Your brain detests ambiguity. It needs to know what is what so it can keep you alive. It makes meaning out of everything. Clouds gathering on the horizon? Your brain whispers to you a storm is brewing, better take cover for safety. Wake up anxious? Your brain whispers to you all sorts of reasons for the feeling, so you can take action and be safe. But here’s the thing. In benzo withdrawal much of our anxiety and fear is organic. We don’t have enough working GABA (and God only knows what else the benzo has damaged) so the world feels ominous. We then try our best to decide why.
My morning monkey mind goes like this: “I am anxious because I have always been anxious and without my klonopin I will be FOREVER.” “I must have cancer and I am going to die soon.” “Something horrible is going to happen to one of my children.” Until I can quiet my mental torture, my anxiety is truly awful. When I can muster my rational mind to reassure me this is a normal process of recovery from almost two decades of benzo use and nothing more, I am more able to tolerate the morning feelings. It is when I allow my brain to make an incorrect meaning of the morning feelings that I truly suffer.
This is not to say it is as easy as tying on my shoes to wander out into my garden. I wish it were. However, I am getting better at utilizing my rational mind, especially as more receptors heal. I have a ways to go, for sure, but I am making progress.
My garden is where I am healing. At three months off, when the nightly hallucinations had stopped and I was more able to stand up out of bed, I tore out most of my front and side yard and began planting. I built two raised beds, my heart racing with every hammer thud, my vision so blurry that finding the nail head was a challenge. I planted veggies and flowers. Every morning I hobbled out and weeded, dug more deep holes, planted, and waited. I think I was planting the seeds of healing. Literally. I watched seedlings reach for the sun, just as I have been stretching, hoping to feel the warmth of life again. I watched blossoms appear, the promise of breathtaking beauty. Just as I have been forming a promise of a new life, that is almost ready to burst forth in vivid wild color. I watched the blossoms sway in the wind, and invite the bees and butterflies to enjoy their beauty. Just as I now know I must surrender to the winds of life all the while offering my beauty to those who will find sustenance from it.
I am far from healed. But I am far from mangled anymore. I am on the right path, one stubborn foot in front of the other. And God, as I understand God, has me tight in her arms.
I am loved. Just as you are loved.
I pray for you all in benzo withdrawal. You are the budding blossoms, just about ready to burst forth with a new life, a new hope, a new promise.