We Are All Different
(original post February 15, 2014)
 
0The video on the brain’s wiring that Dr. Jenn posted last week keeps “re-fascinating” me –almost like the recurring thoughts that those who know benzo withdrawal have experienced. (At least these aren’t the nasty intrusive thoughts that often haunt us constantly in withdrawal.)  The most striking thought that comes to my mind is the truth of the phrase that we keep saying and hearing as we slog our way through withdrawal – “We are all different.”
 
A human brain has something like 100 billion neurons and up to 500 trillion neuro-receptors. There are several different “types” of both neurons and neuro-receptors. The likelihood that any two brains could be identical is statistically less than infinitesimal. It is also estimated that 90% of these billions of neurons release either GABA (which is generally an inhibitory neuro-transmitter) or glutamate (generally an excitatory neuro-transmitter). I suspect that the ratio of these two neuro-transmitters in each person’s brain alone has a great deal to do with the intensity and duration of benzo withdrawal. (But that is only the scientist and mathematician in me musing over “possibilities.” Of course, no one has a provable explanation of why we each heal differently from benzo withdrawal. We are all guessing in an educated way.)
 
It is certainly these neurological differences that are largely responsible for the way we each “perceive” life. No two people perceive things exactly the same way – even the simplest things. I had this discussion yesterday with Robb (at the healing house). In fact, it got much “deeper,” and he was following the reasoning and concepts very well. This is a very solid indicator to me that he is progressively healing according to his own specific healing “timeline.” When he arrived here at the end of September, pondering such ideas was out of his reach.
 
Of course, our own life experiences must also necessarily affect how we perceive life as we continue to live it. So, we exist as “who we are (neurologically/genetically)” and “where we have been (life experiences).”
 
As I have healed, this has become very apparent – not only with respect to how others perceive me (as I currently exist and as I existed in withdrawal) but also with respect to how I perceive others now that I am well and how I viewed them in withdrawal. For me, it is important. It helps me to understand why they have reacted to me in certain ways and why I have reacted to them in my own specific ways. This is probably a discussion that is more useful/meaningful to those who have healed rather than those who are currently suffering. (Thank you for bearing with me.)
 
More importantly, as I have healed, I have had the opportunity and privilege of communicating with many individuals going through benzo withdrawal. Now that my mind thinks rationally, I can attest to the truth that each and every one of us going through benzo withdrawal suffers differently as we heal differently. We all experience a different set of symptoms – in kind, intensity, duration, timing, and response to “environmental” factors such as supplements, other meds, foods, odors, heat/cold, and so on. No two people go through it the same way. Every single one of us heals differently and will have his or her own unique, special story.
 
I have talked with many who are healing via the window/wave mode. Even so, every single one is doing it differently. Some have infrequent windows but when they have them they feel nearly normal. Some have “50%” windows fairly frequently but don’t really have a time when they feel “wonderful.” Some have waves that crash in on them leaving them terrified and certain that they will never be well – right after they had an incredibly good window. Some get pounded with excruciating physical pain which can disappear in moments only to return later in the day or week. Others suffer horrid mental symptoms of depression and anxiety which can lift for a few hours allowing rays of sunshine to pour in only to be clouded over later on as if the sunlight had never existed. Some even oscillate back and forth between physical and mental anguish.
 
I healed by the “continuous misery” method. I had lots of physical pain, but the mental torture was the hallmark of my recovery, and it dogged me minute-to-minute for what seemed like it would be eternal at the time. It was constant until one day I felt it “lift” a bit. From that day on, it gradually faded over time until it was completely gone over a few months. Other symptoms gradually improved and eventually vanished over the next several months.
 
Others have healed in that same general way. The skies clear for no apparent reason after a very long storm, and the sun shines. The storm is suddenly over. It can be rapid and profound.            
 
I often compared my own “improvement” (or lack of improvement) to that of others – not usually a good or productive idea. As if that was not bad enough, I would “imprint” the horrid experiences of others onto myself and make myself even more miserable and terrified - as if I was going out of my way to kill any hope I could otherwise muster. I did have the sense to read success stories every day mostly as one of my “rituals” – rituals being an artifact of my own withdrawal experience (probably some sort of inborn ”defense mechanism”). The “what ifs” always took me to a very negative place, but that seems to be the nature of benzo withdrawal depression. Thank God for the success stories.        
 
The number of ways we can heal is infinite. There is no right or wrong way to travel the road to wellness, and no two journeys are the same nor can they be.
 
The only certainty is that our brains do heal – but only according to our own unique and innate physiological/biochemical composition and ability.  
 
We all have an amazing success story waiting for us at the end of the journey…and it is our story. It does have one distinct element that all benzo withdrawal success stories have….hope. Hope radiates from every story. And it is the sharing of that hope that makes each story much more precious than gold not only to others but also to us.
 
 
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