I was at my eldest son’s house gathering wood for my outdoor fireplace when my heart thawed out. My son walked over to me and I burst into tears. He put his arms around me to comfort me as he had done so many times in the past. “You’re going to recover, Momma,” he said gently.
“That’s not why I am crying,” I sobbed. My arms tightened around him in a warm embrace. “I’m crying because I can feel love for you again. You are my son! I recognize you!” I choked on the words, the emotion so intense. For me, love came roaring back in an instant. Like a tsunami, it was overwhelming. Happiness, the emotion that is triggered by external events, returned much like love returned. It flooded me with emotion much too big for my central nervous system to process. Sometimes, it would leave me shaky and exhausted. But I welcomed it! I knew that my central nervous system would eventually calm down. One of the things I had to be mindful of was to not become afraid of the positive emotions. I know that sounds a bit silly, but the intensity of love and happiness returning was at times more than I wanted to cope with. But I had been a terrified zombie for so long, that their return was welcomed, even if it was a rocky road for awhile.
Joy, the sense of ongoing peace within yourself, returned a bit more gracefully than love and happiness. It tugged at my heart bit by bit. It didn’t take me on the wild roller coaster ride that love and happiness took me on. It was more steady. You may have your positive emotions return in a more gradual manner. But for me, it was often a bit startling to feel them. I learned to breathe slowly and to sit with them when they were strong. I also didn’t allow myself to tell myself scary stories about my emotions. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have diagnosed me as bi-polar, but I knew from reading the literature about benzo withdrawal, that my experience was not uncommon. It didn’t take long for my emotions to settle down. After a few months, the rollercoaster ride ended and I was left with normal sized emotions.
As your GABA receptors heal themselves, you’ll find more and more that positive emotions bubble up for you. You may be like I was and find that they are intense, but rest assured that they will smooth out soon enough. My hunch is that you’ll discover a whole new world of self-confidence as your positive emotions come back online. I don’t let much pull me away from my inner peace these days. I give thanks for everything and I appreciate the smallest things in life now. Every day not in benzo withdrawal is a good day! Keep healing. You will recover, it’s just a matter of time.