What Do All Withdrawals Have In Common?
To date I’ve worked one-on-one in Healing & Wellness coaching sessions with individuals from nearly twenty different countries. I’ve worked with people from all over these great United States of mine, and also from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zeeland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Israel, to name a few locations.
The personal stories of prescription drug withdrawal and wellness rebuilding that I encounter are at once heart-wrenching and inspiring, just as mine was when I quit Paxil and Xanax years ago after more than twelve years of taking the medications to “help” anxiety. (You might note the sarcasm in those quotation marks.)
The situations I encounter in my coaching are unique, each of them. Some people were on one medication, and some on many. Some people were on the medications for a relatively short amount of time, and some took them for decades. Some people that come to me are in their twenties, and some in their seventies. Many are somewhere in-between.
There is no one professional situation that defines the people with whom I’ve worked. There have been doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, school teachers, entrepreneurs, salespeople, IT professionals, finance experts, creatives, truck drivers, homemakers, retirees, students, and those still finding their own best professional fit.
Some people are dealing with high pressure, high profile jobs, and others might be on some sort of leave from work. Some have much in the way of material comforts, and others have little.
There is no one particular race, ethnic, or cultural situation that finds themselves needing support because of medication use and discontinuation. My clients have been white, black, Indian, Asian, Arabic, Hispanic, and I’m sure “other.”
There is no one sexual orientation or family situation that finds themselves going through the wringer of antidepressant withdrawal and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal. My clients have been gay and straight. They’ve been married, divorced, dating, and single. They’ve been empty-nesters, new parents, and those for whom children might never be in the cards.
They’ve been dog people and cat lovers. They’ve been extroverts and introverts.
The withdrawal and healing stories I’ve encountered are as diverse and unique as the flowers that bloom across this great earth of ours in their respective seasons.
But they do all have one thing in common: Fear.
Everyone who has ever experienced, or is currently experiencing, a withdrawal situation knows exactly what I’m talking about.
There are many symptoms that a person might experience when they hit tolerance withdrawal to a medication or begin reducing their dosage, and these symptoms might be a little different for everyone. Some people might have head pressure and nerve pain, others might have terrible depression or agitation, and still others might have all of these things and more (I know I did).
But everyone, to a person, has increased fear that they are dealing with. Fear of the past, fear of the present, fear of the future. Fear of the symptoms, and fear AS a symptom.
The roots of this increased fear might be part physiological, part psychological, and part environmental, but persistent or overwhelming fear is a hallmark and often dominant symptom of prescription drug withdrawal, and if a person can learn to tame and overcome this increased fear, then they are well on their way to finding important measures of healing.
Taming fear—managing it, chipping away at it, dispelling it, replacing it—is one of the things I work with people on in my coaching sessions, and it is really one of the one of the biggest challenges in life for all of us at any stage of the game, isn’t it?
Fear can sneak up on us in times of stress or struggle, and if we aren’t careful, it can slither its way into our daily life before we are even aware of it.
Fear is a dirty scoundrel. It is usually a liar. It does not value truth.
Fear is lazy. It doesn’t value goals or want to see improvement.
Fear is lonely. It lives in isolation and darkness and wants to bring you down to those places.
Fear is a simpleton. It is not inspired. It has no imagination. It does not value creativity or solutions.
Fear is not your friend. It wants to see the worst for you and your family and your future.
Fear is that kid in high school who had no talent, discipline, or intelligence, and so he tried to get those people who were on the right track to fail, because that is what made him feel better about himself.
Seeing people fail is what makes fear happy. Peer pressuring others into making the worst choices for themselves when faced with adversity is what fear gets off on.
Maybe your parents always told you to be careful the company you keep. Well, this is the same thing here. I will tell you right now to be careful about keeping consistent company with fear. Fear is a loser, and if you consistently hang out with fear, then you will be dragged down to its miserable level.
So what sorts of things help to manage fear? How are we able to conquer it?
Well, faith is one important part of overcoming fear—I would argue the most important part—and that will be addressed in an upcoming post of its own. Another is lifestyle.
Another is mindset, which can include the rewiring of negative neural pathways that have been dug like the Grand Canyon through years of stress, illness, poor experiences, or fear-based thinking.
And gratitude and positive emotional experiences are a couple of great ways to crowd fear out of your picture, too. When you are listing what you are thankful for in life, then you are forced to admit that you have enough “daily bread” to survive the day, so to speak. You then know that you’ll be okay. And when you are with people or settings that encourage and calm you, or even make you laugh—positive emotional experiences—then fear is so out of place that it begins to slink away.
If you are someone who has been experiencing increased fear lately, don’t worry. It isn’t just you. Especially if you are in an antidepressant withdrawal or benzodiazepine withdrawal situation (or withdrawal from some other class of drug), it is a common struggle.
And it is a struggle that can’t be ignored in the hopes it goes away on its own. It must be acknowledged and faced proactively, with faith and determination.
If you have been experiencing increased fear lately, then today tell yourself that you will not let fear win! Make a promise to yourself and to your loved ones that you will not let fear defeat you and rob you of your dreams, your joy, or your future.
Just as you would resolve to exercise several times a week if you wanted to lose weight, you must resolve to take proactive steps to conquer fear if it has been a negative presence in your life lately. And that is what we’ll be talking about in coming weeks at the Lovely Grind: taking proactive steps to begin putting fear in its place.
Today, you can begin putting fear into its proper place by remembering that, first and foremost, it is a liar and a loser. If you hear the winds of fear beginning to whisper negative nothings into your ear, then talk back to them! Label them and denounce them.
Also, imagine a positive outcome for the thing you might be fearful of. Usually our minds wander to “worst case scenarios” when we are feeling fear, so flip that worst case scenario on its head and picture a better outcome instead. In most cases, this better outcome is much more likely to be a reality anyway, and this is especially true if you are taking proactive steps to make it so!
Do not let fear be your master. Rather, make a resolution to master it by getting better at crowding fear out of your emotions and thoughts. This takes practice and effort, but it is possible and you will feel incrementally better as you work at it!
Take care until next time,
Michael Priebe is a writer and wellness coach who has studied psychology, literature, and print journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated with honors, and over the years he has helped people from all over the world understand antidepressant withdrawal and benzodiazepine withdrawal and find healing in their lives. He puts out a variety of spiritually inspiring content at The Lovely Grind, and he blogs about his life at www.michaelpriebewriter.com. He invites you to find out more about his coaching here, and he hopes you'll reach out to him on Facebook and Instagram.
“Michael helped me in a way that no doctor or therapist has been able to! His personal experience combined with his optimistic, constructive input and guidance is priceless. I highly recommend his coaching sessions.”
“I contacted Michael for coaching because he has the ultimate credential of having been through it all himself! I liked his warm, empathetic manner. He is easy to talk to, and I felt as if he were a family member in his warm caring toward me. Michael has a very reassuring way of communicating, and I would highly recommend him.”
Jon - British Columbia, Canada
“I came across Michael’s videos by chance while looking up information on prescription drug withdrawal. I found his YouTube videos to be very informative, honest, and consoling. I was watching one after the other and even converted the sound on the videos to MP3 so that I could listen to his advice while going for walks. That was very soothing for me, and therefore I decided to try his coaching services. Great decision.
"Michael is a great and patient listener, and during our time together I felt that he sincerely cared about my healing progress and had genuine empathy for all those going through withdrawal. He is a positive-minded individual who disseminates hope, and I appreciated the useful, personalized follow-up notes he sent after our session. Most certainly I would recommend his coaching.”
Yasmin - Cairo, Egypt
“No one else is doing what Michael is doing. It truly is a ministry! Michael is willing to make himself vulnerable to help others during their journey in the valley. He is very easy to talk to (I felt like I had known him forever), and I would most definitely recommend his coaching to others.”
Andi, North Carolina
“Michael’s coaching is truly a game-changing experience. I appreciate the level of understanding he brings … tons of knowledge on how to survive the days and get closer to recovery. When you finally get to look someone in the face and know they understand exactly what you’re going through, it can bring a different level of comfort; that is what Michael’s coaching provided me, and without a doubt I would recommend it to everyone going through this.”
