Afraid to Leave my House
When I first came into Recovery, I was in my early 30’s. Believe me, I had only one way to go and that was up. Between hospitalizations, I was petrified to leave the safety of my home. My husband was in business and he knew all about my panics and depression, and even though he was very understanding, sometimes it was important for me to accompany him to a business function.
I distinctly remember the week leading up to these events, I would cry nonstop. I cried when I arranged my outfits and everything else that goes along with preparing for an evening out. I would even pray that I would drop dead so I wouldn’t have to go.
Shortly after joining Recovery, I learned enough Recovery rules and tools that it became easier and easier for me to go out. I learned that if I couldn’t look forward to the event with joyful anticipation, then don’t look forward. Keep my mind on the present moment.
Then I learned to practice gratitude. I was grateful that I had a loving husband and that I was going to be served a very nice meal that I didn’t have to prepare. I also learned to take the focus off of myself and truly listen to and become interested in the other people in the group.
Doing this, I made both some good friends and some great memories. My husband became so proud of me that he no longer wanted to go places without me. Success breeds success and I soon looked forward to dressing up and going out on the town with my spouse. Recovery taught me how to enjoy life again. Thank you, Recovery.
Almost an Invalid from Fear
Before I joined Recovery, I was plagued by many nervous symptoms. The one that caused me the most fear and made me almost an invalid was “feelings of unreality”. I could be anywhere — at home, at a shop, at a friend’s house, and suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was inside my body. It was if I was somewhere in space watching myself. I thought “Surely, this means I am crazy!”
In Recovery, I learned that it meant no such thing, and the more danger I attached to it, the worse it became. Learning that this symptom was just another one of the garden variety of nervous symptoms we may experience from time to time and that it was distressing, but not dangerous, gave me such a sense of relief.
After that, whenever it came back, I thought “I have borne this discomfort before and I can do so now and it isn’t dangerous”, and I knew that pretty soon it would go away, and it always did. I have not had this particular symptom in years now that I have learned to disregard it. But if it does come back, it no longer has the power to frighten me. Recovery has given me my life back.
Feelings of Discouragement and Inadequacy
My life, until I reached about age 30, was quite normal. In school, I had been an honors student. After graduation, I served in the Air Force and was highly decorated after surviving many combat missions. Soon after college graduation, I was recalled by the Air Force to serve in the Korean War.
After my discharge, I was employed by a large CPA firm. For whatever reason, I never achieved partnership and thus my salary was never adequate. Also, at this time, my children developed very serious and very expensive medical problems.
I sought employment elsewhere with no success. My life was in a tailspin and I felt totally inadequate to cope, also angry at my situation, frustrated and depressed.
I sought help from a number of sources such as pastoral counseling and even professional help, but never received any sustained relief. Maybe I was too impatient and didn’t give them sufficient time. About this time, I heard about Recovery and was willing to try anything. To be honest, the first meeting I went to did not impress me very much. But I did go back to a meeting at the Clubhouse, which was very well conducted by a trained leader.
Recovery taught me that my discouragement and feelings of inadequacy were just forms of temper, fearful temper that were blinding me to the many choices I had and preventing me from being able to solve my problems.
With the help I received from the Recovery program, I was able to change my way of thinking. This gave me the courage to go to work for myself and achieve some measure of success in almost all areas of my life. Recovery was my lifeline to experiencing a normal life, both professionally and personally.
Fear of Harming Myself or Others
When I came into Recovery, my main symptoms were fatigue, sleeplessness, and depression. What bothered me most was the fear I had of harming myself or others. Every minister I consulted about this told me I had no reason to feel guilty just because I had these thoughts and that the only sin would be to act on the thoughts.
After I joined Recovery, the older members told me that we are not responsible for what thoughts come to us, we are responsible for what we do with the thought. If we hang onto the thoughts we are sabotaging our health. If we spot the thought and change it to a secure thought, the thoughts lose their power and in general, our thoughts will eventually be those which give us calm, peace, and joy.
I know now that I have the power to treat these insecure thoughts like any other nervous symptom. They are distressing but not dangerous, and if I put no importance on them they will soon leave.
Continuing to practice the rules and tools I have learned at Recovery has allowed me to enjoy a life filled with secure thoughts instead of near constant fear and insecurity.