After the initial high of being clean our addiction starts to peck away looking for a way back in. Focus on some self care and positive reflection from your success so far and I promise you it’ll pass! I’ve been there a few times and now I’m over a year in. The beast hasn’t won yet.
It’s not always easy to throw all your weaponry at the addiction when you feel like shit so I normally accept it’s going to be a bad day unless I go for a sleep. Reset by getting some shut eye whether that is a nap mid-afternoon or an early night. Thankfully I sleep much better now that I’m clean from alcohol so nodding off isn’t so difficult. I appreciate it isn’t easy for some people and I really do sympathise but there are not many people in long term recovery who still struggle to sleep if they’re not abusing their body with poisons. Sleep is so important to our mental and physical health. I never appreciated it in the past – arrogantly thinking I could drink late into the night and survive the next day on 4 hours, a full day at work and a hangover. I don’t miss those days.
Don’t ever think that I’m boasting or trying to show off my ‘success’ so far in my journey. It isn’t a competition and I take no joy in seeing others struggling. I’ve had a few negative messages lately from people taking exception to certain things I have shared because it doesn’t align with their recovery values or because they are struggling more than me and I may be triggering them. That in itself is an unhealthy way to live, attacking others and making their success seem worthless because you don’t feel good about yourself. We need to take ownership of our own mental health and focus on what we can control. Ourselves.
So, Mental Health Awareness week launched today and we will see so much more online at work, in the media, on the radio, etc and that is great – we need more people talking about mental health but I’m also a little cynical of these days or weeks where we highlight something, promise big change and then go on with our lives until the following year. I’m not saying don’t do Mental Health Awareness week but I would like to see more tangible outputs delivered in the Country from Government, Business and society. I’m British, I can only speak for the UK but I’m sure its just as bad in the US, Canada, Australia, etc (I just know I have readers from these Countries!)
We all have mental health but it just happens that some people have poor mental health. We are doing so much in the UK now regarding physical health (fighting obesity, teaching our children to be active and eat well, reducing meat and sugar in our diets, etc) but other than ‘talk to somebody’ what do we really see in the mainstream that screams to us that we are getting a strong hold of the mental health crisis that plagues society?
The disproportionate system we have across the UK is another issue. I was fortunate enough to access excellent NHS mental health care both in hospital and then in the community following my breakdown. It was immediate, it was to a high standard and most importantly I haven’t relapsed or needed their services since I finished my treatment. I know of two others within the company I work for (similar backgrounds, job roles, home lives, etc) who had very similar scenarios to me in terms of their illness but due to where they live their experience was completely different. I won’t go into the details but one of the ladies I am talking about was sent home from the hospital the same night she had attempted to take her own life and when she called the Crisis team after returning home to say she still felt suicidal she was told to try going to sleep and see how she felt in the morning. Later that night she took an overdose. Thankfully she survived. Another was told there were no beds in any local hospitals so she would need to go to a hospital over 100 miles away. She has young children. Her partner doesn’t drive. It just isn’t good enough.
Is a human life not an important enough reason to fix and improve this system? A mother. A father. A son. A daughter. A brother. A sister.
To conclude, a special mention to the wonderful little community we have going on Twitter (using the #RecoveryPosse hashtag). For all the services and treatments out there both privately and through the state which naturally cost a lot of money, I can honestly say one of the best things about my recovery has been the support network I’ve built up with strangers (although I now consider them friends despite never meeting them!) on a free to use social media platform and those like-minded people in various stages of their own recovery will never realise how much of a positive impact they have had on my life.