They say every journey starts with a single step
Unbeknownst to me, 800 days ago I took that first step. I say unbeknownst because I didn’t actually choose Recovery, I kinda fell into it.
As some of you know, my family and I had gone through a decade or so of back to back medical issues, pet illnesses and household disasters. As the Primary caregiver of everyone I live with, the lion’s share of the caring, organizing, liaising, home schooling, day to day home running, arranging appointments, collecting prescriptions, vet visits, insurance company shenanigans etc; fell to me.
In September 2019, I knew I was burnt out. The previous 6 months I had felt like I was wading through honey – tired, actually completely exhausted; existing rather than living; ticking the boxes of everything that needed to be done. And telling everyone I was fine.
People would say to me “I don’t know how you do it”; and my reply was always “I have no choice”. Because in my head, there was no choice. If I didn’t keep all those plates spinning, it would all collapse. I am a strong woman, I come from strong women, and strong women are valued highly in the culture that I live in. But I was fast running out of steam, and any joy of life was limited. I was drinking too much; days spent sitting on the couch watching crap tv; snacking too much.. just keeping it all in, keeping it all together….
I couldn’t tell anyone in RL (Real life) I felt it would mean I was failing somehow. But I found that weekend in September, that I could tell a stranger. I drunkenly told a person I had met on Twitter; and expected the worst – pity, disbelief, or some other fuck off response… from where I sit now, I don’t even know why I expected the worst…
Anyway, all I got was unconditional support. That person stayed and listened and supported. And they were joined quickly by another stranger – same response, same support. Both these extraordinary humans said and did everything I needed at that time and continue to do and say every thing I need to hear. It has not all be plain sailing. I am nothing if not a stubborn “know it all” at times. And yet their gentle stubbornness has met mine head on.
Through one of them a twitter group called #RecoveryPosse. I’ve written about these precious people before. A worldwide net of people who are choosing on a daily basis to live a different way. To tackle their demons, be it addiction or MH issues, and use MH support, AA, NA, GA, SMART, ART or any combination or just doing it their own way to get well. To find peace… and we support each other. Either just on twitter or via zoom, WhatsApp or in some cases face to face. This group of strangers have picked me up, made me laugh, taught me so much, given me courage, given me hope, let me find Me.
I now go to a series of zoom meetings every week. And listen, not to the stories of their drunken/addicted/depressed days, but to their stories of where they are now, and more importantly how they are healing. Because that is the value in meetings. Its not a pity party, but its sharing experience, so that we can all learn a better way. (Oh, and I’m constantly told my accent is lovely – which is weird, because I’m the only one in the zoom who doesn’t have one 😉)
I realised quite quickly that I was carrying a shit load of unresolved grief from events that peppered my adult hood, and a chronic self esteem problem. The tools I now have. means I’m unpicking all of that and resewing myself in a better way. This divergent group have given me the safe spaces to deal with the grief, to say out loud the things that contributed to my self esteem issues. The power of talking out loud, knowing no judgement will be levelled at you – is immense.
And now 800 days in? I find Peace. I didn’t even know that was what I was looking for… I can still my brain, even meditate for a couple of minutes. Not have to be constantly moving, thinking, organising….
If I wake and I’m not feeling “all that,” I can say to myself “Its ok, it’s just today; tomorrow will be different, give yourself some slack”.. and “breathe…”
My day to day life still has challenges, some of the stuff has been resolved, but life continues pretty much as it did before – but I have changed. It no longer overwhelms me. And on the days it does? You guessed it… I sit, pause, breathe, and let it wash past. This zen is hard earned, and I am not keen to let it go.
I know a lot of my RL friends feel bad that they didn’t know I had depression. But they shouldn’t. I was very good at hiding it. And, as I’ve learned, nobody can do anything for someone, until they are ready to admit to a problem, and then decide to do work about it. I definitely knew I was loved and cared for; and that had they known, they would’ve done anything I needed… I just wasn’t ready xx
When you think about addicts and alcoholics in recovery, you know it’s a lifetime choice and journey. They work daily to not use or drink or gamble or let food rule them; but with MH you may think there is an end date. One day I will not be depressed; and that is true. But that doesn’t mean I leave the recovery journey. I know the things that have helped me are the lifestyle changes I have made – exercise, changing my diet, scheduling #Selfcare days, going to meetings – these things I need to keep doing, for the rest of my life to keep my MH healthy. And you know what? Am more than happy to do that. I like Me. I like the serenity. I love the spot of selfishness that has crept into my life – I do not have to be all things to all people, its really ok to spend some time and resources on me. I can only help others if I am the best version of me…
So, if you are sitting there. Hating your life or hating yourself. Feeling overwhelmed, tired, exhausted, depressed, grief stricken, concerned about the substances or unhealthy habits you know you have, or just at the end of hope. Reach out. Find me on Twitter. I will introduce you to others, people who get it. People who will sit with you and help you make sense of whatever your demons are. Take your first step… I promise, you won’t regret it…
And to my #RecoveryPosse friends.
You guys are just warriors!!!
Tangata ako ana i te kāenga, te tūranga ki te marae, tau ana
A person nurtured in the community contributes strongly to society