A Tormented Soul and the Journey to Sanity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A real-life account of a tormented soul, the long journey that encompassed both the physical and emotional horror, the darkest secrets and candid expression of a journey that is now filled with
understanding, healing, and endless possibilities for the future.

Submitted: May 05, 2015

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Submitted: May 05, 2015

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A Tormented Soul and the Journey to Sanity

by Michael Dale Sipes, Jr.

My entire childhood, up until the day I graduated High School and joined the US Army consisted of physical abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, molestation, and self-abuse to dull the pain of it all.  The early childhood molestation took my innocence and forever changed who I was and who I was to become. I have dealt with these past issues with several years of psychotherapy but there is no way to wipe clean the memories of these events. In this brief story, I want to discuss the stigma associated with pain and anxiety medication, how they work and why I must use them to have a quality of life worth continuing to live. I do not give a damn about anyone’s opinion concerning what medication I take. No one can objectively judge me without being in my shoes, having gone through the hell I have faced over the years. As John F. Kennedy said to his Brother Robert concerning his use of amphetamines and pain medication to counter his Addison’s disease and its symptoms, “I don’t care if it’s horse piss,” he said. “It makes me feel better.” I want a doctor who wants me to feel good, not my medication or blood work to look good.

If it wasn't for my medication, my Faith in God and my control over my emotions I would be considered a power serial killer. A person who wants to obtain complete power over those who slight me or cause me harm or cause me stress or just get in my way of moving forward in life. When in a rage, I feel this animatistic primitive urge to want to bite and rip out the flesh of someone who is making me mad or who is hurting me in some way and consuming it, thus having domain over that person, just as they tried to have domain over me. I understand the desire to devour a portion of a rather rude individual, I was not born that way, I was made that way through systematic physical and psychological abuse and neglect over a period of 18 years. It has taken me nearly 20 years to undo the harm that was done and begin to have a sense of normalcy in my life. It began when I was born on October 9, 1976, on a very stormy day. A violent thunderstorm struck the area in which my Mother and Father lived the morning I was born. However, before the day of my birth my Mother and Father debated on whether to abort me because my Mother was still in High School and my Father was attending a community college with aspirations to be a Medical Technologist or a Doctor. I have read letters where they discuss my abortion; it is a sobering letter to read about your own possible demise. Although if they had aborted me I would have never of known since memory does not start forming until around 18 months of age. My Mother was raped and became pregnant before at the age of 15 and was forced to have an abortion. I suffered horrific beatings and was slapped or beaten as my grandmother would recall, my Father would say, “he just needed a good beating”. I spent most of my childhood being cared for by my grandmother, I learned to love her, and she made me French toast every morning. I would sit on the top step of the stairs watching her as she diligently cleaned the home. Her husband, my step-grandfather was an abusive husband, not to my grandmother but to her children from a previous marriage. He was both impotent and her only means of survival so she stayed with him despite the hardship and lack of a sex life. She did not love him until later in life and even expressed this to me on several occasions, but also expressed how you need people to survive.

One day while my grandmother was cooking dinner, my Uncle Geoff was in the living room on the couch. He was 15 years old and I was five. He asked me to come over to him. I did so and he took my hand and placed it down his pants onto his erect penis. I felt the soft skin of the shaft of his penis and the contrasting hardness. I felt that it was wrong so I withdrew my hand and after a few minutes of thinking about what had happened, I went into the kitchen and told my grandmother. She went into the living room, by this time Geoff, knowing he was in trouble, had turned his body over and acted as if asleep. I told my grandmother that he had made me touch his penis. At that time, I did not know that prior to my molestation, my Mother, was also molested in my grandmother’s home, for about seven years by my step grandfather’s biological son Mark. I had only seen Mark a few times when I was very young, and then all at once he was gone and no one spoke of him ever since. My grandmother walked into the living room and said to Geoff, “Are you bothering him”? To which he replied no Mom I was sleeping and turned back over. She looked at me and said you stay in the kitchen as if I was the one who was making trouble. Later that evening I had to pee. I believe it was after dinner he followed me into the bathroom and shut the door. He put his hand around my throat and told me if I told anyone what he did that he would hurt my Mom or me. It was at that time I started to unravel and my life was never the same.

 I began to masturbate, dozens upon dozens of times, by rubbing a blanket upon my genitals. I would do this anywhere, in a department store, under my grandmother’s kitchen table, I think it was a way of relieving stress, the stress of being beaten and the pain, which I believe I began to associate at an early age with pleasure, more on that later. From the age of five to six, I kept up the masturbation multiple times a day and began having dreams of men in their underwear. I had no idea why I had these dreams and I did not like having them. It was a red pair of bikini underwear that I dreamt of while still sleeping in a crib or caged bed.

My parents kept beating me and my Father absolutely hated me. He had ambitions to become a doctor and due to getting my Mother pregnant his dream was gone. He was attending Tidewater Community college at the time and was forced out of school to work at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, a career which would end with him being the Head Superintend making well over $100,000 a year, but I am way ahead of myself. At the age of seven, we lived in low-income housing and my first experience with a black person was a boy who came to our screen door. I did not know what he wanted and he said come here, so I did. He spits a huge glob of saliva through the screen door into my face. My Mother heard me, came into the room and ran him off. Although that was my first experience with black people, I was fortunate that both my parents were strictly anti-racial and I did not harbor bad feelings towards him due to the color of his skin. My best friend in fourth grade was a black boy named Kanod until I met Kevin who I have remained friends with until this day. One of my best friends in the Army was black, he was a nice person, and I have written essays about the abolition of racism and the term African-American.

Due mostly to my Fathers anti-social personality disorder and ever-increasing stress at work I became the object of his obsession when it came to beating and choking his anger out on me, I became more and more withdrawn into my world. I was usually beaten with the buckle part of the belt and my Father would place his hand over my mouth in an effort to muffle the screams so the neighbors did not hear. While he did this, I was actually being choked to death. There were times when the asphyxiation was so bad, I began to pass out, and darkness began to cover my vision. I would be on my knees waiting for him to catch his breath for the next salvo of beatings when I would put my hands together, look up at the ceiling and say, oh God, please help me, please God make him stop, please God, please. He would then mock me saying stop that God shit and the beatings would resume. At the age of six, my Mother told me that the man I called Papal was not my biological grandfather at all. I was confused at first, but once she explained I understood. I even understood what sex was at that age. I was always a fast learner, intelligent and had a memory that was nearly photographic. My Mother had purchased a Chevet, it was a beige color, quite ugly by today’s standards, but she was very proud of it. She had worked at Crispy Cream donuts, saved up the money, and paid cash for it. It was her ticket to freedom.

