By: Angela Escobar, MA, BCC
Take a much-deserved moment to sit, appreciate, and reflect upon your journey to recovery.
Believe it or not, there are many people out there that don’t realize that recovery is a true possibility for them. What does recovery mean? Recovery means many different things to different people. Recovery is an ongoing process, a series of challenges and relapses, of ups and downs, and working actively to deal and cope through this process. It’s true that a person’s struggle with mental illness and/or substance abuse/addiction affects family and friends–it impacts every aspect of life. But the bottom line is that each journey towards recovery is unique and belongs solely to the person who has lived, or is currently living, it. It is something that no one can ever take away from you. There are factors and people that were and are important and helpful in the journey to recovery. Do we ever forget those who were there for us? Do we ever really forget the struggles, the strife, the pain? Truth is, no amount of formal education can ever replace or hold the same value as actual lived experience–actual real struggles with mental illness and/or substance abuse and addiction. If you have fought with mental illness and/or substance abuse/addiction, you know very well that the experience is not something that can be taught…it must be lived–that’s the only way to really know what it’s truly like. This is why peer supporters are able to connect and relate to others on a deeper, personal, non-clinical level. Peers are awesome, amazing, and valuable people–they carry a message, a story that they can share to help others.
Recovery means…YES, it does get better…you do get well…you are able to live again…and NO, it’s definitely not going to be easy, fun, or quick (quite the opposite, actually)…but it’s going to be absolutely worth it in the end.
What does recovery from mental illness and/or substance abuse and addiction mean to me PERSONALLY?
It’s a question I’ve never really asked myself, until now…
For me, recovery means living free from despair and fear. It means waking up in the morning without feeling the dread and fear of being alive, of having to live through another day. It means not having to wonder how I’m going to make it another day, another night. For me, recovery means a second chance at life. It means being able to live again. Recovery doesn’t mean feeling like my “old self” again, because I’ll never ever be my “old self” again. It means coming out a stronger, wiser, more beautiful person than I ever was before in my life.
To me, recovery means OPPORTUNITY, HOPE, and FAITH in a higher power.
It means building character, practicing self-respect, self-love, and self-care, and never stepping out of my integrity.
It means being involved in my daughter’s life, spending time with her, being there for her, being able to watch her grow up.
To me, recovery means being able to wake up and get out of bed. It means getting things done–being proactive and productive. To me, recovery mean being a functioning, independent, self-sufficient, contributing member of my community and society as a whole.
For me, the ultimate step in my recovery would be to be a living, breathing example for others. It means connecting and relating to others in a personal way. My hope is to be a positive role model that offers hope to others by being a living demonstration of what recovery is–of what it can be for them. The ultimate step in my recovery means empowering others to achieve their hopes, dreams, and goals. I don’t want to be seen as an expert of any kind, because I’m not. I’m not smarter or better than anyone else. I want to be seen as one in a partnership of equals–a supporter, a positive role model and example for others. I want to be that person I needed, that person who was there for me, who helped me through my own recovery–I want to be that person for others.
And now I ask…What does recovery from mental illness and/or substance abuse and addiction mean to you?