I’ve always been a runner. Not the jogging type, the get-the-hell-away-from-emotional-pain type. I panicked in a lot of situations — my heart rate would go through the roof as my mouth dried up like a prune, making it difficult to talk, and my legs turned to jello. I turned to alcohol to help smooth out the rough edges of the end of the day. That was my exit strategy until a doctor handed me a prescription for clonazepam.
I didn’t know that the benzo I took as prescribed was slowly causing chemical brain damage. I didn’t know that I would spend well over a decade in tolerance withdrawal. Nor did I know that I would battle for my life to get free from the drug and to heal from the damage. By the time I was benzo free and healing, I had lost my career and my savings. I lost friends and family, too. Looking back over the wreckage caused by my taking a benzo, I wish that I had known how to turn towards the things that frightened me; to let life unfold without me having to attempt to control it. I wish that I had learned how to step into the unknown and to be comfortable with my vulnerability. Running away didn’t solve anything.
Having to get through benzo withdrawal gave me the opportunity to learn how to walk into the unknown and to be okay with my emotions; with my vulnerability. Without the ability to take a pill or to have a drink to ease my uncomfortable feelings, I had no choice but to turn towards the things that frightened me. I had to accept life on life’s terms. There was no way of running away from benzo withdrawal. I came to understand that I had virtually no control over anything. I couldn’t even control my thoughts or what was happening in my body. That was incredibly scary, but it was the turning point for my healing.
Becoming comfortable with the things that scared me — the unknown, is perhaps the greatest thing I’ve done for my recovery. I no longer need to try to control anything. I step out into the unknown knowing that I can trust that I’ll manage, no matter what happens. I’ve stopped running. My life is fuller now. I’m living it deeply, feeling all of my feelings, even the ones I used to want to anesthetize. My hunch is that you too are learning how to step into the unknown and to be okay with life on life’s terms. Soon, you’ll look back on the chapter of your life marked Benzo Withdrawal and you’ll see how far you’ve come. You’ll see how brave you are now, how strong you are in your ability and willingness to be vulnerable. Like me, you’ll be incredibly grateful that you are no longer medicated and sick. Life will take shine so brilliantly that you’ll wonder why in the world you ever wanted to run away from it. You’ll step into the unknown and be just fine!