Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be a challenging experience, marked by a range of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. One of the more uncomfortable symptoms is “life review,” wherein individuals may be bombarded with memories, often disturbing, leading to negative self-judgment. In this blog post, we will explore strategies to help you cope with life review during benzo withdrawal and ways to mitigate their impact on your overall well-being. Not everyone experiences life review, but for those who do, it can be overwhelming. I experienced it, and at times, I felt I was going crazy; I had no control over the thoughts and feelings that tormented me.
Acknowledge and Observe Your Thoughts and Feelings
The first step to dealing with challenging memories during benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND is to acknowledge and observe your thoughts and feelings. It’s essential to recognize that the thoughts and emotions you’re experiencing are part of the withdrawal process and that it’s okay to feel whatever it is you are feeling. By acknowledging your feelings, you’re better equipped to process them and move forward. By observing them, you can let them pass without getting caught up in their drama or believing them. Remember, “state drives story.” Your nervous system is most often in the protect state (fight, flight, freeze) during benzo withdrawal/BIND; therefore, your thoughts and feelings will be primarily negative. Our default state, the connect state (a parasympathetic ventral vagal response), is where we experience positive thoughts and feelings. Many memories that bubble up during benzo withdrawal/BIND create negative feelings. Don’t buy into that negativity! It’s your hyperexcited nervous system causing those thoughts and feelings.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation can be powerful tools for managing life review. By focusing on the present moment and observing your thoughts without judgment, you can develop greater control over your emotions and memories. This practice helps create space between you and your thoughts, allowing you to view them more objectively and make better responses.
Journaling and Expressive Writing
Journaling can be a helpful way to process and release difficult memories during benzodiazepine withdrawal. By writing down your thoughts and emotions, you can better understand your experiences and develop a sense of closure. This process also provides an opportunity to reframe negative thoughts and create a more balanced perspective on your life.
Seek Social Support
Having a support system in place can be invaluable when dealing with the challenges of benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND. Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups to share your experiences and seek guidance from others who have been through similar situations. Connecting with others can help to normalize your feelings and provide a sense of camaraderie as you go through withdrawal.
Engage in Meaningful Activities
Focusing on activities that bring you a sense of meaning, purpose, or joy (which may be difficult for some to feel) can be an effective way to shift your attention away from challenging memories during benzodiazepine withdrawal. Whether engaging in hobbies, volunteering, or spending time with loved ones, these activities can provide a sense of accomplishment and help to counterbalance the negative emotions associated with life review.
Be Patient and Compassionate with Yourself
It’s essential to practice self-compassion and patience during benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND. Please recognize that the healing process takes time and that it’s natural to experience uncomfortable symptoms. By being kind to yourself and acknowledging your progress, you can foster resilience and maintain a more positive mindset throughout this challenging journey.
Incorporating gentle exercise into your routine can help to soften the effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND, including life review. Physical activity releases endorphins, improving mood and reducing anxiety, making it easier to manage challenging memories and negative thoughts and feelings about yourself. Exercise also helps to metabolize stress hormones, which is a big plus.
Focus on Gratitude and Positive Experiences
While it’s natural to dwell on negative memories during life review, it’s essential to balance these thoughts with a focus on gratitude and positive experiences. Each day, take a few moments to reflect on the good things in your life and express gratitude for them. Doing so can create a more positive mindset and mitigate the impact of challenging memories during withdrawal.
Consider Professional Help
If you find life review or other withdrawal symptoms overwhelmingly or significantly impacting your daily life, don’t hesitate to seek benzo-wise professional help. True, it isn’t easy to find benzo-educated professionals, but there are some. There are alternative healthcare providers who don’t necessarily need to be educated about benzo withdrawal symptoms—a massage therapist, healing touch therapist, etc. can be helpful. Remember that doctors or therapists who are not educated about benzo withdrawal/BIND may misdiagnose you or offer you medication that is contraindicated in the benzo community.
Practice Acceptance and Letting Go
Acceptance is critical to coping with life review during benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND. (Acceptance is part of the four cornerstones of well-being, which help us to be as healthy as possible.) Instead of trying to suppress or avoid challenging memories, accept them as part of your life experience. Understand that everyone makes mistakes and that these experiences have contributed to your growth and development. By embracing acceptance, you let go of negative self-judgment and move forward with greater self-compassion and understanding.
Dealing with life review during benzodiazepine withdrawal can be daunting and emotional. However, by implementing the coping strategies outlined in this blog post, you can better manage difficult memories and work toward a healthier, more balanced state of mind. Remember to be patient with yourself, seek support when needed, and focus on the positive aspects of your life as you navigate this challenging journey toward healing and recovery.
Join The Conversation
Leave a comment and share your experience of life review during benzo withdrawal/BIND. What has helped you the most to cope with it? Thank you for your participation.