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Hypochondria anyone? (w/o gaslighting)


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A couple of months ago the psychological therapist that has accompanied me through my benzo journey said a dirty, dirty word: hypochondria. She defined it, very diplomatically and compassionately, as interpreting normal feedback from your body as harmful or concerning. Long story short: I now agree with her assessment but before I make the long story long again I need to ask: have any of you had the realization that some of the benzo w/d symptoms were due to emotional oversensitivity?

 

First let me clarify that I believe emotional oversensitivity around physical discomfort/distress is absolutely understandable and expected in a benzo w/d context. We go through discomfort whack-a-mole for months or years. The symptoms are totally real for extended periods of time and in some cases life-threatening. I often wonder how many benzo-related fatalities we never hear about bc those folks aren't around to post here.

 

However, in my personal case, I do have to recognize that the experience of not knowing where the next debilitating thing is coming from, especially considering many of these sensations were completely new to me was traumatic in the literal sense. I did end up in the ICU for hypertensive episodes so the danger was very real. I do realize now though, that at some point the trips to park near the ER were unnecessary. Yes, I had tachycardia and/or high BP; yes, I felt a sharp pain in my chest; yes, I had trouble breathing (after COVID). Yet, I really wonder if I would have gone to the ER if I hadn't gone through the carnival of neurological discomfort that is benzo w/d.

 

I'd like to end this by clarifying that hypochondria in this context (maybe in any context) merits compassion and curiosity, not scorn and mockery. Would you not expect someone to have trouble distinguishing body alarms and having to recalibrate if you go months feeling alarms that need medical attention mixed in with lesser ones? Who knows? Maybe this s**t isn't as common as I imagine it is.

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