Recovery from Co-Occurring Disorders | Guest Blog by Cassidy Webb
Recovery from Co-occurring Disorders
I struggled with opiate addiction and depression for several years. It lead me to a hopeless emotional state where I saw no way out other than suicide. I was physically and mentally exhausted of living the way I was living. I thought that even if I got sober, I would still be depressed and hate myself for all the harm I had caused to myself and the people around me. I felt as though there was nothing that would fix me, so I attempted to overdose. When I woke up, I was so angry. I wanted nothing more than to die. By the grace of God, I found a way out of both my addiction and depression.
Asking for Help
Recovery can be difficult to do alone, so it is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. I went to a dual diagnosis treatment facility where I was treated for both depression and addiction. The treatment facilities have qualified mental health doctors on staff that diagnose and treat mental illnesses with the appropriate medication. In addition, a professional can help in developing a suicide and relapse prevention plan by making a person aware of triggers that may cause negative thoughts to return. After being mentally stabilized through proper medication, one can begin to truly heal from past traumas through therapy.
Group therapy is a great way for a person with co-occurring disorders to talk with others so that they can relate to others in the group and learn that they are not alone in their struggles. This helps develop relationships with other people which is beneficial because both depression and addiction can be extremely isolating. In my experience, talking to others about the hopelessness that I felt in my active addiction made me realize that there was a community of people who had felt the same way I did. I felt loved for the first time in a long time.
Another form of therapy that helped me heal both physically and mentally was holistic therapy. Holistic therapy can consist of many activities, some of these include yoga, meditation, and art or music therapy. Many people who struggle with addiction and mental illness tend to neglect their health causing detrimental damage to one’s body and mind. Yoga gives people an opportunity to incorporate fitness with mindful meditation. The benefits of yoga are extensive and are a great way to build back strength during recovery. Yoga will typically end with a guided meditation, where participants are taught to focus on their breathing and thoughts as they pass. This can help slow any obsessive or negative thoughts in the mind and enter a more relaxed state of consciousness. Art or music therapy is a great way for individuals to express their thoughts and emotions without the use of words. Some may find it hard to put their ideas into words in the beginning, so art is an effective way of expressing these feelings.
Building a Support Group
Since addiction and mental illness can be so isolating, it was important for me to remain surrounded by loving, supportive friends who understood exactly what I was going through. The relationships built in recovery are formed on a foundation of compassion, love, trust, and understanding. If somebody in a support group is struggling, they can feel safe in knowing that there are people who they trust that they can reach out to. It can be scary leaving a treatment facility, but having friends to turn to makes things easier. Having a support group also helps hold others accountable and give purpose to life. Today, I believe that the reason I was kept alive is because I was meant to help others recover.
I continued to apply the tools learned in treatment to my daily life. I still practice yoga and mindful meditation on a daily basis in order to keep my mind and body healthy. I feel better when I am healthy and am therefore happier. I have a group of friends who I love dearly, and they hold me accountable. Our relationships were built on honesty, so my friends can see when I am struggling and are always there to love me with open arms. I live a life where I am free from the chains of addiction and depression. I have the gift of recovery which allows me to help others by sharing a message of experience, strength, and hope.
Cassidy Webb is a 24 year old avid writer from South Florida. She 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.