The recovery process for benzo withdrawal isn’t linear. We often feel better, only to sink back down into a wave of symptoms. Waves will happen for seemingly no reason, but we can minimize their risk by following a few simple guidelines.
- Avoid taking medications, vitamins, or supplements that are (a.) known to rev up symptoms (vitamin D, B, magnesium, and fish oil, for example) or (b.) are GABA agonists (works on GABA.) Alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and food additives are on the avoid list. If your doctor wants to prescribe something for you, please do your research. Don’t assume that your doctor “knows best.” Many are not educated about benzo withdrawal.
- Avoid stress. Emotional stress wears us down. It plays havoc with our central nervous system. If you have a lot of emotional unrest in withdrawal, find a safe person you can share with. Do your best to remain positive and upbeat. Be careful of the scary stories you tell yourself. Don’t believe them! Stress also comes in physical form. You’ll want to avoid rigorous exercise. It can trigger an uptick in symptoms. Seek help from friends and family for emotional and physical support while you recover.
- Avoid fatigue. Don’t overdo things. Take things easy. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Take breaks during the day if need be.Many of us have insomnia in withdrawal. Do your best to sleep, but don’t stress about it. (Insomnia will fade away, in time.) Another type of fatigue we can experience is spending too much time on our devices. Light from the screen is exhausting to us. Limit your time online.
- Avoid overheating. Summer months can bring an increase in benzo withdrawal symptoms due to the rise in temperatures. Keep your body cool. Drink plenty of water. Plan outdoor activities for the cool of the morning or early evening. Use ice packs to cool down, if necessary.
- Avoid infections. Whether caused by a virus or a bacteria, infections rev up our symptoms. Make sure that proper hygiene is a part of your daily life; handwashing is a good thing! You may want to avoid shopping in crowded areas during cold and flu season. Gyms, movie theaters, and other places where you touch items that others have touched before you can be a breeding ground for germs.
Waves may happen regardless of how much you try to avoid them. They seem to be a part of the recovery process. Use all of your coping skills to manage if you find yourself in an uptick of symptoms. Ask family and friends to help you if you are unable to manage a part of your daily life. When you recover, you can pay it forward and help someone else who needs some sort of assistance.
No matter how bad your wave may be, it will go away, in time. Acceptance, patience, distraction, and gratitude are all good things to practice. Keep healing! (BTW: as I climb back out of the wave I currently find myself in, I will only be posting a blog on Monday’s. Gotta pace myself.)