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I am dealing with a dementia elderly mother who now has terminal cancer and who I have been taking care of for several years. I’m afraid to take Xanax because it’s very addictive and you can get seizures when you try to stop it. I have a daughter who has had drug problems and she was on Xanax and she had to slowly lower the dose. Get a doctor to help you get on something else that isn’t addictive. I have a nerve disorder and my doctor prescribed gabapentin for it and that calms me down. Praying the rosary every day calms me while I’m doing it. I wish we were friends because I have no one I know who is going thru this. Plus I have heart flutters which I’m terrified of that I’m going to have a stroke any time now. And I have been diagnosed with GAD also. I think I’m going to put my mom into a nursing home any day now because it’s killing me taking care of her.
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Kittybee Feb 2019
I find gabapentin helpful too. Low dose, nonaddictive, helps me sleep through the night but no grogginess. It's an old, well known drug, inexpensive as generic.
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There are other meds besides benzodiazepines. Maybe ask your doctor about those? And there could be other options also. Not as immediate relief but meditation, walking, mindfulness,  journaling. So many other coping skills. And I get that may sound kinda hokey and sometimes a short walk is like climbing Mount Everest when you're a caregiver. I found myself doing that at while back. Taking meds to deal with a lifestyle of career, caring for my Mom, etc. Sometimes you can find a way to 'breathe' as you say, without sacrificing yourself or your Mom's care.
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I have to to shut my mind down at night. My mom has been gone for three years but my husband went into a facility due to dementia right after my mom passed. I have started to replace it with CBD gummies, less side effects and they seem to work as well. Take care it is a very hard balancing act.
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KBEllison Feb 2019
CBD ... I live in Massachusetts and we have a medical Marijuana (MJ) program. I am registered with the program, and so I can legally purchase CBD oil (the real thing, not the weak hemp version). Not only does it take care of my chronic back pain, but it has a definite calming effect, all without intoxication. Each year more States are sympathizing with MJ (they salavate at the tax income potential, is more like it) and so getting on your State's medical MJ program can let you access more holistic relief, rather than taking Western meds with increased tolerance/dependency issues. The stuff works.
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I was given Ativan, and only use it once in awhile, but boy does it help! So if you are on something that helps be glad you found it. You can come off it when the situation changes. And I love to walk in the fog,, makes things seem gentler somehow. Whatever works. and good luck!
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I understand too your concern about dependency, I take a mild "benzo" as needed for GAD and really need it since I started caregiving for my mom. I'm lucky in that there's a daytime caregiver so I can go to work and be away, and I find that that helps a lot. But as the others have said you must tune in to how this is affecting you because like me, if it's suddenly driving you to more needed medication, it's time to say, unselfishly, "what about me."

That whole pouring from an empty cup sentiment has never been more true.
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lindasmom Feb 2019
Several have mentioned GAD - what is that?
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I also have GAD, which is really PTSD but, hey, anxiety is anxiety. (My root cause was childhood molestation by an older brother, and zero help or support when this came out. I was NOT alone, and so many of us have lifetime scars)

When I finally "accepted" that I was NOT Ok, about 20+ years ago, the first thing they gave me in the hospital was Xanax. OMG! Within 1/2 hour I went from panic and suicidal ideation to simply being me.

I had carried this anxiety for so many years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am on an antidepressant, which I will taper off of this Spring and I take Klonipin (Another benzo, but in my experience, much "gentler" and longer acting. It has literally saved my life.)

I am addicted, sadly, and while I am not proud of it, I also know that my "addiction" is a low dose one and I will probably be on this until I die. My psych doc really wants me to be on half the dose I am, but the inabilty to sleep some nights, along with the general personality "disorder" that I have--I get so anxious worrying about cutting pills into halves, quarters---it honestly is so anxiety producing....

My DH is really the reason I take them. He is hard to live with, a good man, but completely wrapped in his own life. Critical of me to the nth degree--and clueless that he hurts my feelings--I find I medicate much more when he is in town as opposed to traveling.

I cannot be judgmental about anyone's need to medicate to function. W/O my benzos, I KNOW I would have long since taken my own life. I know I am not alone in this.

It almost doesn't MATTER what the reason is for the need for help. I long since swallowed my pride and try to do better as time passes, and I do hope someday to be anxiety free.

And if I am not, that's OK.

You do what you need to do to be well.
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shelola Feb 2019
I don't think it's swallowing your pride, I think it's self care. We all have to make choices that are dependent on our circumstances at the moment. Some of the choices are just to choose the least awful, but I still see it as self care. I'm trying to make the choices that get me through the day with both feet on the ground and that feels ok right now.
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I get your worry about taking meds, they are a double edged sword. To reduce
your fears about dependency try and get yourself as healthy as possible. Clean
diet (I found mostly paleo works for me, but there are many similar good ones)
exercise, social outlets even if only online, meditation. Once these
are all on board weaning yourself off should not be so difficult.

