Getting a fresh start from any setback can be daunting and the same is true of recovery from addiction and bouncing back from mental health challenges. The start to the 2021 year has been especially challenging for many people that are struggling to cope with life, recovery and mental health.
It was such a great pleasure having Isla Stone, fellow addict in recovery and author of the book The Art Of Determination, join me for a live video last week to discuss this topic of getting a fresh start in recovery from addiction and mental health.
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The Art Of Determination
This book written by Isla is fantastic, it details her journey in recovery following her journal entries from the year 2012 until 2018. It describes her recovery process and her feelings, thoughts and experiences.
It is taking me a long time to get through the book as a lot of the things that she covers brings up painful personal experiences for me too. It is a therapeutic process for me to read her book. I’m about half way through and I read a few pages at a time with a break in between reading.
It gives amazing insight into the journey of recovery and healing from mental health, abuse and different forms of addiction.
I highly recommend reading it.
The Truth About Addiction and Mental Health
It astounds me the level of stigma still associated with mental health issues and addiction. Addiction and mental health challenges have affected so many people yet there is still such a negative association when it comes to these topics.
I feel so strongly that these things need to be spoken about openly, more and without shame. I may be an addict and perhaps you are not an addict yourself but I am quite sure that every single person faces mental health difficulties at some stage during their life.
Addiction is simply using something outside of yourself to try and make yourself feel better. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, the internet, food, work, self-harm, exercise or anything else.
Making Recovery A Part of Your Daily Life
Looking after your mental health is essential, it is as important as your physical health and it is all interconnected.
I found in early recovery my life was completely taken up by my recovery program and then it took a while to get to a place where recovery became a part of my daily life vs being my entire life.
I believe that it is important that every person makes time every day to put some work into mental health wellness, whether you are struggling with mental health challenges or not. In fact I think everyone would benefit from doing the 12 steps at least once in their lives. It is an amazing program that comes with incredible self growth.
Addiction and Numbing In Covid Times
Now that we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic things are harder than ever, for addicts and non-addicts alike. There is so much fear surrounding what is happening and addiction is very much related to fear in a big way.
Most addicts and alcoholics live in a constant fear and anxiety of the world and everything around them. With recovery this fear dissipates but now with the pandemic there is constant fear thrown at us in the news, on social media and society around us. It is incredibly unsettling and many addicts and those struggling with mental health difficulties can feel a need to numb this feeling.
It can be hard to stay in the moment and focus on putting one foot in front of the other, but it is incredibly important to stay focused on the present moment.
One thing that can be done to help remove this fear is to stop watching all the news and to stay off social media. Surround yourself with (metaphorically speaking due to lockdown) and engage with positive people that will lift your spirits rather than get sucked into all the negativity.
Make the focus yourself and taking care of yourself first, especially if you are a mother with kids and a family depending on you to be strong. Find ways to uplift yourself and keep yourself in a positive space.
As a mother when things get really hard you need to fill your cup first, so that you are able to fill the cups of your children.
The Hardships of Isolation and How To Cope
Another characteristic of active addiction (and many other mental health disorders) is isolation – addicts and alcoholics isolate themselves in order to use and hide away from the world. With isolation being forced upon us to keep everyone safe and well, it is leading to even more fear and feelings of being alone.
Simply put this is not a healthy or safe situation for anyone, in particular for addicts and those struggling with mental health challenges.
It is so important to find ways to connect with other people when you are new in recovery from addiction or from any other mental health disorder it is essential to connect with others. Getting a fresh start in recovery addiction means connecting with the right people – people that you have a good connection with and people that understand what you are going through.
The pandemic has made connecting with others exceptionally hard but reaching out to loved ones is going to be essential to keeping mentally healthy and avoiding isolation.
If you don’t feel like talking to someone that is often when you need it most, so pick up the phone and call someone.
It is important to form your own support group of people that you trust and can talk to. It does not have to be a formal support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, as long as you have some people that you can rely on to be there for you that is enough. It can be a moms and tots group if you are a new mom. It is about finding people that you can relate to.
What To Do If You Need Help – Facilities, Support Groups and Therapy
There are so many places to get help, support and guidance if you are struggling with addiction or mental health difficulties. Here are some fantastic places to contact:
Akeso Kenilworth Clinic is a fantastic facility that offers a psychiatric ward, an adolescent unit and an addiction unit. They offer both in-patient and out-patient facilities. I’ve been an in-patient at the psychiatric unit and an out-patient in the addiction unit at Kenilworth Clinic, it offers top notch services. There is also an Akeso clinic in Umhlanga. and in other areas – click here to find your closest Akeso Clinic.
Houghton House in Randburg offers addiction and mental health treatment in a primary care inpatient setting. extended inpatient care (also known as secondary care), an outpatient programme, halfway houses, aftercare programmes and family support programmes. https://www.houghtonhouse.co.za/
Harmony Clinic is an addiction treatment centre in Hout Bay that offers detox, primary, secondary and continuous treatment. I spent a year in Harmony Clinic as a patient and then I worked for Harmony Clinic for a year in their secondary care facility. It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend their treatment program.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12 step recovery program and support group for alcoholics. You will be able to find Alcoholics Anonymous almost anywhere in the world. To find a meeting in South Africa click here.
Narcotics Anonymous is a 12 step recovery program and support group for addicts. You will be able to find Narcotics Anonymous almost anywhere in the world. To find a meeting in South Africa click here.
Take note that there are many different 12 step meetings that you can attend such as EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous), OA (Overeaters Anonymous), SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous), SLA (Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous) and GA (Gamblers Anonymous).
Smart Recovery is a global community of support groups for addiction.
SADAG is the South African Depression and Anxiety Group – you can contact them for help and assistance.
Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre‘s mission is to treat and rehabilitate substance users and those directly affected.
Life Line is a 24 hour support telephone service to assist with psychological and social stresses and trauma. You can phone 0861322322 for help.
POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) – this is a fantastic place to contact if you are in an abusive situation and need help.
Mental Health Care For The Individual
It is so important to take a holistic approach to mental health.
You can work as hard as you can on your mental health but neglect your eating, exercise and self-care, however doing this will work against you and affect your mental health negatively.
Exercise, eating healthily, meditation, self-care and focusing on being in the present are very important aspects of mental health. Mental health is about finding balance in your life.
Finding spirituality is fantastic for your mental health. It can be the church, or it can be finding something else that is spiritual. For me personally it is about gratitude, spending time in nature and being aware of how everything in the world is connected. When I’m feeling connected spiritually and to my higher power my mental health is good and strong.
Another important aspect of mental health for me is my medication. I am on mood stabilisers and it makes things so much easier for me to cope. There is nothing wrong with taking medication under the guidance of a professional if it makes your life less of a struggle.
Recovery, Personal Processes and Self Transformation
It is important to note that each person’s mental health journey and process will be different to the next person’s. It is also important to take note that this is a journey and that if you are working on your mental health you will change and your process will be different now compared to what it was a while back.
Each of us will have a very personal experience of recovery, personal growth and self transformation. Personal growth and recovery is not in a straight line, it is going to be up and down and all around. And with personal growth usually comes with pain.
My recovery journey has been incredibly painful. I’ve had to face some very traumatic experiences and I’ve had to face some very painful truths about myself and the things that I’ve done during active addiction. Getting through the denial of where I was and who I was was not an easy process.
Although it has been painful. it has also been a beautiful process because it has helped me move out of being stuck and in a terribly painful place to where I am now.