Making decisions can be overwhelming for people experiencing benzo withdrawal or BIND (benzodiazepine-induced neurological dysfunction). And it’s not just the big decisions that trip us up; even the small day-to-day decisions, such as what to wear, can feel overwhelming. Indecisiveness is a common benzo withdrawal and BIND symptom. It comes from having a dysregulated nervous system affecting our thoughts and feelings. We don’t have as much access to our prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational, logical, life, and love-affirming region. Instead, our thoughts and feelings are fueled by our limbic system— the threat detection region. And the limbic system is lousy at making decisions, except for quick reactions for survival. It doesn’t care if we wear a blue or green tee shirt.
How do we cope with indecisiveness in benzo withdrawal or BIND? With lots of compassion for ourselves!
- Knowing that decisions can be emotionally challenging while we recover—normalizing the symptom— can relieve us from some of the stress and strain they can cause.
- Avoiding situations that require big decisions with high-impact consequences can be helpful. (I’ve had clients who thought they had fallen out of love with their spouse and wanted a divorce, but when they healed, they realized their negative feelings were driven by benzo withdrawal, and they were incredibly grateful that they hadn’t dissolved their marriage as they were still very much in love!)
- Reminding yourself that “state drives story” is helpful. The state of your nervous system will fuel and flavor your thoughts. In our default state, the parasympathetic ventral vagal response called the “connect” state, our thoughts will be positive. Our thoughts will be negative in the “protect” state, fight, flight, or freeze. In withdrawal and BIND, we are more often in the protect state, hence negative thoughts. That means we might second guess or emotionally beat ourselves up over our decisions. Please do your best to observe the negative thoughts and let them pass.
Besides being indecisive, other odd symptoms can be experienced:
- Time can feel distorted. One client thought that she was stuck in the 1970s. Another felt that everything was in slow motion.
- Favorite foods can become repulsive.
- Songs can get stuck in our heads.
- We may forget the name of an actor or movie and feel an urgency to research online until we remember. Or, we may remember but feel an urgency to find out all we can about the actor or movie. It’s a compulsive feeling that is not our usual response.
- Teeth may feel as if they are twirling or will fall out.
- We may be able to hear things far off in the distance. (One person heard a car crash on their street when no one else heard it.)
- A metal taste might plague us for a while— like we have a penny in our mouths.
- Floaters may cloud our vision.
- Our short-term memory may become impaired.
- We may experience formication, the sensation of bugs crawling under our skin.
There is a laundry list of known benzo withdrawal and BIND symptoms. You may experience a few or many. Everyone’s recovery journey is different. Some symptoms are more challenging or frightening than others, but for the most part, they are benign. Always see a doctor if you are worried about a symptom to rule out any other possible cause.
What are your oddest benzo withdrawal or BIND symptoms? Feel free to leave a comment and share. And, keep healing. We do recover.