I can’t write much about my experience anymore, my brain doesn’t work and it’s also too painful, but I’ve found others writing about it a helpful way to relay what I’m going through and I can add a bit when I do such a post. That is what I’m doing today.
My husband often calls a few of my benzo friends, people who have gone through this nightmare in the past and emerged to thrive once again. He called one of these folks again a couple of nights ago. Jen is a psychologist and has helped 100s of people through what she went through at one time too.
Paul calls them because I can’t talk. Talking is stimulation which is too much for me. It’s painful and terror provoking. Only people who have been here can conceive of it, I think. Paul talks to my friends and then writes me emails because I can’t even talk to my own spouse in my own home. This is the last email Paul sent after talking to Jen:
Even if knowing this gives you no relief, the first thing to understand is that what you are experiencing is normal.
The only way, she says, of mitigating this kind of rawness is to have minimal stimulation. Find whatever is soothing (such as holding your cat, and epsom salt baths) and reduce sensory input as much as possible.
She mentioned something that might possibly be helpful at some point — though your prickliness at the moment tells me this isn’t the right time — is a “blanket wrap”. This would mean rolling you up inside the quilt we just bought. I see that something like this is recommended for people with sensory issues and also autism. I know this wouldn’t help while you are very sensitive to touch.
She has little doubt that everything you’re feeling right now is made worse by hormones. Be assured though that you will come out the other side much better. Unfortunately there aren’t any shortcuts from here to there.
The thing Jen emphasizes more than anything else is to minimize stimulation. I realize that for you this is especially difficult because of isolation and boredom. I’m sorry it’s so incredibly hard and painful.
The biggest source of stimulation now is my online activity and it is too much. In spite of getting rid of comments and ignoring all my email until virtually none comes anymore, the little I do online is still over-stimulating. Even though I do it from a horizontal position. Laptop in my lap.
The alternative in my mind at this point is even more isolation. I already see no one and can’t talk on the phone. In between periods of being online all I do is lie in bed. I do meditate while lying in bed, but can’t do that around the clock. I generally cook 2 or 3 times a week with lots of help from my husband, but that too is a form of stimulation that is probably more than I should do. Cooking is a major ordeal. I do it because I’m stubborn and I love good food and I’ve simply always cooked. It is a core part of my identity. It’s unclear if the exhaustion that ensues is worth it or healthy. I like to think that I’m doing something productive and that means it’s healthy, but I don’t think that necessarily computes in this circumstance. This last week has gone by without my being able to rouse myself enough to even cook, however. I’m thinking maybe I should leave it this way for a while.
In the email Paul mentions that I do two soothing things. My animals are a great source of comfort. I hold my old kitties and they purr. Their little quivering bodies against my chest is a salve. My dog too is a joy. The other thing I do is take epsom salt baths. I wrote about it here with a “recipe.” It also temporarily mutes some of the pain, fear and bizarre bodily sensations.
Okay enough. If you want to know more about benzos and the withdrawal I’m going through, check the links on this page.