The road to recovery is a personal journey where we travel from darkness into a brighter and more satisfying life. As with any illness or accident it involves taking good care of ourselves, learning to establish nourishing healthy habits that support our happiness and recovery.
Often we might have to become more aware of what goes on in our mind in order to ensure that we entertain positive and optimistic thoughts and let go of the debilitating and discouraging thought patterns that we may have developed over the years.
We may have to create a safer space around us that doesn't allow hurtful or stressful people or thoughts too close.
Terry Lynch who is a GP from Limerick writes in his book 'Selfhood' about how he helps patients to create personal boundaries through a safe space meditation where one imagines a blue circle light at one's fingertips when one turns around arms outstretched. Inside this blue light is the safe space where we allow everything encouraging and supportive.
Any problem or negativity is place outside the blue imaginary light, we can still deal with it at some point but it is not getting on top of us. We are entitled to live in this peaceful encouraging space where we can learn to become our own best friend and only allow helpful and supportive connections.
By taking greater responsibility for what goes on in our minds we can slowly but surely create optimistic brain pathways which open us to an enjoyable and creative life-style. We can learn to trust the process of life.
When we open ourselves to the many small but meaningful connections that the day offers, a smile, a thank you, a favour, volunteering or working for a better world we start realising that we are part of something bigger than ourselves – the beautiful family of mankind.
Ciara experienced an accumulation of problems which resulted in her starting to selfharm, this is what she learned from it:
When I discover a problem I now take the time to think about why there is a problemrather than just freaking out. My mum is an innovative consultant so from her I've learnedto look at things from outside the box.
For example when I have a headache, ok, I can take a pain-killer but I think for me problem-solving is a better solution. I write down the problem and break it down into morespecific problems which I then tackle in different ways: I draw a spiderweb (brain map) of
all the possible explanations for my headache, I could be stressed, I could be dehydrated,
I could be sick. I try to find the root causes and then tackle these individually rather than
making a rash decision to do something.
I would say to myself 'I need to fix this'. Breaking down a problem also helps to put it into perspective. Sometimes I worry 'Will I have enough time?' or 'Will I be ready in time' but when I look at it more closely I realise that this is not the end of the world; I can decide that next time I will do certain things differently. It is a learning process.
It doesn't always work but I think breaking a problem down puts things into perspective. If you rush into a problem and your brain/mind is racing you tend to freak out whereas when you take the time to stop and think of all the things associated with it, you will not frantically send emails to everyone but rather focus on the one person you need to talk to about it.
Cathal's little boy died only a few days after being born. Cathal did not have the ability to deal with this in a healthy way until later on when he had been treated for his addiction to drink and drugs:
When Neil died my dependency took on a whole new sinister level. I stopped communicating. I felt isolated inside and it was only after having a break-down and going into detox and recovery that I was able to view my life more objectively.
Eventually I realised that my son's short life was a gift, an opportunity to learn. I found that I could actually go back and access hope in the situation and come out with a new perspective.
Now I see all that I have experienced as a means to empathise and be of service. I am able to access deep feelings of empathy with people who have experienced sorrow in their lives.
More stories and wellbeing skills can be found in the Happiness Skills based on Positive Psychology book and ebook by Michaela Avlund.
Recovery Self Help Method Ireland
Wicklow Mental Health Association would like to recommend the Recovery Self Help Method Ireland website as a valuable resource for people recovering from mental-ill health.
Web link: www.recoveryireland.ie
Plan to protect your mental health and wellbeing: