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Oh my Cat! :omfg: I just hit 1000 watchers today! In the face. With a giant mallet with the words "Watch Me!" on it. Seriously though, I have 1000 watchers as of today, and that's amazing! You're amazing! Wooo! :party:

I feel like this is a MAJOR DA milestone, and because I wouldn't be much of anything without my audience, I want do do something special as a thanks to all of you. I didn't have long to prepare, but I did a redesign of one of my first speculative dinosaurs specially for this occasion, I'm uploading a bunch of old stuff from my dinosaur storybook soom, and I'm opening the comment section of this journal entry as an AMA, which stands for Ask Me Anything in Internetish.

So, if there's anything you wanted to ask me but couldn't find the right place or time, you can ask it here, and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability. If you've wanted to know what is my favorite color, or my quest, or the flight speed of an unladen European swallow, this is your opportunity. Ask away!

Anyway, a big thanks you to everyone who has watched me, favorited my artwork or taken the time to write a comment. Even when I don't have the energy or the wits to reply, it's always, ALWAYS appreciated. You are the reason that keeps me going here. Thank you! :blowkiss:
Yep, it seems like I only manage to write one of these per year these days, so better make it count!

As you've probably already noticed, I've had a bit of a burst of productivity lately. This has to do with two things: 1) my lazy endocrine system is waking up after winter hibernation (unfortunately my body reacts negatively to hormone replacement so I guess I just have to deal with it) and 2) I've finally gotten the hang of using my new Wacom Tablet.

Much of the credit for the latter actually belongs to Joschua Knüppe a.k.a Hyrotrioskjan, who I've incidentally wanted to do a shoutout for for years, especially since I never seem to find the time to give his work the attention it deserves. This guy does some of the best spec evo stuff on DA, and is seriously the sole reason I gave up trying to introduce winged dragons to Magestone. Go give his gallery a visit if you aren't a fan of his already.

Anyway, it's Joshua's recent series of speedsketching Youtube videos that got me to experiment with digital painting. I haven't touched my watercolours or acrylics in years, not really since the whole prolactinoma thing came to a head, but now I feel like I've rediscovered the joy of painting*. My painting time is still limited by the after-effects of diazepam withdrawal like tension neck and persistent ischial bursitis, that prevent me from sitting at a desk for too long, but even then I'm getting more done than I ever expected.
(*trademark Bob Ross & PBS 1983)

Since life has a tendency to throw one curve ball after another I don't know if I can make any particular promises, but if everything keeps going even relatively ok, you can expect a more of Magestone and hopefully some proper paleoart in the future as well. I'm also hoping to take part in the Spec Evo challenge whenever possible. Hopefully that thing really takes off.

Also, as you may have noticed, I decided to change profile pictures after 5 years. That puffindingo has bothered me for several reasons, but I didn't know what to replace it with. Now let's see how long it takes me before I get fed up with this one!
Profilepictoraptor by Osmatar
  • Listening to: ragdoll purring
Or rather, I am here again. I actually haven't logged in since last february, so I am sorry if it has seemed I've been ignoring your messages. I've been gone so long I actually forgot my DA password. :| For some reason I can't open messages in my DA mailbox at all right now, so again, I'm sorry.

So, anyway, I'm alive. Recently I had pieces of me cut off and examined, and all turned out to be fine. With those pieces anyway. I had thought about updating my journal earlier, but I wanted to wait until I had at least some news to share. Unfortunately I'm still dealing with lots of problems, mainly related to mystery digestive system issues possibly related to food intolerance or opportunistic infections, as well as the ever troublesome thyroid hormones. At least I'm no longer hypo, now I just need to try my best to keep things that way.

Unfortunately my creativity has suffered from my health problems in a major way. In the last 12 months I've barely sketched anything worth sharing, most of it related to my little therapy project: the world of Magestone. It started as an attempt to create a D&D setting suitable for roleplay but as things tend to go with me, it evolved into something completely different (read: rational fantasy with lots of spec evolution stuff). Expect to see someting related to that in the foreseeable future, when I have the time and the energy.

I've also done some thinking and writing on reviving Dinosaurs of the Ice Age as an offshoot of the Speculative Dinosaur Project, using some of the animals I designed for Spec. Honestly, it's just not the same doing it all alone. I sorely miss the criticism and insight from my fellow specdeities. We'll have to see if anything comes out of it.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who wished me happy birthday. :) Let's hope the following twelve months bring something better than the last 12.
  • Listening to: birdsong and the wind in the trees
So, as you may have guessed, things haven't improved since july. I've been getting inceasingly severe symptoms that seem to fit hypothyroidism and recurrence of the prolactinoma, but lab results don't fit the symptoms at all. I keep getting weaker, achier, more tired and miserable every week, but plausible explanations just keep getting eliminated. I'm really starting to get seriously worried. I fear the worst. I don't even know if this is something I'll survive. I fear I'm just not somebody who gets to get a happy ending.

If I find out something more, especially if it's not something completely awful, I'll let you know. Until then... 
  • Playing: Hearthstone
So, it's been over a month since the last update, and guess what? No, I'm not feeling better than a month ago. I'm actually arguably worse, though much of it has to do with pulled back muscles. Right now I pretty much have mild to debilitating pains everywhere around my spine from the top of my head to my tailbone. Plus all other sorts of non-muscle related nonsense I won't even get to right now. So over a year after quitting Diazepam I'm still not even close to being OK. I know that that happens, you can get 18 months of withdrawal if you're unlucky (and I generally am) plus some withdrawal effects can linger on for years, but I never imagined it would be this bad. What's worse, I don't know for sure if this even still is Diazepam withdrawal or if I'm just screwed for the rest of my life. 

Unfortunately I've also been pretty much creatively barren these few months. I've not been able to draw almost anything at all, and not for the lack of trying. I just can't get anything good on paper. Not having a working drawing tablet of course doesn't help either. Nor the fact that for the first time in my life my PC suddenly has defective RAM. Every now and then I've been able to write down something about my new fantasy world (more about that hopefully later) but nothing even half finished I could share with you. 

At least the weather this summer has been pretty awful in Finland, so I haven't missed much on that front. Then again I haven't been able to play video games either, because my neck and shoulder tension punishes me severely if I do anything more straining than occasionally clicking the mouse. Fortunately I've finally managed to start playing Hearthstone now that my brain isn't so addled anymore. I'm really horrible at it to tell you the truth, but I only play it occasionally for fun, time killing and cardbacks, so it doesn't matter much.
  • Playing: Hearthstone
For all of you who've been wondering where I've been for the last couple of months (and I can name at least one of you), here's the long overdue update that was supposed to come last month.

Back in late April it began to look like Diazepam was finally starting to loosen it's grip on my muscular system, and pretty soon gardening started to overtake all my available time. I may not have mentioned this before, but I used to be pretty passionate about gardening, especially arboriculture. Not having been able to do much of anything in the garden since spring 2012, I had a huge backlog of things to do, which is why I neglected by online presence despite finally starting to feel better. I also found that my neck and shoulders allowed me to play video games again, so that kept me busy in the evenings when I finally managed to drag myself back indoors.

Then, in mid May when I meant to rectify all that, something happened, and the withdrawal came back with a vengeance. Symptoms I haven't really had to deal with since January returned for unclear reasons. I've had to live in fear of the excruciating temple headaches that ruined my life last fall, and give up both garden work and gaming. Other parts of my body - and mind - were also under assault, and I couldn't gather the energy to write the gallery journal update I had been planning either, especially when I intended to follow it up with scans and lengthy descriptions. Now it's been about three weeks since hell broke loose, and I still don't quite understand what happened and what can be done to fix this. But the thing is, I'm not feeling well enough to produce any art or even post online either. This may unfortunately be the only thing I manage to post in my gallery this month.

I really wanted to let you guys know that I'm finally getting better and tell you about the things I was able to produce even while being functionally disabled by the withdrawal syndrome, but unfortunately that turned out to be premature. I do not know when I'll become a healthy productive human being again. Diazepam withdrawal really is the shittiest thing I've had to endure since 2006 (what happened then is a story for another time). 
  • Watching: my weight
  • Playing: dead
First off, I need to comment on the previous journal entry. Right now my life pretty much hinges on my ability to completely obliviate my current situation by aggressively flooding my brain with all manners of escapism. Occasionally that fails, and I'm reminded of exactly where I am right now. That happened last week. It was rough. I've kind of recuperated now, but I have to be open and honest about it: it's probably going to happen again, perhaps even soon, possibly a lot of times between now and when things hopefully eventually work out and get fixed. (And no, I do not want to talk about it, because if I remember what it is I would talk about, bad things will happen again. I just need to not remember anything about my life right now.)

Anyway, onto the meat and mashed potatoes of this journal entry. Here's something I want to share with you, because it was weird.

Legal opiates can mess with your head

While I was recovering from the surgery, I had to take both NSAIDs and opiate painkillers regularly and in the case of the latter, in unusually high doses. Having pain isn't good for your recovery, and all that. Well, I got the idea one day that I wanted to see Ponyo, or Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea as I think the full English title is. I haven't seen a Miyazaki movie I haven't liked, and I hadn't seen Ponyo yet, so I thought it would be a safe bet. If you haven't seen the movie yet, be warned, because there will be some spoilers.

Anyway, I was about halfway through the movie, past the storm sequence which was either genuinely scary or made scary by the heavy doses of codein and whatever else was in the other capsules. That was basically when things in the movie get really clearly fantastic. And somehow I suddenly became convinced that I was actually looking at a far more grim and dark tale than it seemed on the surface. A story about coming to terms with death.

While the film was clearly a light-hearted fantasy adventure for children on the surface, I thought the underlying story was actually that the young protagonist had imagined the fantastic elements of the first half of the movie, and the second half was some kind of dying dream while he was drowning, because the mother's car had actually been washed out to the sea by the storm. I was genuinely dreading that as he was eventually reunited with her mother and the mysteriously de-crippled old ladies from the old folks' home, there would be something that would solidify this interpretation, revealing that he and his whole family had drowned, and they now rejoined under the sea in the afterlife.

Suffice to say that did not happen. Yeah, it's a Miyazaki film for little children, what the heck was I expecting? It took me a while to realize that maybe taking large doses of potentially psychoactive substances had affected my general perception. It was the first time I've become aware of this happening to me, and I genuinely hope it'll remain the last one, too.

Anyway, that's in the past now. I no longer have to take opiates, or any other painkillers for that matter. But I never would have thought that something meant for a painkiller would do that to the mind. I guess now I know better. One more drug for me to stay the hell away from.
I haven't posted anything in what feels like ages, mainly because life's been fluctuating between bad and godawful with little to no signs of improvement. I'd like to say that that's changed but, no, it really hasn't. The reason I'm posting an update is because I'm having surgery in a couple of days, and I felt like it wouldn't be okay to not let anyone know. It's a minor thing, really, just tonsillectomy, but everything that involves general anaesthesia freaks me out a bit. 

[EDIT] Writing the above paragraph I forgot that no-one outside my immediate family knows what I've been dealing with recently, so an explanation is in order. I have had to take a large number of mineral supplements and medications as well as eat well balanced meals and "snacks" at specific intervals to control my adrenalin/noradrenalin levels, and do a series of stretches and exercises every day to prevent my neck and pelvic muscles from spasming badly causing severe pain and other highly unpleasant symptoms. The tonsillectomy is going to put a stop to all of this for at least a week, possibly several, and I do not know how bad things will get. That's the actual reason why I'm worried, not so much the operation itself. 
[/EDIT]

If nothing too horrible happens after (or during) the operation, I may upload a couple of sketches later this month. Not paleo-themed stuff unfortunately, but it's a bit of mythical animals meet speculative zoology stuff and so on. You'll see when that happens, assuming it happens.
During the last week or so my life has taken a sudden turn from bad to worse. I still haven't found a dose of thyroid hormone that won't make me feel worse within a week from starting even though at first it improves my condition. My neck and shoulders are now so painful and tense it's nearly impossible for me to lay down without developing extreme headaches, which not only makes sleeping difficult but makes it impossible for me to rest and relax my abdominal muscles that too are tense and very painful. The tension in the abdominals in turn messes up with my pelvis and pelvic floor meaning more tension and pain, with no way to relieve it, no way to treat it. As if this wasn't horrible enough, my messed up thyroid state for some reason translates to high levels of adrenaline in my blood with all the symptoms you could imagine from shaking cold hands to much worse things. Because of the turn-of-the-year holidays fysiotherapists and such are largely unavailable. Things are getting worse day by day, and I don't see how things could even stop deteriorating in the next ten days. To put it simply I'm in hell created by my own body, and I don't know if there's any way out at all!

If there's anything at all that's positive to say, I'll let you know in here. But if you don't see any updates from me you can assume things are horribly wrong with me and not getting better. And I'm sad to say but that may be the state of things to be for long, long time. :(
A short summary of what's currently happening in my life. First off, my health. Turns out my status keeps jumping around from borderline hypothyroid to low euthyroid. The weird thing is that if I take thyroid hormones I get more hypothyroid symptoms and when I don't I get more hyperthyroid symptoms. Why? Damned if I know.

Next up, my computer. We recently had a series of mini-blackouts and current spikes thanks to snow cutting power lines all over the place. As a result my PC got so messed up that it won't boot up if there are any USB devices connected to it. The good news is I found out this can be fixed if I can change some settings in the BIOS. The bad news is I only have USB keyboards so I can't access the BIOS! So right now I can't even use my graphics tablet.

What else? Well, right now I'm getting ready to celebrate Joulu. No, that's not a typo. It's what Finnish people call the winter solstice holiday thing, and have probably called it for a long time, considering how archaic the word is. Why am I telling you this? Because I like the word "Joulu" and I'm proud that our language still has it's very own word for it. So have a very Happy Joulu everyone, as happy as it can be!
Some of you have probably been wondering why I haven't been active for a while. The answer is, as far as I can tell, thyroid dysfunction. I wish I could tell you more, but I honestly don't know what exactly is going on in my body, apart from the fact that it's now thoroughly messed up, brains included. I seem to have clear as day hyperthyroid symptoms, but at the same time all my blood tests show normal or hypothyroid values. It makes no sense and has lead to me getting a prescription to medication that only succeeded in making things worse. And I can tell you that things were bad enough to begin with!

So right now my brain is thoroughly scrambled and the rest of my body is going nuts as well, and my doctor doesn't even know this is going on and it's almost christmas, so she probably won't until it's next year. All I can do is hope that whatever is doing this is eventually going to go away if I don't take any thyroid hormones and limit my intake of substances the thyroid craves, like iodine. All in all, I fear this is going to be yet another crappy holiday and I doubt I'll be able to create anything new until my nervous system cools down considerably.

If you want to contact me, please do so using the DA note system. I've given myself a temporary ban from Facebook, because I can't trust myself to be able to handle myself in this state. 
My recent dinosaur-anatomy related epiphany has forced me to take a good look at all of my past paleoart with a critical eye. Anything I produced many years ago is of course going to be out of date anyway, but I can't turn a blind eye at anything I've done recently, especially things that are still works in progress or intended for eventual publishing. And it's not just supraorbital membranes, I've been way too sloppy with soft tissues in general. 

Let's take an example: my recent Tyrannosaurus portrait. It's not just the brow that I'd fix, but also the ear should be higher up and the lips... the lips are a total mess. While drawing it I tried to wrap my head around the concept of lips that covered most of the teeth in the upper jaw but left some visible similar to the canines of cats, and the result was a half-arsed failure. Now, having finally read Jaime Headden's blog post on overbites (I'm slowly trying to catch up to what I've missed thanks to Diazepam) I realize just how badly I screwed things up. At this point I'd have to redrew so much I'm not sure if it's worth it or if I should just do a completely new drawing.

I feel like maybe I should take a break from the work I had planned on doing and going for something more spontaneous. That means more random doodles and cartoon spinosaurs and less "proper" artwork. I guess I should be glad for anything I manage to produce, though, considering how long my dry spell has been.