We traveled in the Chevet at a meager 55 mph, the speed limit at that time to Elkview, West Virginia. My real grandfather was a man who had more than skeletons in his closet; he had a mass grave in his closet, but more on that later. We pulled up to his little eight x 30-foot trailer, a light bulb hung from the tree against a metal pie plate to illuminate the yard. When we entered his sparse trailer, he was sitting at a table cutting frozen snickers bars with a knife that I would later inherit and cherish. He gave me one and my Mom said this is your grandfather. I was a little afraid of my new grandfather. He was much different from my papal back in Virginia Beach, VA. Papal was a city man; my real grandfather was a carpenter and a mountain man. He was very nice, that was the first time I ever saw him, and we instantly bonded. My Mother had not seen him in over 15 years and she too was in awe and loved him dearly. We had a good stay, three of the best days of my life. He wanted to show me things that city kids did not know. His first lesson was to show me the proper way to catch a chicken. He told me to go out and catch him a chicken. Well, I thought easy, no problem. Chickens are harder to catch than you might think; I spent over an hour chasing chickens until my grandfather came out with a metal coat hanger. He showed me how to straighten out the coat hanger and form a loop at the end to catch the chicken by the feet. He caught a chicken in under two minutes; I was amazed, to say the least. He even showed me a chicken laying an egg. He asked, “Where do eggs come from”, I naïvely said the store. He laughed and took me to the chicken coup. A chicken was clucking away and he turned her around and said put your hand here. Within a few minutes, an egg came out of its rear end and plopped into my hands. My eyes were as big as saucers and I was amazed. It was then I learned the true way meat and eggs got to the store and other things like corn and beans.

He was a heavy smoker and would wake up every morning coughing terribly, so I got up when he did. It was about 6 AM. I wanted to do everything he did, so we both had coffee. Whatever he did, I wanted to do too. I have enjoyed coffee since the age of six and I can say, it does not stunt your growth that is another myth. He then opened a secret compartment in the wall and pulled out his .22 rifle and we went squirrel hunting, for the first time. I had on corduroy pants that kept rubbing together making noise. He mentioned it several times but smiled, he was not mad at all, but rather happy that he was spending time with me showing me a life skill, hunting. I can clearly remember the feeling of his hands as he held my hand and we walked into the woods to find some squirrels. His hands were soft yet big and powerful, he was everything to me, in such a short time, a grandfather, the father I wish I had, and the life I wanted to live. Our visit went years until I turned 10.

In the fifth grade, I passed with D’s, mostly because I would go to school, cover my head with my jacket, and sit in my chair all day long. My teachers did not care what I did as long as I shut up and didn’t bother anyone. Not one of my teachers ever inquired about the reason for my behavior, which was a result of severe physical and mental abuse at home by both my Mother and Father. One particular day I was on the porch and had a key to the house since I was a latchkey kid. I heard screaming from within our apartment at Pinewood Gardens in Prince William court and it was my Mother. I used my key to open the door and saw my Father on top of my Mother choking her. He told me to get out of the house. I panicked and ran. It was shortly after that my Mom asked me if I wanted to live with my grandfather. She did not even have to ask, I was so thrilled I was about to explode with excitement.

When I got to my grandfather’s trailer, things were a bit different. There were pictures of naked women in different poses taped to his trailer door. I looked at them and then down at the ground in shame. He said there is nothing wrong with that it is sex. Since he said there was nothing wrong with it, I then lost my shame and accepted it as normal and a part of life. I ended up living with him for the next two years, which were some of the best and yet some of the worst years of my life. The first year was wonderful. I was only 10 but he let me drive his old yellow truck around the farm, I called the yellow banana. I would drive down the road to an old abandoned house. That was my ultimate fort, my sanctuary, my place. I had girly magazines and even took up smoking because pop smoked, so I wanted to smoke too. My grandfather never once hit me out of rage, but he did slap me one time and that was for telling a lie. He said that there was one thing he hated the most and that was a liar. I swore to him I would never tell another lie, and to this day what I hate the most is a liar and I will not lie, but instead just not say a word. I learned over the course of the first year or so that my grandfather was an Army Veteran and extremely proud of it. He even wore the army boots that he had back from 1967, the soles were so worn down, but he wore them just as I did after I got out of the Army as a shield. They provided him with a feeling of security, authority, and strength. Like Pop, which is what I called him, I joined the Army 10 days after graduating from High School. Upon leaving the Army, for the same reason, a personality disorder, I wore my Army boots for years, polishing them daily. I even wore my uniform during the day and I still wear my ID tags around my neck. I am a proud Veteran and I have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Both my grandfather and I felt obligated by this oath until death.

By the time I turned 11 my grandfather bought me a .22 rifle, and once he taught me gun safety and felt I would not hurt myself he let me go hunting every day. I shot everything from cans to old stoves to trees, birds, groundhogs, squirrels, turtles; you name it I shot it. I was so enthralled with the power a firearm gave me. Later after I turned 21, I owned over 9 handguns and 12 rifles. I still own several handguns and rifles, but my step-father took my .22 that I got when I was a kid when he left and divorced my Mother. I did well in school, attending Frame Elementary. I made almost straight A’s every year. It was a testament that my environment back in Virginia Beach was the reason for my D’s and E’s and why I went to school and covering up my head with my jacket. My grandfather was very strict in that before I did my chores, my homework had to be completed and he would check it. I thank him to this day, for if I had not gone to stay with him, my education and the knowledge I have today would be drastically different.

One day I found a tooth while walking the forests and put it in my pocket. I took it to my grandfather who said that it was a cow’s tooth. I had an interest in dentistry and I had made up my mind that when I grew up I wanted to be a dentist. My collection of teeth grew to include skulls and then I began trapping animals. My grandfather taught me to trap animals as a means to survive without the need for the outside world. I would trap them and shoot them, then dissect them. Then I would trap small animals like squirrels and chipmunks and rabbits and cut their legs off. It gave me a sense of power and a thrill. I would cut open animals and watch their hearts beat and then with my power over them, I would cut the heart out and the animal would die. I had power, the power to control life and death in my very hands. It gave me a false sense of the feeling that I was like God, that I could control life, allow it to go on or end it at my will. It was an awe-inspiring and amazing power that I felt; I finally had some control over something in my life. For the first time, I was not the one suffering, it was something else, someone else had no control over me, and I had control. My grandfather did not seem to mind my huge collection of skulls, bones and me trapping and killing animals at all. I later learned that he was diagnosed as having an antisocial personality disorder and that is why he was discharged from the Army. Strange but he served two terms, the first was for five years, the second ended after three years, with an involuntary separation from military service due to a personality disorder, I too served for three years and due to extreme stress, I suffered from PTSD and was honorably discharged for a personality disorder as well. He and I shared so much in common, that it is quite clear we share many of the same genes. At the age of 11, I also found a friend, Ryan. He would come up to the farm and sometimes hunt with me. I had an attraction to him but did not quite understand exactly why. I had just begun puberty and did not understand this attraction to him at all. Around the middle of 1988, he introduced me to huffing gasoline. I watched him do it and he was laughing, seemingly having a good time. So under extreme peer pressure and a huge amount of stupidity and naiveté, I tried it, Isn’t that what kids do, right? I hallucinated, heard noises, and saw a kaleidoscope of colors. I always knew when the experience was coming on because I would hear this loud humming noise and then came the most beautiful green and red swirling colors. I can say that it would be wonderful to be able to go to this place in a time of duress, it’s no wonder people are prone to addictions. I believe addiction is another part of a human beings’ defense mechanism when faced with overwhelming pain whether mental or physical. I huffed gas on and off for four years. Until one day I almost died, it amazes me that I could huff gas for four years, kill so many billions of brain cells, and still have an IQ of 149. If I had only not huffed gas and those brain cells were still alive and I had only lost the usual amount we all lose yearly, how smart could I have been now? It really disgusts me that I took away part of my intellect due to some foolish boy with a foolish can of gas. It was not until I was 14 that I was huffing gas after school one day that I passed out, woke up covered in gasoline, and realized I could have died, or almost died. I never touched it again, ever. To this day, even when filling up the car with gas, the smell brings back what one might call flashbacks and I try to hold my breath not inhale any fumes.

