In recent weeks, I have been reminded of a client from years ago, who struggled with overwhelming mental health symptoms and addiction. He was a brilliant young man, a Haitian national, and gifted in the field of mathematics. It was during the pursuit of his PhD that he became overwhelmed by his mental health symptoms. Before long, he was homeless, in and out of jail, and frequently used illicit substances to quiet the voices within. Every inhalation of crack cocaine resulted in one to two minutes of blissful silence. Deep inside though, he still longed for more. He longed for normalcy. But, often, it did not seem within his reach.
He sought help for his co-occurring disorders. He had frequent relapses, but he continued to pick himself up and push forward. He did this, because he understood the one thing that we should remember – recovery is ongoing. It is a process that is repeated each day, and one that requires understanding and support to be successful.
So, in this month, National Recovery Month, we must all look at the part that we can play. As family, friends, and direct service providers, we can support our loved ones and clients through education, active listening and empathy, and continued encouragement toward wellness. Those actively in recovery can offer peer support as they share a unique perspective with those who continue to struggle. By modeling healthy decision making and adult daily living skills, those in need get to see the positive and healthy outcome of recovery.
Recovery is possible.
Whatever role we play in the process, we must repeat that to ourselves every second of the day. There are doors that are open. There are people waiting to walk the path with those in need. It takes effort, compassion, and time – but it is achievable.
When I last saw my old client, he was sitting in a Starbucks on the north side of Chicago, drinking coffee, and leisurely reading a book on mathematical theory. At that point, he’d been sober for three weeks and he was working with his doctor to address his mental health symptoms. He was actively in recovery and said he felt better than he had in quite some time.
One day at a time.