I’ve been getting emails.

Recently, I received an email from a benzo buddy asking me if what she had heard was true. “What have you heard?” I asked. Her answer surprised me! There was false information circling in the group she is in about the state of my health. She had heard that I was in a setback and 5 times sicker than I’d ever been. I reassured her that that is nonsense.  I am fine. I thought it was an isolated incident and forgot about it. But more emails found their way to me, each one inquiring if I am in a set-back and benzo sick again, or if I am suffering from a laundry list of lingering symptoms. I don’t know where the rumors started, but I am here to put them to rest. I am not in a wave. I am not in a setback. I do not have a laundry list of remaining symptoms, nor am I suffering. Quite the opposite!

Flourishing, thriving, happy, healthy are the words I’d use.

When I think about my life, the best words to describe it are flourishing, thriving, happy, and healthy. I am the best “me” I’ve ever been in all of my sixty-one years! I am at peace with my past, my present, and my future (whatever it may bring). The experience of benzo withdrawal and all the suffering it brought allowed me the opportunity to work the third step of recovery on a very deep and personal level: to give my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God. From that place of utter surrender and acceptance, God pried away all the hurt, pain, fear, guilt, shame, and blame from me. It wasn’t an easy process and I didn’t like most of it, but I knew, deep down, that it was for my betterment.  And of course, it was! I can’t say enough about how grateful I am for this life I now lead. Every day is a new beginning, a new chance to love and to be thankful.

Only a few things linger.

I do not have a laundry list of lingering symptoms. Nor are any of them worrisome or incapacitating. I have mild tingling in my legs and feet at times. Once in a while, I have a sense of disequilibrium or head fullness. It’s not concerning and it certainly doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do. I still have tinnitus, although it is not as loud as it used to be when I first started this journey. I believe that it will go away, in time. I’ll be 8 years benzo free this Sunday, June 23rd, and I know that as more time passes these few and minor symptoms will fade away. MANY PEOPLE HEAL IN A YEAR OR SO. Not everyone has a “protracted” withdrawal. Please don’t assume that you will. And if you are already into protracted territory, know that you’ll heal and get on with your life. Recovery is the outcome for a nervous system damaged from benzodiazepines.

Avoid negativity.

If you are in a group where the focus is on complaining about symptoms, self-pity, doom, and gloom, you may want to find a more positive support group. It’s okay to discuss symptoms and to get reassurance that what you are experiencing is normal for benzo withdrawal, however, it is detrimental to your nervous system if you are steeped in an environment that promotes the idea that you will not heal, or that your life will be ruined, etc. I (and millions of others) am living proof that we can go on to live our BEST. LIFE. EVER.

You are going to get better.

That’s the bottom line. You will get better. Your nervous system will right itself and you’ll be able to handle the “slings and arrows” of life once again. You’ll regain all that you’ve seemingly lost in benzo withdrawal and then some. I am more creative now than I have ever been, perhaps because I am not afraid to take risks anymore. ( After surviving benzo withdrawal, what’s there to fear?) I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore, and to be honest, it’s all small stuff. Life, and all that comes with it, the ups and downs, the joy and sorrow, the love and the pain, is truly an incredible gift! You’ll be more able to see and feel that as your receptors heal. I hope that you keep your heart open and allow this recovery process to make you “bigger” instead of “bitter.” Love is our default position. But we must work on dismantling all the barriers we’ve created to it. Acceptance, gratitude, grace, forgiveness, humility, and service are all ways in which we can turn our hearts towards love and embrace it fully. I hope that you know that you are swaddled in love today and I hope that you feel its warm Presence.