My grandfather was a man who like myself, was a loner. However, he desperately wanted love, attention, and a woman to love. I too have gone through the hurt, the pain of wanting love, someone to hold me, love me, and still do to this day. He had dated a short thin woman named Karen King before I had moved to WV. Apparently, they had ended their relationship very badly and my grandfather went on a drinking binge that lasted months before he had to be admitted to the VAMC for delirious tremors and his alcohol addiction. Karen called one day and I took down her number. When he got home from a roofing job, he was a carpenter by trade, I gave him the number, and when he saw her name, his eyes grew as if he had seen a ghost. He was so thrilled. He called her and basically, she had a financial problem and needed several thousand dollars. He, desperately wanting the company and love of a woman so he let her back in his life. Once he paid her bills, she left him. Before she left, before the school year, my shoes were falling apart, and of course, I was the worst dressed kid in the entire school and the poorest kid too. My grandfather told me to take duct tape and tape up the holes, take a rubber tire, and glue on new tread on the bottom of the shoes. He said that is what they did back when he was young. I did it, even though I did not like it. That same week he went out and bought Karen a brand-new pair of black Nike High top shoes. It broke my heart and it was something I never forgave him for. He began to drink heavily. Vodka and orange juice, strange it was and is my favorite drink. One that I would drink my sorrow away with every weekend as a went to clubs, picking up a new trick every Friday and Saturday. He would sit around with his gun and shoot holes in the walls, he would tell me to go and shoot outside at the enemy that was closing in on us, and I saw no one because he was hallucinating. I too experienced audio hallucinations later in life and still do occasionally when under extreme stress. One day we drove to Karen’s home which was about an hour away. On the way, I was his bartender. I made him screwdrivers while he drove. No seatbelt on, of course, I never thought about us crashing to our death. We got to her home and he took his chainsaw out and cut the water line and ripped out the water pump that he had given her for her well. After that, we went back home. Halfway there he said he was seeing 4 lanes, we were on a two-lane road. I said pick the one on the right. We were about a half an hour away from home when he was so drunk he passed out. I pulled the handbrake in the center console of the little Chevy love truck and we stopped. I pushed him over and I drove the rest of the way home, at 11 years old I could drive and very well. He ended up drinking more and then he got so sick that he had to go to the VAMC to get help. I had to stay with his Brother James Bass, who was a perverted alcoholic himself. When I got to his home there were centerfolds pasted on the walls of his shop, he smiled when he caught me looking at women upside down, legs spread. He said its okay and smiled again, its normal he said. I found that my uncle was a porn freak. He would record adult movies with his satellite and had stacks of dirty magazines, and a wife. Why would a man with a wife need all those extra things, I didn’t know, but I know now. Like my grandfather, he would rather masturbate alone and drink then have relations with his wife and be social. I lived with James for 45 days. My grandfather was finally back home and looked better. We went back to having a normal life until one day when we went fishing. My grandfather’s son, Thomas Bass Jr. had gone to our home while we were fishing and had broken into the house and took all the guns out. He also shot the lock off the shed door. When we arrived I was terrified. Tom said that he wanted to have a talk with my grandfather and when he was through with him he was going to beat the hell out of me. I ran and then about 10 minutes came back, I saw my grandfather stagger out of the house, blood all over his face and shirt. I ran into the house and put my hand under my mattress to get my .22 revolver, I was going to kill Tommy. He said ‘looking for your gun, I took them all”. I thought oh shit, the phone was ripped out of the wall and we were alone. Tommy then got out a bottle of whiskey and got my grandfather drunk. Tommy did this knowing my grandfather’s weakness for alcohol. Once he was good and drunk we all got in the car and headed to my grandfather’s lawyer’s office. We stopped by and the lawyer was in his yard. My grandfather yelled hey, I want you to put my son Tommy on my deed. Tommy said “what about Sipes here”, my grandfather said “I don’t know about him yet”. It crushed me, it hurt me so bad that I still feel it today. Those words, after all the love and attention I gave him. All the chores and taking care of him while he was sick and throwing up and lying in his own vomit. After being woken out of bed at 2 in the morning with a butcher knife to my belly telling me he was going to gut me because I sliced the ham wrong. After he almost shot me in the chest while drunk because his hands drawled up or cramped up due to a lack of Vitamin B while holding his .22 pistol and it was pointed in direction when it went off. After he had forced a man into the truck at gunpoint and put the gun to the underside of the man’s left ear because the man owed him money. All I could think of is my God, I am sitting in the middle of my grandfather with his arm across my face holding a gun cocked and ready to fire right on a man’s head. If he barely squeezes that trigger it will send a slug through that man’s skull into his brain, severing arteries and blood will spurt in rhythm to his heart all over me. Thank God, the man, who pissed on himself, begged and pleaded enough that my grandfather let him go. But I guess since I was so young and influenced so much by my own parent’s beatings prior to my moving to WV and so influenced by my grandfather’s actions it made me into somewhat of a monster inside. It wasn’t too long after those incidents that my Mother heard about my grandfather being drunk all the time that she came to WV and demanded I come back with her to Virginia. I will never forget that ride, not the one to Virginia, I don’t’ remember that at all. It’s the ride to my great-grandfather’s the place I was to be dropped off that I will never forget. My grandfather had drunk an entire bottle of Vodka and was on the interstate in his little yellow beaten down truck with the petal to the metal. The speedometer was maxed out and we were passing people like they were parked cars. I was scared to death that was the first time I had ever thought about a seat belt. But it was unreachable since it was behind the seat. Luckily, we made it to my great-grandfather’s alive and when we got there the truck was just about dead. He told my great grandfather to add oil, but it was already full. We said our goodbyes, I cried and he sped off like a bat from hell. I later found out that his truck engine blew up 10 miles from home and he had to have it towed home. I would not see my grandfather for two years. I then moved back to Virginia with my Mother and Father who were back together, sort of. I think it was a marriage of convenience and not because they loved each other. My Father once again started to take out his rage daily upon me. He would get on top of me, choke me, spit in my face, beat me and then make me wash dishes. I remember washing dishes after a beating when I was washing a butcher knife, I stopped, held it up and looked at it and then at him. He said “I bet you would like to stab me with that wouldn’t you?” I didn’t need to reply, the look on my face said it all. I think it might have actually scared him a little because he loosened up a little that evening. I kept my good grades in school and to my amazement found I my old friend that I had when I was six years old lived a few doors down from us. I was now going through puberty and I was having sexual feelings, feelings I did not like. I wanted to be normal, I hated what I felt. I felt attracted to my friend and he would taunt me by walking around half-naked or with an erection. I think he knew I found this exciting and he found it funny. I spent every day going to my friend’s house and we are friends still. But I do not see him as a sexual object, but as a brother, he too joined the Army and we are now Brothers in that way for life. One day I was doing something that upset my mother and she jumped on me and bite me on the back of my shoulder. She bit me so hard that I still have a scar from the bite. I don’t know what caused her to have such a rage. I have read and I do understand because I too have those feelings that if someone is made enough they feel as if they want to eat the one they are mad at. I feel this way when I am extremely mad at someone, I just want to take a bit out of them and in a sense, I am gaining control over them and have them in my control forever because I have ingested them. Of course, I have never eaten or tasted human flesh, but I am told it taste like turkey or sirloin. But I am not stupid like say, Dahmer or Fish, they consumed humans and the brains which causes a condition similar to mad cow disease called Kuru. Its caused by the ingestion of protein prions, especially the brains. True cannibals and cannibalistic tribes develop severe neurological disease due to eating human flesh. The women usually develop the disease because the men get the choice cuts such as the rump, where the women only get the scraps and brains, where the protein prion is concentrated. Anyhow, I think my Mother who suffers from mental illness too, I think she was so mad at me and so stressed she wanted to consume me or a part of me so she could control me. Anyway, enough of that, one day at the beach at the age of 12 my brother’s and I were playing and my youngest brother Richard threw a sand clog at me. I picked up one and threw one at him. It was harmless, it was just soft sand, well I happen to hit him square in the eye. He had sand all around his eye and my mother and Father freaked out, drove him to a nearby home to use a garden house to flush out the sand. His eye hurt for days, but it was just an accident. Well, what happened at home was no accident. My father said when we get home be ready for a beating. I thought it would be the usual beating, no this was the most severe of them all and it lasted for over an hour. He beat me until I was black, blue and purple all over my buttocks, upper thighs and lower back. He threw me around the house, picked me up by my throat and put me against the wall. It seemed as if it would never stop. When it did the pain was so bad I had to take a hot shower to ease my muscles that hurt so bad. I think it was the only time he actually realized that he had taken it too far, because after my shower I was told that we were going clothes shopping for me. Now, I had worn the same rags for years and was the worst dressed kid ever up till the 9th grade when I began working. This was weird, for them to spend money on me? Of course, I now know why, it was remorse and guilt. But it did no good, because the next day my teacher saw the bruises and I told her what happened. They called CPS or the equivalent of that those days and my parents were told if they beat me again they would go to jail. So, hence began the psychological abuse, or the exacerbation of the psychological abuse. I was put on restriction the entire summer break. They positioned my bed so that it faced my window, and I was forced to sit on my bed all day, eat there, and watch daily as my friends played outside in front. Some of them came and asked for me and finally they gave up. I watched them all summer long on that bed, it was horrific. By this time, I was turning 14 and my parents were finally to a point where they were trying to kill each other. My Mother was throwing butcher knives at my father, my Father was choking my mother, and it was chaos. I was sent to live with my Grandmother, and with the uncle who molested me, while my other two brothers went to live with my Mom. My father got what he always wanted, solitude and his way, so he could whore around and direct all of his attention to himself. The first 8 months or so were okay. I stayed in my room all the time doing my homework and reading books. That’s when the nit picking started, with my Uncle and then with my grandmother and step grandfather. My uncle said why don’t you play sports or have girl friend or whatever? I really did not have a response expect that I just preferred being alone and I liked reading. Well, he was smoking marijuana on an almost daily basis and would come out of the shower with blood shot eyes, saying the water hit his eyes and caused that. Out of all the people I had ever seen take a shower he is the only one I ever saw that had that problem, so how my grandmother could believe such bullshit I have no idea. But anyway, I was also told that I dressed horribly, well I had no control over that, I had no money and wore what I was given. I had in my possession the very knife my grandfather had used to cut the snickers bar when I first met him. He gave it to me and I looked after that knife as if it were him itself. I oiled it once a week and kept it in an oil soaked rag in a box so it would not rust. My grandmother, after watching a story on 60 minutes about teens and inhalants, started to search my room. I knew because things were out-of-place. Then one day I came home and there was glue, hairspray and gun oil on the table. I said what is this? She said you have sniffed glue, and you have sniffed gun oil and hairspray because the can was bent. I said you are insane. I take vitamins, exercise and jog every evening and make almost straight A’s in school how in the world could I do that and get high, it makes no sense. Well, they were all convinced I was doing it. I ended up telling them I was leaving and I was picked up by my Father and went to live with him. That’s when I went back to hell. I was almost 15 and was working every weekend cleaning an elderly women's house. I made $5.00 an hour and I had to use my money to buy my school clothes, my food, my soap, except my father did give me a roll of toilet paper once a month. He demanded that I keep the apartment so clean if he found a piece of lint or anything I had to clean the entire house again. I know understand where my OCD comes from. He never laid a hand on me because I think he knew that I would probably kill him if he tried that, but he sure did abuse me psychologically. I asked to go to ring dance and was told no, I wanted to go to prom and was told no, I had turned 18 in the middle of the 12th grade and he came into my room and said my obligation to you is over. You need to start looking for a job and an apartment or join the military. I said, but Dad I want to go to college and be a doctor. He flat out said, I am not paying one cent for you to go to college.

