Whether you’re just starting down the recovery path or you’re long asymptomatic, healing is a long and difficult process that can leave you completely exhausted. Especially when you’ve been in recovery for some time and you’ve heard the same things over and over again, it’s easy to feel like there is nothing new to learn. What I’ve learned over the years is that there is always something new to learn and healing tends to come into fits and bursts. There are periods of intense learning, listening and processing and a relative lull in between. There are times when I am just not ready to listen and others when I soak up everything like a sponge and make incredible strides forward.
So what do we do to keep making progress even when we’re in an unreceptive, completely burnt out phase of healing? When nothing seems to be working- no skills, tools, well meaning advice, therapy etc etc? It is during these periods that having recovery built into your everyday life is essential. Often we have to process the same stories many times before we can fully work through them. Here are some ways I’ve built recovery and healing into my life:
1. Constantly expose yourself to people who keep self-care and building a meaningful life at the top of their lists. That positive forward moving energy is so important to have, especially when you’re “recovery fatigued” (Ie. I just can’t be bothered with this anymore!)
2. Make sure to talk to someone you trust on a regular basis- even if you’re feeling great. Whether that’s a therapist, peer mentor, or close-friend, the process doesn’t stop because you’re asymptomatic or you feel good. Keep exploring, unearthing and processing
3. Write your insights down. Even if it’s just bullet points on a piece of paper or notes on your phone. Processing can be incredibly complicated work and leaving it as a jumbled, chaotic soup in your head doesn’t help. Most likely, it’ll just overwhelm you. Writing things down can help you organize your thoughts and it can be a reminder of the important strides you’ve made.
4. Take it one step at a time. Especially during those periods of intense learning, it’s important to slow down and take it one step at a time. You can’t forcibly figure it all out at once and have it over and done with. The healing process is messy and will spill over into your life and interrupt your day. When this happens, STOP. Stop and acknowledge what’s happening. Bring your full attention to it. Talk about it, write about it, be mindful of it. Only half paying attention to what’s going on will just make it more likely to burst into life in a bigger way later on.
5. Rest. Find a few activities that allow you to rest. Recovery involves a lot of very uncomfortable moments (and hours and days), when all you can really do is sit with it. There is no avoiding it. I used to play a simple game on my phone. It didn’t fully engross me for hours but it allowed me to take a quick break.
Healing takes time and it can be incredibly frustrating, especially when something you’ve already dealt with comes up again. Remember that if it’s coming up, there is something new to learn from it or it’s reminding you of something.
Get your skills ready, rally your supports around you and lean into it…