You Are Not Alone
Health, healing, and coping with mental health, dual diagnosis, and substance abuse.
A guest blog post by Crystal Hampton
Coping with a co-occuring disorder or dual diagnosis such as addiction and a mental health disorder can be difficult. It is a two-fold disease where each condition needs to treated properly in order to maintain sobriety and mental health. I personally suffer from substance abuse issues as well as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Without properly treating my mental health I can not stay sober, and if I can not stay sober my mental health is jeopardized. I have received treatment for co-occurring disorders and now live a happy, and healthy life in sobriety and you can too!
Here are some tools and coping mechanisms that helped me in maintaining my sobriety and mental health:
Even with properly treating my mental health and addiction I still suffer from anxiety that I cope with by practicing guided meditation. I was one of those people who thought that meditation would not work for me and was a waste of time. I could not have been more wrong! I have always suffered from anxiety, depression, racing thoughts, and insomnia. I always had feelings of impending doom even when nothing was wrong and could never slow my mind down, I was constantly stressed and exhausted. When I did try to meditate I would give up after only a couple of minutes because I could not quite my mind. It was not until I started doing guided meditations that everything changed! Once I pushed through the first couple of minutes and actually gave it a chance my thoughts began to slow and my body began to relax. It took some time but guided meditation is now a habit I engage in once or twice a day. I have found that it helps to keep me centered and has helped me with my anxiety, depression, racing thoughts, insomnia, and all aspects in my recovery.
As many of us have when I was in treatment I spent hours on end sitting in groups and going to meetings. Don’t even get me started on the emotional eating that I did either! After two months in treatment I felt sluggish, tired, depressed, and uncomfortable in my own skin because the weight I had gained. I made every excuse not to go to the gym or engage in any sort of physical activity. This turned in isolation, negative self talk, and worsening depression. It was highly suggested to me by many others and therapists that just for the mental wellness aspects that being active would be greatly beneficial for me. I will never forget the day when I had enough and begrudgingly tied up my tennis shoes. Walking into the gym that first day was definitely the hardest, and I hated every second I was there. I am not going to lie — the first couple of weeks were not much better, but I started to see a huge improvement in my mental state. My depression had eased, I was eating healthier, and had more energy. Going to the gym went from something I dreaded to something I enjoyed, and looked forward too.
A huge part of recovery is connecting with other addicts and alcoholics. This is because no one knows what it is like better than someone who has battled the same disease as us, and can show us a new way to live. The women in the program loved me until I could love myself. Women who had more time than me helped to guide me through my early recovery with their own experience, and the women who were in the same place as me in their recovery helped me to have someone who also know exactly what I was going through at that moment. Finding new hobbies with the women I’ve grown to admire, keeps me grounded and away from old temptations. One of the greatest blessings in my life has been my sponsor who took me through my steps. I am now able to help others and give back what I was so freely given. The fellowship and support I found in the rooms saved my life.
No matter what we have gone through in life you are not alone! There is a healthy and happy life in recovery just waiting for you! You are stronger than you think you are, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently! In recovery is important that we treat our minds, body, and spirit. Then you can begin on the road to healing, recovery, and transformation of you life.
Crystal Hampton is a 37-year-old avid writer from South Florida. She has a Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis. She loves snuggling with her teacup Yorkie Gator and boyfriend Adam. Crystal works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.