After seeing my High School counselor who also didn’t care, I saw an Army recruiter at school one day. Oh, he was smooth talking, telling me all the great things about the Army and none of the bad stuff of course. So, with no options, with me being 18 and naïve concerning grants and loans and having no help from either parent I joined the Army. And now I just realized that I completely left out that when I was 17 I met a boy who was 15 named Eric, he was bisexual and we had a very close relationship for a few years. Funny how things turned out, I went to the MEP'S station to choose my military occupation and take the oath of enlistment. I had always wanted to be a Doctor or something in the medical field. Since my Father flat-out denied me the chance to go to college, I chose to be a Medical Laboratory Technician, which essentially in the Army was a Medical Technologist, the same aspiration my Father had 18 years earlier when I was born. I went off to the Army and was doing well until my 3rd year when I was at my new duty station at Aberdeen Proving Ground Maryland. The NCO over me was an asshole and the lieutenant over him who was in charge of the entire laboratory was an even bigger asshole. They both hated me because I was a loner, I preferred to stay to myself and revealed little to nothing about myself and I didn’t associate with them after work. Well, after a while the stress of their nitpicking caused me to have a breakdown. I developed severe depression, severe anxiety and panic attacks, horrid OCD. My uniform was the perfect, crisp uniform ever, my boots were so shiny you could see the pores of your skin by them, my hair was cut weekly. I was OCD on steroids. My physician at the time said OCD is a good thing for you since you’re a lab technician and where precision and accuracy is key, well he was only half right. I was forced to go to Walter Reed for psychiatric evaluation right on my 21st birthday, which really made me upset. After 10 days I was returned to my unit and put on flower planting detail. I was forced to plant tulips and bushes while my coworkers walked by laughing. I was not laughing but filling with a rage that was unbelievable. Then the day came, I was summoned to the company commander’s office and told I was to be discharged for a personality disorder and given an honorable discharge. It was over, my military career gone, my intention of working 40 years in the military and then retiring at 58 gone. Once I was processed out, I was no longer one of them and they didn’t even say goodbye kiss my ass nothing. I packed my belongings and looked once in the rear-view mirror and cried all the way to Virginia. It so happens that the same friend who I had the close relationship with wanted me to live with him and his mom. They both loved me and I loved them, so I did. I got a job working at Ghent Family Medical as a laboratory manager at the age of 21. It was crazy, I was 21 and in charge of people more than twice my age. But because of my skills and my intelligence, I passed all the requirements for a lab manager. I worked there for about 8 months until one particular doctor who happens to hate me had me dismissed. Not fired, but dismissed. In the meeting, he said that he had walked into the lab and seen me sleeping several times. I told the person from human resources that I had taken a drug called risperidone and it made me so sleepy I could not stay awake. It didn’t matter, apparently, he was so influential that whatever he wanted, happened. I found out then that it’s not always what you know, but who you know that matters in life. Shortly after that, I got a job at Sentara’s West Side Medical Associates which I enjoyed. There were a lot of nurses and staff mad because I got paid more than everyone else, even the assistant manager, but that was no fault of mine, being a lab tech that’s what I made. All was going well until we got a new supervisor, Donna Henson. She immediately fired several employees and brought several employees from her previous job to West Side. She hated me and I have no idea why. To make the story short, she tried to fire me for a violation of some rule, which I had not actually violated. So I made her the center of my attention for the next several months and when I was through with her she went from high paid office manager to simple file clerk and then to a heroin junkie. I tore her down and owned her, it gave me a great deal of satisfaction. By this time, it was late 1999 and my grandfather and great-grandfather were both dying.

