I read forum posts and I am amazed at how many times people write that they had “the worst withdrawal symptoms ever!” It is almost as if it is a contest as to who suffered the most. Granted, benzo withdrawal is more than unpleasant. It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But, the way we language things and experience things impacts our brains, for better or worse.

I can’t help but wonder if those of us who suffer from “the worst withdrawal ever!” would feel better if we changed our thinking.

Before anyone thinks I have not suffered, so it is easier for me to say “change your thinking,” I have paid my benzo dues. I tapered for eight month and was bedridden many months.  I was told to up my dose, as I was too sick. I did, and shortly began to taper again. My sickness continued to get worse. I finally reached out to an addiction doctor and allowed him to move me over to phenobarbital. I swallowed my last benzo on June 22! I detoxed at home for a few days until my symptoms got too much to bear. My doctor put me in the hospital. I hallucinated, shook for hours on end, and felt I was going insane. It was unpleasant, to say the least. But, I survived. And now, I intend to thrive as I continue my recovery.

How we think affects us on a cellular level. Our beliefs can change our bodies and brains. If we continually set the bar that we have or are “suffering the worst withdrawal symptom(s) ever,” then, we create a belief system that is going to magnify every sensation in our body so that we will assuredly, have a rougher time.
This is not to say to ignore what we have experienced. It is good to honor what we have been through. However, don’t turn it into a catastrophe. I have had to quit work, live off of savings, and I have no idea when I will be well enough to work again. But it is not a catastrophe. It just is that is is. I get to decide how to think and feel about it, and frankly, I choose to think about it as neutrally as possible. I want more peace in my life. It starts with my thinking. My choice of how to feel about things.

When you chose to think more positively about yourself and your experiences, you are literally rewiring your brain for the better.

I encourage you to think carefully about how you talk about your symptoms. Yes, they can be overwhelming and we need to reach out to others who can hold our hands as we find our way. But please don’t keep focusing on how awful things are. There is still plenty of good in life, even in withdrawal. Focus on the ways your body DOES work! For instance, I am quite weak and dizzy. Walking is an effort. But every time I get up and walk, I thank the cells in my body for doing whatever it is they do to allow me to walk, even in my withdrawal state. I am grateful I CAN walk!

I hope that you can hold onto a positive attitude towards your recovery. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world, it just is what it is. You will get through it. You will heal. Its our choice to decide how we feel about things. I don’t want to waste a single day feeling sorry for myself, or hating my life just because it is not the life I expected to be living right now. It is still my life, and I am grateful I am still on the planet, even if I am here with a benzo damaged brain and body. I am alive!! I intend to keep changing my thinking to change my brain and body so I am happier and healthier.

All the best to your brain and body,

Dr. Jenn