When I started my recovery, I heard all the normal cliches, and honestly, they were all true. However, the cliches are merely a piece of a bigger puzzle and sometimes I have to wonder if some of the pieces were missing, to begin with.
First and foremost, since the beginning of my recovery, my life has been enhanced tenfold, as I now have a job, the trust of my family, a car and a life that isn’t meaningless. People actually treat me like a human being now, and for the most part, life is grand. However, I wouldn’t say things are perfect.
No, they are far from it.
Yet, when I was still in active addiction, I believed with all my heart that when I finally became clean the world would finally make sense. Everything would go back to its perfect little place (if ever there was one) and everything would be okay. But, that is far from the truth.
Actually, I am quite depressed much of the time, and for no reason. My life in all respects is better than it has been in years, but for whatever reason, I feel empty inside a lot.
And apparently, this is quite common among ex-addicts. So much, that one need only type depression in recovery into the search bar to find a list of recovering addicts that are in the same boat as I am.
However, throughout active addiction, we all entertained the same fantasy that everyone told us: everything will get better once we get sober. But, honestly, recovery isn’t this magical little pill that makes everything bad go away.
Just like the drugs weren’t the magical remedy, neither is recovery, but it does start the healing process. Unfortunately, things get far worse for some, before they get better. However, that doesn’t mean that it is time to give up.
Recovery is complex. Think about it: for whatever reason, we chose to put in. Whatever our drug of choice was, we placed it into our body and expected it to make things better. For many of us, we were at a pretty low point in our lives when we made that decision. And sadly, instead of making things better, it made things much worse.
We slowly, but surely became addicts. We were fiends. We lived our lives based entirely on a substance and rewired our brains to accept this. And while it may have taken time, it happened. Now, later, we are sitting here in recovery wondering: “What have I done to myself?”
If you are feeling this way, just as I am, then you are not alone.
Somehow, or another, through our addiction we messed with the chemicals in our brains. Whether we used up our ration of them for now, or we just threw them off, the fact remains that no one tells you that you will experience depression during recovery. But, I’m here to tell you that you will. There is good news, though. It gets better.
While we no longer have the same crutch to push us through, we have something even better: life. And we have a hell of a chance at it, considering that we have already made the first step to overcoming our addiction by stopping. However, now we face our traumas without the drugs.
And we are left with one choice: either face them and overcome them or let them overcome us.
Because we are in recovery, we are in a perfect position to get help for our mental health as well. As clear-headed (well, as much as we can be) individuals, we can seek treatment and responsibly abide by it. We can put ourselves on healthy schedules and eat real meals. And we can take care of our bodies. And while this may sound like additional work, it isn’t. It’s just another aspect of recovery.