Recovering from benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND can feel like a barren landscape, an environment where our creativity has dried up and withered away. Where we once were curious, confident to try new things, and excited to bring our ideas to life, now we are dull, unsure, and unable to conjure up new ideas.  However unsettling it may feel to lose our creativity, it’s important to remember that this phase is temporary, not permanent. And we can indulge in creative activities without our previous positive emotions spurring us on. It’s good to keep our creative juices flowing, even if they feel bone day.

So, how can we sustain our creativity during such a challenging phase in our lives? One answer lies within our perspective of creativity itself. Creativity isn’t solely about producing a masterpiece or conducting an awe-inspiring performance. Instead, it’s a way of perceiving the world, a form of thinking that hinges on curiosity. This curiosity sparks an inner drive to explore, create, and, ultimately, heal. 

Shifting Focus: A Gateway to Creativity

A vital stride in nurturing creativity during benzo withdrawal is directing our focus outward. By engaging with the world around us, we can temporarily set our struggles aside, lessening the constant self-monitoring, inward focus that often takes place in withdrawal. This outward focus encourages the sparks of curiosity, thus opening the gateways to creativity. This outward focus is at the heart of the fourth cornerstone of well-being, love well, and encourages healing as it encourages our nervous system to shift out of the protect fight, flight, or freeze state, and into the default connect state where our bodies, minds, and spirits operate best.

One of the easiest ways to encourage this shift is through nature. Gardening, for example, is a creative process of profound depth. It enables us to witness growth, renewal, and the sheer miracle of life firsthand, immersing ourselves in a therapeutic, sensory-rich environment. Every decision made, every plant placed and tended to, contributes to the creation of your unique green space. 

Gardening kept me alive after my horrific cold turkey from Clonazepam. Even though I felt void of any positive thoughts or feelings, living in a swirling vortex of fear and pain, I planted a flower garden in my front yard. I can’t recommend gardening enough to anyone on a journey to health and happiness. It is why I create a garden every year to teach and share with anyone who needs healing. 

Exploring Creative Pursuits

But the world of creativity extends beyond gardening. There’s a multitude of activities that can help kindle your creative spirit (and your healing!) during recovery:

  • Cooking: Like gardening, cooking offers a therapeutic and creative process. Experimenting with various ingredients and recipes can inspire joy and a sense of accomplishment. Keeping it whole-food, plant-based adds to the healing opportunity, as does cooking with someone else. 
  • Photography: Capturing the world’s beauty through a lens allows exploration of your surroundings and kindles your artistic side.
  • Writing: Penning down thoughts, emotions, or narratives can be incredibly healing. Venturing into poetry or short stories could be a creative outlet. ( I wrote my first novel during my setback. It helped me get through the despair of being back in benzo withdrawal.)
  • Crafting: Engaging in activities like painting,  pottery, or DIY projects stimulates your brain, providing a creative outlet and tangible results. (We have free craft classes designed to help the brain in my live support group, Heal With Dr. Jenn.)
  • Music: Playing an instrument, singing, or merely listening to diverse types of music can be a way to express and inspire creativity.
  • Yarn arts: Knitting, crocheting, hook rugs, or macrame are all ways to explore your creativity. If you don’t know how to do any of those, head to YouTube and watch a how-to video. Learning gives us a feel-good dose of dopamine.
  • Play: Playing is creative, especially when there is no end result in mind or no winners or losers. When we play we make connections to the prefrontal cortex, helping with executive functioning.

Remember, the ultimate goal isn’t to create impeccable art or to rival others’ creativity. It’s about self-expression, focusing outward, and (hopefully!) finding some relief from suffering in the process. Creativity serves as an outlet, a formidable tool in your arsenal, aiding you in the path of recovery from benzo withdrawal. By nourishing your curiosity and embracing creative endeavors, you pave the way for a more fulfilling life beyond recovery.

Creativity: Building Mind-Body Connection and Community

Creativity fosters a deep mind-body connection. This connection cultivates mindfulness, a crucial aspect of the third cornerstone of well-being, “stress-less,” encouraging us to be present, focus on the task at hand, and avoid unnecessary worry about the past or future.

Remember that creativity does not subscribe to a one-size-fits-all model. What once stirred your passion may not resonate with you now. Perhaps you were a painter, but the thought of a blank canvas seems daunting now. You could transition to coloring books that require less creative energy while still offering a calming rhythm. Or perhaps you were a writer, but now you struggle to find the right words. Journaling your thoughts and feelings without the pressure of grammar or style can be a soothing alternative. Or, turn away completely from your past passions and try your hand at something new altogether. 

This journey of creativity during recovery doesn’t need to define your lifelong creative path. It is a path of comfort, healing, and self-discovery during a challenging time of your life. You can always find new ways to be creative once you are healed. (You may find that the fire that went out while you were recovering has roared back into life, a bonfire of new ideas, discoveries, and, most importantly, confidence. When you are healed, you’ll most likely take more risks, be willing to make mistakes and learn, and grow into your highest and best potential.

Creativity can also build bridges toward community during a time when isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming. By joining local hobby groups or online communities, you can connect with others who share similar interests. These connections can spark your creativity and provide the necessary social interaction, contributing to the “love well” cornerstone of well-being.

In the face of withdrawal, creativity can be a guiding light toward healing and self-discovery. By nurturing it and employing it as a tool for recovery, you empower yourself to emerge from this challenging phase stronger, more resilient, and more attuned to yourself. So, pick up that paintbrush, plant that seed, strike that piano key, and let your creativity bloom in your journey toward well-being. 

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