If you are struggling with an addiction and considering giving it up, you will likely have to deal with some ambivalence. With help, willingness and positive changes, you can learn to feel your emotions fully until they pass, retrain your brain till it's filled with kinder thoughts, and fill some of the spaces that addiction attempts to temporarily fill. You can challenge the powerful voice of addiction until your ambivalence turns into clarity, conviction and compassion.
Mental illness often interferes with a person's easy and spontaneous participation in a social unit. A therapeutic community heals hurts and teaches new social skills. It takes a community to help a patient. Virgil Stucker has been living with and for the severely mentally ill all his adult life. Perhaps better than anyone, he can tell us what works.
Let's keep talking about behavioral health for everyone. But let's stop talking about recovery for serious mental illness and start celebrating people whose brain disorders cause them to live with health challenges comparable to those experienced by cancer patients. The word we need, in the face of so much loss, is hope. Mental illness is not a choice. But hope is. Even in the face of tragedy, today I choose hope.
After the thousands of hours I've spent in recovery meetings, I can say I'm certain of only a few things. First, despite what many people believe, AA is not a cult. It's just a group of alcoholics trying to figure out how to stay sober by helping the next guy or gal stay sober. Two, no matter how shitty I feel before walking into a meeting, I always feel a little better after it's over.