Distraction is one of the main coping skills for successfully navigating benzo withdrawal. When we put our attention on other things, we can, even if only briefly, forget about our symptoms. It’s a good rule of thumb to busy your hands. Your mind will usually follow what your hands are doing. I distracted by learning to draw. I watched instructional videos on YouTube. I made a promise to myself to draw one picture every day. Sometimes it would take an hour, sometimes several hours. It kept my mind off of my suffering for awhile. I also gardened. My front yard became a flower garden. Being focused on my plants kept me from being focused on myself. And, being in my front yard helped me to create community as I got to know all of my neighbors. I also painted. I’m not technically a “good” painter, nor will I probably ever be. That’s not the point. The point is to be involved in the doing of something, not being invested in the outcome!
Other people in benzo withdrawal have knitted, crocheted, created hook rugs, learned to play instruments, created scrapbooks, journaled, worked word and number puzzles as well as jigsaw puzzles, organized old photos, learned to sew, and dozens of other things that kept them busy.
For those unable to do things with their hands, you can watch television shows and movies. Getting engrossed in a story removes us from the story we tell ourselves about benzo withdrawal; the worry that we will never heal. We can also read books, and be transported by the story or learn something. You may struggle with comprehension when reading. That’s okay. But if the struggle reminds you of being in benzo withdrawal, it is better to find another activity.
Everyone’s level of ability to engage in distractions will be different. Some won’t be able to focus on reading or watching television or learning anything knew. The cognitive abilities just aren’t there at this stage in their healing. Some won’t have the energy for gardening. That’s okay. Just do what you can do. And, don’t put any pressure on yourself to do things “right” or “perfect.” Enjoy whatever you do for the sake of doing it. Don’t create an outcome in your mind, simply enjoy the activity for what it is.
What is it that you can do to distract yourself from your symptoms? What can you do to busy your hands and your mind? Come up with a few things that you can do, and use these as your go-to activities when you are having a more challenging day. Instead of sitting and wondering what to do to hold on, immediately get involved in one of your distraction activities. I call these “anchors.” I had a few activities that I knew I could count on when I had an exceptionally bad day. I didn’t have to think about how to cope, I just got up and got engaged in one of my anchors. They kept me tethered to the present moment and tethered to life. Feel free to share with us what you do to distract yourself from your benzo withdrawal symptoms.
My daughter had twin girls 6 months after my doctor discontinued my klonopin abruptly. I had been poly drugged for 20 years as prescribed. Three of them were benzos. I hadn’t drove a car till she was in labor and wanted me there. That was 32 months ago. I’m still tapering my last drug currently. I’ve kept a “Recovery Calendar” throughout this journey. This has been the most challenging event of my life. I’ve struggled to go over to my daughter’s house to “help” with the girls 256 times since they were born. Most times I needed a cane just to get out of the car. The twins have been a beautiful distraction for me the last 2 years. Once I engage with them and help with their care, my symptoms are bearable. They require my full attention, leaving very little time to focus on my WD. They have been “my garden” and I constantly tell myself I can do this, just keep moving forward, look how far you have come. Thank you Jenn for posting about the power of distraction–it is lifesaving.
As I have always had a keen interest in wildlife, my garden has become a haven for wild birds to nest in. I have been keeping my hands busy, by making small hanging feeders out of lots of recycled containers. It is so beautiful to sit and watch the small birds making the most out of the feeders, and gives me a sense of pride, knowing that I am helping the young ones get a good start. Thank you for writing about distraction, it is defo the key to surviving and winning this battle.
Love and Hugs across the Pond
Love to all
I used to snicker at my adult friends and their coloring books. Not any more. This is my go to distraction at those times when I feel too tired , edgy, and out of sorts to do much of anything. It calms me as nothing else, and is a wonderful middle of the night activity when I don’t want to wake my husband up by putting on the telly.
My anchors have brought me such joy! The very act of “anchoring” is a gift I have received from this healing and has become
very important to me. Because on my need to move slow, I’m able to notice subtle shifts in my mood. This allows me to feel the rising of innate joy. Through this, I’ve been able to identify values that I wasn’t aware of. It also seems that this joy is contagious as I carry it into whatever interactions, with others, that may greet me. For this I’m deeply grateful! I’m enjoying getting to know myself at this level. I’m 11 months out from a rapid withdrawal from klonopin that I took for at least 15 years. I’ve got away to go and I’ve come a long way but this is where I am right now, right here and it’s okay! I listen to music, read, listen to audio books, interact with others that are also on this journey, I’ve learned to knit, play with my dog, take soothing baths, swim, practice gentle yoga when I can, watch movies, listen to an array of podcasts, play games with my husband (we’re currently playing Pug-Opoly …haha) practice gratitude and so much more………….
I read this blog and the thoughts of others with appreciation and love
Jennifer, when we are healed are we allowed to post about our healing journey here? I don’t mean the entire story, but kind of the cliff notes version? It’s getting closer all the time. You speak the truth! Thanks for everything. Healing sneaks up on you when you least expect it! ♥♥♥♥♥♥
Jennifer, how do I keep from getting over excited about feeling healing happening? To feel feelings I haven’t felt in over 38 months is kind of overwhelming. Do I just go with it or what? I know that even good stress can be bad for our CNS. I know I’m off topic here. Thank you for the PM to my comment above this one. Hope you’re feeling better.♥
That’s a great question. I’ll blog about it next week. The short version is to pace yourself as much as possible with exposure to triggers. learn to breathe to calm you CNS. Do your best to not to get too excited about anything. This is still the time to play Goldilocks; not too hot, not too cold. I used to tell myself not to get overly stimulated by anything. I had to take breaks from a lot of things. Still do, actually. I still can’t handle the really big swings of emotions. It’s too draining. The joy we feel at “coming back online” is real and it needs to be celebrated. We just need to take it slowly, though. That’s all.
I’d love it if people shared their healing stories. Even if not 100% healed, they would be great to read. I’ll be posting about this in the next few weeks. THanks for the idea. Good one!
Hi,Jenifer I am tired,low energy every time though I sleep for 8 hours.Is it normal?Is it withdrawal?
Hi everyone, just letting you all know that whatever is happening with me is still holding. Today is my 4th birthday since I cold turkeyed 38+ months ago and it has been the BEST birthday I’ve had in over 10 years. (I’m 64 today) Made contact with my estranged sister today and it was good. I have felt love, joy, and peace this week. The anhedonia is lifting and the fear is slipping away. When I say Jennifer speaks the truth, I mean it! I didn’t really believe I’d ever recover even though I told other people they would eventually get their life back. I thought I was just one of the unlucky ones who was so damaged that I’d be stuck in hell the rest of my miserable life. So not true! This feels really different from other so called partial windows I’ve had. This was so unexpected, but I can honestly say that I feel good tday. Not awesome but so much better than the last 3 years of w/d and recovery and even the entire 20 years I took Klonopin. Hang on EVERYONE. Healing is coming, maybe sooner than you think!