Recovery: The Three Headed Monster

I find it strange that most people hear the word recovery and instantly associate it with some three headed monster that they want nothing to do with. They look down on it, snub their nose and some will even try to kick it! Ironically, most people have someone in their life with some kind of substance abuse issues and if they don’t, they know someone who does.

Traditionally, the word recovery is associated with addiction and substance abuse. Here is an amazing short series called “Experiencing Recovery” on the history of recovery by William L White, a most revered researcher in the field.

The truth is that “recovery” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Looking at the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, a simple definition of recovery is: the act or process of returning to a normal state after a period of difficulty. I like this one due to its simple nature. All of a sudden you might easier identify.

In my case, I had difficulties relating to kids in school. I had difficulties being heard at home. I had difficulties connecting outside of school. I had difficulties with my body. I had difficulties being accepted. These all led to the discovery of maladaptive ways to cope. So a cycle was created: I had difficulties with familial relationships. I had difficulties with food. I had difficulties with smoking. I had difficulties with personal relationships. I had difficulties with college. I had difficulties with drinking. I had difficulties with drugs. I had difficulties with thinking, money, jobs, sex, love, the law.. These resulted in difficulties with anxiety, depression, self esteem, isolation, addiction and an extremely degenerated state of physical health. It all went round and round and round and round until coming to a head.

I wasn’t thinking about shame when I was stumbling around public sidewalks, just as the obese person might not be ashamed of their order at the donut shop, or the person with heart disease ordering bacon, or the diabetic drinking a two liter of diet soda, or the person with high blood pressure salting his food before its even tasted, or the person begging on the street or the person smoking outside their office building in the cold. Similarly, these could all be behavioral issues, but unfortunately, these people aren’t all looked at and treated quite equally by society. Some are frowned upon while others are overlooked.

If you’ve had a wound, a failing grade, a broken heart, lost a wallet, became unemployed, had a mental breakdown, a physical ailment, a bad day, a hangover,  a headache… you have likely experienced recovery. If you have a lifestyle related chronic illness such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, addiction, alcoholism, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, inflammatory bowel syndrome… hopefully you are making the necessary lifestyle changes needed in order to facilitate and eventually maintain your recovery.

The same way that I wasn’t ashamed to crawl out of the party, I’m not ashamed to say that I am a person in recovery. I’ve found healthier ways to cope with the challenges in my life and I’m happy to share it with people like you. Granted, I don’t have to announce it everywhere I go, but recovery does help one shine and stand alongside the best of ‘em!

I encourage you to do the same. Only you know the path that you’ve struggled through and the triumphs that let you stand where you’re at right now. You’ve changed your world for the better and continue to progress like never before. There aren’t many people who can say that. Stand up and be proud of your accomplishments. The more we talk about it, the more we give people the opportunity to identify and the less we’ll look like that three headed monster!

So tell us, what does Recovery mean to YOU?

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