How you get free from a benzodiazepine and how you cope with any withdrawal symptoms is unique to you. There is no “one size fits all” in benzo withdrawal. But, there are FOUR things that you can do to help yourself a great deal.
- We’ve all heard the phrase, “Patience is a virtue.” It’s so true in benzo withdrawal! Patience will help you better manage your taper. Going slow is best. It’s easy to slip into the mindset of “hurry up” but that won’t help you. It might harm you. Going slow helps avoid/reduce benzo withdrawal symptoms. Going slow can help you avoid protracted withdrawal symtpoms. (Being symptomatic after eighteen months is considered protracted.) Patience will also help you nagivate withdrawal once you are off of your medication. We don’t heal from the damage caused by a benzodiazepine overnight, so don’t worry about symptoms that stick around for awhile. They will lift eventaully. If you can practice patience, your symptoms won’t cause you as much emotional distress. Which leads us into the next “must-do.”
- One of the key belief systems of any twelve step program is acceptance. It’s a powerful tool that allows us to live our lives with less fear, resentment, and anguish. Accepting life on life’s terms is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. The serenity prayer can help us become more accepting. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” When we accept life on life’s terms, we aren’t as bothered by our circumstances. We can rise above our ailments and anguish and go about our daily lives with more ease. Accept that you are in benzo withdrawal. Accept that you are healing and go about your day. It is when we try to run from circumstances that we suffer more. There is no way out of benzo withdrawal except through. Time is what heals us. So, roll up your sleeves and do the work you need to do to practice acceptance.
- One of the keys to getting through benzo withdrawal is to distract. Find things that you can do to keep your hands and your mind busy. When we put our attention on something other than ourselves and our symptoms, we suffer less. I gardened to keep myself busy in withdrawal. I also painted, did word puzzles, and wrote. It’s good to have a few “go to” activities that you can do to keep your mind off of your misery. Even if you are bedridden, you can find something to do to distract. The great artist Freida is proof of that! (You can google her story if you don’t know it.)
- “You are what you eat,” is a phrase we’ve grown up hearing. It’s true! If we eat junk food, our bodies become junk. It’s important to eat really clean and healthy in withdrawal. I’m a big believer in being gluten free, avoiding additives, preservatives and colorings. Avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, of course. Eating whole, fresh, one ingredient foods is best. (Think fresh produce and meats.) Do your food shopping on the outside edges of the store and avoid the center aisles where they offer “manmade” food in cans and packages. Many of us in benzo withdrawal have the MTHFR gene mutation, so you’ll want to include foods that are high in vitamin B 9. Weight loss is a common problem in withdrawal so make sure that you eat healthy foods that will give you the calories your body needs. Seeds and nuts can be helpful.
Withdrawal is a challenge, I know. However, it does come to an end. We can manage our lives through it if we practice patience, acceptance, distraction, and we fuel our bodies with the good foods that they need in order to function and to heal. We can use these tools beyond benzo withdrawal, too. They are good to learn for a lifetime of better health and happiness.