From 1998 to June of 2000 I would go to a bar called the Wave and pick up a trick every night on Friday and Saturday night. I must have had well over 200 partners in that time period but not once did I get a disease, even though I never used protection. God must have looked over me. My typical Friday would be to go to the gym, run 10 miles, work out, sauna then go home shower and shave, and hit the bar. The air was filled with the scent of young pheromones that was very enticing and I enjoyed myself very much. I even was photographed and put in a gay magazine. I was what one person called a “dish”. Of course, youth is fleeting and so are good looks, luckily though I am aging very well and look 15 years younger than my biological age. This in part due to TCA chemical peels, Retin A and avoiding the sun.

I moved to WV in June of 2000 because my great-grandfather and grandfather were both dying. I lived with my great-grandmother which turned out to be a nightmare, anyhow by July my great grandfather who I loved very much passed away. The day before he died he perked up, got out of bed and said he needed to get dressed for work. This was a sign to me, for I knew that often people have the last hurrah before they pass on. Sure, enough the next day he died. I went to Gino’s pizza after I watched the bulldozer cover his coffin with Earth and drank 1 beer while I reminisced about my childhood times with him, fishing on the William River at our camp. The only other person there was one of his son’s, everyone else had left, but in order for me to have the closure, I had to see him completely buried. My grandfather who I loved like a father and who had taught me so much, yet tortured me with his drunken sob stories, waking me up with a butcher knife to my belly saying he was going to gut me, or pointing a loaded cocked .22 pistol at my chest and then shooting the wall. Yes, I loved that crazy man and when he died, which was due to starving himself to death and the ravages of cigarettes and alcoholism, I vowed never to drink alcohol again, and I have not. Alcohol took my grandfather from me, and to this day I loathe anyone who talks about getting drunk or tries to make beer sound like fun.

I began working at CAMC’s Women and Children’s hospital once I moved to West Virginia. My salary went up by 30% and once again my hormones, clubs, and nightlife beckoned me. Things were going great, the future was so bright I had to wear shades until I had problems with coworkers, it seems every job I have ever had I eventually had problems with coworkers, especially older women. One woman who was an obvious lesbian and had worked there for over 20 years with the same people who secretly laughed at her so-called secret, she started spreading rumors about my sexuality. Then my manager started to hate me. So she became the center of my attention for the next few months. I obsessed about her, I researched her background, I followed her, I watched her in her home, I did everything BUT kill her. As luck would turn out, she developed cancer and had to quit and almost died. So, once that happened I felt satiated, satisfied, the hunger for revenge and the feeling of wanting to devour her and control her was over. It was around this time that I was having such back pain that I could not work an entire eight hours even with my pain medication. I was taking Celexa 60mg a day, Remeron 45mg a day, diazepam 30mg a day for my severe anxiety and Lortab 60mg a day for severe spinal stenosis. When I told Dr. Viradia that my pain medicine was not working long enough to get me through an eight-hour shift he simply said for me to take two instead of one, which I did, but it gave me a feeling of euphoria instead of just helping my pain. It was his advice and my blind trust in an MD that caused my addiction gene to be activated, but of course, given my intelligence and medical background I should have known better, but my training had included everything except addiction medicine. I then realized that doctors may have passed through school and residency but that did not mean that they knew what they were doing, or had my best interest in mind. All too often people treat doctors as if they are Gods. I have worked at numerous Health clinics as both laboratory manager and a bench MLT and have seen doctors and how they operate. They go in and see a patient then they say I’ll be right back and what they are doing is going through several books trying to figure out a diagnosis, they are not Gods and most of them do not know what they are doing. Matter of fact I have only had a few doctors who I can honestly say knew more about medicine then I do. But that’s a whole different story.

