At first it will hurt, then you will feel more alive. That is just how things work.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how I will be studying for my Clinical Addiction Counsellor exam. I am investing sweat, precious brain cells and time in the process.
I am using two manuals that are 726 and 338 pages in length (that’s 1064 pages). They are about the size of an old-school telephone book and weigh about 5 pounds.
All of this reading is teaching me a few things that I would like to share with you.
11 Things I am learning about recovery while studying for my clinical exams
1.Studying hurts the brain. So does recovery. And exercise. And pretty much anything else that you are trying to improve. At first it will hurt, then you will feel more alive. That is just how things work. The motivation follows the action, not the other way around.
2.Addiction is a vast topic. Recovery touches on your family, your mind and how you think, your physical health, your mental health, your relationships, your work life, your legal realities, your ability to plan ahead and anticipate stress and struggle, your spiritual self, and your ability to reflect and learn. Recovery is not just about the drugs, or about your depression. It is about everything that goes on in your life.
3.Books really don’t make you smarter but they can make you stronger. Heavy books won’t really teach you a lot about life, but they can make you stronger. You can read all that you want about recovery, but that doesn’t mean you are in recovery. Carrying the books around might make you more fit, because you have 27 pounds on your back. Improved fitness may help your recovery, but applying what you are learning is the key to becoming a different person.
4.Being tested makes all of us feel anxious. My kids feel anxious about their exams, they sweat and they stress. I do too. We all feel grumpy when we face a test. Just know that life will test you, like it tests each one of us. Life will send triggers and stress. Relationship issues will hit you in the face and your own issues will kick you in the teeth. Keep going, you can do this.
5.This is a bad time of year for me. January-February are difficult months for my mental health. They are darker months and I often struggle with my mood regulation at this time of the year. Sometimes you have to pay attention to your seasons, other times you have to push ahead. Growth is like that.
6.You know more than you think. Life is one of the greatest teachers, but because you are immersed in your life you can forget all that you know. Over your lifetime, you will accumulate a vast reference library of experiences and knowledge. If you apply it to your life, it will become wisdom. And wisdom seeps into your bones, making it hard to remember sometimes. The length of your memory can never determine the extent of your value.
7.Recovery will take you places that you never imagined. A year ago I could not imagine that I would be as well as I am today. I could not even dream that I would be writing this exam or that my life would have improved as much as it has. When you strive to improve a little every day, your life will change. It is not your new year’s resolutions that will change you, but it is the small things, done every day that will change you.
8.Don’t underestimate yourself. Just don’t. You are capable of more than you imagine.
9.Don’t neglect your relationships. Recovery is about your relationships. If you neglect the people in your life, you will end up hurting those you love and also yourself.
10.Before you add something, remove something else. If you just add recovery to your life, you will want to explode. It will just be one more thing that you are trying to do. Prepare yourself: Cut back on negative relationships, spend less time on social media or reading other people’s blogs (but this blog, it’s essential… just sayin’), and adjust your expectations. Remember that it’s not just about the drugs or about your depression. You need to adjust other parts of your life to give room to heal and to recover. It might be for a short term, or this may become a way of life.
11.Tabs make your life easier. They just do. I’m not sure how this relates to recovery, but it probably does. Getting organized is the Zen of recovery. There, it works now.
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