Dealing with depression can be one of the hardest struggles some of us can go through in life. When it’s combined with an addiction, it could very well be the most difficult test you’ll ever face. A dual diagnosis will require a much more efficient and tailored treatment per patient. Of course living with both can be heartbreaking and challenging not only for whoever suffers addiction but also for everyone who loves them. Nevertheless, fear not, it is doable.
During recovery, there are many obstacles to face; many situations that will make us doubt ourselves, our process and our ability to overcome it all. Depression will always be lurking around every corner waiting for the perfect moment to take over and push us back into the abyss of addiction. That’s why it’s so important to get all the professional help we need along with the love and support of everyone around us.
Here are 5 things I learned after dealing with a dual diagnosis:
You learn to take things slow
Once you’ve experienced the dark depths of depression and substance abuse, it’s hard not to think about the past. But within time I learned not to resent it or duel in it. The past will never be changed, but I don’t have to let it mold my present, least of all my future.
I try to enjoy every day and every moment in its own unique way. Working hard with every breath I have to ensure that all the things I am doing are aimed at the goals I have set for my new life, without regrets and always learning to be better.
You strengthen body and mind
Giving up substance abuse and going through a professional program will ensure that our bodies will start to recover, and our minds will definitely follow. Embracing a spiritual and focused state of mind gives us strength for present and future obstacles; it will be the tool used to cope and manage any negative feelings that may come our way.
Working on ourselves is a hard but necessary task, not only for us (recovering addicts) but for everyone. Going through this process will let us realize who we are and work on those aspects we would like to change, or that are not very constructive. The outcome? Reaching the calm that seemed so elusive before, it will also lead to a better mood, a better outlook on life and a better attitude towards everything around us.
You learn to love yourself
Depression leads to low self-esteem. Addiction does the same. Both of them bring shame and rejection because deep down, we know we’re doing something wrong. After such a long time hating and disapproving of yourself, the next step is to re-learn who you are and accept it. Then, you learn to love yourself.
Loving yourself also means forgiving yourself, starting from scratch, giving you and your mind a new chance to live. Our new healthy and happy life can only be built on self-acceptance, peace with our past and complete forgiveness of it. Nothing can change what happened, but we can work to change what’s to come.
It’s OK to need help
We can’t do everything on our own, and dealing with addiction and depression can be difficult enough to make us try (and fail) several times.
Learning how it was OK for me to need help and ask for it was one of the biggest improvements I had during my recovery. Letting go of the pride, shame and being able to acknowledge that other people cared and wanted to help was a beautiful realization.
I learned that falling was not something bad, that feeling despaired or hopeless was normal with my condition, however, the most important lesson was that I didn’t need to stay that way.
Become a new person
The hardest times in life change us. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Going successfully through a rehabilitation program was hard, and I thought about giving up countless times, and almost gave into the temptation of relapsing and going back to disappoint every person supporting me. But in the end, once I walked past the first finish line (because recovery is an ongoing process) and looked back over my shoulder, I realized I had become the person I was meant to be.
I felt I was a better human being, I opened the gates to love, respect, calm, understanding, and acceptance; all things I never even considered when I was an addict. I finally understood I had a new chance in life, a fresh start where I could build my life on a strong and constructive foundation.
A dual diagnosis is hard to deal with but it’s not impossible. Pushing the one mile further will make the difference. We all deserve to be happy, loved and above all, forgiven, not just by everyone around us but by ourselves. Once we’ve reached that new stage in the process, it will all become clearer.
Embrace your new life with healthy habits, being training our minds through meditation, adopting a healthy diet or a workout routine, will encourage us to develop a better lifestyle where we won’t need any sort of outside substances to feel good.
Have you or a loved one dealt with addiction or depression? If anyone you love or care about is going through a difficult time, lending a hand regardless the circumstances can change their future.
by Carl Towns