By now all of us in benzo withdrawal know that (for most of us) it comes in windows and waves. I’ve been enjoying a fairly good window, meaning my symptoms are manageable. I’m taking it easy, avoiding both good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). I am eating well and going to bed at a regular time. I’m even taking my dog to the beach a few times a week and walking/lounging. I’m working at building my new coaching career, and looking forward to the future. I am keenly aware that a wave could swell up at any time and close my window.

And it did.

I went to the movies with a friend last night. (We saw the documentary on Ed Snowden. Frightening to watch the heads of the NSA denying their unlawful tactics.)During the movie my skin began burning and my old constant friend, full body tingles, came back to say hello. By the time we left I had head pressure, weakness, dizziness and bone pain. I went to sleep early in hope that it would vanish during the night. No such luck. After three hours of sleep, I was wide awake, looking for my wetsuit.

I’ve been here so many times that I know the drill. Waves means serious self-care. Lots and lots of positive self-talk and NO VICTIM mentality. I wasn’t able to stay out of the victim thoughts when my brain was less healed, but now I can. I am very good at reminding myself that I will be 1000% healed one day and that these waves always come and go. They never stick around.

I am on the couch with my new dog Shakespeare. He’s precious. He was a stray who was literally on the table to be put to sleep. A vet tech saved him after hunting for a microchip a second time. His owners were long gone, but at least they knew he as a pet, not a feral stray. He was so frightened at the shelter, he wasn’t acting like he had been around people. I can totally understand how fearful he was. It wasn’t too long ago that the damage to my brain from the medication that I took as prescribed caused me to have intense fear. I’m glad my brain is healed enough that I don’t have that anymore. Maybe later I might head to the beach with Shakes, or head over to the bay and walk. I’m sure at some point I will water the garden and do some weeding. Whatever we end up doing today, I’ll be mindful that life is good, and that I’m healing.

The trick to getting to the finish line of healing is to not get too attached to expectations. Sure, set your sights on positive healing, but don’t get your panties in a bunch when you have set backs. They are going to happen. It’s the nature of the benzo beast. It’s helpful to distract from the symptoms as much as possible and to keep telling yourself that you are healing. I used to roll my eyes at some of the affirmations that Bliss shared, but guess what? THEY WORK!. I’m a big believer in them now.

Other things to do while you are riding your wave to the shore is to surround yourself with as many compassionate, caring people as you can. Love heals. Enough said. Keep your hands and mind as busy as you can. Do things that bring you joy. If you can’t feel joy just yet, do things that used to bring you joy. You body and brain will remember on a cellular level, even if you don’t register the feelings.

I know its hard to be patient. This is such a nasty illness. But we have it, and we must ride it out. One day, it will be gone forever. Do your best to maintain a positive attitude.

I’m grateful I’ve had a good stretch of time with limited symptoms. I’ll zip up my wetsuit, paddle out to the crest of the wave, stand up, and ride this baby to shore. I’ll enjoy the view, the sun on my face, the spray of salt water on my skin, and I’ll be thankful I am still alive to ride the waves, if waves are what I have on my plate.

Life is good. It really is. It is such a divine gift. I want to open mine up, and enjoy it, and share it.

Keep fighting the good fight. Ride the waves. Know they will one day the tide will go out and all you will experience is a glorious window of light, love and wellbeing.