Recovery – it’s a big word and quite a vague one at that. After all, an athlete who “recovers” from a bad game and plays her best next time around is not necessarily the same as someone who recovers from addiction or trauma. In this post, we’ll use the latter meaning of the term.

It’s true that recovery is seen to be a long process, akin to hiking up a mountain one step at a time. If you’re hoping to head on that journey yourself, or perhaps planning to help a loved one embark upon it, you may feel a little intimidated. Recovering from addiction, illness, injury, trauma, grief, and many other difficulties of life can seem like a long road, and in some cases, like with alcoholism, it’s a lifetime effort that pays dividends the longer you stay on the wagon.

Offering advice for recovery can often seem like breathing into the wind, as in there’s so much great advice out there already, sometimes it takes a personal and reassuring view to cut through the noise. That’s exactly what we hope to do with this post, taking an alternate perspective to the usual approach.

In other words, with the benefit of hindsight, we’ll offer some advice you learn about recovery after you’ve fully recovered from your challenges. That in itself can offer a unique perspective worth considering, and reassurance that you’re nowhere near a lost cause at any point of your journey:

Recovery Isn’t Linear

It’s easy to think that recovery is like sitting on a train, heading in one direction to your final destination of recovery. It’s more like getting in a taxi during heavy traffic, if you have a good driver then they may know some shortcuts, but sometimes you do have to wait and be patient.

In other words, recovery isn’t a linear process. You’re not automatically better than you were yesterday simply because some hours have passed, but the broader and overwhelming trend is to recover if you find the correct resources to help you.

This might sound fairly morale-shredding, but when you look at this situation frankly, that’s nowhere near the case. In fact, it shows you that temporary setbacks, relapses, or simply bad days that feel like they’re never going to end are never the last chapter in your recovery story. 

Moreover, it also means that as you recover, you’ll continue to reach stages that feel better than the last, even if you had thought all recovery and progress had ceased. Understanding that can motivate you like nothing else, especially if you’re feeling lost in a slump as of late.

Two Problems Can Seem Like One

It’s important to note that specialist help is not only important for moral support during your recovery but for distinctive treatment pathways that may help you recover more completely. In some cases, they can even determine that one issue has been exacerbated by another.

But what does this mean in practice? Well, did you know that almost 37% of people suffering from substance abuse and addictions will also have additional mental health conditions in need of attention? Both difficulties can very much inform the other, and if both aren’t treated in combination and separately where this is most appropriate, the treatment hasn’t been comprehensive enough.

Establishing a dual diagnosis with addiction therapists and doctors can help you begin the pathway of treating co-occurring disorders, and in the long run that can lead to a much better chance of recovery. It’s very easy for us to assume that we know everything about who we are and what we’re going through – you have to live as yourself every day after all – but that kind of recovery is nowhere near helpful without real care. 

Empathy Matures You

Recovery changes you in a multitude of ways, and often, you come out a better person at the end of it. That’s not to say recovery from a very harsh difficulty is necessary to be a good person, only it can grant you a new perspective you may not have had otherwise.

In other words, empathy becomes much more important to you. When you’ve witnessed your own fallibility however much that was out of your own control, you begin to feel a little more interested in others and willing to forgive them for the small mistakes they might make.

You also judge others much less, which is a virtue in itself. Don’t forget that empathy is also a resource you can draw on for yourself, which is different than self-pity, as it’s much more restorative, gentle, and less entitled. Those who develop a greater deal of empathy tend to look at their situation with much less judgment, rather as if a close friend were looking at it. That can help you enjoy the final stages of recovery, where your empathy for yourself and those around you will be the strongest and final force to help you avoid falling back into poor old habits or reopening healed wounds.

Sober, Simple Living Can Offer So Much

This point only applies to those recovering from addiction issues in the past. During the depth of an addiction or obsessive habit, it’s easy to think that life without it would become dull, untextured, boring, and perhaps even challenging.

The truth is that sober and simple living can offer so much more and provides so much sensitivity to daily happiness and well-being that it will outdo even the foremost days of your habit. You learn this as you get older and stay on the recovery pathway. Little habits each day become enjoyable, relaxing with a cup of warm tea and a book becomes blissful, and your appreciation for life and its peaceful flow can be rewarding, to say the least.

Not only does this kind of lifestyle allow you to avoid feeling overcomplicated by everything around you, it gives you the good grace to appreciate the small and simple things. Understanding that this is what awaits you can make the prospect of living without a crutch so much easier to take, and it subverts the image of constant challenge and craving you might have anticipated otherwise.

You Need A Support Group

Not everyone has a vast family and friendship group to help them recover, but if you do, it’s essential to use their assistance to help you and be transparent about the difficulties you’re facing, so they know what to work with and how to assist you. You would no doubt offer the same help to them, so don’t feel bad about asking for it.

Even if this privilege isn’t afforded to you, you would be amazed at just how many support groups are out there to be used. From sober meeting groups to charities that connect you with accountability partners, to counseling services that allow you to learn a better pathway forward. 

This not only gives you other people to discuss your issue with, but connects you to people who really understand. For example, a group of people dealing with the loss of a child will inherently understand more than those who have never experienced this tragic life scenario, and in that, there’s a sense of comfort and relief, if only for an hour every week.

Don’t Place A Deadline On Recovery

Recovery takes as long as it takes, and it’s as simple as that. It may take many months of exposure therapy for you to overcome a phobia, it may take two years for you to finally kick a habit for good, and while grief may last with you your whole life given the tragedy of a personal situation, you will notice that you become much better and skilled at handling it, and feel more appreciative that the love you had for your lost loved one is exactly why you pay the price of sadness now.

In other words, forcing yourself to get better by a certain time is an illusion. Moreover, the final recovery is a lifestyle and not a “now and never again” situation. For example, alcoholics in recovery are told to forever think of themselves as alcoholics, even when they’re totally recovered. This means that they won’t even risk another drink because they know exactly where those habits can lead, and so they wisely stay vigilant about what social circles they run in.

You’ll Look Back On This Time With Appreciation

Note that appreciation isn’t necessarily the same as fondness, and it’s not as if the situation that happened to you is something to celebrate. However, when you’re fully recovered, you start to realize just how much recovery taught you.

We’ve mentioned empathy above, but also gratitude, diligence, and the power of believing yourself. Recovery is ultimately an act of faith in the future, that you can get better, that issues can be managed correctly, and that time is the biggest healer of all. You might not return to your experience with a sense of love or warmth, but you’ll be so thankful you embarked on the recovery journey that bitterness tends to fall away.

With this advice, we hope you can feel inspired and also a little more understanding of what recovery entails, and how it might work for you. We wish you the best of luck with your own personal approach.