If you’ve read my posts about coping with benzo withdrawal symptoms you know I am a big proponent of distraction. It helps us take our minds off of our suffering, even if only for a few minutes. If you’ve read about my journey through withdrawal, you also know I am a big fan of gardening as a means to distract. Distraction can be so much more than just a place to focus one’s attention. It can be a way to gain purpose and perspective while healing from benzo withdrawal. It can be the secret passage to a more fulfilling life, even in the midst of our benzo withdrawal symptoms.

First, let me explain that one of the major tenants of Alcoholics Anonymous (and all other Twelve Step programs) is service to others. Why? Because focusing on others takes us away from our self—our self-pity, self-loathing, self-absorption and the like which are usually triggers to drink (or engage in other addictive behavior). When we aren’t focused on ourselves, we are more able to see the real beauty and meaning in life. Stepping outside of our self-centered egos gives us the opportunity to grow and mature. It’s the same in benzo withdrawal. When we distract with an activity that is in service to someone or something other than ourselves, we are more apt and able to see the beauty in life and to grow and heal. Of course, most of us experiencing benzo withdrawal are not addicts, but being of service to other living things helps us step outside of our suffering and embrace life a bit deeper, even in the depths of our benzo withdrawal despair. Sure, it’s good to distract with mindful things such as puzzles and coloring books—nothing wrong with those or similar things—but there is a “superpower” in doing things that ultimately help other living things.

Taking care of the flowers in my garden gave me a purpose to wake up each morning and face the ice-cold terror that coursed its way through my veins. It gave me a reason to breathe through my pain, double vision, burning skin, ear ringing, twitching, boaty feelings, tingling, dizziness, weakness, intrusive thoughts, obsessions, and all the other horrible symptoms that came with my cold-turkey from my prescribed use of clonazepam. My garden was more than just a distraction; it was the backbone of my healing. It taught me lessons about love, community, forgiveness, innovation, determination, and perseverance. I would have never learned those lessons had I only colored in my coloring books or solved my cryptogram word puzzles.

That’s the message of this post. I hope that those of you who are physically able will find ways to distract that are in service to other living things. Truly, there is something sacred in being of service to life. That is how you take distraction to a new, deeper level. And in my humble opinion, it is how you heal on a deeper level because we find purpose and fulfillment, which nourishes and grows our souls.

I’d love to hear from you as to what you do that takes distraction to a deeper level. Feel free to share your comments. For those of who are physically unable to engage in activities, please know that you won’t be bedbound or couchbound forever—your day of healing is coming. You will be able to get out and do things again. Benzo withdrawal is a temporary condition, I assure you.