My Continued Struggles with Ativan

Over the course of November, I have chronicled my social anxiety and my struggles with Ativan. In “Realities of Ativan” I discussed researching this medication and the ongoing struggles with my psychiatrist over my dosage. It’s a great read.

I wanted to update something about this “journey” and how it continues to get worse as the days in November continue. The first problem I have is the amount of Ativan that I have available to me during a thirty-day period. I have a morning dose and an evening dose of 1mg. It’s not a high dose, and as I research this issue more, and with the comments with my last blog on this subject, the doses for each person varies.

I used to take 1mg three times a day, and did for almost seven years until my psychiatrist at the time three years ago changed the dosage and then she decided it was time to retire. Since that time I have fought to get back on a dosage that worked for me for seven years.

Since that time three years ago I have had more panic attacks than I did in the previous seven years, and more hospital visits because of my anxiety. I get it, Ativan is a short-term solution drug that is very addictive. I have no doubt that I am having issues because of the length I have taken this medication. But I didn’t ask to be on Ativan. The doctors just gave me the medication not telling me that this short-term drug is not for long-term use.

My second problem is that my last three psychiatrists (I have had so many in the last five years, I discuss this in another blog) have flat out refused to change the dosage, but offer no solution. My current psychiatrist basically told me to just take it like your supposed to and that was it. No, let’s work on this. Nope, it was this is it and see you in two months.

This is a downside of being in the “system of behavioral health,” none of the people really want to fix anything. State/county run behavior health always changes psychiatrists on me, and I have no control or stability with these psychiatrists. I like to compare it to a fast-food joint. I go in and out in five minutes and always leave with more questions than answers. I spend more time sitting in the waiting room than actual face time with a psychiatrist.

It helps to have my therapist/caseworker on my side and she is right there battling with me all the time, but her power is limited.

So the last few weeks I have had no choice but to adjust and make up for the lack of medication by waiting until my anxiety is so high that I take an Ativan. This usually happens by the afternoon. Up until that point, I am a mess just waiting for my anxiety out. What has changed is that I feel better after taking that first dosage, but then hours later my anxiety is worse.

Over the last week my I have had a panic attack late into every night, usually before I am trying to sleep. I have had to take a third Ativan a few of those nights. I am trying to work on my sleep hygiene, but I am so stressed by the time its time to step that I just can’t meditate. I do mindfulness breathing which helps most nights, and it helps to work on my CBT exercises with mood induction with music.

I am weary.

I have been so strong lately but there are just moments where I can’t be me because of my anxiety. My anxiety is so out of control and while I can work on my CBT it is only effective when I can work it before my anxiety takes me completely over.

I have thought a lot about the possibility of checking myself into the psych ward during my vacation from school to get off the Ativan. It would be a controlled environment which is recommended. I could also talk to my doctors about slowly getting off Ativan on my own, but considering how bad my anxiety is right now (3:38 pm) when writing this before taking my Ativan, I am doubting I will ever be able to be off of Ativan.

So this is where I am at in the moment. It worries me that I am no closer to getting my anxiety under control than I was in January just before ending up with the hospital with really bad stomach ulcers (I was so anxious every day from January to my hospital visit in February it was just crazy) and the stress I am under then has gotten worse.

I always talk about working on my mental health, and I do work on it every day. My anxiety is just something I need to find control. I was meditating in the morning. Maybe I need to bring that back. I do my mindfulness breathing even more. But at some point, my psychiatrist has to discuss this issue and help me fix it. It is getting bad enough to where I fear hospitalization.

J.E. Skye

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36 Replies to “My Continued Struggles with Ativan”

  1. I have no answers, but I can relate to this. I’ve been taking diazepam (Valium) since 2007. I desperately want to get my anxiety under control without it, but none of my doctors seem interested in doing that. Although, they all say I should only have taken it short term.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a psychiatrist tell me that it should have only been a short term solution but they blame the doctor before. They give me no actually answers of how to really solve this.

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  2. I have had Ativan for 8 years now. Can you get a prescription for medical Marijuana? It is harmful on your body and one or two puffs from a vap is the same as a 1mg of Ativan. I can only do Indica because of my anxiety. I also make pot baked goods to take instead of tranquilizers. They don’t make me high, just act like their chemical counter parts, yet less harmful and side effects.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have tried marijuana. I used to use it in high school to get through my anxiety but the last time I tried it, about a year or two ago, it made my anxiety worse. I am not even sure what happened, it never did that before. But it made me weary of adding it to help with anxiety.

