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A (fairly) simple trick to make me feel a little better...


[JG...]

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[scroll to TIP if you want to get past my verbosity]. First the usual caveat- this emphatically probably won't work for everyone, and for some people it might not be helpful at all. I'm only posting as it works for me, and hopefully it might work for a small number of you, too. Prior to ending up on benzos I suffered from really bad anxiety and depression- not at all unusual so far. Behind this- the trigger for that- was chronically low self esteem. People who know me find this very surprising, as I was "a high achiever" if you were to look at my CV/resumé. But what I have struggled with so far with being off benzos, is finding motivation, drive, the ability to find the strength to do stuff. I'm also not really into social media, as I find it rapidly makes me both fearful, irritated and ranty. My son describes me as "boomer before my time"!  :laugh: So ruthlessly cutting down exposure to that has helped. I mention social media because my tip is totally counter intuitive to one of the things I hate about social media which is how body self image (particularly with instagram but also Facebook, tiktok, pinterest) has put an unreal expectation- partly by use of filters and photoshop-  on whole generations of people, both young men and women, and the need to "look good". Whether it's unfeasably large butts or washboard ABs, constantly pushing yourself in the gym seems in part driven by- not a desire to be healthy- but a desire to look more like the unrealistic pictures on social. So this tip superficially may seem to run counter to that- but I don't think it is, because it's not about sharing images or looking good for anyone else. Anyway, self esteem continues to be a big kicker for me and it will be what my biggest battle really is, post benzo. There seems to be three reasons why I am struggling with it post-benzo, and crucially it exaccerbates my inherent post-benzo low energy/low drive. (1) Bad memory feeds my low self esteem as follows: my memory ain't great post-benzo, so self-motivational pep talks don't work long term, as I forget them! (2) Equating doing nothing with being lazy: whilst I subscribe wholeheartedly to the "be kind to yourself" mantra, there was also a persistant nagging doubt that doing nothing was being lazy. (3) Lack of linear progression exaccerbates inability to maintain motivation: Because postbenzo recovery is not linear, my subconscious sometimes struggles to see the net gain over time of getting better- and that feeds my lack of self esteem and lack of drive. Anyway, this seems to help for me. It seems stupid, it's small, it ain't no panacea, and it might be exactly the wrong thing for you...

 

TIP:

 

Dig out a photo of when you were really- and I mean really- rough, pre-now. This is really easy for me, because I have been hospitalised a few times - but only once detained by the state in a psychiatric hospital (ie: sectioned, in UK parlance) and on oxygen, because I was struggling to breathe, post seizures and having a manic episode. It's not a photo I am proud of, but God, does it remind me of where both my mental health problems and my benzo use had got me to. Your "rough" photo might not be as extreme as fighting for your life in hospital. In fact I really hope it isn't! I found a load of other photos from previous years, where frankly I looked rough as hell, because I wasn't maintaining the basics, like eating properly, washing, dressing properly. Sadly there was no shortage of photos.

 

Now, spend a day being REALLY kind and innovative to yourself. Pick a day when you are feeling a bit better than normal. You don't have to be great, just not having a benzo dip. Get yourself ready as if you were going on a date. Or if that's not the right suggestion, maybe treat yourself to a nice haircut with a hairdresser that does a decent job, have a nice relaxing bath, put on the clothes that maybe you haven't worn in a while that you would normally wear if you were going out somewhere nice. Ideally, get a mate or a relative to help you with this bit, someone who can help maintain your good spirits. I live on my own a lot, so that mate is sometimes me! But my son came around recently and did this second bit for me, and that really helped, as he's got a cracking sense of humour and kept my spirits up. Anyway, take a load of photos with a proper full smile, teeth (if you have them) and everything! Like a proper "won the lottery" smile. I find that I hate about the first 10 photos, then there is one that is ok, and then another 10 I hate. Delete the ones you hate and stick with the best one. My son is also very tech and image savvy, but you don't need to be a wizz at photoshop to run the photo through a load of filters. He's also got a high spec phone with a camera that really gets the light balance right and everything- I dunno, I will level with you, it's all a bit over my head.

 

Anyway, net result. I have two photos, one from a few months ago and one from a short while ago, and on any day when my body is telling me I can't get out of bed, I may still not be feeling great, but at least I can see the photos from my bed, which make it clear to me that I have made progress, and that checks my self-narrative of low self-esteem for a bit. It's early days but it sometimes even gives me the added self confidence and energy to get up, put down my electronic device, and go and have a shower, which starts my day.  It's just as well my son can't read this because he would say this whole post is "boomer as XXXX".

 

Anyway, hope it helps someone out there. I am off for my shower.

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Thanks for your suggestion JGT73, it's nice to see a post with helpful suggestions along with self deprecating humor, you're delightful to read.  I used a variation of your method when I stopped drinking 29 years ago.  The detox facility took a picture of me upon arrival and I asked for that photo when I left 28 days later.  I've kept it all these years as a reminder of where I was and what I looked like and even though I've got gray hair and wrinkles now, I still look a heck of a lot better than I did then.  :laugh:
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Thanks for your suggestion JGT73, it's nice to see a post with helpful suggestions along with self deprecating humor, you're delightful to read.  I used a variation of your method when I stopped drinking 29 years ago.  The detox facility took a picture of me upon arrival and I asked for that photo when I left 28 days later.  I've kept it all these years as a reminder of where I was and what I looked like and even though I've got gray hair and wrinkles now, I still look a heck of a lot better than I did then.  :laugh:

 

That's fantastic, Pamster! And congratulations on 29 years of being alcohol free, too. I think I am actually a different colour now, post benzos, which is quite remarkable. The hair has stopped falling out too, which is a nice surprise!  :laugh:

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