After I lost my Health insurance from CAMC, I started to go back to the VAMC for my medications. First and foremost, it has been suggested or I was asked if perhaps my conditions were a kind of somatization disorder or possibly psychosomatic. Well first off, I was highly offended, because first I don’t want to be sick, I want to be well. I hate doctors and hospitals and I don’t like taking tons of pills every day. All I want in life is to be home on my farm, enjoy life with no one disturbing me and be healthy and happy. There is nothing wrong with a person who prefers to live alone, or who prefers to be a loner. Absolutely nothing wrong with it at all. Matter of fact a very famous loner was Richard Proenneke who at the age of 51 hands built a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness and lived alone for 31 years before he was too old to withstand the subfreezing temperatures of the Alaskan winters. No one has ever said anything was wrong with Richard Proenneke, or other famous loners like Einstein, Anthony Hopkins, J. D. Salinger, Johnny Carson, Barbara Walters, Emily Dickinson or Isaac Newton and so many more. Most loners or introverts are creative, talented people in the arts, in science, philosophy, and entertainment. I really wish counselors, social workers, doctors and anyone who thinks that a loner is someone with a problem to think twice. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert. Now, although I am an introvert, my physical and conditions require that I see a doctor and take medications. My blood pressure is not psychosomatic, my spinal stenosis of the upper and lower spine is not psychosomatic, it’s a proven fact on MRI. My sore throat, Barrett's esophagus is not just in my head, it’s been proven by scoping my throat and then dilating my throat so I could swallow better. I can’t swallow food half the time, that’s was proven with a barium swallow and seen by my family as I have to cough out the food due to my esophagus not functioning correctly or having an esophageal spasm. My right leg is numb all the time that has been proven through nerve conduction tests, my gallbladder had sludge in it and caused horrid nausea, vomiting and so on, that is a fact. I have difficulty breathing, especially in cold air, I have smoked 16 years out of my 37 years of life, it’s harder for me to breathe out then in, I have COPD it’s a fact. I have chronic pelvic pain syndrome which feels like someone is shoving their foot up my rectum and it hurts like hell, it’s a fact and the diazepam helps but it takes about 30 minutes, so rectal gel might be better for that. I have carpal tunnel, that’s a fact, nerve conduction study confirmed it and I know it because I can’t wash dishes too long before I start dropping plates and glasses. And of course, I have depression, mostly all the time which is Dysthymia, I, of course, have OCD, but not nearly as bad as I was before medication and therapy. I used to clean light bulbs and use a ruler to arrange things on my desk. Clean over and over, if anyone came over it caused me a great deal of stress because I would be vacuuming where they just walked and so on, but now with medication and therapy, it's much improved. I do have anxiety with panic attacks. The panic attacks can be completely debilitating and I have no idea when they may occur, sometimes they are episodic, depending on where I am or what I am doing, but mostly just out of the blue at any time and last about 45 minutes. Before medication, I would have eight or more a day and because of this, I stayed in my room, reading books and would not socialize or go anywhere. The point is made, my problems are not in my head. My depression is not causing my back pain and so on. It’s an insult to my intelligence for someone to suggest this.  Anyhow, I have been on the same medications for the past 16 years, except that my dosage today is less than it was a few years ago. I used to take 60mg of Citalopram, 40mg of Diazepam and 45mg of Remeron. Over the course of many years, I asked for decreases in medications to find the lowest possible amount of each medication and still get the desired effect, normalcy. Citalopram 40mg in the morning, Diazepam 20mg a day taken as needed or when needed, not at the same time each day which is key to keeping its efficacy, Remeron 15mg at night. I have been stable on this combination of medications since 1998, which a short hiatus from all psychiatric medications for a few years. Those years were some of the most horrid years I had experienced since my last year in the Army in 1997. My psychiatric medications have been fine-tuned and honed by seven different Psychiatrist and approved by every one of my primary care physicians which I have had approximately 16 since 1998. I have tried dozens of medications for depression, dozens for anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia and OCD, and about 8 different mood stabilizing drugs and antipsychotics. Out of the dozens upon dozens of medications tried and the different treatment modalities such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, the medications I currently take and the continued psychotherapy with CBT keeps me stable and gives me a quality of life that is as close to normal as possible. I have severe PTSD, Anxiety disorder with panic attacks and agoraphobia and OCD. My current psychotherapists specialize in anxiety disorders and OCD and is a homosexual advocate. If I were to stop taking my medication’s I would relapse into depression, my OCD would consume my entire day, my panic attacks, which occur eight or more times a day would be sending me to the hospital due to me thinking I am having a heart attack or that I cannot breathe or see. My depression or Dysthymia would make me isolate myself even more than I do already. I would not leave my farm for any reason, not have a social life, not have a love life, and not communicate with family. I would be sleeping all day, have feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, cry for no clear reason and my physical appearance, farm and house would all suffer. I absolutely will NOT return to the life that I had before taking psychiatric medications. It’s a fact that both my brain chemistry and structure are different although there is no standard or correct chemical levels. The chemical imbalance Ie is the most effective way to get a patient on a new medication giving the big drug companies more life long clients. If there was a chemical imbalance wouldn't there be a test?

