When I first came to the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, I was a complete mess. I had just gotten out of treatment and was on medication for depression. It helped me stay sane enough to get through working a few steps. By the time I was done with my first round of steps, I found that life had become a lot less painful, and I was able to get off that medication. Once I realized that I was the source of most of my problems and that I was able to work toward solutions to those problems, I felt a lot less helpless and hopeless. In my first few years, I even proclaimed, “the solution to all of my problems can be found in the steps” and later found that to be inaccurate. While they did solve a lot of my issues in early recovery, things got different. As I have matured and continued on in my recovery and the reality of life set in, I have started encountering new, more complex problems that can’t be solved by surrendering and asking my HP for help.
My journey with my mental health has certainly not been a straight line. My mental health can vary from day to day. On days when things are going well, I try to get that one extra thing done that I may not be able to do on a rougher day. I am learning to be gentle with myself on the tough days and be OK with not being as productive as I would like to be. My mental health changes with the seasons as well. As the time change approaches and the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, I tend to sink into some seasonal depression. I know it will be hard for me to get things done in the winter and then as spring comes, it gets better.
Last winter, I did talk to my doctor because my anxiety and depression had gotten pretty unbearable and was interfering with my ability to live a normal life. My doctor knows I am in recovery, and we talked about some different options I talked to my sponsor about it as well and we came up with a plan to get my mental health back to a better place. At my physical this year, we talked some more, and I am planning to start therapy soon to work on some outside issues.
I went to therapy as a teenager and hated every single second of it. I’m sure I was a horrible patient because I was forced to go and I was an angry, bratty teen. I wish I had taken advantage of it back then, but I wasn’t in a place where I was ready to work on any of my stuff. I’m in a place today where I am ready to dig a little deeper into some of these things and see what other layers of this onion I can peel back. It is scary but I have seen it work wonders for a lot of other addicts.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without working the steps. That was certainly the foundation that I needed. It has brought a ton of relief to my life. I’m so grateful for other addicts who shared their experience, strength, and hope with me and showed me how they were able to not only recover, but to live full, healthy lives, both physically and mentally.