Someone asked me today what the difference was between a wave and an episode. I thought about it for a moment because I have heard people use the two terms interchangeably, although they do mean different things. Or at least, they imply different things.
The difference between the two I’d say comes down to length of occurrence, and perhaps severity of symptoms.
As I often say, benzo withdrawal is the nastiest thing on Earth. Heroin withdrawals look like a stroll on a sunny beach compared to benzo withdrawal.
A wave can signal a short period of heightened intensity of withdrawal symptoms, either during the taper or protracted symptoms after we come off the drug. By comparison, an ‘episode’ can be a similar experience only it is much shorter.
That said, many people do use these words in reverse by which an episode is a longer period of symptoms spike, and a wave is a shorter more milder period of symptoms spike.
Depending on which term you prefer, I’d say the key difference is that one can lasts hours or days, while the other can last weeks or months.
I don’t think the words are important here as much as the phenomenon of what we are really talking about, which is the common experience by which symptoms of withdrawal increase in severity for a period of time.
Many people experience this at different points during their withdrawal and/or post benzodiazepine. It is important to note that these occurrences are different for everyone, not only in their severity but the length of time they persist.
What’s critical to remember during a wave/episode is that ‘what goes up must come down!‘
99% of the rumination during a wave/episode circulates around at least two questions:
“Will I ever get better?”
“I think I’m permanently damaged!”
The answer to both? YES! & NO!
Still, during a wave/episode it’s the hardest damn thing to see or believe, because we feel so awful that it seems that every cell within our being is trying to convince us of the opposite. Of course, it’s fear/stress/anxiety/panic/depression talking.
These kinds of thoughts feed on our rumination much like cancer feeds on sugars.
Needless to say, the best thing we can do for ourselves during these periods is to let go of our ruminations.
I know, easier said than done!
I won’t make this a long article on how to remove rumination, although I may do that for an upcoming blog. But it is important I believe to really focus on how the rumination can perpetuate our crummy disposition. I believe this is important because it’s difficult to entertain these ruminations once we realize the trick they’re playing.
Once we really get it, you have that “eureka!” moment.
You say, this damn rumination is lying to me and causing my brain to ring its alarm, to release its fight or flight chemistry, which only further fuels these damn thought!
It’s enough to make you want to scream.
Be easy on yourself though. Chances are you’re not going to stop the ruminations, but you may at least be wise enough to catch them when they begin, and then immediately say, “to hell with this!”, and then turn the channel. Focus on something else. Turn the channel!
Rumination is a lot like chewing on our fingernails. We do it unconsciously. Have you ever tried to quit biting your nails? Doesn’t it always seem we can do pretty good until it sneaks up on us as some unconscious mechanism? You look down and you see your finger in your mouth and think, “ah damnit!”
You remove your finger, at least until the next time you unconsciously begin biting again.
The biting is a reflection of the physical stress/anxiety, as is rumination.
Try to catch sight of the rumination and remind yourself how it’s a liars voice fueling negative chemistry.
See the point.
Get the hell out of the way.
Get out of traffic!