As for my ill-being, I managed to eliminate the foods behind my intolerance symptoms, only to realize that said symptoms were preventing something even worse. It seems that as long as the protracted diazepam withdrawal symptoms refuse to abate, forcing me to keep taking a whole handful of pills that mess my body up even further, it's actually preferrable to have an upset stomach.

PS. I got featured in the latest Mesozoic Miscellany at the Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs blog. If you for some reason don't follow the blog already, you should definitely check it out because it's great, especially if you like (more or less dodgy) vintage dinosaur art.
A: When it is food withdrawal instead.

Earlier this year I had serious stomach trouble and after a test found out that I had seriously elevated antibodies for legumes, cocoa, yeast, corn and oats. After months of avoiding these foodstuffs I got tested again and all the other antibodies had gone down except for oats. This would explain why for the last two months my symptoms have gotten worse with the return of eczema and constant increasingly severe stomach upsets, but it doesn't explain how, because I haven't eaten oats for six months!

One explanation for the result may be that my body is reacting to some other food protein that is close enough to "fool the test". This puts all cereal grains under suspicion, and as it is, I've decided to remove them from my diet for a couple of weeks to test this. The problem is, if they are the cause of the intolerance, what is likely to follow is a withdrawal. Symptoms-wise withdrawal from a food is very similar to drug withdrawal. So simultaneous Diazepam withdrawal and cereal grain withdrawal. Sounds fun, huh? As if life wasn't awful enough already.

Right now it's too early say anything. The fact that I feel worse than usual might be a good sign, but because the symptoms are no different from Diazepam withdrawal, it's hard to tell. It might just be another wave of Diazepam WD. It seems that the only thing to do right now is to grit my teeth and wait it out. If I manage to eliminate the source of my symptoms, life in general could get a lot more tolerable, but since I can only guess at the source of the "phantom oats", I have no idea what sorts of hoops I may yet have to jump through.

Anyway, to the point: I'm not feeling too good right now, and may not be active or respond to messages for a while. If things go well, that while might be no longer than five to six days, but from experience I know to prepare for the worst. Expect to hear from me once things clear up a bit. That's all.

P.S. It's starting to seem that this far more complex than just leaving out cereal grains. My condition is fluctuating wildly, so I have bad and good moments each day, so I may be able to be a bit more active than I thought, but I doubt I'll be able to finish anything worthy of an upload.
I thought it was high time to give an update, because the previous journal entry was written under such dire conditions. I got a couple of meds to try to help me sleep. The first one made the akathisia (a constant agonizing need to move) worse but the second one seems to have calmed things down. Either that or that particular withdrawal symptom died down, but I wouldn't bet on that. So right now I'm sleeping largely thanks to an old antihistamin with a heavy sedative effect. 

Since I didn't have to reinstate diazepam, the withdrawal continues. I'm now getting physical therapy for my piriformis and pelvic floor both, so hopefully the situation there is going to improve in the near future. I can't say that life is good, but at least it isn't living hell, and I get to sleep at night, even if I do wake up every two hours. I don't think I've ever been so glad to feel tired and sleepy.

It's soon going to be three months since I stopped taking diazepam, so I have to be getting close to a limit after which new withdrawal symptoms can no longer pop up. I've read that people have been able to return to work 4-6 months after cessation, so I assume that after I've held out that far, things will start to get easier. 
As bad as things have been so far, at all times I have had the feeling that I'm moving forward. I've been going through hell, but even still I've kept going, towards what was supposed to be the exit. But now on my path I face an impenetrable wall.

I am right now in a quite literal physical and mental hell. I can barely sleep even with a high dose of sleeping meds. Four hours is lucky, two hours is more realistic. But that isn't the worst part. The worst part is why I can't sleep. I'm beset by an unrelenting restlessness that is almost impossible to shake off even for a moment. It feels like my entire skin is being touched or ticked by invisible fingers at all times. Every single waking moment I feel the need to pee, but even if I go, the feeling never goes away, it doesn't even get easier, in fact it just gets worse and may be accompanied by burning. On top of that I know that if I don't manage to stay reasonably relaxed, I'm going to be developing horrifying pains all over my pelvis real soon.

