Sarah: My Recipe For Recovery

I don’t want to just survive this life, I want to live it! It seems as though that is exactly what I have been doing for a very long time – just trying to survive.

The last few years found me spiraling further and further out of control. By last year I had hit rock bottom. Most days I didn’t even care about trying to survive, let alone live my life. I was sinking deeper into depression and my anxiety was taking over. I was very alone. I had lost most of my friends to the misunderstandings of mental illness. I had failed at all attempts to make a life for myself. I hadn’t reached any of the goals I had set out to conquer. I had no job, no social life, and no support. I had closed myself off from the world around me. I was watching life go by but cared not to participate. I didn’t want to face any more pain, rejection, failure or hurt. I didn’t know who I was. I don’t think I had ever really been in touch with myself. I had allowed my mental afflictions to define who I was. I had given depression and anxiety the power to dictate my life. I was so unhappy about the person I had become. My life was shattered and broken. I had given up all hope that I could rebuild it. I didn’t believe recovery was every going to be possible in my life. The word recovery meant nothing to me. I had no concept of how to even begin on a journey toward recovery, or what tools were needed to help along the way.

Seeking services at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health may have been the push I needed to start on the path toward finding recovery in my life. I began to attend individual therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) weekly meetings. I started to learn about what tools I needed to begin recovering from the debilitating depression and anxiety that had held me down for so long. As I began to heal, I started attending more and more workshops and activities offered through community mental health. After attending the first Photobiography class offered at CMH, my journey toward recovery really began to take off. Within a six-month period my life drastically began to change. I had opened the door to recovery and just kept on running! I felt as though I wanted to take part in my life again. I continued to be involved with as much as I could at CMH, but on an even higher level. I started to attend Action Group meetings and Mini Conferences. I was a flag bearer for Wexford County at the Walk-a-Mile in My Shoes mental health rally. I attended an overnight conference at Michigan State University (Consumer’s Conference) and took part in the Recovery Celebration held at Timber Wolf Lodge. I joined Club Cadillac and started taking part in the opportunities offered there. I soon began volunteering within the community. I volunteered both at the Cadillac Zombie Walk for Hunger, and the Suicide Awareness Walk. I soon found that I was meeting people and making friends with each event I had taken part in. Many of those that I met along the way shared an understanding of mental illness and the steps needed to reach recovery. I now have several very good friends who have given me the support, guidance, understanding, and unconditional love I so needed. Without these supports, my chances of staying on the course to recovery would have been slim. I truly believe having the right friends in ones life can mean the difference between recovery or relapse.

I guess you could say I have found my recipe for recovery. The ingredients include: positive and supportive friendship, doing activities that I enjoy and give me meaning and purpose, a place to feel accepted and loved, a bit of prayer, a pinch of luck and a lot of perseverance. When these ingredients come all together the end result doesn’t leave me empty, saddened or alone. Throughout this recovery journey I have found out who I am, and what really fills my life with happiness and joy. The more I follow my recipe, the closer I become to reaching the goals and dreams I have set forth to accomplish. I now have the desire to live my life to the fullest, instead of sitting on the sidelines.

My recipe for recovery includes positive and supportive friendship, doing activities that I enjoy and give me meaning and purpose, a place to feel accepted and loved, a bit of prayer, a pinch of luck and a lot of perseverance.