Getting Better

    Sufferers will get better; that much we know. Many of the symptoms which people have appear to have neither rhyme nor reason, but changes to them during recovery can be indicators of improvement, which will obviously help towards restoring the sufferer’s confidence and hope. As an example, I said earlier that benzos have a flattening effect on sleep, so if during recovery dreams start happening again it may mean that the sleep mechanism is repairing itself, until the sleep deficit caused by the benzo is restored. Clearly if one mechanism is repairing itself so will others be. 

    Everyone involved wants to know how long it will be before normal service will be restored, as it were. Unfortunately it’s an unanswerable question. This illness is quite unique to each sufferer, as each sufferer is himself or herself unique. 

    One way to help is to keep a record of events. It will at least show how symptoms have varied and which ones have gone. There is no guarantee that a symptom won’t return, but being able to track it gives some semblance of control. Withdrawal plays funny games on the memory, so we, like other people, found it useful to keep a record of events and feelings. 

    Some people keep an actual journal, which would be the right approach for people who like keeping diaries. I am not disciplined enough for that, so I decided on a daily log (below). On one line for each day I recorded the principal events, successes and disasters for that day. When a particular symptom was raging it dominated the record, so I was able to detect patterns of symptoms coming and going. When our recollections were faulty the log helped to put us right. After the taper was over, I added a small table to the log showing the daily state of the main symptoms, in this case sleep, balance, burning, breathing, concentration and co-ordination, with a general heading for how well the day went. Each item was scored 0-3 meaning bad, poor, OK and good respectively. Again it showed patterns particularly as symptoms began to disappear. For relatively little effort it gave one at least the feeling of knowing what was happening, and some indication of the trend towards improvement. It’s crude but reassuring.