Have you ever done something really bad — so bad that you didn’t think you deserved to be forgiven? Sally, an addiction treatment graduate, recently told me that’s what being in recovery feels like a lot of the time. Fortunately, she said, people are more understanding than you might expect:
“When you’re an addict, you feel like a horrible person, that you’ve done terrible things and people aren’t going to be able to forgive you. But when you work really hard to make yourself healthy and make amends, you find out that people actually have a different view of it.”
I had the opportunity to hear some really inspiring stories from Sally and other rehab graduates. Here are a couple of the things they shared about sobriety, forgiveness, and moving forward.
Christy’s life was unraveling — but her loved ones stepped up
After surviving an accidental overdose while her children and nephew were home, Christy was at risk of losing custody of her kids. Her house needed major repairs before they were allowed back, and with Christy headed to treatment, she wasn’t sure how everything could get done.
But then something amazing happened: her friends and family took action.
“All these people said, ‘We’re not just going to stay back while your kids get taken away from you.’ They came and helped fix the house.
“I thought, ‘I’m such a horrible person. Why would they do this for me?’” Christy recalled.
She said seeing her loved ones join forces and not only forgive her actions, but actively help put her life back together, gave her a reality check into how much love is in her life.
“I didn’t know that these people cared about me at all. I didn’t know why they would do anything for me after everything that I had done. But they just did — they just cared,” she said.
Treatment helped Jeff find forgiveness both outside and within
Entering Addiction Campuses’ Treehouse rehabilitation center in Texas helped Jeff find the courage to come clean about his drug use.
“It’s all about being honest — you’ve got to be honest with yourself and you’ve got to be honest with others, and that’s hard. It’s especially hard to be honest with yourself,” he explained.
Jeff said the clarity of sobriety and insight from his counselors and peers in treatment helped him learn to have the right mentality about seeking forgiveness even from himself.
“It was amazing taking a step back and looking at what I’d done and being able to forgive myself and ask for forgiveness without dwelling on it,” he said. “You’ve just got to let it go. My fellow addicts helped me to do that with their stories.”
Lincoln mended fences, but was grateful for where his journey led him
The compassion he found in rehab helped Lincoln learn how to talk about his experiences, but he said making amends was more complicated than simply just apologizing.
“I was blown away being at the podium and speaking to groups and not being judged. I talked to my father for the first time in a year and told him I was remorseful for the things I had done, but it was hard to be sorry — if things hadn’t happened the way they did, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” he told me.
Ultimately, Lincoln said, it’s about letting go of your past and committing to being better in the future:
“Everybody has a past. Nobody cares about the past. To me, the past is a non-issue,” he said. “You can’t judge someone on their past. If we’re judging someone on their past mistakes, no one will get out alive. I like to think, ‘What are you doing now to make yourself better for tomorrow?’”
Photo from Pixabay
Cecelia Johnson believes strongly in the power of good deeds and recognizing great work. That’s why she created RecognitionWorks.org. The site is dedicated to connecting those who’ve been awarded for exemplary work in their communities to companies and organizations that can help them continue their admirable efforts through donations, sponsorships, and gifts. By making these connections, she hopes to build stronger, more altruistic communities and citizens.
Traveling is a wonderful, life-enriching experience. However, for those with anxiety disorders, travel can represent panic attacks, paranoia, and a continual sensation like you’ve just missed a stair. Traveling with debilitating anxiety is not easy, but a few tricks can make the journey easier. After all, traveling should not only be for neurotypical people. Here are a few ways that can help you effectively manage anxiety and minimize symptoms while traveling.
1. Travel with a Buddy
Traveling with someone you trust can drastically reduce the anxious feelings that can come with entering unknown territory alone. With two people, you are less likely to make mistakes like failing to pack a necessity, missing a flight, or taking a wrong turn to the airport.
A second person can also be very beneficial in reassuring you that everything is going well and travel plans are on track. In events such as delayed flights, rescheduling, and unexpected overnight layovers, it can be infinitely helpful to have a person with you to soothe the panic these turns of events often trigger.
If you cannot bring a buddy, identify an airport buddy. Pick someone who might be on your flight, going the same direction as you, or performing a required task you are uncertain about such as security procedures. It is best to pick a person who is readily identifiable in a crowd. This person can act as an example and unintentional guide for you to follow when you are lost or confused. Be sure this person is someone you might feel comfortable approaching if you need to ask a question.
2. Utilize a Packing List
One of the worst worries many people have about traveling tends to be the fear of forgetting something crucial. To mitigate this fear, put together a packing list or, even better, use a prewritten one from a reliable source. A handwritten packing guide still leaves you open to forgetting to add something to the list. After you have packed, you may even want to consider using a second copy to go back through the items and double check your luggage.
Be sure to look up your airline’s luggage policies to avoid getting hit with an unexpected fee. Packing the right luggage can be the difference between free bags and a $100 fee.
3. Keep to Your Usual Habits
Particularly on a long flight, it is important that you ensure that you are eating, drinking water, and avoiding things like caffeine which can exacerbate anxiety. The idea of needing to get up and go to the bathroom on a plane can be terrifying, but if your body is struggling with dehydration and hunger, your anxiety will be amplified.
For some people, a stressful situation will eliminate the usual hunger responses, leading you to feel as though you don’t need to eat. Or, you may simply be too stressed to eat. In these situations, even if all you can manage is a smoothie, keeping your body supplied with fuel is important, as it provides you with the energy you need to tackle the challenges of travel.
Other habits you may have such as drawing, meditating, reading, or any other of your usual activities can also help to stave off the panic response of doing something that triggers anxiety. Pack items for the wait and the flight that will keep your anxiety levels low.
Anxiety can become the reason you miss out on life experiences. Avoiding stress and potential panic attacks is enough to keep anyone from getting on a plane and seeing the world. However, even if you struggle with anxiety, it is wholly possible for you to persevere and give yourself the freedom to enjoy your next vacation. For each person and each type of anxiety, the coping mechanisms will be different. Learning how to work around your travel anxiety is a matter of trial and error. Start small, learn what works, and eventually, the world will be your oyster.
Jennifer McGregor is a pre-med student, who loves providing reliable health and medical resources for PublicHealthLibrary.org users. She knows how difficult it can be to sift through the mountains of health-related information on the web. She co-created the site with a friend as a way to push reputable information on health topics to the forefront, making them easier and quicker to find.
Image via Pixabay by Ryan McGuire
The Mental Health Minute