Supporting your mental health in recovery means reasonable, available actions.
If you’ve ever suffered from mental illness, you might feel that there’s no path forward. You might not even see a way to start. But if you want to heal and improve your mental health, where should you begin?
Well, that answer depends (very helpful response, we know). What you need to do depends on your mental health and addiction history, as well as your current circumstances. It could help to learn more about co-occurring disorders and how they impact your addiction recovery. That’d be only a first step, however. Many more actionable options exist – what will you choose to do?
Learn More About Mental Illness
Like we’ve mentioned, learning the basics of mental illness, substance addiction and how they interact (through co-occurring disorders) can help you. But make sure to seek out reliable sources for this information. What mental illness in addiction recovery means to you (or to your loved one) matters too much to use faulty resources.
For official, educational sources, we would recommend:
National Institute of Health – “Mental Health”
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – “Resources”
Shatterproof – “Co-Occurring Disorders”
But you can also find more personal, experience-based educations. One of the loveliest parts of In The Rooms is its member-written content, whether that’s personal testimony or even poetry. And because many members of our community face mental illness, they tend to write about their experiences. User Jeanne Foot has published great mental health testimony on the site, as has recovery coach Kyczy Hawk. In The Rooms offers heavy helpings of members’ mental health stories, both their pains and triumphs. You could do well to start here!
Learn to Speak About Mental Illness
What’s the point of learning about mental illness in addiction recovery? To speak about it. Speaking honestly about mental health struggles is often the first step towards healing: acknowledgment.
If you or a loved one need help addressing mental illness in recovery, you should start with a qualified counselor. When we say qualified, we mean a legitimately-certified Co-Occurring Disorders Counselor. A counselor with this qualification will know how to treat both the substance addiction and the underlying mental illness at the same time: treating co-occurring disorders any other way sets up the patient for failure. As we’ve discussed, substance addiction and mental illness feed off one another. Addressing them both means treating them simultaneously.
In addition to professional counseling, we’d recommend finding support groups filled with people walking the same journey as you. “Trauma & Recovery,” a meeting hosted by counselor Barbara Stromquist on Wednesday nights, explores support for members who suffer from past trauma and addiction (an intersection where you can often find mental illness). “Chemsex,” a Tuesday night meeting hosted by Dr. David Fawcett, welcomes any members struggling with issues of sex, intimacy and substance addiction (another place where mental illness often happens). Lastly, for any female visitors, “She Recovers” leads group members behind host Taryn Strong, who welcomes all women to bring their mental health concerns (among other recovery issues).
One last note: support groups (like 12-Step groups specifically designed for co-occurring disorders) should only complement professional counseling, not replace it. Both settings can help you speak honestly to others about your mental health struggles. But you should look first to a qualified counselor for improvement – your fellow support group members need their own help also (teaching you the way forward isn’t in their job description).
So What Now?
Keep learning what you need to know about co-occurring disorders. Make sure, if you or your loved one needs the help, to search for addiction and mental illness counseling near you. And at the same time, connect with recovery community through In The Rooms, and attend one of those online recovery meetings we mentioned. Why not join today? Our worldwide recovery community just might serve your addiction recovery!