The Road to Recovery

This post contains powerful imagery which may be distressing for some readers. Zoe is one of the voices featured in the original Foolish Optimism film, and in the follow-up Hello Again.

In my mind there’s no such thing as ‘recovered’, only ‘recovering’. Because once something has weaselled its way into your life, starting out guising as a comfort blanket, or a quick fix, an instant hit or a distraction, the game is over. You can never win after deciding to play, only break even. There are no idling downhills in recovery, only uphill battles each and every day. Every day you get up and make a conscious decision to ‘stay better’ or to succumb to the ongoing whispers of temptation in your ear that have probably already kept you up all night, slyly lying in the dead of the night. And it all happens so quick, the anxiety rush, the head spins, the self-hate, the toing and froing, the remembering how well you’ve done and realising how far you’ve got to go…

And maybe it’s only mentioned when the old habits begin to creep in again, when you begin to slip from the grace slicked pedestal that you’ve been placed on. And everyone, including yourself manage to forget just how incredibly far you’ve come since the last time you managed to knock down your demons and scrape together another win against your mind in the battle of mental health and addiction. Affliction. Bad habits and decisions. Even when others say they are proud of you it’s like listening through a cloudy glass, because they can’t see the internal wars that are wreaking havoc on the person you used to be and hindering the person you are aching to become.

And standing in the middle of it all, is you. Trying desperately to remember who you were before you began to play with fire. Before the chemical imbalances and impulses in your mind started to do the talking. Me? My affliction is pain. I punish myself when I think I’ve done wrong. Which is pretty much every day. I remember every bad comment and negative situation and sit torturing myself for hours, all blame on me. I have marks that show the personal fights I’ve survived through, my battle scars I suppose.

One time my bones stuck out from my skin then people really started to worry… But I still felt the same. Though the feeling of being on the edge of starvation all of the time was weirdly comforting, I guess it took up all the space in my brain so I had no room for all the overthinking, I’d replaced it with something raw, something ‘real’. Palpable. Which is something that can’t be said for emotional pain… Once you’ve chosen an outlet that converts emotive suffering into something physical, it’s addictive. It’s really that simple.

But look at yourself on the bad days. The ones where the entire universe is against you. The itch is there. But you choose not to scratch it. That’s it. That’s breaking even. And no matter how bad it gets at least you know that for that day you were strong enough to say no. No to booze. No to drugs. No to the razor blades. No to promiscuity. No to starving yourself or overeating. Whatever your crux is, it’s lying to you. It can’t bring you comfort. Only instant gratification before pain and guilt. The road to recovery isn’t linear. It shouldn’t be. It’s paved with anguish and sorrow and hatred. But sometimes, the sunshine dripping through the grey, are small victories. Family and friends that don’t need to worry anymore. A healthy body, shaping up to a healthier mind. It’s all achievable, if you want it bad enough.

So, my advice to anyone in recovery? Keep going. Sure, you’ll mess up sometimes, but that’s ok. I’m proud of anyone out there trying. You deserve unadulterated happiness. Peace will come to those who fight for it. Stay shining and keep optimistic, you’ll get there.

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