Managing your symptoms
Published: August 19, 2016
Managing Your Benzodiazepine Withdrawal or Recovery Symptoms
Part 1 – Attitude
There is no doubt about it, the pain felt in withdrawal and recovery is horrible. We feel isolated, judged and misunderstood and the physical pain can be almost unbearable. I wanted to create a series about this topic because the more I read people’s posts on Facebook and forums the more I realize most are making life even more difficult for themselves – making their symptoms and suffering worse. So what can you do to prevent making your horrible symptoms worse? Here is my take on it:
Many people refuse to accept where they are at. They live in a world of blame and negativity, fighting their symptoms and their bodies constantly. They are looking for solutions, a pill, a potion, something to make them feel better – anything! That is very, very understandable, I was one of those people but the problem is that fighting what is going on is exhausting and exhaustion is not going to make you feel better.
Accepting your situation doesn’t mean that you have to like it – who would like going through the pain of withdrawal? Acceptance sets the scene for a scenario where you can begin to move forward and undertake the slow process of re building and healing.
Your Thoughts and Emotions
When you have accepted your situation there is the opportunity to look at what is working in your life and what is not. If you are in the constant emotional state of ‘ those damn doctors’, ‘doctors are evil’, ‘I wish I had never taken these drugs’, ‘nobody told me, ‘I’m missing out on life’, ‘my life is ruined’, ‘I’m never going to get better’,’ I can’t stand it’ and so on, you are flooding your body with stress hormones. Is that going to make you feel better? No! It isn’t!
OK, we all need to vent at times, and there are times when it is healthy to cry and release some of the pain and sorrow within but to allow yourself to be in this state constantly, you are poisoning yourself as surely as those drugs were/are poisoning you.
When you are focusing on blame, you are not really looking at how you can be in the driver’s seat again to manage your own recovery.
Connecting to Your Body
You might think that the last thing you want to do is to connect to what is going on in your body…all you can feel is pain and misery. Why connect to that? The thing is your body is the only thing that you have to work with and it will guide you more surely than any doctor or medical expert. You are the expert of your body. You live in it! Your body will give you feedback on how you are living, what you are eating and drinking, your sleeping patterns….every single thing that you do! If you are willing to listen to it. So how do you connect?
Living in the Moment – Mindfulness
Living in the moment is not some religious or spiritual activity though it could be. We are so often caught up in the boom and gloom stories going on in our heads, that we usually live our lives and do things unconsciously. Have you ever driven a car and not remembered how you got to your destination? I think we all have done that at one time or another. Living in the moment is the opposite of that. When you are mindful of that you are doing, you are fully in the here and now – you are aware of how you are moving, how your body feels, the movement of your breath, the taste of your food, the sensation of a cool breeze on your skin (if you can stand that) the feel of water when you are having a bath or a shower, your body as it moves – you get the picture. You are feeling what is going on and this gives you your power back. It takes you out of the ‘victim’ state and begin to put you into the driver’s seat. You can begin to experiment with different ways of doing things because you will be aware of the impact of your actions on yourself. The more that you do this, the more power you exert on the direction your own healing.
The above might sound almost impossible when your mind and body feel so out of control – it is difficult but if you gently bring yourself back to the current moment whenever you catch yourself in your out of control, chattering mind and bring yourself back to the here and now, bit by bit you will get the hang of the process. it takes time. Give yourself that time. It is worth the effort!
Humans make mistakes and your symptoms are bound to get worse from time to time.
I recently had a resurgence of my symptoms. I had gone on a short holiday and my accommodation, though lovely, didn’t agree with me. I wrote about it in my last blog. I hardly got any sleep the entire time I was there and I went into ‘coping’ mode. I was determined to not let it upset my holiday too much and it didn’t.
The fatigue that I was left with had a severe impact on me in that I had to go back to work the next day, teach a new class at a different level of English. Although I knew my students would be lovely, it was still stressful on my body getting to know them and organize meaningful work for them and I came home from work exhausted – more exhausted than I had felt in a long time. Although I didn’t have to go to work the next day, I still had to prepare for the term, do the washing and the shopping so I still didn’t get much rest though I did make a conscious effort to rest as much as I could. The following day was another working day and I came home from that even more exhausted than the day before. This is when my symptoms revved up. Adrenaline flooded through my body, day and night and sleep went completely out the door. My muscles ached, my brain zapped, I felt anxious in my body though not in my mind because I knew what was going on. Does this mean I won’t go on holidays again? No!
How did I control these symptoms?
• I accepted the situation and didn’t panic. I knew I had been through worse than this before and that gave me confidence
• I didn’t make the experience good or bad. I made it a learning experience
• I reflected on what I could have done differently but i didn’t beat myself up over my ‘mistakes’.
• I spent my sleepless nights focusing on my breath, doing adrenal yoga (drlam.com) and relaxing
• I kept the chatter out of my head and gave my body the best chance to get some rest under the circumstances
• I nurtured myself more than I would at any other time, for example I gave myself a manicure and pedicure during the night and I gave myself a facial among other things. Tenderness goes a long way towards settling the body down – I gave myself tenderness by the truck load
• I made sure I drank plenty of water and ate good quality food
The result was my symptoms began to subside quite quickly. I didn’t fight my symptoms or my body – I worked with them.
I did the same during withdrawal. The process is exactly the same for any kind of recovery. Your attitude is everything! How you live, the energy you do things is is vital to your recovery.
The Importance of Breathing
I want to say from the outset that I don’t make any money from recommending Dr Lam’s Adrenal Yoga DVD’s – I mention them because they work wonders for me and I know they will for you also – if you have adrenaline problems or not.
Withdrawal stimulates our sympathetic nervous systems – every nerve ending is on edge. We feel anxious and horrible – all the time. Adrenal breathing exercises and other correct breathing exercises stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and begin to bring calm back to the body – naturally. Your breath delivers oxygen to your struggling organs and soothes them. Correct breathing is the only way that I know to calm my body down – I practice it daily, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. I have stopped adrenaline flow by using the DVD’s. I wish I had this valuable tool during withdrawal!
Don’t be discouraged if you find these suggestions difficult to implement – it took me time to learn these techniques. I learned them when I was in the midst of tolerance withdrawal from Halcion, at a time that I didn’t even know what was wrong with me. I was a complete mess. I was looking for solutions and until I found a forum to help me cross over to Valium, they were the only survival tools that I had.