I have significant childhood issues which subconsciously come out in my dreams when I talk in my sleep. I have recorded myself talking about childhood issues and events that I never think about while awake. Actually, I never think about my childhood abuse and I have forgiven both my Mother and Father for what they have done. I now pray for them instead of harboring ill feelings towards them. I will NOT go back to being obsessed with cleaning and organizing which was a result of my OCD. My OCD controlled my every action and caused me a great amount of stress and anxiety. Thus, OCD and Anxiety are both related disorders. I WILL have a quality of life that is as close to normal as possible. My current medications and psychotherapy are doing just that. There is no reason, need or to change, alter or attempt to discontinue any of my medications. Doing so will only create a mountain of bodies around my farm. As mentioned my medications have been fine-tuned over the past 20 years by trained Psychiatrist. No MD, DO, therapist, social worker or anyone who is not a trained Psychiatrist with a long tenure should attempt to change, alter or suggest I alter or change my medication regiment. It is too easy for someone to judge me and my condition when they only know me from 10 to 15 minutes of talking and think that there is a better way of treating my conditions. My conditions are not simple but complex, as is every human’s life and problems. For someone other than a psychiatrist who knows my entire medical history to tell me that I should stop taking my Remeron or my Diazepam, for instance, is completely wrong, nescience and a liar. My Valium skies never lie to me. First, they do not have any justification based on my medical history. Second, they do not know that I have tried dozens of other medications and Remeron and diazepam does not sedate me, does not interfere with my memory or cognitive abilities, actually the opposite. When I do not take my Remeron I can feel a difference in my depression and a lack of being able to sleep. When I do not take the diazepam at the beginning of a panic attack my brain activity is too chaotic and the increased electrical activity prevents smooth linear goal-oriented thoughts and speech. The Diazepam enhances the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the GABAa receptor, resulting in anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and muscle relaxant properties. That is also another thing that I wish to discuss is that I do not take Diazepam only for anxiety and panic attacks but to help or improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, spasms of my bile duct which are very painful, esophageal spasm which causes me to not be able to swallow food or even cold water, back pain, restless leg syndrome where I constantly feel the need to move my legs, the chronic pelvic pain syndrome, night terrors and a few other conditions.  West Virginia has one of the highest drug overdose rates in the Country at 25 deaths per 100,000 people. Most of these deaths are due to opiate naïve people who obtain the drug from a friend and then mix it with alcohol and benzodiazepines. The deaths are not from patients who have taken opiate pain medication for years and benzodiazepines at the same time. They do not spontaneously develop intolerance and suddenly overdose after years of taking the same medications and the same dosage, this is ludicrous. The facts need to be represented and those who suffer from debilitating pain and psychiatric conditions that warrant the use of a benzodiazepine should not be denied treatment due to a handful of idiots who are opiate and benzodiazepine naïve and then takes the drug in an effort to get ‘high’ and end up dying. I feel that natural selection is at work here and is weeding out the week and stupid, to be literal and truthful about the matter. It is against the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, to suddenly deny a patient their medication based on a handful of dolts who die as a result of wanting to get high is certainly doing harm. How to weed out the good from the bad is not the job of the patient but the job of the physician and the nursing staff. If a doctor is not willing to take the time to make sure his or her patient is trustworthy and compliant with taking their medication then they need to find another profession because they simply do not care enough about the patient to give them quality of life that is as close to normal as possible given their conditions One advantage of benzodiazepines is that they reduce the anxiety symptoms faster than antidepressants, and may be preferred in patients for whom rapid symptom control is critical. However, this advantage is offset by the possibility of developing benzodiazepine dependence. American Psychiatric Association guidelines state that pharmacotherapy of panic disorder should generally be continued for at least a year and that clinical experience support continuing benzodiazepine treatment to prevent recurrence. Although major concerns about benzodiazepine tolerance and withdrawal have been raised there is no evidence for significant dose escalation in patients using benzodiazepines long-term. For many such patient’s stable doses of benzodiazepines retain their anti-anxiety efficacy for many years. This is directly from the American Psychiatric Association guidelines and the opinion of both my psychiatrist and myself. I would not continue to take a medication that did not work. I would not take a medication that I had to continually raise my dosage to be effective either. For me benzodiazepines retain the key component for their use, the reduction of anxiety and panic attacks, without the need for dose escalation due to only taking them when needed, not at a certain time every day. I may need to take a dose at 5 AM and then one at 8 PM, the next day it may not be till 10 AM and then a dose later at 11 PM, but the key is to not take it just because you have it, and to take it at different times during the day as my psychiatrist instructed me to and she is correct. My current benzodiazepine, diazepam has lost its sedative properties, but I consider that to be a good thing, since I do not want to be sedated and I am a student of physics, astronomy, anatomy, internal medicine and pharmacology as well as an amateur writer. Anything that would be a detriment to my cognitive abilities has already been discontinued by me years ago, such as some older tricyclic antidepressants, SSRI’s and antipsychotics that I have tried in the past. Due to the advent of SSRI’s or the big P, Prozac, drug companies have incisively tried to convince physicians and psychiatrist alike to switch from benzodiazepines or other older drugs to the ‘NEW’ SSRI’s and SSNRI’s. Just as tricyclic antidepressants have side effects, benzodiazepines have side effects SSRI’s and SSNRI’s have side effects too. Hell, Prozac has 20,000 known side effects and has caused thousands of people to commit suicide, is that a better alternative? I have seen for myself how drug reps operate. I have worked in several clinics and a drug rep will bring inexpensive food for the doctor’s and staff, then provide the doctor with tickets to a major athletic event or concert, give them pens, notepads, preprinted prescription pads with their drug on it and a load of samples. Low and behold the doctor would be prescribing the new drug, until side effects were reported or they found that it was ineffective. SSRI’s work well for depression by increasing the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor. But SSRI’s are not effective for panic attacks, anxiety yes. There needs to be a clear definition between the two. SSRI’s are not recommended for panic attacks only anxiety. Individuals with panic disorder have a chemical imbalance within the limbic system and one of its regulatory chemicals, GABA-A. The reduced production of GABA-A sends false information to the amygdala which regulates the body's "fight or flight response" mechanism and in return, produces the physiological symptoms that lead to the disorder. Clonazepam and diazepam, both anticonvulsants benzodiazepines with a long half-life’s, have been successful in keeping the condition in check. This research and findings are from "Psychiatry Weekly: Symptoms of Panic Disorder Linked to Benzodiazepine Binding Activity in the Insular Cortex". Since the mechanism by which panic attacks present themselves is related to GABA, benzodiazepines are the superlative drug of choice for the treatment of those disorders since it is specific to the component in the brain which causes the condition. Benzodiazepines work by increasing the efficiency GABA, to decrease the excitability neurons. This reduces the communication between neurons and has a calming effect on many of the functions of the brain. By increasing GABA, specifically GABA-A the brain can return to a state of homeostasis and the symptoms of panic attacks and accompanying anxiety can be reduced or eliminated completely. Medication alone is not the treatment of choice and I take part in cognitive behavioral therapy weekly or bi-weekly depending on my circumstances. Some people have said ‘Well you can’t just take a pill the rest of your life’, unfortunately those people are misinformed and do not understand the chemical and structural difference between a ‘normal’ brain and one that suffers from extreme anxiety disorder with panic attacks. My brain is chemically and structurally different from a ‘normal’ brain. There are real structural differences in the brains of those who suffer from a debilitating anxiety disorder with panic attacks and no amount of medication or therapy is going to change the structure of the human brain. The best that can be done is to correct the chemical imbalance by way of SSRI’s and benzodiazepines and deal with underlying issues that contribute or exacerbate symptoms. Just as someone with depression will most likely take a SSRI for life, or someone with hypertension will take say an ACE inhibitor or beta-blocker for life, I will most likely need to take my psychiatric medications for life. All medications have side effects and my medications have some, but the benefits greatly outweigh the side effects. Just as taking exogenous testosterone outweighs the side effects of possible prostate cancer late in life. Do I suffer from no testosterone and therefore become effeminate, have decreased muscle mass, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis and so on. NO, I will not suffer like that, as the character of Dr. McCoy on Star Trek said ‘I chose the danger’. The benefits outweigh the risks. Same goes with methadone, it too causes health issues, specifically increased QT-wave prolongation and thus increased the risk of heart attacks due to arrhythmias, bigeminal rhythms, extrasystoles, T-wave inversion and ventricular tachycardia’s but the benefits have been many and the risks are far outweighed by the good it has done. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) guidelines note that benzodiazepines are well tolerated, and their use in the treatment of panic disorder is strongly supported by many controlled trials. The American Psychiatric Association also states that there is insufficient evidence to recommend any of the established panic disorder treatments over another. The choice of treatment between benzodiazepines, SSRIs, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and psychotherapy should be based on the patient's response, side effects, preference, and other characteristics of medication.

Prescription drugs that are taken as prescribed kill 100,000 Americans a year, but no one talks about that. However, mention to someone that you take a Valium for your panic attacks and all the sudden you are an outcast, a drug addict, or someone who needs to “just get over it”. I am sick of labels, sick of incompetent doctors, counselors, therapist and other people who judge you based on what medication you take without knowing your past, your medical history or what other medications you have tried before. Just recently I was told that the mixing my medications could pose a risk for me. Really, that is strange that I would be told that now, after taking the same mixture of opiate medication with my psychiatric meds for the past 19 years. Strange that six different psychiatrists never said anything to that effect, or that the head pharmacist who has over 30 years’ experience in pharmacology never mentioned it when I directly asked him if there were any dangers associated with taking all my medications. That statement would be true if I was opiate naïve, benzodiazepine naïve, and SSRI SSNRI naïve. Just as 80mg of methadone would kill an opiate naïve adult if consumed, 10 mg of diazepam would heavily sedate a benzodiazepine naïve adult, 40mg of Celexa for an SSRI lastly, 15mg of Remeron would cause SSNRI naïve person to fall asleep after 45 minutes. Taken together by a medication naïve person, this combination would certainly kill them, but that does not apply to me as my brain has a reduced number of dopamine receptors, is tolerant to opiates, and has a lower GABA-A level from birth, which is corrected by GABA enhancing drugs such as benzodiazepines.

