There are so many hallmark symptoms of benzo withdrawal: the tingles, burning, fatigue, dizziness, muscle pain, bone pain… the list goes on and on. The psychological symptoms are brutal, too: severe depression, off the charts anxiety, terror, de-realization, de-personalization, extreme paranoia… the list goes on and on.

One of the symptoms we all get sooner or later, is the sense of hopelessness. There doesn’t seem to be an end to our suffering. We feel we will be stuck in our fucked up, altered reality forever. The Groundhog day existence wears on the soul, waking up to endure the same suffering over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

I was there. I dreaded going to bed at night. Dreaded having to wake up and face the laundry list of symptoms I suffered. I dreaded the fear, the terror, the looping thoughts, the intrusive thoughts, the obsessional thoughts… all that craziness that comes from the damage to the GABA receptors that benzos cause. I felt it would never, ever end. I knew I was permanently damaged, no matter that the people who had healed kept telling me I wasn’t. I didn’t believe them. How could I? I had zero evidence to support the theory that I was healing.

And then, I woke up one day and realized I was better. Not healed. But better. Life began to take on a new feel. Of course there were the “waves” of symptoms that would knock me off my feet, but the windows kept getting better and bigger. The hopelessness I felt finally gave up the ghost, just like the benzo veterans told me it would.

So I’m telling you now. This hopelessness you feel is part of withdrawal. It’s part of recovery. It’s a lie your brain tells you, because your brain is damaged and can’t cobble together a positive thought if it wanted to right now. But wait. Give it time. It will be able to think positive thoughts, feel joy and happiness, and enjoy crazy creativity again.

As I put together the “Field Trip”, the resilience research trip I’m taking, I can honestly say I am brimming with hope. Brimming with joy. I’m full of wonder and curiosity again. And the good news is, I am better than pre-benzos. I’m sober, I’m not scared of life anymore. I’m not feeling broken or ashamed from the abuse of my past. I’m about as solid as I have ever been. Pretty cool, don’t you think, after years of living in benzo withdrawal hell? Even cooler? You are going to join me on this side of the pain. I can’t wait to welcome you.

Keep fighting. Keep holding on. Stay alive. Every moment of every day, your brain is doing its best to recover from the damage the benzos have caused. Cheer it on!

The hopelessness fades away and something darn near spectacular takes its place.

Just don’t give up. Okay? Promise Me?
I’ll be posting from the road in January. I can’t wait to meet as many of you as I can. I will be honored to listen to your stories. Jennifer