[WARNING! This post may be triggering!]
Many feel that their faith in God is shaken to the core in benzo withdrawal. No longer can we feel God’s presence as we had before the nightmare of withdrawal began. It’s terribly frightening to suddenly feel so alone; existential angst pressing against our hearts minute after minute, day after day. We question why were born. We question if God is real. We question God’s love. We question our sanity, our reality. It’s exhausting.
One of the many symptoms of benzo withdrawal is a numbing of our feelings. We can’t feel love for anyone or anything. We can’t feel joy or goodness. We live in a washed out, gray zone; a zombie like existence that stretches on for months and months. While we are there, we can’t feel love for God or feel God’s love for us. We have to hold on and wait for our brains to heal so that our emotions can slowly seep back in. Until then, we walk in faith that God is still there.
Another response to God while recovering from a benzodiazepine is fear. That was my experience. I couldn’t think about God without thinking about death and eternity. Both thoughts sent ice cold terror through my body. I was convinced that God was going to open my front door, walk back to my room and murder me. Yup, you read that right. I wasn’t afraid that I would die a natural death. I was afraid that God Himself was going to kill me. That’s how crazy my relationship with God became in benzo withdrawal! I’d fall to the floor sobbing, begging God to not harm me. Of course, if I had told a doctor about my reaction I’d have been labeled psychotic. But, it was *just* benzo withdrawal. As my brain healed, my fear of God, death, and eternity went away, just like all of the other strange withdrawal symptoms went away.
I now have a very vibrant and comforting relationship with God as I understand God. I’m able to hold in my heart the traumatic things that I lived through in my life, including benzo withdrawal. They do not negate God’s existence. And now that my brain is healed, I can feel my love for God and I can feel God’s love for me. Now I know that God isn’t oblivious or callous to my suffering in life. But it took me a long time to get here. It wasn’t an overnight journey. You may find that your faith takes awhile to recover, too.
One of the things I think is important in our recovery is an honest relationship with God as we understand God. As my fear and terror faded, anger and hate rushed in to take its place. I used to say incredibly vulgar things to God. I’d shake my fist and scream at the top of my lungs at Him. I never sugarcoated my feelings. I’m glad I didn’t. I wanted God to know the real me—not some prettied-up version of me. As I healed, the hate and anger faded. In their place slowly grew a love and trust that came from deep within my heart and soul. After that, an exquisite gratitude developed. I woke up every morning so thankful for another day; even if the day was full of benzo withdrawal symptoms.
However complicated or crazy your relationship with God has gotten in benzo withdrawal, know that it will get better as your brain gets better. My humble suggestion is to be honest with God. Don’t hide your feelings, or your lack of feelings. Keep a conversation going with God every day. Talk and then listen. Spend some quiet time sitting and receiving God’s love, even if you can’t fee that love. Make the effort, go through the motions, and say “thank you” for God’s grace.
For those of you who don’t believe in God, I’m not here to convince you. My work is to help you cope with benzo withdrawal so that you can get to the finish line of healing, no matter what your beliefs are. But for those who do have faith and are worried that God has forsaken you, or worried that you can’t feel God’s presence as you once did, I want to assure you that God has not abandoned you. God is right there with you. God won’t let you go, even if you are scared or angry or numb. Trust that your brain is healing. As it heals, your relationship with God will heal.