Most people I coach on how to cope with benzo withdrawal ask me if they will ever get their old selves back. I tell them yes, and no. Yes, you will get your old self back in that you will remember and know who you are. You’ll be able to feel love, peace, happiness, excitement, and joy again. You’ll remember the things that you used to enjoy doing. You’ll remember your talents. You will be returned to you. No, you won’t be the exact same as you were before benzo withdrawal: you’ll be much better!

One of the many challenging benzo withdrawal symptoms is the lack of feeling like ourselves. I used to feel that me, my sense of self, had been eviscerated. I couldn’t remember who I was. I felt no feelings other than the classic doom and gloom, fear, terror, existential angst, and of course, the physical horrors of withdrawal. There was no shred left of anything that felt like me. I used to stare into the mirror and ask who the reflection was that was staring back at me. It was a terrible time in my life, just as it very well may be a terrible time in your life. We long so much to feel connected to ourselves again and connected to our friends and family, and to life!  (And you will be again, in time!)

Once your brain and CNS recovers from the damage caused by the benzo you took, you’ll remember who you are, what you love, what sparks joy, etc. Your intelligence, capabilities, and memory will return. They might return in fits and starts and dribble and drabs, but they will return. Then, after your sense of self has re-established itself, you’ll realize that you are better, stronger, wiser, kinder, more open to life than you’ve ever been before. There is something about going through benzo withdrawal that deepens us, wisens us, opens us. Most of us on the other side of withdrawal feel that life is sweeter than ever! That’s certainly my experience. As I put last years wave behind me, I am amazed at how incredible life is. It’s full of hope and promise, love and laughter, and a deep sense of fulfillment and happiness.  I know you’ll experience these things as well, in time.

If you are in that stage of withdrawal where you feel completely devoid of self, and you’re lost and scared, please hold on. Trust that this is just a symptom of withdrawal and that you will get yourself back, and you may discover, like so many of us, that you are “new and improved!.” You’ll see how sweet life is. It really is!