Like a flash flood, benzo rage instantly builds up until it overflows and pushes against anything in its path. Often, there is no warning. It can be triggered by the most mundane circumstances. In the heat of the moment, you may have a hard time controlling what you say, maybe even what you do. Your limbic system is hijacked; with all of its irrational, knee-jerk thoughts and feelings. Once the “flood waters” recede, you feel remorse for your outburst, and maybe a bit overwhelmed, even panicked that you briefly lost control. Like all of the other benzo withdrawal symptoms, benzo rage isn’t easy to cope with. But here are some things that you can do to help you maneuver through the anger until your brain has healed more.
- Remember to breathe. Taking a few deep breaths and exhaling longer than you inhale can help you settle down. (Shallow breathing or rapid breathing can fuel the anger.)
- Tell your friends and family about benzo rage so that they aren’t blindsided by it if you experience it. Let them know that it’s a hard symptom to control and that you’ll do your best to not lose your cool. Educate them on how to help you if you do go into a rage. Ask them to remember to be calm and to speak to you in soft tones. They can offer to take a gentle walk with you or to sit with you until you are more in control. It’s hard to be around someone who is angry, but that is often what we need the most. We are riddled with fear already; we don’t want to be abandoned.
- If you feel anger mounting, you can excuse yourself from the people you are with and take a walk, go scream into a pillow, journal, etc. A few people I’ve coached have bought cheap plates from Goodwill and found a safe place to throw them so that they shatter. That seems to let off steam in a safe way, just be careful when cleaning up the glass!
- Make amends with anyone you have disrespected or harmed with your outburst.
- Avoid supplements, vitamins, or medications that can rev you up.Sometimes we react to taking vitamins and other substances with extreme feelings, and rage can certainly be one of them.
- Understand that benzo rage is a withdrawal symptom and part of the healing process. For some, old wounds surface and feelings are incredibly big and overwhelming. Old hurts that you may have thought resolved may surface again and be emotionally painful again. It’s also common to hold grudges and to be resentful of people you don’t feel are understanding or supportive of your benzo withdrawal journey. Know that as you heal, the anger will subside. You won’t always feel the degree of anger you feel now.
- Do your best to practice forgiveness. Remember that everyone is doing their best, even those people who have hurt you, and let them off the hook. You’ve hurt people in your life, too. None of us are perfect. So extend forgiveness to others and to yourself.
- Have a spiritual practice that allows you to “Let go and let God.” Building our spiritual “muscle” in benzo withdrawal is a good way to cope with all of our symptoms.
- Count to ten. I know how silly that sounds, but it does have some merit. Pausing when we feel our anger begin to mount can help us gain control over our emotions. Give yourself some time to rationally address your mounting anger, and hopefully, diffuse it to some degree. Make some space for you to think through your feelings if at all possible.
- If your benzo rage causes you or others to be in danger, please seek help from people who can keep you and others safe. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place just in case you need help. Benzo rage is usually not violent per se, but it’s better to be prepared in the event you lose control. (Keeping weapons locked up or out of the house is a good idea for anyone in benzo withdrawal.)
These are ten things that you can do to help you cope if you have benzo rage. What are some of the things that you do that work best for you? Feel free to respectfully share your thoughts and ideas. The more we share our common experiences, the less alone we feel and the more educated we become about the process of recovering from benzo withdrawal. Benzo rage is one of the symptoms that people are often hesitant to talk about because they are embarrassed that they lose their cool. However, benzo rage should be no more embarrassing than our insomnia, tingling, burning skin, etc. it is simply another benzo withdrawal symptom that will go away in time.