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The Decision To Love Yourself. (Sedona, Here I Come!)

The Decision To Love Yourself. (Sedona, Here I Come!)

Trauma from childhood, coupled with my own genetic makeup, made me an easy target for getting on a benzo in my thirties. I was full of fear and self-loathing. My self-esteem was practically non-existent. I sure didn’t love myself!

Oh, I’m still the same person I was back then — I’m still a trauma survivor. I’ve still got the MTHFR gene mutation, and who knows what else that possible predisposes me to anxiety and depression. Even though I am still “me,” I’m not the same in that I now love myself! I don’t have the anxiety and depression that used to torment me in my twenties and thirties. After living through benzo withdrawal. I learned some powerful lessons about living fully and deeply. I learned how to thrive!

The first step to thriving is to love yourself. That means letting go of past trauma and hurts, forgiving, and moving on. It also means taking exquisite care of yourself. You have to DECIDE to love yourself and you have to make a million little decisions about self-care every day. “Do I eat this?” “Do I rest now that I am tired?” “Do I give energy to this thought, or ignore it?” “Do I post that comment on Facebook that will stir up drama I’ll have to deal with?” There are so many things that we have to be conscious of!

One of the things I’m becoming conscious of on this trip, The Decision Tour, is how hard I push myself. When I have a goal, I go for it, without regard to my health or overall well-being. I’m an overachiever, you could say. This morning I had to decide which route I take to our family farm in Georgia. (I need to be there by April 8th at the very latest as I have a big obligation on the 9th.) My old instinct is to drive a great distance today so that I can get closer to the farm, faster. But, I am tired. Driving so many hours in two days has triggered my lingering low-level benzo withdrawal symptoms to flare up a bit. I’ve got tingles, dizziness, and a sense of movement. My tinnitus, which is always constant, has grown louder and higher pitched. My body is letting me know that I need to take care of it. And so, I will. I made the decision to drive to Sedona, two hours away, and stay at the home of a client (who prefers anonymity).

I had to ask myself this morning, “What is the most loving thing to do?” When I use that question as my guide, my decisions are often much different than the ones I’d make purely based on my ego. My ego says, “Push faster and harder and get things done!” My heart and soul, the loving part of me say, “Rest. Relax. Take in the beauty around you. Stop. Slow down. Breathe. Enjoy this present moment!”

Sedona it is, then! I’ll see if I can book a massage or some type of body work today. I’ll drive to visit a vortex; Sedona’s famous healing spots! I’ll soak up the sun. Tonight, I’ll drive out beyond the city limits to gaze at the stars and give thanks for my life, my time here on the planet. What will you do today that is the most loving response for yourself? How will you take the very best care of your body, your mind, and your spirit? It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to say “No!” to doing things that pull you away from your peace. It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to find quiet time to practice gratitude. (No matter how sick you are in benzo withdrawal, there are always things you can find to be grateful for.)

If anyone is the Sedona area, I’d love to connect with you, if I can. From Sedona, I’ll be driving highway 40 to Georgia. If you are close to my route, I’d love to meet up with you!

Think good thoughts, make good (loving) decisions!

Lessons In Disappointment And A Flood Of Feelings!

Lessons In Disappointment And A Flood Of Feelings!

I dubbed this trip The Decision Trip because I want to be extremely conscious of the decisions I make. The universe is giving me a lot of grist for the mill! I’ve faced a few disappointments that have tested my attitude. First, my GPS decided to take me on a wild goose hunt on Monday. It took me hours off the route I should have taken. When I finally arrived at my hotel, it was in the worst part of town. I had to decide to stay or find another venue. I stayed. As I got ready to settle in for the night, excited about my fossiling adventure the next day, I received an email stating that it had been canceled. I had to decide how that would impact my travels, and I had to deal with my feelings.

I decided to go straight to the Grand Canyon from Bakersfield. I was eager to sleep out under the stars at the campground. When I arrived, all the campgrounds were full! Another disappointment. I decided to stay in a hotel close by. I’ll drive into the canyon tonight and park and sit under the stars. It won’t be the same, but it will have to do.

