Putting Yourself First in Recovery
The term self-centered has a negative connotation, and understandably so. In most areas of life, being self-centered is undesirable. In recovery, being self-centered has another meaning – deciding to make yourself a priority and striving to be independent and self-sufficient. When it comes to seeking treatment for a co-occurring disorder, you and your recovery are most important. Your commitment to self-centeredness in recovery will be tested and so we have provided some tips to help you as you begin your journey of recovery.
How to Be the Center of Yourself
Seek treatment and ask the tough questions. This is the time to advocate for yourself. When you are searching for a treatment center that is the best fit for you do not be afraid to ask the difficult questions like: What is your treatment philosophy? What happens if I relapse in treatment? How many times will I see my therapist every week? Finding the right treatment program can be time consuming and overwhelming, which takes us to the next tip.
Ask for help. Asking for help can be difficult and scary, but it does not mean you failed or that you are a burden, it means you are one-step closer to letting go of the substance use, mental health and/or eating disorder. The thing to remember is this: The healthy people in your life love you and want to see you get better. Most likely, they are eagerly waiting for the day you decide to put your recovery and well-being first. Your friends and loved ones want you to lean on them, and together they can support you and encourage you to put your recovery first.
Be clear with yourself about what your struggle really means. Having a substance use or eating disorder is a symptom of your attempt to cope with other difficulties. The disorder has served and does serve different functions in a person’s life. Working with co-occurring disorder experts allows you to begin unravelling the reasons why these disorders developed, as well as other related issues/conflicts that lead you to rely on the disorders. Putting a stop to this vicious cycle and learning healthy coping skills to replace them requires clinical intervention and an expert treatment team.
Invest in recovery over the long haul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you give the recovery process a chance, it will slowly reveal your internal wounds and help you understand why you used the substance use or eating disorder as a coping skill. As the substance use and eating disorder thoughts and behaviors diminish, you are introduced to your true self and eventually get to the point where you love your true self. Just like any relationship, you must commit to recovery as an ongoing process, full of difficulties and unforgettable experiences. This means continuing to meet with your treatment team and staying connected to your support system, even on days when you may not feel like you need it.
Remove toxic elements from your life. Most people who struggle with mental health disorders—especially eating disorders or substance use disorders—are people pleasers and have a hard time saying “no.” This is a challenging part of recovery and must be a priority. It means taking an honest look at your daily activities and the people surrounding you. What are your current triggers? How do you set boundaries with unhealthy friends or family? Whatever your challenges and road blocks to recovery are, it is beneficial to work with your treatment team to identify and communicate them and it may mean saying, “No.”
The Priority is You
Ultimately, the important thing is not what anyone else thinks or feels about you. It is you and your recovery. It is preserving your life and affirming your own worth and dignity. It is loving yourself as your friends and family members love you, and following through on that self-love by committing to positive change. As you seek recovery for a co-occurring disorder do not feel ashamed to put your own needs above all else. You can call it “self-centered” if you like, but really it’s about surviving, thriving, and living a full life—all things that your friends and loved ones want for you, and that you are allowed to want for yourself.