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  3. I am surprised you have not built up a tolerance to this dosage. That’s one of the dangers with Lorazepam. I have been prescribed it for short-term periods during stressful events, but the dosage becomes ineffective quickly and I have bucked the temptation to up it for desired effect. If anything, congrats to you for not doing so. You can always taper down the amount you take but I would caution doing that without a professional being aware you are tinkering with your meds. Anyway, good luck in figuring this out..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have built a tolerance. I am only supposed to be taking 1mg twice a day but somedays I am taking more because it isn’t enough. I talked to my therpaist and psychiatrist and niether wants me off it at all. What is hurting me is I use extra and it means losing a dose down the road. The last three days its taken two at night just for me to get by.

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      1. Oh, I get it… yeah… the ativan game can be a dangerous game. it’s hard when it’s effective, and quick.. do your best. Is there anything else you can reach for in place of the Ativan that provides even remotely a similar benefit. Prob not, or you would be reaching for it.. yeah, I remember how hard this was… sorry you’re going through that and that there’s no simple solution..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It isn’t. Thanks thought I do appreciate the help. Someone suggested marijuana. I may have to go down the route but I don’t know. I wish there was a simple solution. Life would be so much easier

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  4. I have been on xanax, ativan and now klonopin in that order. My first doctor put me on xanax for my severe anxiety and I was on 1mg x 3. This also is the case with all 3 at first. I have also been through many psychiatrists over the years. In and out about 5 to 10 each time. I have been with my current one about 15 years. Don’t get me wrong…I spend an hour to an hour and half waiting for him. But I see him no less than an hour when I do. We started with ativan for years upon years and it worked great. But addiction became a factor as well as the half-life. It just wasn’t getting me through the day at 1mg x 3 anymore. He said he did not want to up the dose anymore and I was becoming to dependent on it. Since then I have been on klonopin for years and years. By far this has the longest half life. Everybody is different of course and meds work different for each individual but I have found personally that over the years with therapy and the long half-life there are days I can even get by with 1mg x 2. My anxiety is still severe and I have a lot of problems with it and always will…but it is much more tolerable and I don’t get that “addicted” feeling in between doses. I hear you James…it’s never easy…is frustrating and of course always a struggle. I hope that things get better for you. TC

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with these trypes of medicine. It helps me understand my own stuggles a litle better. I just worry about what might happen if my anxiety goes way out of control again. I am working so hard to get my life together a setback might really hurt me.

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  5. It could have been the strand. If I have a sativa it makes the anxiety and paranoia worse. The medical dispensary will be able to help you. You can also get pills and oils where they take out the components that make you high and only have the healing properties left in them. It is overwhelming with all the blends, but they will know there what is best for what condition as they breed them for different medical issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay I didn’t know that, I will check into it today since I have time. Thank you for sharing this, it might be what I need to finally get through this stuff.

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  6. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Yoga and meditation are important. When I’m really anxious, I burn sage to get rid of the negativity. I also have a salt lamp. I also use Ativan as needed but I find that if I take my daily walks, and meditate I don’t have to take it as much. You are not alone. You will get through this 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some of my problems are not facing what is bothering me in the moment. I need to get out more and take more walks. I do meditation at night for about 30 minutes, I may have to do more. Its just harder during the winter months to walk or work out because of my depression. Still, I can’t keep using it as an excuse. Thank you for sharing your comment was very helpful to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My dog literally saved my life. Caring for an animal takes you out of your head. It’s not good to spend too much time in your head. It wouldn’t hurt to visit the local shelter. My therapist said that a dog would give me much more than I could possibly give it through walks and feeding. Ted changed my life. I don’t know where I would be without him. There’s a dog out there calling your name.🐾

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I have anxiety, depression, and am a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been on different medications at different times, and I’m trying to find a different psychiatrist since she’s not covered my new insurance (which is a shame, beccause she’s great). I use mindful breathing and being aware as coping tools, as well as essential oils. Ylang Ylang often arrests a panic attack before it starts. But as someone told me when I was in recovery, there’s no magic pill that will fix me. Cymbalta works wonders for me, and I wouldn’t be able to function well without it, but it isn’t the only solution. I have to second the notion of getting an animal. My cats and dog are hugely important to my recovery and to keeping me on balance every day. Walking the dog gets me out of my head (especially if I have some good tunes on my phone) and petting my cats always calms me. Hang in there, man.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been on 2mg/day of Klonopin for the last couple of years, and I’m not sure it even works anymore. As you know, I have periods where I’m scared to leave my house alone, and I don’t drive. I haven’t talked to my psychiatrist about this, so maybe I should. My point is, I think I’ve developed a tolerance for my anti-anxiety med as well.

