A past counselor once asked me what recovery would look like for me. I immediately opened my mouth to respond but instead, I found myself speechless, What my counselor was asking was not what the definition of recovery was or that it would obviously be characterized by no longer seeing any behaviors of my disorder. She wanted me to describe a more specific state of recovery, something I could work towards. I believe I answered that I would like to have a day, or even just half a day, without feeling pulled or interrupted by my disorder, I can say that, in those terms, I have almost reached that mark. Through this tiring process, I have found a few helpful things, ways of thinking, objects, and activities that I would like to share and hopefully, that will help someone else dealing with any distress or disordered thoughts.
1. Studying Your Interests
Studying and learning aren't activities just for school or certifications. Chances are there is something you find personally interesting and you've wanted to know more about, just because the end goal isn't a degree doesn't diminish the importance in expanding your knowledge.
Recovery from my disorder has really freed up a lot of my personal time and I find a pleasant sense of accomplishment from learning about yoga, Sanskrit, and Buddhism in particular. I've even got a small moleskin notebook dedicated to my Buddhism notes and have joined a Coursera Buddhism course online. Whatever your interests are, taking the time to indulge in learning is a valuable tool for recovery.
2. Making Daily Plans and Goals the Day Before
To be honest some days, particularly the weekends, I wake up already overwhelmed by the day ahead. It seems helpless to fight and exhausting to keep up with positive changes. Making a simple plan for myself the night before significantly helps in structuring my day and giving me tasks to look forward to.
Whether it's a simple To-Do list of the top three tasks to complete or a broken down hour-by-hour schedule you might find that having a structure to glance at helps take the pressure and stress out of your day. Personally, I stick with a to-do list of just 3-5 items anymore and I will get discouraged by too much to do. It will take a few trial-and-errors to find what works best for you!
3. Decluttering Your Environment
It's shocking just how many of the behaviors people exhibit in an attempt to gain control of the world around them. Buddhism describes the urge to cling to pleasures and control, in recovery it can feel that the system you've built to keep away displeasure and sadness is crumbling around you. Waves of samskaras, emotional blockages surge through you and you feel massive waves of fear, panic, despair and even worthlessness. Under all this a sense of hope is crucial. You have to keep in mind that you are not your disorder, you're not even your thoughts or feelings and you are certainly not your belongings. It's hard to keep this in mind but I've found that letting go of physical clutter is a nice stepping stone into letting go of your psychological clutter. So every couple of weeks I plunge through my belongings, the clothes I don't wear, body sprays/perfumes I don't use, papers I don't need and even the countless half-used free pens covered in advirtisements. They all go, gently used clothes are donated and bags of clutter is tossed. A great cleanse and nothing beats the relaxation found while sitting in a room that has finally been cleaned and organized! Relief!
The road to recovery, whether it be from depression, anxiety, or a disorder, is rarely linear and at times it can seem that your days are bleak and filled with hours of excruciating thoughts and self-critiques. When I find myself having a particularly difficult day, when I am struggling just to stay positive and on the path, these activities often give me goals to reach, tasks to plan out and the satisfaction of letting go of what not longer serves me. I take the time to delve into my own personal interests outside of work/school, I try to come up with attainable goals for the next day and I tear through my room for unneeded items that only add stress to my daily life.
I hope these suggestions help you and if you ever need a person to hear you out, just find me on facebook and I'll be happy to try and lend a helping hand. Stay positive and don't give up!