By David Joel Miller
The journey to recovery land is an adventure.
Recovery whether it is from depression, anxiety or substance abuse involves learning to cope with a whole lot of changes in your life. Those problems in your life have mounted up and now you have to face making some changes.
There are likely to be changes in your financial life as a result of your disorder. Many people enter recovery at the insistence of the governmental systems. You end up homeless, or unemployed and when you ask for help you get referred to a program.
Even if you still have a job and a place to stay, the result of your disorder may be that you have to alter you habits. You may also have a lot of wreckage that needs to be repaired. Many recovering people find that they have impaired relationships with others in their life. They want to set those things right or they have to adjust to the changes.
Some of the recovery related challenges may involve doing things that you never thought you could do. Other changes mean doing without things that in the past you thought were necessities and that you could never do without.
Once saying in recovery circles is that in recovery you need to change everything, your playgrounds, playmates and your toys. There is a whole lot of truth to that observation.
Here are some of the areas of your life that may need to change as you move in the direction of recovery.
You may be used to driving your car but new in recovery many people find that they have to find another form of transportation.
If you lost your license, you need to stop driving. Many people who have their license revoked or suspended can’t accept that they need to stop driving. The drive anyway. Often they get caught driving without a license and create more wreckage. Maybe they go to jail, maybe their car gets impounded and they can’t get it back.
You may need to rely on others for transportation, learn to take the bus or arrange to walk a lot more than you ever imagined.
In recovery many people find they need to make changes in their finances. You may be unable to work, or unable to work full-time during your recovery process. You may have lost your job as a result of your disorder or your disorder may be the consequence of being out of work.
Many people find they lose their house, have to move to cheaper place or otherwise need to downsize their expenses. Living on food stamps, welfare or a part-time job can be a major challenge.
Ironically may people find that once they cut down, they are able to live on far less than they used to and still have more time and are less stressed. Having a lot costs a lot, and the struggle to maintain things can be a major source of stress.
In recovery it is important to take a look at your relationships. What you may find is that those relationships you have been clinging to are not healthy. Some people find that while they were in their addiction or their disorder they have left old positive friends and taken up with questionable ones. Others have alienated people who used to be supportive. Repairing damaged relationships, cutting off unhealthy ones and setting new boundaries with the people you chose to keep in your life are all a part of recovery.
It is not just the tangible things that change in recovery. There is a lot of work to do on learning to feel and to manage your emotions.
Some people are so used to filling their life with others, activity and commotion, even drama that just being with themselves is a new experience.
Being alone should not mean you are lonely. You can be lonely anywhere, even in a crowd, but getting comfortable with yourself is a big part of recovery.
Another emotion that causes a lot of problems for people in recovery is boredom. If you are used to regulating your emotions by reaching for chemicals or for other people, then simply being alone can feel boring at first.
With time you can learn to relax and enjoy that time you get to spend with yourself.
Rather than complaining about all the life changes you need to make in recovery, relax and enjoy the journey, you will find that the trip to “recoveryland” is an enjoyable, lifelong journey.
For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/
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- Pot Use 7 Times More Likely for Mentally Ill (namisouthbay.com)
- Substance abuse and bipolar disorder: A lethal mix (vancouversun.com)