    Doing a guided grounding meditation every morning has really helped. I usually feel grounded for most of the day. I do a silent/mindfulness meditation in the afternoon, as well. If you aren’t already using it, Insight Timer is an excellent meditation app that has thousands of different types of meditations, including ones for anxiety. And it’s free.

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  9. I have battled this as well. I went from having Xanax .25 mg for sleeplessness and bad anxiety and 3 mg. a day for Ativan. I have been on the drug for 25 years, and no I do not want to go off of this drug. I am now down to 200 mg. Zoloft, and 2 mg. Ativan a day. I have found great comfort in prayer and my Savior. I feel that once I gave my CPTSD over to God? I am 150% better. However, I had to make permanent lifestyle changes to protect my mental, physical and spiritual health. I walked away from my sister and her family (I adore my nephew and nieces, but they have shunned me as well) and best friend in the same 4 months, as they were incredibly toxic to me. Narcissistic and cruel, these women actually fought with each other, over me. I am free. I feel centered. I have had an incredible reduction in my stress and anxiety. My life is full and very rewarding. I pray you the same. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with me. I am not sure if I can walk away from family (I am having issues with my brother) but I may have to for mental health. Your journey has been an amazing one. Thank you again for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Prepare for another comment novel. 😛

    As always, the American Health Care system continues to amaze me with how little they seem to care about the individual. It makes me so, so very angry that you have to put up with psychiatrists who don’t spend any real time with you, and don’t even realise that you shouldn’t be on this drug long term. It’s incredibly frustrating to not be able to do anything about it, but I wish with my whole being I could.

    There were a couple of things in the comments I wanted re-recommend and talk about how they’ve helped me. Firstly, pets are freaking amazing. My cat calms me and gives me affection even when I’m really freaked out. I find that holding him and having the warmth of his fur against my chest often really helps soothe me when I’m having a panic attack. The cat I had in high school genuinely saved my life during my suicide attempt, as I had accidentally locked him in the room with me. I’m so blessed I did. I can’t recommend having a support animal enough if that is a viable option for you.

    The other thing that really has helped me is giving myself a break from my family (and some friends) when I need it. I’m very close to my Mum as she is the only family member I have left, but sometimes she really triggers my anxiety badly. Earlier this year I had a big fight with her which left me shaken. I walked out of my family’s house and didn’t talk to her for two months, but I texted her to explain I needed some space. I also have a group of very close friends that I grew up with, who I love to pieces, we all have very big personalities so sometimes we need space from each other. We always try to tell each other when this is the case, or at least not be angry with anyone for not contacting the rest of the group for a bit. Is it at all possible to ask your family for space? Is there someone that it would be easy to talk to about it, who could explain it to everyone else? Of course, if it’s bad, walking away can be good as well, providing that you have another support network to fall back on.

    In terms of the medication itself, I wish I had a good suggestion. Getting a doctor’s support to switch medications/wean yourself off it seems like a good idea. I really hope you can find something that works. My thoughts are with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey. I am considering the pet thing. You would be the second person to recommend getting a pet. Maybe a dog? The American health care system really is a joke. It’s all about putting the patient on medication that they can’t get off. It’s never good. It’s not my family that is causing my issues. It’s just me and my hang ups. I had another bad panic attack last night. The worst in a long time.

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      1. I’m so, so sorry to hear about the panic attack, and very sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I’ve been moving house today. If there is ever anything I can do, please let me know. I know it’s such a remote chance that my actions can help at all, but if there’s something you can think of I can do from Australia, I will do it. My thoughts are with you, my friend!

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  11. I understand you struggle. I took Ativan for 5 years. At some point it stopped helping at all. Completely! I had to fight to get the doctors to listen to me and change my dosage to another medication that helps me. (Not in the habit of recommending different medications in public settings) My current medication is actually a bit of a higher dose, but works a little different than Ativan. Ativan for me was quick acting but dropped from helping me within a few hours. What I take now takes a little longer help, but it doesn’t drop me off so quickly and I’m able to go longer periods of time without issue. None of these medications are meant for long-term uses, but what else are we supposed to do when no one seems to offer solutions.

    I have a list of 50 things to do on my blog for Anxiety/Panic attacks. You might should check it out. Not everything works for everyone, but it’s always good to increase the number of tools in your coping toolbox. There’s also some wonderful information I have on “grounding” that helps, but it has copyright on it and I can’t share it in a public setting. Are you on FB? I can message it to you if so. It might help. (So outside of my comfort zone…I try to keep my blog separate from FB, but I’m willing to try to help with other things you can do if you would like.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome. I’ll look it up in the morning. I’m about wiped out tonight.

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  12. I have struggled with anxiety too. These days I am doing much better. Think of the future like this: you can never predict most bad things that happen, so try to stop imaging all the things that can go wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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