“I decided to use Michael’s coaching services because he seemed very genuine and trustworthy. After speaking with him a couple of times, I realized that I am strong enough to overcome certain obstacles, but also realized that I need not rush the process [of becoming medication free]. It was comforting talking to Michael about my withdrawal issues so that I could realize that what I’m going through is common, and it was also useful that Michael took the time to give me feedback in specific areas—like making a schedule and forming realistic expectations for myself. Michael gave me more useful feedback than a lot of mental health counselors I’ve had. Michael has helped me, and I hope he continues to help others. I would definitely recommend his coaching services.”
“I learned a lot from Michael. At first I was so confused by withdrawal (wondering what I was going through and if I would be this way permanently), but Michael helped me to realize that we do heal and that things do get better. I had a lot of worries, but he helped to ease my mind and he gave me positive feedback regarding how to approach each day in this process. Michael has a caring heart, and I would 100 percent recommend his coaching to others going through this.”
Erikka, South Dakota
“It can be frustrating having to deal with [withdrawal] symptoms for months on end and getting next to no support from doctors or anyone in the medical community (people who for the most part are clueless). Simply getting a chance to speak with Michael—someone who has gone through what I have and is able to offer support—was comforting. I also really enjoyed his follow-up notes. They were insightful and helped me to consider things I hadn’t thought of. I very much enjoyed working with Michael, and I would recommend his coaching to anyone who is going through this process and looking for support.”
“Michael is relatable and non-judgemental. I liked his positivity and follow-up notes. He provided good support overall. I believe that if a person really wants to withdrawal from medication, then support like this, from someone who has personal experience, is invaluable, and for that reason I would recommend Michael’s coaching to others going through this process.”
Leanne – Ontario, Canada
"Because of Michael’s own experiences, he knows what serves and what damages. He helped me to control my intake of negative information, he made me more optimistic, and he gave me a sense of the “whole [healing] picture.” Michael is a good listener and his comments are very precise. I would definitely recommend his coaching to others going through withdrawal."
Miguel, Atlanta, GA
"I really enjoyed my coaching sessions with Michael and looked forward to each call. He is very easy to talk to and offers very good advice. Our conversations gave me hope and coping skills, and his follow-up notes and progress plan were very helpful; I reference them often to stay on track. I found it comforting talking to someone who has been through this and really understands the struggle. I now look at withdrawal as something that can be overcome, something that I can heal from. I felt very comfortable talking to Michael, and I would recommend his coaching services to others going through the withdrawal and healing process."
“I decided to try Michael’s coaching because, in his videos, he seemed so honest, relatable, upbeat, hopeful, and knowledgeable. I believe I got more out of Michael’s videos and coaching than I got from years of professional counseling. It is very comforting talking to him because it is like talking to a very knowledgeable, long-time, close friend. I have more hope for the future after talking to Michael, and that helps me to survive the times when I am feeling blue. I would recommend his coaching to those going through the withdrawal and healing process.”
“I really enjoyed the care that Michael put into every contact with me. I appreciate how he shared his own experiences, found out about my overall context, and made direct suggestions; it was so important to believe that I was not losing control of my mind and body and that I could carry on with living while going through the process. It was also helpful to set goals and a plan and check back in on these things. Michael’s coaching is very professional and authentic, and I would highly recommend him to anyone who is going through the withdrawal and healing process.”
Emma, United Kingdom
“I always refer back to what Michael coached me on in the past regarding dealing with such times during the recovery and healing process. I enjoy working with Michael because he takes his time answering each of my questions in detail. Michael has true answers and guidance. It is comforting being coached by someone who understands my symptoms, and also Michael is a very compassionate person. I would definitely recommend his services to a person in need of help during the withdrawal process.”
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CONTACT ME ABOUT COACHING
If you or someone you know is struggling to survive the pain and confusion of prescription drug withdrawal or chronic stress, I would like to offer my coaching services. Stress can suck the joy out of life, and the withdrawal process can be challenging (I know from experience). However, with the proper tools and mindset, these things can be survived and even used for greater growth. If you or someone you care about is trying to quit antidepressant or benzodiazepine medications (or simply trying to reduce stress levels), please click here to email me about coaching options and availability.