Growing up in Florida, I couldn’t wait for Spring to slide into Summer. My dad would take the pool cover off and we’d wait the few days for the chlorine to make the water crystal clear for swimming. The morning we were allowed to dive in, I’d tug on my little one piece and fly out of the back door. I was never a “put-a-toe-in-and-test-the-water” type of person. I’d gain momentum from the back door and literally throw myself into the water. I loved being underwater; the way my long hair floated by my face, the sense of weightlessness, the quiet, cool calm. I adored the summer months!

As an adult, I still enjoyed Summer, but not like I did when I was a child. Summer meant my children were out of school and I was on attention, literally 24-7 it seemed. When they grew up and moved out, summer was less hectic and more enjoyable. I remember thinking that maybe my adoration of summer might be rekindled. And then, benzo withdrawal happened. Whatever joy I felt about summer was snuffed out in an instant. Summer means heat. Heat in withdrawal means an increase in benzo withdrawal symptoms. For four years I felt awful when the mercury rose. Maybe you have the same experience: we wilt when it gets too warm.

It’s important to pace ourselves in the warm months of the year. We need to make sure that we drink enough fluids. We need to make sure to rest when we are tired. If we live in a humid part of the world, we need to pay extra attention to how we feel. We don’t need to be fearful of an increase in our symptoms in the heat; we just need to take good care of ourselves and not freak out if we experience a bit of a wave because of the heat.

This summer, I’ll be celebrating five years free on June 23rd! For the first time in years, I’m looking forward to Summer. Let the mercury climb as high as it likes! I’m feeling so well these days that I am not concerned about the hot days ahead. In fact, I am so happy to be on the other side of benzo withdrawal that I may just tug on a bathing suit and find a pool I can jump into. On this side of withdrawal, the joy is so incredible that you can feel rather childlike! My life is so sweet again. After years of unspeakable suffering, I’m grateful to feel like a normal human being again. Wait! That’s not true. I don’t feel like a normal person. I am so much better than normal; I’m a benzo survivor.

If you are still having withdrawal symptoms, please take good care of yourself this summer. Know that in time, you will heal. This chapter of suffering will come to an end, and the next chapter is going to be fantastic!