Last night I needed to stay still to try to get a little bit of sleep, but instead I kept walking and sitting and doing everything I could think of to satisfy the strings pulling at my limbs. The medications I had taken in the evening blurred my mind and even my vision but did not have the power to make me sleep. Eventually I ended up laying in bed in the darkness, concentrating all of my mind on my breathing, inhaling and exhaling like my life depended on it, counting every single breath for hours. I somehow made it through the night doing that, until I fell asleep for a few hours in the morning. Start of the day was sligtly more tolerable due to the mental blur brought on by the sleeping meds, but now I feel that way again. It's five hours until I take the next sleeping meds, and a long long night of trying to calm myself down enough to stay still enough in bed to fall asleep at all.

The first two months off of Diazepam were nothing compared to this. Only the worst anxiety I've ever been through compares, and this isn't even anxiety, it's something more insidious, attacking my body first and mind through the endless extreme discomfort I am in. And none of this would be happening if my pelvic floor hadn't developed a chronic spasm that caused the constant feeling of urinary urgency which caused everything else thanks to my hypersensitized nervous system. 

Friday this week I'll meet a physical therapist that may be able to help me a bit with my pelvic floor. Then she'll be gone for a week before she can do anything more. I keep asking myself, can I take this for four more days? Will I be able to take it for 15 or 16? Barely any sleep, constant torture for every waking moment. Stopping Diazepam was nowhere near this bad. The first two months off were nowhere close to this Hell on Earth. Never in my life have I experienced anything that fully compares to this. Images of death and suicide flash before my eyes when I try to think of going forward. I need this to end. I can not take this much longer. It is too much. It is intolerable. It has to stop.

And there we have it, the choice I never wanted to make. You may call it a coward's choice, a low hanging fruit. That may be true. I fear that it will turn out to be wrong, and rather than making things easier, it will just make my future even worse, drawing out my suffering over a longer period of time. Nonetheless, I have reached the point where I see little else that I could do to survive this but reinstate Diazepam.

What does that mean? Going back on the drug that I painfully wrested myself off of two months ago, now. Admitting that even though my mind actually would have been able to take this withdrawal alone, the breaking down of my body pushed the scales too far in the wrong direction.   Facing another slow painful taper - much slower than this one - in the future, as soon as I'm physically well enough to be able to pull it off. And finally realizing that no one knows the right answers, me least of all.

I haven't fully made up my mind yet. I know that reinstating a benzo drug may fail. I do not know what dose of Diazepam I will need to make my state of being tolerable. I don't know how I'll be able to make it through another full withdrawal with all the physiatric conditions that developed with it. All in all I know very little about what it would entail for me. My guess is that even in the best case scenario it would mean being on Diazepam for another seven or eight months, followed by another 6 - 12  month period of withdrawal symptoms.

But I know this: I can not take this anymore. I've gone through hell, but if there's ever been a time to stop going, it is now. If I knew this hell was going to go on until next friday but no longer, maybe I'd try to keep going until then. Indeed maybe I should try to keep going until then. But I don't know if I'll be able to pull that off. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak.


P.S. I'm postponing my choice indefinitely until I can be sure of whether I can find alternative solutions for my problem. It seems that I am suffering from several symptoms, one of them akathisia, which may be treatable without giving up the withdrawal. Trust me, the last thing I want to do right now is ruin the withdrawal at this point if there are even semi-reasonable options.
The first night after completely stopping Diazepam was horrible: I barely managed to sleep for an hour. It's now been almost exactly two months since my last dose of Diazepam, and last night I didn't sleep for a minute. Everything I've read about the withdrawal symptoms peaking at two weeks after the final dose seems like bullshit to me. Some symptoms may have been worse then than now, but as a whole my suffering has only multiplied. Mental withdrawal effects - apart from the insomnia and everything that adrenaline surgers bring with them - may have lessened considerably, but it's not much of a consolation when muscle tension, pain, disability and general discomfort seem to intensify each week and the threat of sleepless nights looms everpresent.

