After my cold turkey, I often felt like an ice cream cone in July. I was melting away. I’d step on the scale and watch the numbers grow smaller and smaller. 118. 115. 110. 105. 100. 99. 95. My pants hung slack where I once sported a very “curvalicious” booty. My face was gaunt, my cheeks hollow. I looked as if I had aged a decade or more practically overnight. I couldn’t bear to eat. I had no appetite. When I did feel hungry, I hardly had the strength to walk into the kitchen. Cooking a healthy meal was out of the question; I couldn’t stand up long enough to scramble eggs! And there was the issue of benzo withdrawal induced paranoia and fear—I got hit with a strange fear of food being poisoned. (That’s another post, coming soon!) Suffice it to say, eating was a challenge for me!
Many of us lose weight in withdrawal. Even if we are lucky enough to maintain an appetite and have the energy to prepare food (or lucky enough that someone cooks for us!) we may still lose weight. Watching ourselves dwindle down to nothing can be frightening. Our minds tell us scary stories. We think we are dying from cancer or some other horrible disease. We worry about what to do to stop the weight loss. I ate a lot of nuts and seeds to pack on more pounds. What I didn’t do was eat junk. I avoided anything with gluten. I trusted that one day, the scale would begin to register in the other direction. I was right. In time, it began to march back up. 100. 110. 115. 118. 124. 130. 135. Now I had the opposite problem. I had overshot my normal weight!
I wasn’t trying to gain too much weight. It just happened. Perhaps my days of being couch bound didn’t help. I went from being a very active person before withdrawal to being bed bound or couch bound. When I could get up and about, I was too weak or dizzy to be very active. And so I packed on the pounds. I’m five and a half years off the drug and I’m still battling a few extra pounds. I’ve heard from other people that they are having a hard time losing their extra weight that they gained in withdrawal, too.
Some people don’t lose weight initially. Some people gain weight eating to stave off the severe hunger pains that we are prone to in withdrawal. Those pains are not normal hunger twinges, but rather they are a painful gnawing inside our gut. We can eat a full healthy meal and feel ravenous in an hour or so. Some people feel that they have blood sugar fluctuations and they need to eat protein on a regular basis in order to feel better. No matter what prompts your eating, the pounds pack on.
Whether the numbers on your scale are headed up or down, know that weight loss and weight gain are very common in benzo withdrawal. Eat as healthy as you can, and do your best not to worry about your weight. Of course, if you lose so much weight that it becomes a medical problem, please seek help. Like most everything else in benzo withdrawal, your weight will stabilize and you will get on with your life. Benzo withdrawal won’t last forever! If these few extra pounds I now carry stick around forever, well, it’s not the end of the world. I’m just so happy to be out of the clutches of benzo withdrawal!