Now, I am deciding which route to take for the rest of the journey to Georgia. I am longing to go through Colorado but I think it’s best I continue south through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, etc. I’ll post an update tomorrow so anyone on my path can let me know if they’d like to connect.

As I’ve been driving, I’d had a few times of being flooded with emotions. On three occasions I’ve teared up. I was awash in old memories of good times in my life! I remembered the feeling I had when I moved my four children to Basalt, Colorado 17 years ago. (Can it really be that long ago?) We lived there for three years, and they were, by far, hands down, the BEST years of my life! Being alone in a car for ten hours gives one time to sort through a lot of thoughts and feelings!

There’s much I want to share with you, but I am exhausted from 10 hours of driving today. I’m writing notes in a journal and I promise I will share with you once I am off the road and I have the time and energy.I hope that my journey gives you encouragement. When I was tapering, and then after my cold turkey, I was incredibly sick. It took me time, but here I am on my second road trip! We do heal, I assure you.

I’ll post more when I can. I love you all, more than you know.

Counting Down To Monday!

Counting Down To Monday!

I’m so excited! Monday is just a few short days away. I hit the open road to travel across this amazing country of ours to meet people in benzo withdrawal. I’ll make my way back to our family farm in Georgia where I’ll stay for a month so that I can finish writing The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Survival Guide. I’ll be posting from the road so you’ll be getting updates in your email if you are a subscriber. If you’d like to donate to help me fund the road trip, you can make a tax-deductible donation here: Your support is greatly appreciated.

The road trip will allow me to meet some of you face-to-face. I’ll be meeting our wonderful EFT expert, and creator of The Warrior Room, Dede Moore, on my first stop on Monday. Looking forward to that every much! (I’ve always wanted to see Dede’s hair up close. It’s pretty *amazing*)

Monday night I’ll stay in Bakersfield, Ca. On Tuesday, I am scheduled for an expedition at Shark Tooth Hill, to dig for fossilized sharks teeth. It’s something that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. I’m excited that I’m recovered from benzo withdrawal so that I can achieve this long-held dream. You’ll be achieving your dreams, too, in time! After my fossiling adventure, I am headed to the Grand Canyon. I visited the canyon two years ago when I went on my first cross-country road trip. It was the place I wanted to visit to celebrate my recovery. It was a special visit, one that I won’t soon forget. I know this visit will be incredibly special as well. I am looking forward to sleeping out under the stars in the campground.

From there, I’ll start my way towards the farm. I’m eager to meet as many people as I possibly can and to connect with readers on my website to give them hope. I am living proof that even the most damaged of us do heal! Remember, I was once bedridden, unable to take care of my basic human needs. Many days, I went without eating or bathing. I needed a walker to get around. I graduated to a cane. Finally, I was able to walk unassisted. Now, I’m about to embark on my second cross-country road trip!

The trip is being called The Decision Tour because I want us all to focus on the power of decisions. When I came home from the hospital after my cold-turkey from the benzo I had taken as prescribed, I made the decision that I would never, ever, ever, go back on a benzo. That decision carried me through the darkest of days. So many times I wanted my suffering to end, and I thought about re-instating to do a slower taper. But I knew that wasn’t the way for me to claim my recovery. I had been so incredibly sick in my taper, that I knew in my heart, I had to stay off and heal. It was the POWER of the DECISION to remain benzo free that helped me hold on.

I also made the decision that I would garden as a way to cope with being in benzo withdrawal.That was a good decision! What decision can you make today, that will help you hold on while your brain is healing from the damage caused by the benzo that you took? What decisions can you make today that are kind and loving to yourself? This includes decisions that we make about our thoughts and beliefs. What will you decide to do to celebrate your recovery?

Think good thoughts; make good decisions!




The Road Trip Starts Monday, March 27th

The Road Trip Starts Monday, March 27th

I’m calling this road trip “The Decision Tour” because decisions are what create the quality of our lives. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about how our thoughts create our reality so we better think good ones. But there is more to it than that. We can think all of the good thoughts we want, but if we don’t make a decision to act on them, to live our truth and get what we really want, those thoughts won’t do us much good. me. Our lives are created by the unconscious and conscious decisions we make, day in and day out. It’s important that we make good decisions, even in benzo withdrawal, maybe even especially in benzo withdrawal!

I know, you’re thinking,”Make a good decision? Hell, I can’t think straight! I’m riddled with fear and paranoia. How can I make good decisions with a broken brain?” You’ve got a point there, for sure. I’m not going to try to convince you that making sound decisions in benzo withdrawal is easy. It’s not. But, it is doable. It just takes some effort. We can make the decision to eat healthy one ingredient foods. We can decide to get gentle exercise. We can decide to limit our stress as much as possible. We can decide to lean into a mounting panic attack instead of being bowled over by it. There are countless decisions we can make in benzo withdrawal that will not only help us cope with withdrawal symptoms, but will help us move forward as we heal.

One of the first decisions we can make is to believe that our bizarre symptoms are indeed from benzo withdrawal. From there, we can decide how we want to cope with them. (Acceptance is a big step in the right direction.) I’ll be blogging about the power of decisions as I travel. I don’t have a set itinerary, other than I am leaving Monday, March 27th, and I am staying in Bakersfield, California the first and second night. After that, it will be interesting to see where my decisions take me! Anyone on the route from San Francisco to Bakersfield that wants to connect? Give me a shout.

What decisions can you make today that will help you cope with your benzo withdrawal symptoms, or help you to believe in yourself more? Think good thoughts; make good decisions!






The Sweet Pleasure That Awaits You At The Finish Line

The Sweet Pleasure That Awaits You At The Finish Line

The poet Rumi once penned a brilliant few lines that read: “The sweet pleasure of reaching’s one’s destination is amplified by the suffering one has endured during the journey.” (Rumi Day By Day, by Maryam Mafi) Such a profound truth for those of us navigating our way through benzodiazepine withdrawal. The intensity of the suffering is unbearable, yet we bear it, day after day, week after week, month after month, and for some of us, year after year. There are times when we lose hope that we will ever reach the destination of “healed.” We worry that the mental and/or physical symptoms we suffer from are a life sentence—that we will never be free from them. But we trudge on, holding a little slip of hope in our hands, praying with every step that sometime soon, we will feel better.

Time passes and we look back over our shoulders and realize that we are indeed healing. It may be ever so slow, but it’s happening. Then, one glorious day, we wake up and it’s as if we have never been in withdrawal. We have control of our thoughts and our feelings. We have clarity and energy. When we step outside, colors appear fresh and bright, the sound of the birds singing fills us with cheer. The perfume of flowers makes us swoon with delight. Everything in life suddenly feels *AMAZING.* It is as if we’ve woken up out of a Rip Van Winkle sleep. We are like children in a candy store, our eyes and our appetites, enormous. It is the most wonderful thing in the world!

I once read, years ago, someone’s success story about recovery from benzo withdrawal. I remember that they wrote, “Nothing in life sucks.” It’s so true. We are so grateful to be out of the depths of hell, that everyday life with its ups and downs and aches and pains seems rather glorious. And, it is! We’ve suffered for so long that we have a greater understanding of life. We’ve expanded. We’ve become better people. We’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff—realizing that it’s mostly all small stuff. We’ve thrown off the shackles that used to bind us pre-benzos. We’ve escaped our old limitations; our fears and doubts.

The most common things will spark joy. You’ll take nothing for granted. You’ll feel alive in a whole new way. The best part? You won’t be haunted by the journey you were on. You’ll step out of that fine mess like a butterfly leaving its cocoon. You’ll unfurl your wings and fly. It will be such a sweet pleasure!

Air Fresheners And Other Fiascos

Air Fresheners And Other Fiascos

Chemical sensitivity is common in benzo withdrawal. Without enough working GABA receptors, our central nervous systems can be highjacked very quickly. I remember walking through Home Depot when I was early off of Klonopin. When I walked down the fertilizer and weed control aisle, I felt as if I was going to pass out. My dizziness ramped up. My legs grew weaker and my head pressure felt like someone had pumped my brain full of helium. Even my derealization got worse. It took hours of sitting outside in the fresh air for my increased symptoms to calm down.

I also had problems when I was exposed to new plastic, latex paint, cigarette smoke, or air fresheners. One night I stayed at my daughter’s house. I crawled into bed, very tired, but instead of falling asleep, I began to tingle all over like I had been plugged into an electrical socket. My head felt like it would explode from the internal pressure. My skin began to burn. Pain coursed through my body. My muscles twitched. Near the bed was a plugin Glade air freshener. I unplugged it and crossed my fingers that my symptoms would calm down. I did fall asleep eventually, but it wasn’t a pleasant night.

If you suffer from chemical sensitivity in benzo withdrawal, you can do a few things to protect yourself from an upsurge in withdrawal symptoms. You can knowingly avoid triggers. Stay away from the aisles in stores where fertilizers, weed control, insecticides, air fresheners, detergents, and other products containing chemicals or perfumes are stocked. Avoid using chemicals for cleaning in your home. You can make a DIY cleaner out of vinegar. (Google the ingredients and instructions.) You can make a natural air freshener out of a half of an orange with whole cloves. Ditch perfumes, colognes, and hair care products that trigger you. Avoid perfumed laundry detergent and fabric softener sheets for the dryer.You may even need to avoid natural incense, too. Wear gloves (avoid latex ones if you can) when you clean. You can keep a list of the things that rev up your symptoms so that you know what to avoid in the future.

If you do experience an increase in withdrawal symptoms from being exposed to chemicals, you can leave the area that is offensive and go out and get some fresh air. If you need to, remove your clothing and change into clean clothes. Drink plenty of water, and eat a snack or a light meal to ground yourself if you feel dizzy or lightheaded. Since we are on the topic of triggers, remember that vibration also can cause an increase in benzo withdrawal symptoms. Vacuuming, for instance, can cause an uptick in symptoms for some people. Swinging, rocking, spinning in a circle, etc., might make us feel worse, too.

Don’t allow yourself to believe any negative thoughts that want to creep into your mind about your increased symptoms when you’ve been triggered. They won’t last forever. Nor will you won’t have to avoid so many things in the future. Remind yourself that this is not the old you or the new you. This is just you in benzo withdrawal. You will heal in time. I can now walk down all the aisles at Home Depot without any trouble. I still limit my exposure to chemicals, however, just to be on the safe side, and to give my central nervous system a break. I do my best to treat my body with the utmost of respect. It’s all about taking good care of oneself. The lessons we learn about self-care in benzo withdrawal will serve us the rest of our lives.





What We Want Doctors To Know About Benzo Withdrawal

What We Want Doctors To Know About Benzo Withdrawal

It’s hard to suffer from an illness that isn’t recognized by the medical community. It’s even harder to suffer from that illness when it was caused by the very people who don’t recognize it: doctors. It’s incredibly frustrating to be told misinformation about our illness by those doctors. It’s like salt rubbed into the wound. Here is what we want doctors to know about benzodiazepine withdrawal:

  1. Benzodiazepines can cause chemical dependency in susceptible people in as a little as five to ten days. Dependency has nothing to do with an “addictive personality” and everything to do with DNA mutations that allow the drug to harm the brain. There is no research (yet) to indicate what these mutations may be, however, there is some indication that the MTHFR gene mutation may play a role. Benzos should never be prescribed for more than a few days. The prescription insert provided by the manufacturer indicates no more than two to four weeks of continuous use. Even this timeframe may be too long for some susceptible individuals.
  2. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms occur because the drug changes the brain. The drug causes down-regulation of the GABA receptors. It is this chemical brain damage that is at the center of benzo withdrawal suffering. There may be other changes in the brain as well. More research is needed.
  3. A slow taper is the best way to get off of the drug. No more than a ten percent cut at any time, and a hold of one to two weeks, or longer is recommended by Dr. Heather Ashton, the leading authority on benzodiazepine withdrawal. It would be helpful if doctors wrote prescriptions for the amount we need so that we can have the drug compounded, otherwise, we are left to our own methods of reducing the dose. These include water titration, dry cutting, and using scales. All of them are clumsy and rife for errors.
  4. Rehabs and detox centers are not the way to help a patient get free from a benzo because they use a taper schedule that is too fast. Also, these types of institutions are notorious for putting people on other powerful and damaging psych meds—get off of a benzo but come home on a handful of new drugs.
  5. Withdrawal symptoms can occur even while on the drug. This is known as tolerance withdrawal. We may have had symptoms for years that have gone undiagnosed for what they are. As we taper, we may acquire new or more intense benzo withdrawal symptoms.
  6. The anxiety, terror, panic, or paranoia that is common in benzodiazepine withdrawal are not the return of underlying “disorders.” They are the result of the changes in the brain from the drug and they will resolve in time as the brain heals.
  7. Prescribing psych meds for benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms is not helpful and can be harmful. Intrusive thoughts, OCDish thinking, and behavior, as well as anxiety, rage, depression, fear, paranoia, panic, hallucinations, etc., are not indications of a new (or old) mental health disorder and should be viewed as part of the healing process.
  8. Dismissing our benzo withdrawal symptoms as “in our head” isn’t helpful. We want you to know that we value your support and want you to become educated about the process of withdrawing and recovering from a benzo.
  9. Benzo withdrawal can last for many months, if not years, as it takes the brain quite some time to heal. The central nervous system needs time to calm down and recover from the down-regulated GABA receptors. Healing is not linear and is punctuated by “windows” and “waves”. We can feel better in a window only to be sick again in a wave. Even years off the drug, some people can have a relapse of withdrawal symptoms.
  10. Alcohol, vitamin D, B, magnesium and fish oil have all been known to increase benzo withdrawal symptoms. Also, chamomile, kavinace, kava kava, valerian, and phenibut, work on GABA and should be avoided during benzo withdrawal.
  11. Although we are aware that there are no drugs that can cure benzo withdrawal, we do want your help as a doctor. We’d like you to rule out anything other than withdrawal and we’d like you to reassure us that our symptoms will one day go away. We mostly need support and reassurance.
  12. In order to help us the most as we withdraw and recover from the benzodiazepine that we took as prescribed, you need to educate yourself about benzos and benzo withdrawal. We’d be incredibly grateful if you’d take the time to learn and to understand the very serious health challenge that we face.
  13. Most of all, we’d love it if you’d stop prescribing benzos for more than a few days so that you don’t inadvertently harm anyone else.


It’s A Shame!

It’s A Shame!

Shame. Most of us experience it in benzo withdrawal. For some of us, it comes roaring into our lives like a freight train. It touches every corner of our daily existence. For others, it seeps in slowly, almost imperceptibly, but it’s there, taunting us. Even for those of us who felt strong and confident before a benzo or on a benzo, withdrawal can rip that away. We are left with self-doubt and confusion. No matter how accomplished we were before withdrawal, now it all seems non-existent, completely forgotten. We limp along worried that we are unworthy and that no matter what we do, we will never regain our footing or our stride. But that fear is groundless. Shame is just another benzo withdrawal symptom that fades away as we heal.