The only thing approaching good news I have to share is that my buttock pain appears to be (mainly) due to the piriformis muscle messing up with my sciatic nerve, and I'm getting physiotherapy twice a week for that. I have no idea how long it takes for it to have any noticeable effect, but I can only hope it eases sitting soon, because I can no longer lay down because of my tension neck nor stand up because of terrible abdominal bloating that causes pain and muscle tension all over my lower torso. I don't know if I can go for walks anymore with this growing pain. Even the pelvic pain disorder I though I had left behind for good is coming back with a vengeance.

Right now all I can hope for is for the pain to stop getting worse and stop spreading further. Gone is the optimism of two months ago, when I foolishly thought I would be past the worst part of withdrawal in two months. I should have known better to be optimistic about anything. But there's no going back anymore. Now I have to to prepare myself for what may become the worst autumn of my entire life. 
Supposedly Diazepam withdrawal symptoms peak at 14 days past quitting the drug completely, and then they never get that bad again. Supposedly. Now, I don't claim to know what symptoms that includes, nor can I say for certain which of my symptoms are directly caused by the withdrawal, and which are more indirect (e.g. withdrawal causes muscle tension which causes pinched nerve which causes problems elsewhere) but I do know that the last few weeks have been worse than the dreaded second to third week of withdrawal. I know it's still early days, considering that even optimistically speaking the withdrawal syndrome is going to last half a year since the last dose, but when things start going downhill at six weeks, when the worst is supposed to be over... that's worrying.

And worrying really is an understatement here. I'm suffering from severe physical and mental symptoms that mimic anxiety whenever my blood sugar drops low enough, and up to an hour after I've eaten something to correct the situation. That includes in the middle of the night. I have been waking up at night startled, heart pounding, hot and sweating, muscles tense, simply because I didn't eat a hefty enough meal before going to bed.

What's worse, I'm having a really hard time sitting for more than a few minutes, because my butt starts going sort of not quite numb as in devoid of feeling, but sort of tender or achy but not quite full-blown painful sort of thing you get if you sit on a hard surface for too long. Except I'm sitting on a pillow on a soft chair for less than half an hour and this starts happening. The longer I sit the worse it gets, until it's unbearable. But I can't lay down either, because my neck is going to start aching something fierce if I make that mistake, and that pain radiates to the scalp as well and last until I get it massaged. And if I try to stand up for long enough my back starts to ache. In order to beat the withdrawal need to spend at least six month in some sort of position, but there's nothing humanly feasible left. I can't damn well hang from the ceiling by my neck!

I at least have an appointment to a physiatrist in two weeks, though I'm not sure how much I can hope to get from just that. But even assuming I did get a diagnosis and some treatment right away, I still have to survive for two weeks, and right now getting through a single day is an arduous battle. If you ever notice that you start getting really uncomfortable unusually fast in some pose you have to maintain for most of the day, seek help immediately. Don't be an idiot like me and wait until it gets so bad that waiting to get some solution to the problem becomes a living hell. And most importantly don't get yourself into a situation where you need to withdraw from Diazepam, because that shit is poison.


P.S. After writing this I read some articles that suggest that my buttock problems may be a kind of sciatica, very likely related to sitting in a recliner with the leg rest up for hours at a time each day. Unfortunately said posture is the only one in which I can bear to sit for long periods of time because of my ischial bursitis pain, so I don't know what else to do. Of course there also seems to be a possibility that the bursitis itself is due to what my sitting posture has done to my hamstrings... this is such a godawful mess.
I've succesfully survived the first two weeks off of Diazepam, and I should be past the point where the withdrawal symptoms peak and start to gradually fade. It may have been the longest 14 days of my life so far, but now it's behind me, and though there will be rebounds, they will never get as intense again. I'll probably feel awfully sick and suffer from various lingering symptoms for months to come, but at least I know now the ailments are on their way out. To extend the mountaineering metaphor, I have reached the top of the mountain, but I still have to climb down and navigate through the foothills to find kinder terrain and hopefully eventually back home.

