proof of that. 

We never graduate from our college of life.

Every day is new and every day there is something new to learn.

Never quit fighting, learning or growing.

Keep on keeping on. Keep surviving. Keep living. Keep thriving.

Much love and more hugs, Sue

Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved