I realize that Don and I are beyond the place of intense suffering from withdrawal symptoms. We now blog more about the new lives we have: the gratitude and the hope we feel. That leaves some of you who are still struggling with withdrawal symptoms, without a “voice” for where you currently are in your healing.
I’ll revisit my symptoms.
When I was tapering, I became bedridden. I was too weak to stand up for very long. Taking a shower was next to impossible. I don’t have a tub, so I stank most of the time from lack of hygiene and benzo withdrawal sweating. Brushing my teeth hurt my arms too much so I often had a foul mouth. I practically shaved my head so I wouldn’t have to worry about my hair. I was too weak to prepare food. Some days I went without eating. I bought a walker that had a seat, and I used it when I managed to find the strength to go out into public. Prior to that, I used a cane, but that was not enough help as I deteriorated more and more as my dose got smaller and smaller. The weakness and fatigue were overwhelming and frightening.
During my taper and then after my cold turkey, I suffered with these symptoms (in no particular order): burning skin, formication, muscle spasms, muscle twitching, tinnitus, back of head pain, brain fizzing in skull, brain rolling around in skull, head pressure, behind my eye pain, mouth-teeth-jaw pain, burning tongue, burning spine, full body tingles that felt like bee stings, restless legs, aching, burning muscles, constipation, benzo belly, bladder problems, food sensitivities, sounds made me feel terror, anxiety, depersonalization, derealization, obsessive thoughts, mood swings, memories from life events, depression, panic, racing thoughts, racing heart, hot flashes, insomnia, tight chest, heart pain, skipped beats, trouble breathing, ear pain, neck, back and shoulder pain, bicep pain, buttocks felt like they were being pushed in and rotated with cut glass inside of them, body jerks, paranoia, hallucinations both visual and audible which resolved after a month or so after my cold turkey, trouble walking, feeling as if I was being pulled down, flashing lights in my peripheral vision, ocular migraines, feeling as if I was moving up and down when sitting or lying down, organic fear, organic terror, profuse sweating, cysts on knuckles, painful blisters on my thigh, severe joint pain, feeling unable to connect with reality or people, sobbing, dizzy, memory problems, unable to think straight, confused, exercise intolerance, all of my emotions felt too big, smells and sunlight overwhelming, Alice in wonderland syndrome, metallic taste, song in my head, looping thoughts, fear of going insane, …. and more.
I was an utter and complete mess. I prayed for death every day. Now of course, I am so grateful I didn’t die. I still have some physical symptoms, but they are manageable. I know in time, they will fade away. Bliss Johns told me that the tinnitus may never leave, but that is ok. I can live with it. That’s a small price to pay to regain my life.
Most of my troubling psychological symptoms are gone too. What is left is barely felt, and it isn’t a bother. I know it will be gone as well very soon.
If you are still suffering symptoms, please know that the usual outcome for benzo withdrawal syndrome is recovery. Your central nervous system will heal. In time.
I had many, many, days feeling utterly hopeless. I was certain that I was doomed to live in the hell of withdrawal forever. I think the hopelessness was my worst symptom.
I coped by gardening. I created a wonderful flower garden in my front yard that my whole community enjoys. I have veggies planted on the side of the house. I spent full days out in the sun, feeling crazy as a coot, but kept my hands and my mind busy and focused.
I also coped by letting go. I surrendered my life over to God as I understand God. Now mind you, I was pissed off with God a lot, (most of the time!) and let God know it. I’ve called God every curse word in the book. Thankfully, God loves me enough to overlook my anger. God knows the anger was really fear. Deep horrific fear. Fear of living, fear of dying. Fear of everything. When I let go, and let God, I still suffered, but I felt carried. I knew God was doing for me what I could not do for myself. I am deeply grateful. If you can let go of your expectations about your recovery and trust the process and trust God as you believe in God, I assure you, things will be more manageable. You may still suffer, but it will not be as intense.
I’ve come so far in my recovery. Life is wide open with possibilities now. I am so grateful. I wake every morning and ask God what s/he would like me to do for the day. I do my best to follow the guidance I am given.
If you are feeling hopeless, please know that many of us felt the same way and now we have fresh, new lives brimming with hope. We have our health back too. Even with the few remaining symptoms I have, I feel better than I did when I was in severe tolerance withdrawal waves. And I know I am only going to get better.
I know the symptoms can be almost unbearable. Find ways to distract. Find ways to comfort yourself. Accept that you are in benzo withdrawal and you are healing. Don’t look past today. Stay right here, right now. This moment is the only place where you can access God. You can’t access God in the past or in the future because neither exit right now. Be fully present in this moment.
Life is a series of ups and downs. We’ve all been down in withdrawal. Up is the only place to go! And we will all get there. One day at a time.