In totally unrelated news, the feathered ornithopod I've hinted at in the past is now public. If you haven't already, go read the news here: Siberian dinosaur spreads feathers around the dinosaur tree, and there are more pics on Dave Hone's personal blog to ogle at. Exciting times...

P.S: I'd like to thank everyone for your support and encouragement. Even though I didn't manage to reply to anything past day 1, I read every message and they meant a lot to me.
  • Listening to: In the Halls of the Usurper - Jake Kaufman
I'm done with the tapering and have just crossed the threshold to complete freedom from Diazepam. This is where things get real bad. With the drug completely leaving my body, I'm going to feel the full force of the disabling and debilitating effects of withdrawal, which have been increasingly harder to bear even up to now. I'm not even sure how I'll make it through, knowing how bad it has been so far, not knowing how long it will take until the symptoms become tolerable again. But there is no going back. There can't be. I have to free myself from this poison to ever regain some portion of my health and abilities.

I found a few of files in my Sta.sh that I wanted to post so there'd be something fresh in my gallery for people to look at while I try to fight my way out of benzo purgatory. Since I don't know how many months of life this final stage of withdrawal is going to rob from me, this might be the best way to guarantee that there's something "new" here before christmas. Obviously I intend to be more active again as soon as it's physically and mentally possible, but that could take anything from a month to half a year. (Seriously, Diazepam withdrawal is a long, agonizing, drawn out process. In some cases it takes years for the withdrawal symptoms to fully abate. I don't know if I'm going to be one of the lucky or the unlucky ones so I have to be prepared for anything.)

Hopefully I'll be able to give you updates as I pass milestones such as the peak of withdrawal symptoms (expected at two weeks after quitting completely), but because I don't know in how bad a shape I'll be then, I can't promise anything. This may be one of the last days I'm able to communicate with you for a long time.
I had a pretty intense breakdown today. I wouldn't call it a nervous breakdown because it was clearly more than just nerves, but it clearly illustrated to me exactly how messed up my system was. It was horrible but also illuminating in making me realize that my chemistry was seriously out of whack, and now I could easily identify a culprit: Diazepam.

Now, I've been withdrawing from that damnable substance for almost two years now, but I still didn't fully know and understand the power of my enemy. I had to spend hours reading about withdrawal symptoms until I realized that while looking for the source of my misery I had managed to ignore the elephant in the room. An elephant made of benzodiazepines.

While it does appear that I also have an intolerance issue and most definite dietary problems, they seem to be heavily amplified by the Diazepam withdrawal. And while the eczemas and a few other symptoms seem to be caused by intolerance, most of the ailments I'm suffering from seem to match the most common mental and bodily symptoms of benzo withdrawal. This includes ones that even had me thinking my hypothyroidism was coming back despite bloodwork showing no such thing.

This is both a relieving and horrifying realization. On the plus side it means no more worrying about myriads of medical conditions (up to and including cancer), as well as giving for the first time a clear point in time after which improvement can be expected. On the negative side it means that getting there necessarily means wading through something progressively worse, when even right now the mental and physical symptoms are starting to feel overwhelming. It's a road through hell, where the only way out is to go in deeper. I won't lie to you, it's really effing terrifying to just think about, and I've kinda already been there once (or maybe that is why it's so terrifying).

So, unless there is some unexpected revelation on the way, this is probably going to be it from me for a long time. At the current planned speed, it will take me at least 6 weeks to be off the drug, and from there on the preliminary recovery period of about 2 months but stretching to 6 - 12 months for some symptoms. What this means in practice, I do not really know. I don't even know if all of the symptoms will ever go away. What I do know is that it will undoubtably turn this summer, my favorite time of the year, into a living hell, even more so than what I'm experiencing right now. So here's hoping for a tolerable autumn, I guess.

I wish I had never been tempted to medicate my anxiety with something as evil and toxic as Diazepam. I understand that benzos have some utility in inpatient care, but I really don't believe they should be given to people outside of a hospital setting at all. A few weeks of relief is not worth several years of suffering. If only I had known that beforehand. :no: