The world hasn’t changed, your brain has.

I remember during my taper that I went to bed one night and woke up to a completely different world. It was as if something dark and sinister had crept into my house and rearranged everything, even though everything was in its proper place. From that day forward, my thoughts and feelings were doom and gloom. I couldn’t access any positivity or joy. Negativity and depression are often a part of withdrawal, and they are not always easy to cope with, I know. They sure weren’t;t easy for me.

Index cards became my best friends.

I wrote positive affirmations on three by five cards and taped them to mirrors, walls, and doors, to remind myself that my thoughts and feelings were generated from the changes to my GABA receptors. The doom and gloom weren’t me; they were the changes in my brain, and those changes were temporary. I even wrote a few affirmations on index cards and tucked them into my pockets. I needed constant reminding that I was healing and that I wouldn’t stay depressed and unable to connect with joy or love, forever. The index cards helped me come back to the truth that my experience was caused by benzo withdrawal; it was not indicative of the true reality of life. Life was still precious and wonderful. I just couldn’t access that.

Distraction helps a great deal.

Distraction is an enormous coping tool in benzo withdrawal. I knew that my mind would usually follow my hands, so I made sure I kept my hands busy. I gardened, painted, wrote, did word puzzles, cooked for friends, and even cleaned houses sometimes when I felt well enough to do so. I even learned to knit and crochet by watching Youtube videos. If you are stuck in “doom and gloom” mode, you may want to consider finding something to do that occupies your hands and your mind. It’s good to put our focus on something other than our negative thoughts and feelings.

Talking to people farther out and more healed helped.

I knew a handful of people who were a few years ahead of me in their recovery. On the day’s I felt I couldn’t handle the crushing bleakness of my inner world, I’d call them and ask them to encourage me and remind me that I was going to heal. Even if my hope only lasted as long as the phone call, it was a bit of a bright spot, and I was appreciative of that. We often need constant reminders that we will heal; that life will feel good and worthwhile again. And it will!

True recovery is inside job, just like most things in life.

Once I got beyond the real hardcore intrusive thoughts and other mental symptoms, and things began to lift, I knew that my attitude was going to play a major role in how well I got on with my life. I learned how to self-soothe. I learned how to be my own best friend. I went on an incredible journey of learning to love myself, which in turn allowed me to fall deeply and madly in love with life, just the way it was. Which meant that I learned to practice acceptance. My spiritual faith grew as well.

Any time I had a negative thought about the world around me, or about myself, I asked myself if I wanted to feel all that negativity. The answer was always a no. So I learned how to maneuver through my days by asking one question over and over and over again. That question was simply: “What’s the most loving thing to think, feel, and do?” That question empowered me to create a wonderful internal state that attracted good things to me. I knew my GABA receptors would heal, in time, but I wanted to make sure that I was going to heal as well—the old resentments, worries, preoccupation with self, guilt, shame, etc. No one was going to be able to do that work for me. I had to do it myself.

Louis Armstrong was right, it is a wonderful world!

I love Louis’ song, What A Wonderful World. And it IS a wonderful world, even though we are in benzo withdrawal. The world is still full of incredible things. It is still full of love. You may not be able to feel it now, but you will. In time. Remind yourself, over and over, and over again if necessary, that your doom and gloom is just another benzo withdrawal symptom and will soon go away, like all the other symptoms. Do your best to get your hands busy with some sort of distraction and take steps, even small steps, toward loving yourself. Go outside and feel the breeze on your face. Feel the ground under your feet. Tell yourself that the world is a wonderful place and that soon, you’ll be able to feel that every minute of every day, because you are healing! The finish line is just up ahead, waving at you to come on over.