May 31, 2022

I thought I would take a moment and say goodbye to a month in my withdrawal that was met with both some great moments and some really rough moments.

I had days where I enjoyed swimming with my nieces and nephews, laughing with my siblings and then days where it was hard to leave my room.

One thing I have learned over the last few years has been that its important to have a self care kit.  I used to call it a “tool kit” but then I realized that  implied that the things in that kit were items/practices I employed to try to “fix” something.  In withdrawal, I think there is a deep desire to want to “fix” lots of things, and yet I find that mindset to be counter productive.  So much of what we experience in withdrawal are manifestations of anxiety — both mental and physical symptoms.  Our limbic systems are on the fritz and the world is confusing, upside down and can be terrifying.  As I said in one of my videos, in withdrawal 1 + 1 = frog or 7;  2 +2 = weird memory or peanut butter.  It’s like Alice in Wonderland meets the Johnny Depp version of Willy Wonka meets Being John Malkovich.  The world of withdrawal is nonsensical, non-linear and can make us feel nuts when we try to fight it, reason with it or make sense of it.

Anyway, getting back to the idea of the self care kit versus the tool kit.  In the beginning of my withdrawal I would employ these tools (meditation, prayer, breathing, stretching, self talk) as weapons to slay the elusive withdrawal dragon in whatever magical form it was taking that hour, that day.  Things didn’t get better, things got worse.   Then I began to really study and learn about the paradoxical approach to treating anxiety disorders and OCD.  I began to look deeper into various psycho-social approaches such as logotherapy, ACT, the DARE program and DBT.  I began to dive into various philosophies – -especially Stoicism and the words of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and their modern day interpreter – Ryan Holiday.  And at the crux of all it was some form of acceptance.  Accept and allow for reality to be what it is instead of how I feel it should be, shouldn’t be.  Allow and accept have become my go to for all things withdrawal — intrusive thoughts, fear, chemical anxiety, panic, body pain, body burning, headaches, tinnitus, blurry vision, neuropathy, looping thoughts and terror.  I don’t have to dig into my bag and look around for what I can apply for each of these things.  It is always the same.  Now, I do think that in our self care bag having things like prayer, meditation, breathing, stretching, challenging ourselves when we can, etc are critical and important parts of a regular practice in taking care of ourselves.  But at the end of the day, if we use those things to try to “get rid of” our symptoms/sensations, we will get brief moments of relief followed by a resurgence of the symptoms.  That which we resist, persists.  And so it is in benzo withdrawal.  It doesn’t mean we have to like what we are thinking, agree with it, enjoy the physical sensations — it means we simply accept this is what we’ve got for now, allow for the thoughts, feelings and sensations to be there and let time pass!

Keep swimming!