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Isolation: Maladaptive Coping Mechanism

Isolation is a major biproduct of benzodiazepine withdrawal. it could almost be classified as a symptom. But why exactly do we do it?

I’d suggest there’s at least two reasons one isolates during benzo withdrawal.

Firstly, because the symptoms are so intense, and we feel so awful, that we don’t feel as though we can handle company. It might sound crazy to others not going through benzo withdrawal, but something as seemingly trivial as having company over in our home can really ramp up our symptoms. These symptoms can stay elevated for days or even weeks after our social encounter. Whatever form that comes in.

It could be dinner at restaurant or at home with your spouse or with friends.

It could be a birthday party for your niece, a family gathering, holiday, or an unexpected visitor at our home. That was always the most difficult for me, the surprise guest! What a mixed bag that often was. I was always glad to see them, but even happier when they left, unfortunately.

So, we isolate sort of by default, at least initially. Symptoms are bad, we isolate. We avoid people, eventually, even the people that live with us.

That’s really when things go to a new level.

Another reason we isolate is because we don’t feel like anyone really wants us around.

We are likely always talking or complaining about our suffering, and most anything benzo related. It can get exhausting for our friends and family. And at some people we realize that.

We see it as we are no fun, only a dark raincloud, and why would we want to be an imposition upon the people we care about.

While this may seem logical at the surface, deep within it is the voice of depression. It’s a mental distortion, and it is a negative or maladaptive coping mechanism.

That’s how we need to frame it, as a negative coping mechanism.

Why? Because it makes us feel good and it’ largely built upon a false base.

The reality is isolation is bad. It leads to decline in health, physically and mentally. Cognitively and emotionally. And it is a breeding ground for depression, anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia. Not to mention the negative impact it can have upon our relationship.

Isolating becomes like a self-soothing tool we use, when what we really need are the things that are counter intuitive.

Instead of isolating, we likely need more human interaction. Instead of resting, we likely could benefit from moving more.

Instead of thinking about our problems, we likely need to practice more presence.

That’s the irony in benzo recovery, that so much of what we need seems counter intuitive.

Of course, there’s a balance to everything. And balance is certainly something central in benzo recovery.

In fact, it’s quite important.

So, I encourage you all (if you’re isolating) to keep your mind sharp, grounded in reality and not that false world our symptoms paint for us. We need not rationalize our isolation or intellectualize it. We should keep it simple. Rest when need to, BUT also, we need to push back against the symptoms when we can. In a very gentle way. In very brief spurts, initially.

And if we can succeed in doing this… we will discover that our nervous system desensitizes and adapts, and with it, we experience a decrease in general benzo withdrawal symptoms!

Read that last part again

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Vintage Guitar Guy
Vintage Guitar Guy
Apr 17, 2023

I believe everything in the this post to be true. I've tried to sell some music gear, but when a potential buyer is headed to my home, my anxiety goes through the roof! When I get out of bed and walk around or get outside and have a conversation (though I have a paralyzed vocal cord that often makes that impossible with my "throat closing" withdrawal symptom), I often feel re-charged and depression-free, because the interaction feels more like it's on my terms.

I am near the end of a taper off 40 mgs of diazepam and will be at 3 mgs on April 22nd, 2023. I am daily dry micro-tapering at a rate of 1 mg per month. Is…

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