I can’t begin to tell you how many times I shook my fist at God and asked (more like screamed) “Why Me?” I’d recite to Him all the good deeds I had done. I certainly didn’t deserve such a cruel fate as benzodiazepine withdrawal. I had trusted my doctor that the pill he gave me was safe. That was the extent of my wrongdoing. The question “Why?” ate away at me every day.
One afternoon my obsession with “Why me?” reached a crescendo. I literally fell on my bedroom floor and cried until there were no tears left to cry. When I got back onto my feet, something had changed. I didn’t need to know “why” anymore. Instead, I asked, “How?” How could I get through the day? How could my life still have meaning? I also asked, “What?” What could I do to have purpose in my life? What could I do to help myself heal? Do you know what the answers to all of the questions were? Service and love. In other words, give, instead of demanding to receive. From that day forward, things in my life started to get better, ever so slowly.
I planted a front yard flower garden that attracted people from all over the neighborhood. They came and sat in my garden, total strangers, and told me their problems. I listened. I also wrote a positive message on a chalkboard on the fence every morning to inspire people (the start of my Soul Reminders). I fed the birds and squirrels and I blogged to help others in benzo withdrawal. I kept my heart open to the suffering of others, and did my best not to focus entirely on my own. I was always looking for ways in which I could help others.
Research bears out that there is a healing power in being of service and loving others. Schmale and Iker, did a study of 68 women who were prone to a certain type of cancer.¹ They could predict which women would have carcinomatous changes on the basis of their feelings of helplessness. They discovered that women with high levels of helplessness were more prone to illness. What combated feelings of helplessness? You got it! Service to others and loving others.
The question “Why?” is self-focused. It is all about our egos and what we want or expect. Shifting to asking “What?” and “How?” puts us in a better mindset. I know that in benzo withdrawal we are not at our best. Far from it. But that doesn’t mean that we have nothing to give. Even the smallest acts of kindness to others can lift us out of our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and it is the helplessness and hopelessness that are the most detrimental in recovering from benzodiazepine damage, in my humble opinion. They were for me! Shifting our focus away from our misery, and finding ways to help others and to love others, does wonders for our healing.
I know, you’re thinking, I’m too sick to be of service. Get creative! Hand write and mail a letter to a friend or loved one who needs encouragement. Knit a scarf for someone. Watch Youtube videos that lift your spirits and write a thank you in the comment section, thanking the person who posted it. At the very least, you can ask your friends and family about their troubles, and listen carefully. Listening to others is love in action! We often spend so much time talking about our withdrawal symptoms, that we forget that others are struggling with their own problems. I know you can find ways to serve and to show love to others, even in benzo withdrawal. Post a few of your ideas for us all to enjoy and to be inspired by!
1. A.H. Schmale, “Giving Up as a Final Common Pathway to Changes in Health,” Advanced psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 8, 1972, pp. 20-40.