Now that I am back in the workforce, my schedule doesn’t allow me the flexibility to go to support group meetings whenever I want.
Before starting back to a “day job,” I was going to three different support group meetings each week held on three different days.
There is the SMART group, focusing on Self-management and Recovery. I was also getting to WRAP, focusing on creating a wellness recovery action plan. And on Fridays, I was attending Even Keel, where the focus is on depression.
I still go to support meetings, but now I attend whatever is being held on my days off.
This has opened my eyes to other resources where they offer a safe space for those who are struggling with life challenges due to trauma, mental illness, addiction, or any interruption to your best well-being.
My new support home is On Our Own.
To provide mutual support, self-help, advocacy, education, information and referral services for individuals who acknowledge having significant problems in their lives due to mental illness and who are seeking to take responsibility for their own growth and recovery while supporting each other. We actively advocate for positive change within the traditional mental health system.
In a Peer Support meeting, I learned not to “should on myself.” And I have dropped by between meetings and just hung out. I know many of the people who come daily, and so I am seeing familiar faces. I know some of their names and most know mine.
Six months ago, I would never have taken the time just to sit and visit.
But now, I am finding I enjoy it. I am learning so much about people and their lives. As I have said, “they are my heroes.” These days, it is hard to feel sorry for myself, or to feel like I am the only one recovering from depression. I am humbled to learn what others are struggling with. The fact that they even show up speaks to their courage.
Part of my plan as I went back into the workforce, was to still get to support meetings each week.
And I have done that! That is a source of pride for me. In addition, I have my therapist sessions I am still going to and have met with a psychiatrist for medicine management. For some reason, I expected that meeting to be very short. But he really wanted to understand me and what would be best for my recovery. We talked for almost 50 minutes.
My next appointment with him is 90 days out. But he made it clear that I could reach him anytime if I noticed changes in how the Prozac was affecting me. The entire session was positive and encouraging. It feels like I have another support person, this time a Doctor, in my corner, ready to go to bat for me.
My new position back in the workforce is in a different town than I live in.
From the SMART recovery website, I learned that there is a Tuesday night meeting very close to my new job. And last night, I got off work in time to attend. The group was smaller than what I was used to, but the format was similar, and the encouragement was real.
I felt comfortable participating and did not feel judged.
It’s funny how my life has changed. Until I went into the hospital, my life did not revolve around self-care. I did things for myself I suppose, but never equated that with staying healthy. Now I am committed to “putting on my oxygen mask first, before assisting others.” This change in focus has opened me up to better appreciating me, just as I am.
Finding another resource, another support group gives me confidence that I can keep depression from overpowering me again. I know it will try, and I am ready. I am facing it, looking at whatever it suggests, and asking questions that challenge its sneaky, under handed ideas. As I understand more about how depression works, I am more determined than ever not to allow it to be in charge.
I want to say thank you to my new friends, and I look forward to going back again.
Depression wanted me all to itself. So, building relationships, and support groups is foreign to me. But belonging to support groups is very powerful and I appreciate the value it brings to my recovery. My network continues to grow, and this is comforting.
What is your experience building support groups for your own recovery?