Part of the shame that we feel is tied to what is called “life review.” It’s another one of those wonky benzo withdrawal symptoms that comes out of the blue. Life review is just what it sounds like: we review our lives, and we do so with the most unforgiving microscope. In benzo withdrawal, I remembered stupid things I had done in my teens and twenties; things I’d long ago forgotten. I’d relive the smallest of details and view them as proof of my unworthiness. It wasn’t just old memories that made me feel shame. I was ashamed of who I was in the present moment. I thought that my withdrawal symptoms meant that I was a failure somehow, that it was an indication of my weakness; some innate flaw in my makeup. Of course, that was nonsense, but at the time, it sure felt real.

That’s the problem. Our shame feels real. We aren’t able to see it for what it is, just another benzo withdrawal symptom, like burning skin, head pressure, or the tingles. My shame came and went like all of my other withdrawal symptoms. Once my GABA receptors repaired themselves, my shame lifted all of its own. Yours will too. What can you do in the meantime, while your brain is cobbling itself back together? Here are some suggestions.

Don’t take your shame head-on in a debate, because chances are good, that with downregulated GABA receptors, you won’t be a match for it. Instead, find ways to move gracefully with it. Accept that it is a part of recovery and don’t give it much energy. Spend some time every day getting in touch with the part of you that is still underneath all of your benzo symptoms, and honoring it. From there, you may have an easier time being a neutral observer of your shame, instead of being overwhelmed by it. It’s important to hold on to the knowledge that you are still whole and intact deep inside. Benzo withdrawal can’t touch you there.

If you are struggling with shame, know that it will loosen its grip on you as soon as your brain repairs itself more. You are not going to walk around feeling less than and unworthy forever. In fact, if you keep your heart open in benzo withdrawal, you’ll find that once it is over, you will feel incredibly good about yourself for having navigated one of the most complex and challenging illnesses known to man. That “S” that you now wear on your chest for “Shame” will turn into an “S” for “Super Hero!” Hold on. Your recovery is just around the corner. I hear it calling your name!




What We Wish Family And Friends Knew About Benzo Withdrawal

What We Wish Family And Friends Knew About Benzo Withdrawal

If we had been diagnosed with cancer, our family and friends would know that we are sick.They’d make us casseroles, take us to our chemo appointments, and call us to see how we are doing. After all, cancer is a serious matter, They would be concerned. But family and friends have very little knowledge about benzo withdrawal so they don’t know just how serious it is. This is what we wish they knew about benzo withdrawal.

We trusted our doctors and took a pill, as prescribed, and it damaged one of the two main “circuit boards” that regulate our brains. We have damaged GABA receptors, which means our bodies and minds don’t have the ability to slow/calm down. We suffer from chemical brain damage that can take a long time (sometimes years) to heal. Many of us have severe physical symptoms: painful joints, bones, muscles, teeth, eyes, mouth, etc. Our skin burns. It feels as if we have bugs crawling under our skin, or that bees are stinging us. Our muscles twitch and spasm. Our legs are weak and our balance is off; walking is difficult. But some of us do walk, and walk, and walk, as we are suffering from akathisia, a movement disorder that causes an inner restlessness and a compelling need to be in constant motion. We have painful and frightening pressure in our heads, making it feel as if the world is sloshing around us. Many of us are bedridden for months at a time, unable to take care of the most basic of human needs. We can’t think properly, and our memory is impaired. There are countless other physical symptoms that we may have as this is not an exhaustive list. What we want our friends and family to know is that we are sick and in pain. It’s hard to manage our lives. Many of us are unable to work or to function in our roles and duties as a parent. On top of being physically sick, we have mental symptoms as well.

Without a functioning GABA system to calm the fight/flight/freeze response of our brains, we live in a state of fear, anxiety, paranoia, or terror. We may have depersonalization or derealization. Frequent panic attacks are common. In benzo withdrawal, we lose the ability to feel positive emotions. Love, happiness, and joy are not within our reach. We slog through our days feeling a zombie-like doom and gloom. Intrusive and looping thoughts are common. We have very little control over our minds. Visual, auditory, and olfactory hallucinations are not uncommon. We wish that our friends and family understood how frightening it is to lose the ability to think rationally and to no longer feel as if you are the same person you were before benzo withdrawal. It is hard to live in the altered reality that benzo withdrawal can create.

We want friends and family to know that we are scared and oftentimes feeling hopeless. We need a great deal of reassurance. When we get scared that we will never get well; that we will never be ourselves again, we want you to remind us that we are healing. We know that we tax your patience, and we feel bad about being so needy. But we hope that you can hang in there with us as we do the hard work of holding on and surviving. We want you to take care of yourself so that you have the energy to take care of us too when we need your help. Please don’t burn out! It’s okay to take time away from us to refresh and recharge.

We know that the only cure for benzo withdrawal is time, so your suggestions to “Go see a doctor” or “Get back on your meds,” or “Up your dose,” doesn’t help us. See, what you don’t know is that the medical community understands very little about the damage these drugs cause. We’ve learned from thousands of others who have lived through benzo withdrawal. There are no meds for withdrawal, nor should anyone be on a benzo for more than a few days. Please trust that we have educated ourselves about the healing process from benzos.

We want our friends and family to know that benzo withdrawal will come to an end one day, (even if we don’t believe that ourselves). Our brains and our bodies will heal. We will start new chapters in our lives. We want everyone that we love to go the distance with us and to celebrate the dawning of the new day when we are recovered. Until then, we just need you to listen to us, to be there for us. We don’t need you to try to fix us; we know that you can’t. Just love us, exactly as we are, and where we are on our journey. We thank you and love you for being there for us while we battle an invisible, and medically ignored illness of great magnitude.

There is hardly anything of our lives that is recognizable in benzo withdrawal. We are doing the best we can with what we have to work with. We can’t magically think “happy thoughts,” or “snap out of it.” We have to wait for our brains to heal. Please, wait with us.



When Love, Joy, And Happiness Return

When Love, Joy, And Happiness Return

I was at my eldest son’s house gathering wood for my outdoor fireplace when my heart thawed out. My son walked over to me and I burst into tears. He put his arms around me to comfort me as he had done so many times in the past. “You’re going to recover, Momma,” he said gently.

“That’s not why I am crying,” I sobbed. My arms tightened around him in a warm embrace. “I’m crying because I can feel love for you again. You are my son! I recognize you!” I choked on the words, the emotion so intense. For me, love came roaring back in an instant. Like a tsunami, it was overwhelming. Happiness, the emotion that is triggered by external events, returned much like love returned. It flooded me with emotion much too big for my central nervous system to process. Sometimes, it would leave me shaky and exhausted. But I welcomed it! I knew that my central nervous system would eventually calm down. One of the things I had to be mindful of was to not become afraid of the positive emotions. I know that sounds a bit silly, but the intensity of love and happiness returning was at times more than I wanted to cope with. But I had been a terrified zombie for so long, that their return was welcomed, even if it was a rocky road for awhile.

Joy, the sense of ongoing peace within yourself, returned a bit more gracefully than love and happiness. It tugged at my heart bit by bit. It didn’t take me on the wild roller coaster ride that love and happiness took me on. It was more steady. You may have your positive emotions return in a more gradual manner. But for me, it was often a bit startling to feel them. I learned to breathe slowly and to sit with them when they were strong. I also didn’t allow myself to tell myself scary stories about my emotions. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have diagnosed me as bi-polar, but I knew from reading the literature about benzo withdrawal, that my experience was not uncommon. It didn’t take long for my emotions to settle down. After a few months, the rollercoaster ride ended and I was left with normal sized emotions.

As your GABA receptors heal themselves, you’ll find more and more that positive emotions bubble up for you. You may be like I was and find that they are intense, but rest assured that they will smooth out soon enough. My hunch is that you’ll discover a whole new world of self-confidence as your positive emotions come back online. I don’t let much pull me away from my inner peace these days. I give thanks for everything and I appreciate the smallest things in life now. Every day not in benzo withdrawal is a good day! Keep healing. You will recover, it’s just a matter of time.



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