Fear is a common benzo withdrawal emotion. It can come out of the blue, settling over us like a heavy wet blanket. Sometimes we don’t have any idea why we are fearful or what we are fearful about; we only know that we are very much afraid. And, that the fear is unbearable. We want it to stop. Immediately. One of the fears that we can identify in benzo withdrawal is fear of the future, or better said, fear of the unknown. We worry about what is going to happen.
We are fearful that our symptoms will get worse, or that we won’t be able to cope, or that we will lose our jobs, our marriages, our sanity, or a myriad of other unpleasant things. How do we stop fearing the future, and make some sort of peace with it? We learn to return to the present moment whenever we find ourselves time traveling in our minds to the future. We ground ourselves in the present moment. Look around. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel under your feet or hands, or touching your body? Do you taste anything? In this moment, everything is okay. You are safe. When we realize that, we give our nervous system the opportunity to settle down, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Safety is what the brain and the nervous system depends upon to function optimally. Every time we remind ourselves that we are safe, we send a calming message to our threat detection circuitry.
Our thoughts cannot predict the future, so we need to not believe them when they tell us scary stories about what may happen. We don’t want to argue or debate with our scary thoughts as that can cause them to find more frightening evidence to share with us, nor do we want to ignore them, as that may cause them to shout louder. The best approach to dealing with scary thoughts about the future is to neutrally observe them. Tell yourself that they are just a body function, just as your hiccups, burps, and farts, are body functions. You don’t fear those, do you? Don’t fear your thoughts, either. Tell yourself that the content of your thoughts is driven by your hyperactive nervous system that is lacking enough GABA receptors to maintain calm. Once your receptors recover, you will be more able to be in charge of your thoughts.
Please don’t let your thoughts bully you into believing that your future is something to fear. It isn’t. Your future is something to look forward to, for it holds your recovery and your new lease on life. Remind yourself how strong you’ve been and know that you will continue to be. You’ve come this far in your journey to well-being, you can and will go the distance.
Stop fearing the future by coming back to the present moment and reminding yourself that your thoughts are not predictors of the future. They are merely an indication of the state of your nervous system, nothing more. You are safe. You are healing. You will recover. Count on it, because it is true. In time, your nervous system will settle down. Life will return to normal, and you’ll go about your days without any thought to benzo withdrawal. If you learn now, to not allow yourself to time travel into the future, or to quickly return to the present moment if you do, your recovery will be that much sweeter, for you will have at your disposal a very powerful tool to help you reside in peace and harmony.