As for your symptoms dealing with narcissistic mom. Totally get it, I've been dealing with same as well as many physical issues as well. Not to freak you out
but just an fyi, many years of medication for endless bouts of bronchitis, PTSD,
etc have taken a huge toll on my body. So sooner you can get medication free
the better imho
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https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

Why do people reach out to these chemical compositions when study after study shows meditation is good for some of these issues. There are several studies out there but here is one from Harvard.
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Kittybee Feb 2019
There are times when one's anxiety, panic, depression, etc are severe enough that meditation would be like trying to fight off an angry lion with a fly swatter. When we're talking anxiety attacks, suicidal ideation, paralyzing depression, and so on, meds can save you. Then once you get functional again, start the meditation, exercise, diet, and other more holistic approaches to continue to support your stability.

It's not either or. Meds are not evil. They save a lot of people's lives and sanity. I agree with another poster, without SSRIs I would be long gone from this world. Meditating would not have helped such a severe situation.

I also want to say that there's no shame in taking meds when you need them. It's not like meds are evil and meditation is goodness personified. It's not helpful to add value judgments to these things. We all have to find what works for us. Sometimes that takes a while and a lot of experimentation, but eventually the hope is that a combination of things allows you to live without wanting to die or explode.

No shame, all of us who use meds! We all do what we have to to feel okay!
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If the care of Mom is causing you to medicate more than usual, maybe its time to fins alternatives for Mom. I realize that money could be a problem. Does she have enough to place her in an AL for two years? In my state, you can apply for Medicaid if you have paid 2 yrs or more. Then there is LTC under Medicaid. Her house won't count as an asset. Any assets she has will need to be spent down. If her SS and pension are under the Medicaid cap, she should have no problem being placed. If SS and pension are higher, there are ways around that like a Miller trust or something similar.

Is caring for Mom worth your health? I have never dealt with a narcissist but many on this forum are. Seems you will never win with Mom. As other people have posted, they have learned to set boundries or just walked away. Believe me, you are not the only person dealing with this.
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Marylin Feb 2019
JoAnn, please tell me more about your research on placing a parent on Medicaid. I live in TN and wondering where I can research all the info needed. My mom has been in AL for 2 years and has enough money to stay another 2 years. I'm panic-stricken when I think of what we do next! You seem to have the knowledge I need. Please share
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I totally get your fear of addiction. From what I know it is a short term drug and you are using it correctly by using it sparingly.

I personally know of someone with a Xanax addiction, she took it after a terrible accident, had to go on disability, had a very successful career and suffered horrible anxiety. She did not use it sparingly. She abused it. Anyway, she is still addicted and it’s not pretty. Let’s just say, I will never get in a car with her ever again. She refuses to do rehab. So sad.

Anxiety is hell. I hope you find peace.
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lablover64 Feb 2019
You are spot on with your description of a Xanax addict. My mother was on it for 15 years. A doctor put her on it when my stepfather passed to help her deal with her anxiety and depression. She quickly became addicted and cajoled her doctors into keeping her on it despite warnings from my sister and me that she shouldn't keep taking it. One doctor thought it contributed to her dementia and told her to stop taking it. Unfortunately, she thought he meant to stop it cold turkey. She did that when she was living with me. I never saw anyone go through withdrawal before and I hope I never do again. She had horrible hallucinations of worms and bugs crawling on her, hearing voices and music, having visitors that weren't there, etc. She has been off of it for a few years now and takes Seroquel for the anxiety.
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Sorry you're struggling with all the emotions and stresses with caring for your mom! I can understand your concerns about taking Xanax. You may want to consider talking to your doctor about trying one of several antidepressants with anti-anxiety effects. I'm thinking of Lexapro, but there are others. One drawback is they tend to take awhile to become fully effective, sometimes a month or so.

Just a thought.
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My luck with anti-depressants has not been good. I had terrible side effects that made me stop. Interesting you mention Lexapro though. I went through menopause at 47 and had lots of anxiety then, so I tried various anti-depressants and it was the most tolerable. I stayed on it for 18 months, and it helped with the anxiety. That was all I took.

However, getting off it was NOT easy, at all. I worked with my doctor and tapered the dose, but I had terrible withdrawal. There were weird brain zaps for months. It took me at least 5-6 months to feel 100% normal. I did not expect this as I thought SSRI's weren't "addictive".

I'm not trying to scare you, a simple google search will show you this is a very real thing and very common. Had I known that I would have opted to go on and wean off Xanax instead. I would have had less side effects and ultimately have to face an uncomfortable weaning no matter what.

I have to do something. I have no idea how long this care with my mom will last, but I need to function better while doing it. For myself, for her, for my husband and family.

For now I am using it sparingly. But down the road.... who knows. :(
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It’s important to do what you need to do to stay healthy. I am not surprised that your already existing GAD has exacerbated, esp. if your circumstances have changed. Think of it like having any physical ailment; you would get it treated and not feel less than. Mental health issues are not a sign of weakness or a character flaw; this is chemical. Just work with your doctor and don’t self medicate in other ways. Therapy may be a great outlet, as is coming to a website like this with other people who need an outlet.
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Thanks. I am going to work with my doctor. I have an another appointment to see him a few days after my mom's neurology appointment. Not for meds but to discuss how I'm doing and how she's doing. I feel lucky that I have a psychiatrist who also does talking sessions and treats dementia patients. He's been helpful in my current situation.

Exercise helps. I'm about to head out for a walk in the fog. I was going to ditch it because of the fog, then I thought nope, I need this.

Thanks for your response. This website is a great place to get info and vent.
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