We know that this is not easy for anybody. Anxiety is high across the world and a quick scroll through social media gets more and more disheartening with every post. Your mental health is probably being impacted by isolation, fear, and cabin fever. With the weight of the world seemingly one everybody's shoulders we wanted to offer advice, resources, and ultimately support our readers in recovery. September is National Recovery Month and the past 6 months have been a very trying time for everyone, and some of the individuals that we have talked to said it has tested their sobriety.
Now that things are at varying levels of "openness" and the back to school season is upon us, new stressors have been introduced to everyone. This September we want to celebrate our sober readers and show them that they don't walk this path alone. Sobriety exemplifies self-love and strength and we sat down with two parents; George Flemming and Christa Jones, who have some insight on how they are handling sobriety in quarantine and advice they have for sober people who are struggling right now.
"Remember that using will not change what is actually happening today," said Flemming when asked what advice he has for people who's sobriety is being tested by the state of the world right now. Flemming has been sober for 30 plus years and mentioned that his own sobriety has not been tested by this but he does see how it could be. "I have noticed that people are driving out of state to get liquor from across borders, and have seen lines around the block to get alcohol. My first thought when I saw that was; 'thank God I don't have to live like that anymore," said Jones who has been sober since October 2017.
Jones mentioned one-way quarantine has impacted her sobriety is that it has caused thoughts that could have compromised her sobriety to enter her mind. "I have had thoughts about how there are no bars open right now, what kind of trouble could I get into anyway? Why couldn't I have one glass of wine? Then immediately I call my sponsor and tell her the crazy thought I had, she supports me and we laugh about how for a split second I thought that I could have done that," said Jones.
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Both Jones and Flemming are in agreement that contact with your sponsor, or "someone who has been sober for at least 3-5 years," according to Flemming; is essential. "I do not care how hard it is to reach out, do it. If I feel irritable at all I call somebody from AA immediately," said Jones. In this day and age resources and support can be at your fingertips. While you are not able to physically go to meetings, you can utilize a number of resources to seek out the support that you need. "AA.org is a great resource. The internet is so big you can literally type 'I am an alcoholic' into Google and it can lead you to some resources to help you out, especially if you don't know who to reach out to for help," said Jones talking about how easily accessible resources are. Flemmings mentioned that he often turns to social media to pages that offer support and positivity. He also recommends picking up the phone and calling or texting people who are supportive of you and trustworthy. Right now, ironically, it seems like the thing we need the most is human contact and while we cannot physically be with people we are all connected by the technology in our hands. For your own sanity and wellbeing stay away from news articles for a while and give someone you love a call.
Everybody in the world is most likely feeling irritable and anxious right now. Things are shut down, many incomes have been compromised, and children are home from school. Flemming is now a grandfather but both Flemming and Jones have raised, and are raising children with social, emotional, behavioral or mental health challenges. Having school-aged children during this pandemic has caused many parents to step into the role of teacher, a role that some are overwhelmed by. Last week in our blog we spoke to a mom who was astounded by the differences she was seeing between her two sons education right now; one that is a senior in high school, and one who is a senior at a day school who requires special education. The lack of importance put on special education is at an all-time high, at quite possibly the worst time possible. All children thrive on the structure but especially children with behavioral challenges. This is obviously adding to the stress that Jones is facing at home.
While stress may be at an all-time high, and you are being asked to do what feels like a million jobs at once she wanted to remind people that; "Sobriety is selfish, when it comes to sobriety you need to worry about yourself first. I feel like our families see our progress through your daily sobriety. Right now it feels like a bad time to be selfish but it is okay, and actually it is a must that you check on yourself and how you are doing before you are able to help those around you." Flemming recommends that you set up some time or activities that you can do that allow you to shut out the world around you and just focus on you. He mentioned that not only is this beneficial to your sobriety but your mental health as a whole. "I have found that walks, socially distant of course, have helped me get out of the house and get in tune with my own thoughts. Take inventory of your thoughts and be mindful of what you are thinking and why you are thinking them. Write them down and talk to somebody about them," said Flemming.
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An old cliché came to Flemming's mind when asked why a person should be honest with their loved ones if they are struggling with their sobriety. "Honesty is the best policy, and I have always found this to be true. Honesty keeps your soul open and vulnerable. You are ultimately responsible for your sobriety and honesty will help you maintain it."
The biggest piece of advice that Flemming and Jones agree upon is that support is what people need right now to ensure that quarantining does not have an impact on your sobriety. While your spouse or children may be driving you a little nuts or your anxiety about the health and wellbeing of your loved ones in and out of your house may be causing you to have sleepless nights, remember that your sobriety is something to be proud of and something that you have worked very hard for. Do not let this interfere with that. Reach out to the ones you love about your struggle and stay in close contact with your sponsor and any support system that you have right now. Both Flemming and Jones find strength in their faith-based support groups and urge people to find the support that they need. This is a very scary time, but support and love are at your fingertips.
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Family Support Partners (FSP's) deliver peer to peer support to families caring for children, youth, and young adults (up to age 26) with identified or suspected social, emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenges (including learning and attention issues and substance use disorders). FSP's are parents who have raised or are raising a child with challenges similar to the ones your family may be dealing with. Family Support Partners walk with you on your journey until you are ready to walk on your own.