From Fear to Funny
(original post July 13, 2015)
Every now and then, I do something that reminds me of a thought or a feeling I had when I was in benzo withdrawal. More often than not, it is directly related to anxiety, fear, depression, obsessive/intrusive thoughts, or one of many of the other bizarre mental symptoms of withdrawal. I thought it might be a good idea to write about some of these things from time to time and post them for those in withdrawal to see and maybe say, “Yeah, I’ve had that same feeling or thought.” When I was in withdrawal, I always got some “comfort” from reading about shared symptoms – especially if the writer was healed. It helped me to accept that maybe I really wasn’t losing my mind. Maybe all those weird thoughts and feelings were “normal” for benzo withdrawal and that, perhaps, they would depart from me too.
One day last week I was taking one of the two walks I had taken hundreds of times when I was in the grips of benzo withdrawal. (I wrote about these two walks many months ago when I was blogging with Dr. Jenn.) This happened to be the 66-minute walk (round trip). I hadn’t taken this walk in many months, so, as I was walking, I was naturally thinking about how I felt those many times I walked it daily while in withdrawal. I wasn’t actually “feeling” those feelings – just recalling them, knowing the mental anguish I had been in at the time. In many ways, it’s a very “empowering” feeling now – very much the opposite of PTSD (which I was certain I would have when my withdrawal was over).
Anyway, as I was walking along, I was looking at all the same things I looked at 4 and 5 years ago – houses, shrubs, clouds, the mountain, people walking their dogs, cars passing by, the sidewalk, a creek, a horse stable, and so on. In withdrawal, those things just happened to “be there.” They meant nothing to me other than being things to enhance my depression – especially the mountain. In the fall, I would look at the countless shades of red, orange, yellow, brown and green, knowing that I should be filled with a sense of awe, but I wasn’t. That knowledge pushed me deeper into depression.
I got to the furthest point of the walk in exactly 33 minutes. I smiled. I was right on time. I turned and walked back the way I had come – around a big bend in the road and past a nursing home. As I approached the stop sign at the end of the road, a thought (which was the original point of this post) popped into my head. I recalled a very real fear I had had when I walked this same path during my withdrawal. That thought was simply that, if I would happen to keel over dead during my walk, no one would have the slightest idea who this sad, emaciated, 90-year-old-looking man was. They would have no clue, and my family and friends (although there weren’t many of the latter left) would never know what happened to me. It would be as though I had disappeared from the face of the earth (not that I felt that that would seriously matter to anyone). My body would end up in the city morgue (not sure why I thought that because I live in the suburbs) and, after no one identified it, it would ultimately be disposed of in a landfill or the city incinerator (I have no idea where that came from).
For that reason, I ALWAYS carried a slip of paper in my pocket with my name, address and phone number printed on it. I never took my wallet (which has my ID) in case I would get mugged and killed. If that would happen, nobody would know who I was anyway because my assailant would take my wallet. Bizarre.
So, last week, when that thought came to me, I broke out in uncontrollable laughter. It sounded so ridiculous, but 4 and 5 years ago it made perfect sense to me (although I never told anyone about it then).
Funny thing is that, just as I was certain all the passersby 4 and 5 years ago thought I must be insane, I was equally certain last week, when I was laughing, that those few people who drove by thought I must be crazy.
The big difference is that even I thought I was going insane 4 and 5 years ago. Today I am certain that I never was crazy. I only felt like I was because of my benzo brain.
What had been deadly serious when I was in benzo withdrawal 4 and 5 years ago is now a source of amusement. Somehow healing gets us to a place where we can see things that seemed so tragic during withdrawal in a light that dispels all the dread and doom and gloom and that maybe even conjures up some humor.  Maybe it is a reward for going through the hell-on-earth of benzo withdrawal. Nevertheless, it is very good stuff.