So you’ve finally completed your addiction recovery treatment program – congratulations! That’s an incredibly wonderful step to have taken and you should feel proud of yourself. Treatment is a crucial period of time that helps individuals to develop the tools and skills they need to overcome the substance abuse that they battled with before – and now with this enriched wealth of information and a host of resources and support, you should feel peace in knowing that you’re doing just fine.
It’s safe to say that even after treatment has ended, however, recovery continues on. There’s no simple “endpoint” for recovery – in fact, most consider it a lifelong process. For those who also struggle with mental illness and other challenging life circumstances, it’s even more important to continue to use the resources provided throughout treatment. Mental illnesses such as depression, for example, can quickly cause a person to fall back into old, negative habits of behavior unless a different way of responding is initiated. First, it’s important to recognize the signs.
Depression can bring about a host of different symptoms depending on the person, but many people tend to experience a complete and utter feeling of hopelessness, a lack of interest in doing anything, and a chance in eating/sleeping/behavioral patterns. If you have a loved one who supports your recovery, it may be wise to let them know the signs of your depression so they can be on the lookout – and so they can reach out to you if/when needed. In addition to this, depression should be taken very seriously. Create a relapse-prevention plan before you leave treatment, and use it when needed.
A relapse prevention plan can be used with depression just as much as it can be used with addiction. All you have to do is recognize the signs and then identify different strategies to help yourself in these times of need. If you begin noticing that you’re feeling hopeless about life, speak with someone you trust. Call up your therapist. Reach out to a loved one, a friend or family member who can help you gain a sense of clarity and balance. If that doesn’t work, move onto your next resource or form of support. The following are some examples:
- Watch a funny movie (or your favorite movie) to help you relax
- Read a good book, that gives you a sense of distraction for a few moments
- Listen to music that is uplifting, even if you don’t feel like it; over time, you’ll find that your thoughts and feelings may change
- Pet your cat or dog if you have one – for many people, animals such as these are good forms of emotional support
- Attend a support group if one is available – this can help jolt your thinking process and can help you come back even stronger
Managing depression post-treatment is all about strategy. It’s about what plan you’ve created and what you can implement during the time of dire need. Don’t ever forget that you’ve come incredibly far in your recovery – and the time that you’ve spent working to better your life has not gone wasted.
For many people post-treatment, becoming involved actively in helping communities is essential. You could become a leader for a support group, for example, or you could even help others in the community such as the homeless or for a disaster-response team. You may even wish to become entrenched in your own project – and that will give you a sense of ownership and accountability which other people may also come to rely on.
Depression isn’t always about trying to make it “go away”, but rather finding tools and outlets to help you manage it better when it does arise. A frustrating component of depression can be that it appears out of seemingly nowhere – and, even if you’ve been feeling great lately, or have been quite confident in your recovery, depression can hit and then it’s all about healing and resilience. It’s about holding on strong despite what your mind has been telling you. Because it’s never too late to bounce back from what has been holding you down.
When depression hits, our world becomes gloomy, and we have trouble seeing the good things that have happened throughout the day. On days where things to seem to feel slightly better, we may find ourselves struggling to remember our own lived experiences. For many people, depression is also about not being able to remember what we did, with whom, and where – yet others can recall some of these memories. Depression can make a person feel incredibly low – and for that reason, we need to ensure that we have a strategic plan for combatting it if it comes.
If you’re ready to develop the tools you need to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit and work through depression and addiction recovery more effectively, speak with a professional from True Recovery today. Your journey hasn’t ended – in fact, it has just begun.
For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with mental health challenges, addiction, and substance use problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.