Getting into recovery is hard. It’s likely the most difficult thing a person will ever do. No matter what you are recovering from, the act of starting the recovery process is important and brave. To know that you are about to change your entire life, and to embrace it, is so incredible. I am proud of myself and every other person that is in recovery, or looking towards getting into recovery.
Knowing that you have to change your life is a challenge, and can be daunting. Once you figure out where to start, it can be challenging to keep the motivation to stay in recovery. It is normal to have lapses in motivation and it is normal to have lapses in maladaptive behaviors.
During the time that I have been in recovery, I have learned a variety of lessons and skills that have helped me retain, or gain back, my motivation and recovery-oriented mindset. It’s not a complete list, as I am always learning; but this is what has helped me.
Get rid of anything that encourages your disorder/illness/addiction/etc.
This is crucial. Keeping anything around you that will entice you to leave a recovery path is dangerous. There is no “just once.” This means getting rid of pictures of you that cause harm (low-weight pictures, pictures of you and your ex, pictures of you when you were high, etc.). This means getting rid of the pills, the scales, the pieces of clothing, the website profiles–anything that could cause you to want to go back. This is so hard and I recognize that. Have a trusted friend, family member, or therapist help you through it.
Write down your thoughts.
Let’s face it, you can’t always see your therapist. Your support system isn’t always available. You won’t be able to reach someone every time you need someone to pick up the phone; that’s the nature of human existence. Write what is bothering you. Write what you can’t stop thinking about, write what you feel you can’t say, write a stream-of-consciousness. Write until you feel released from what you are experiencing, and when you want/need to process it later, bring that writing to your support system.
Don’t forget about self care.
When I say this, I don’t only mean the pretty form of self care. I don’t only mean the baths and manicures and calming walks in the park. I also mean the gritty forms of self care. Self care includes making sure you keep up your hygiene, keep your body healthy, and do what needs to be done. That part of self care is not fun. That part of self care, however, is also essential. You cannot be nice to yourself if you are not meeting your basic needs.
Have and keep a support system and/or treatment team.
If you started recovery with a treatment team, do not neglect that when you are feeling better. Take their advice, stay on your medication, see your treatment through until your treatment team decides that you are at a point where you no longer need to engage with them. A support system is just as important. You will need people to talk to that will listen without judgement. You will need to express your feelings, and the situations that you are in. Make sure to have people around that can do this for you.
Honesty in recovery is so necessary, but also so challenging. If you are not honest, then you will fall back into what you were doing. The darkness cannot exist if you out it when it comes back. You can only see the light if you actively search for it. If you stay honest, you can receive the support you need to keep yourself from falling backwards. If you stay honest, you can receive the help you need. Being radically honest keeps you from being alone.