I feel it is necessary to explain the intricate and complex brain structures and neurotransmitters that are associated with panic attacks. There are several areas of the brain responsible for this reaction; however, the initial area responsible for the sympathetic nervous system’s outward symptoms of panic result from activation of the basal ganglia, located under the cortex of the brain. This area is activated first when anxiety signals are registered. Beneath the basal ganglia is the limbic system, which further comprises intricate processes involved in the panic response. The activation of these areas ultimately leads to deregulation of neurotransmitters, in people with chemical imbalances or minute cellular structural irregularities it leads to a panic attack. Once an individual’s sympathetic nervous system is activated by this process, either from an external stimulus or due to an impairment in the brain's ability to analyze the situation properly and respond in a logical way. The amygdala’s role in this chain of events is quite significant as it controls one’s “fight or flight” response. The Amygdala is responsible for the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that leads to norepinephrine and cortisol excretion. In a normal brain, the Amygdala receives information and then reacts according to the stimulus without regard to reality, logic, or morality. Thus, one cannot change this process by mere telling oneself that they are okay or the use of occasional psychotherapy and counseling. The Amygdala is programmed early in childhood and once a person’s brain reaches maturity at about age 15, the responses in which one has to any stimulus will be set for life. For the majority of people, the idea of maturity involves a clear concept of one’s purpose in life, and a sense of directness, which helps to contribute to the feeling that life has meaning. Other theories of brain maturity assert that a person’s brain reaches maturity when one can think logically using abstract thought as opposed to concrete thought. Regardless of the theories, my brain did not reach maturity until the age of 25, which is also now recognized as the new standard for brain maturity as opposed to 15 as once believed. 

Long-term psychotherapy is helpful but not curative for those with panic disorder and the associated obsessive-compulsive disorder. Medications such as SSRI’s do play a significant role in depression by boosting serotonin but does not calm the excessive excitation of the Amygdala and HPA axis. Early drugs such as barbiturates worked very well in boosting the amount of GABA Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (Aminobutyric acid, the brains primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. However, the therapeutic index was very small and a dose that was therapeutic was very close to one that was deadly. Once Leo Sternbach developed the first benzodiazepine in 1955, it was found that benzodiazepines had the same GABA enhancing qualities but were much safer and far less addictive than barbiturates. Diazepam was developed in 1963 and is a low potency, long-acting benzodiazepine similar in efficacy to clonazepam. This low potency makes less potential for abuse, the long half-life allows for less frequent dosing, and its lethal does in 50% of people is about 800mg/kg. Since I weigh 260lbs that would equate to 8640 10mg tablets. Now, realistically I am sure that my lethal dose would be lower due to the addition of other medications and fatty liver disease; however, it is still very safe, compared to Tylenol where a bottle of 100 would certainly kill anyone. Diazepam works by increasing the efficiency of the neurotransmitter GABA. Thus, taking a brain that has an imbalance of GABA and intricate minute cellular mutations or irregularities and balancing the chemical constituent neurotransmitter GABA and subsequently norepinephrine and cortisol. This allows an individual to be able to think clearly, unhindered by anxiety and panic attack symptoms. One of the most ironic and typical examples of how benzodiazepines are stigmatized is the drug Neurontin, which I take for the treatment of neuropathic pain caused by spinal stenosis and nerve damage in other parts of my body. No one cares if I take Neurontin, nor would anyone suggest I stop or cut down due to it being addictive. The irony of this is that Neurontin’s mode of action is essentially the same as a benzodiazepine in that it is a lipophilic structural analog of the inhibitory neurotransmitter? -aminobutyric acid (GABA). I will not write an entire page concerning the mechanism of action of Neurontin verses the mechanism of action of benzodiazepines; however, they both ultimately affect GABA and calm the sympathetic nervous system, both can be addictive, but both help those who need it significantly with multiple disorders involving the brain and accompanying the nervous system.

 It is important to distinguish anxiety from worry. There is a clear distinction between the two and they are not to be confused. Worry or eustress is good, for it motivates us to do things we need to do such as protect ourselves or pay our bills. I experience stress, worry, and its normal and it does not bother me for I know it is a part of life. Anxiety and the accompanying panic attacks and symptoms, however, are a debilitating condition in which a person can no longer focus, function or make decisions and feels as if they are having either a heart attack, stroke or both. The severity of these symptoms is as follows, worry becomes anxiety, which becomes fear and fear becomes panic. Panic is a very overwhelming feeling of sudden life-threatening danger at that particular moment. The panic response is to get ready to fight or flee or in some cases freeze in fear. When I experience a panic attack due to a stimulus or for no clear reason at all, I cannot just run away or leave. I must endure the feelings, symptoms and the resulting debilitating or take my medication as prescribed and not experience them in the first place. Panic attacks are the is a situation which may cause you harm. When a person is able to flee or leave, in some situations the panic attack will subside quickly. However, in my case where I cannot just run away, I must endure the symptoms; this is when a person has a real chance to become aware of the many physical symptoms that accompany panic attacks. Therefore, for those who do not have them, the only way one can relate would be for me to put a gun to your head with the hammer cocked and tell you that I was going to blow your brains out. You would instantly go into a state of panic, experience the same symptoms, and then realize the importance of preventing this whether it is by medication that is possibly addictive or not. The consequences to the body and mind both acutely and long-term outweigh the risk of dependency. For those with true panic attacks and panic disorder, the majority do not abuse their medication, just as those in real pain rarely abuse their pain medication. Lastly, there is no sedation or euphoria associated with the taking of benzodiazepines after four to six weeks. Benzodiazepines lose their tranquilizing effectiveness rather quickly but keep their anxiolytic properties indefinitely in the majority of people, as it has for me.

Due to my brain having a natural decreased level of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA-A, SSRI’s, opiates and benzodiazepines correct this imbalance and create for me homeostasis or normalcy. For me, the 80mg of methadone has much less effect upon the dopamine in my brain, especially the dopamine receptors, as I have fewer dopamine receptors due to long-term opiate use. My brain is also immune to the sedative properties of Diazepam or any benzodiazepine, which is a good thing because I do not want sedation, I want relief from panic attacks which are debilitating and cause long-term health problems. What most therapist or counselors and some doctors do not understand is that benzodiazepines lose their sedative properties and euphoric properties quickly, after four to six weeks. However, they retain their efficacy to control panic attacks and their muscle relaxing properties.

An unscrupulous and apparently uneducated MD once told me that a panic attack never killed anyone. I replied that a Big Mac never killed anyone, a cigarette never killed anyone, and a beer never killed anyone and so on. Nevertheless, we all know that over time eating Big Macs WILL cause coronary heart disease and cigarettes will kill you. Life goes on, another day another lesson and so the journey continues.

 
 


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