Those of us who got hit hard in benzo withdrawal and felt that we were (finally!) healed were eager to get back to our normal lives. We’d been sidelined for too many months, even years. We were patient. We were strong. We held onto the hope that we would recover. And, one day, we did. We embraced our lives in a new way; we wanted to cram as much life into every waking moment as possible. We had a lot of catching up to do!

The mistake many of us make is that we jump back into our lives too soon, too quickly. We don’t pace ourselves. We run full steam ahead until exhausted, we collapse, and our benzo symptoms creep back in. Most of the time we get a warning, like  “idiot” lights on a car, there are signs that we are over doing things. We may have a few quick dizzy spells or head pressure. Insomnia may creep back in for a few nights. Maybe our nerve pain shows up again, or we have weakness or fatigue. These are all signs that we are overtaxing our fragile central nervous system. We need to take heed and slow down. We need to remove ourselves from stressful situations. We need to practice extreme self-care or we run the risk of a setback. For some of us, this means that we will need to be careful of our stress levels for a very long time, possibly the rest of our lives.

Setbacks have happened to people even though they were many years out from their last benzo dose. Their central nervous system couldn’t handle the stress and strain they were living under and they slowly unraveled back to having benzo withdrawal symptoms. If you want to avoid setbacks, do your best to eat clean and healthy. (One ingredient foods are a good idea.) Make sure you stay hydrated, especially in the summer months when the rise in temperatures can play havoc with your brain and body. Limit your exposure to stress. Try to keep an even keel on your emotions. Don’t overtax your body with exceptionally strenuous exercise. Avoid any medication or supplement that works on GABA receptors.

I know we all want to wring every last ounce of joy and excitement out of life once we heal. I’m certainly guilty of overdoing it. I forget that I have a fragile brain. And I tend to ignore the warning lights that come on when I do too much. I’ve been going like a house-a-fire the last few months and it finally caught up with me. I’ve got head pressure, dizziness, nerve and joint pain; I basically feel like shit again. I know this wave will pass, they always do. But it’s a good reminder for me to share with you the absolute necessity for some of us to pace ourselves and to pay attention to the signs that we are getting closer and closer to having a full-blown setback. We have to take exceptionally good care of ourselves, without feeling guilty about it. Make your complete healing your priority. Learn to say “No!” to others who want you to do things that will stress you, and say “No!” to your own ego that tries to seduce you into thinking that you can and should do it all and have it all. We can’t. We’ve been injured by a benzodiazepine and we’ve got to respect that we need to take life a bit more slowly and mindfully. Respecting the healing that we’ve attained, and the journey that we’ve been on will go a long way to creating a wonderful life.