Take a second and think about the person you were when you first walked through the doors of a rehab facility. How were you feeling? What were you thinking? If you were like most individuals in early recovery, you were probably anxious about what treatment would hold for you and the kind of person you would be when you left. Now that you are on the other side of the bridge imagine how hearing someone else’s success story could have encouraged you in those days. Sharing your story is essential for various reasons; one of the biggest is inspiring and encouraging someone as they first enter recovery. The benefits and significance of sharing your story are extraordinary, and they are worth more than you think.
Breaking the Stigma
Being vulnerable can help the addiction and mental health communities at large. You may think that you are one person and that people may not want to listen to your story. However, your experience holds so much power that it can help break the stigma that society often has against substance abuse and mental health. The best tool to fight against stigma is education. Your story is a firsthand account of what you went through and how you survived. When individuals see and understand what you went through, they begin to become more empathetic towards the issue rather than continuing with negative thoughts and comments surrounding addiction and mental health. For this reason, if for nothing else, share your story to help the addiction and mental health community fight against stigma.
The action of telling your story can help others that are struggling with substance abuse or mental health-related issues. A person may be feeling anxious about entering into treatment and knowing what to expect for the road ahead, but your story can bring them peace. They will be reminded that they are not alone and can make it through recovery to find a happy life in sobriety. You can become a mentor for that person, sharing advice, coping techniques, and more with the individual so they can get through recovery too.
Perhaps most important of all, sharing your story will help your recovery. It affirms what you have gone through and shows you just how much you have overcome to get to where you are today. Rather than recovery being a distant hope for the future, you are talking about it in the past and present tense to make it that much more real. In this way, it also holds you accountable for staying sober in the future. As you tell others about your recovery, the responsibility of maintaining it becomes that much more critical, encouraging you to continue. Saying your story out loud is a form of self-love, as well. It allows you to validate that your experiences are worth being heard, worth sharing, and you are worthy of being loved and cared for by others. Overall, sharing your story turns the dark rabbit hole of addiction and the experience you had with it into something positive that can help break the stigma, help others heal, and help you in your recovery.
When is the Right Time to Share My Story?
No one can decide when to share your story except for you, although there are some things to consider when you are thinking about doing so. Talking to your therapist or another mental healthcare provider can help you decide when is the proper time to share your story. You need to consider that talking about your experience with addiction and recovery will bring up some strong emotions, and it will cause you to be vulnerable in front of others. For this reason, you need to make sure that you are in a healthy place in your recovery where your emotional and mental states are stable. You should never risk your mental health or overall sobriety just to share your story. When you feel ready, you can begin sharing your story at support groups, with a sponsee, or with anyone you think it can help.
How Do I Tell My Story?
Knowing that you want to tell your story is one thing, but knowing how to convey it correctly is a helpful resource for others. Luckily, the New England MIRECC Peer Education Center has come up with tips about what parts of your story to share, so it is told in a way that can help others. Focusing on overcoming your challenges instead of addiction’s negative aspects can make this process easier. You should share:
- Signs from early-on that you had a problem
- A description of yourself when you hit your lowest point
- What inspired and helped you get from that point to where you are today
- What methods helped you accomplish this
- Who helped you get to where you are
- Specific obstacles that you overcame to get to where you are today
- What you use for support on the low days
- Strengths you find help keep you motivated
- Things you do to maintain your sobriety and overall recovery
Telling your story is a powerful resource in your recovery, not only for others but also for yourself. Your experience holds so much power, and it deserves to be heard. Your story can help break the stigma against mental illness and substance abuse, helping to educate others against the prejudice they so often hold against those struggling. Your story can also help others by affirming that recovery is possible and proving that even the most difficult obstacles can be overcome. You can inspire others that are in early recovery to make it through and realize their strength. Most of all, though, your story will help yourself. It will validate your experiences and show you how far you have come. It will also help hold you accountable for your sobriety in the future. Knowing when and how to tell your story is the first step. For more tips on sharing your story, call Everlast Recovery Centers at 866-DETOX-25.