I used to spend hours (all day!) reading other people’s account of benzo withdrawal. I was so deathly sick and my brain so badly damaged by the medication that I had very little hope that I would ever recover. I’d go as many days in a row as I could, then I’d break down and call someone who was further along the healing journey so they could reassure me that the nightmare I was stuck in wouldn’t last forever.
One of the stories I’d read over and over again was kate Fay’s story. Her account of her journey through benzo withdrawal mimicked much of my own. The details that she shared regarding her friends also validated my experience of the terror that you can experience. Kate shared that her friend Penny was so terrified that her husband put up a tent in the house for her so she could stay in it to feel safer. I too put up a tent in withdrawal. It helped a great deal.
I pitched a two person tent in my front yard. I put a twin size blowup mattress in it, along with comfy pillows and blankets. I hung out in it during the day, and I slept in it at night. I’m sure my neighbors thought that I was crazy, but I flat out didn’t give a you-know-what. I was exhausted from the relentless anxiety, terror, depersonalization, derealization, and all of the other benzo nonsense. Everything in my house reminded me of the long and hard months I had spent in withdrawal, and being outside in the tent was a welcome distraction.
If you are suffering from extreme anxiety or terror in withdrawal, I encourage you to create a safe space for yourself. Maybe it’s part of a closet (I talked with one man who stayed most days in his closet until the worst of withdrawal was behind him.) Maybe it’s an area of a room that you can turn into a “healing shrine.” Or, maybe you do like Penny and me and you pitch a tent, either indoors or outdoors. It doesn’t matter where or what your safe space looks like, as long as you are indeed safe there. I furnished my safe space with my laptop, food, water, my teddy bear, books, and my journal. Once in awhile, I’d cut a flower from the garden and put it where I could see and smell it. My cat even joined me in the tent sometimes.
You won’t need a safe space forever. You are going to heal and move on. What you are experiencing now is not your new normal. It’s not you unmedicated. It’s you, healing from the damage that the drug has done to your brain and body. It will come to an end. You’ll heal. You’ll see. While you are healing, please be kind and gentle with yourself. If you don’t know the do’s and don’t in with benzo withdrawal, please educate yourself. Google, join BenzoBuddies.org or search the blog posts here on this site.
There are many things that you can do to help you get through the healing process. Acceptance, patience, and distraction are key. So are good friends, family, benzo survivors, a positive outlook, and a deep faith in God as you understand God. Hold on. Life will get sweet again. Honest. In the mean time, maybe you want to pitch a tent.