A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Choices For Health Or Sickness

I just listened to the Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous' Inspiration Line (215-574-2120) and someone named Steve talked for about five minutes about the freedom to choose either a return to an addictive lifestyle or to going into recovery.  He chose recovery because he knew that if he didn't he would quite possibly die.  In choosing recovery he had to go through a three month withdrawal period of severe depression.  Gradually he chose to get up in the mornings, eat, brush his teeth, get some rest and get on with life.   The choice for him and many of us was the choice between destructive pain and healing pain.  Healing pain ends after a time.  Destructive pain does not, but rather spirals downward.

I have made many choices in my life, as we all have.  The nature of life is about choices.  The two major categories of choices are the choice to follow health or the choice to follow sickness.  It is the same with our attitudes; we can choose to remain positive or to remain negative.  Over twenty years ago, when I was in a love addicted relationship, I started out following sickness.  I lived in denial and in the delusion that I was "in love."  Over time my delusion about being in love faded and I knew I was caught inside a terrible sickness with my partner.  In desperation I called a couple of domestic violence hotlines when I was alone and eventually made it to an Al-Anon meeting.  I bought the daily readers and began to read them as well as other books on addiction and toxic relationships.  I began to believe that there was still a benevolent force in my life, a Higher Power that I could turn to for guidance and comfort.  I began to pray to be released from a relationship that was spiraling downwards and stifling my spirit and soul.

One day, when I had the opportunity, I left my partner staying with my parents for a couple of months.  I chose myself over my addicted partner.  After having been abused for over five years I was raw and I was angry.  My anger helped me to commit to myself and my parents helped me to work through my process in a safe place.  When I returned home after my partner had left my house, I was still raw, but I was also self protective.  I wrote in a journal.  I got a guitar and began writing and singing songs.  I also made the mistake of remaining isolated.  I didn't reach out to others in recovery from addiction and so I stayed in partial sickness.

Three years later I would enter into a psychotic state.  Choosing myself over my partner had not been enough.  I needed therapy and support groups.  Soon after I became psychotic I was guided by some of the voices in my mind to find a therapist quickly and once again join Al-Anon and another group for domestic violence victims.  For the most part I have continued with therapy till this day.  Me going to support groups has been more uneven because of my perhaps addiction to isolation and doing it on my own.  My choice now is to commit both to therapy and support groups along with taking my medications daily.  It's been a long time coming.  Recently I found out that there are two new Al-Anon meetings in a town close by which is a godsend for me because I need these meetings badly particularly to stay in contact and connection with the people who go to the meetings and want to go more deeply into recovery.

I do believe in the twelve step program for myself.  I do follow.  I am choosing health over sickness day by day.  People have said the program is simple but not easy.  I agree.  It requires rigorous honesty all the time along with self reflection and meditation.  It requires pushing beyond unhealthy comfort zones.  It requires reaching out to others for help as well as helping others.  Each day there is a fresh choice, but I have been conditioning myself to consistently choose health over sickness.  That is how I turn my will and my life over to the care of God.
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