You’ve left the treatment center after weeks, maybe months, of hard, introspective work on yourself to create a new and healthier you, ready to face the world that had you reeling not too long ago. But this time is different; not only have you changed in so many ways, but the very image of you has changed as well. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t know what this is like. They don’t know what it’s like to be faced with having to overcome yourself in order to be better. To a lot of people, the idea of mental illness or addiction is just an exaggeration; just a collection of words people use to dramatize their problems. So how do you face that reality? How can you function when so many people don’t realize that what you went through was one of the hardest thing a person could ever possibly have to do?

There is no right answer to this question, or rather, there is not a specific answer to this question. The truth is that it really comes down to you and how you handle this reality. We can’t change people; our current social climate is a testament to that. We can’t control what people think, how people behave, or what they say. What we can control is ourselves and how we react to the world around us. We can sit here and think about how undeserving we are of being misunderstood, of how unfair it is for us to have to deal with these stigmas. All those things are valid and true to our situation, but we don’t have to let it hold us back. 

The first thing you need to realize is that this doesn’t make you different, or broken. Yes, you had a struggle, an issue even, but it doesn’t define you. You are not your illness. As much as it may feel like it, you are not walking around with a sign over your head, detailing your each and every struggle to the world. Most of the people you see don’t even know what you’ve been through; don’t let your mind dictate to you what your image to the world is. You had the bravery and the courage to face your problems, face yourself, and you came out on the other side better than you ever had been. You truly know yourself from the inside out, and that’s more than most people can ever hope for. Hold on to that, be proud of that fact, and after that, things can become so much easier. 

When you’ve helped yourself, you can look to the people and the world around you. The most important thing you can do when you’re out of recovery is to surround yourself with a healthy and strong support system. Everything can feel easier when you have people around you that truly love you and want what’s best for you. You may need to weed out the toxicity in your life to accomplish this, which is never easy. You may have to confront that fact that certain people aren’t good for you. This doesn’t make them bad people, but it may mean that they’re just not good for you. Your lifestyles may not line up in the way that you need them to. Ask them to see if they are willing to adapt for you and if you can find a way to adapt for them. Don’t sacrifice what you need for them, but if it’s a relationship you feel is worth holding on to, then don’t be afraid to put the effort in. But don’t be afraid to let it go if need be either. You are entitled to decide who you spend time with and no one can take that right away from you. You can build your support system, you can see who wants to be there for you, who will be there for you, and you can feel safe and free of the judgment. Take out the negativity, take out the toxicity and you can create the exact kind of environment that you need to thrive and be happy. 

It’s never easy to adjust to life after recovery, especially adjusting to the way in which you are perceived. But take a breath and relax; a lot of it is just in your head. You are putting that stigma on yourself too much and holding yourself to it more than you deserve. Then comes addressing the forces outside of you; then comes finding out how to find a support system for you that is productive and healthy. It’s a tough task to face, but it’s one that will ultimately lead to bigger and better things for you. It’s terrifying to face the world but that doesn’t mean you can’t control it. You are more than your illness; it doesn’t make the choices for you. 

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with addiction or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at TrueRecovery.com. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 and [email protected]