While the news of Coronavirus hit, the world seemed to turn in fear. As a twenty-something sober woman with a few years of recovery under my belt, the unsure feeling made me sick to my stomach. With businesses closed, and most non-essential workers bound to their homes, it seemed as if at least part of the world stood still. Though, my brain seemed to spin faster than ever.
Would my family be okay? Would my friends be okay? Could I even stay sober in such stressful times?
Forced to cancel trips, plans, appointments, and 12-step meetings, my new commute to work was just 10 feet from my bed to my desk. On the outside, it seemed so simple. However, this new simple life for me didn’t feel so simple. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into two-and-a half months. Connections to my family and relationships with friends were held together by social media, Zoom meetings, and FaceTime calls. I became a Netflix enthusiast, and saw my mental health issues arise in real-time. Now, as businesses open up and a new assemblance of life becomes normal, I can look back on this time as not only a rollercoaster of emotions but a period of growth within myself.
Here are just a few things I learned and and ways that I grew during my quarantine:
I Addressed My Mental Health Issues
Depression and anxiety has always been something I’ve struggled with. However, through my sobriety I was able to address these issues with regular therapy sessions, coping skills, and connection to other people. During quarantine, anxiety started to envelope my life like a weed. There was a good month of hitting my pillow at night, only to find my brain racing. Was that cough I had earlier a symptom of the Coronavirus? What was on my to-do list tomorrow? At 2:30 AM on a Tuesday morning, my anxiety had truly peaked.
In addition to the anxiety, I felt a new but familiar low. With not only a tragedy hitting the entire world, I had also felt a personal loss of a few close friends that had relapsed. At times, I felt truly alone. However, feelings aren’t facts. Millions of others were facing the same thing I was facing. I just needed to find a connection to them. I bawled to family on the phone. I decided to see a therapist virtually, but sitting with myself forced me to handle these problems by adapting new coping skills into my routine.
I Questioned What I Really Wanted
Years ago, when I crossed the threshold of addiction to sobriety, I conformed to the societal standards of structure because that’s what I needed at the time to get me here. Though, when the threat of life interrupted my daily and automatic routine, I began asking myself what my own personal definition of happiness was. Was I truly happy with where my life was going professionally, personally, and even spiritually? I stopped working 70 hours a week, reassessed my priorities, and questioned what I was truly passionate about in life. I took an online class on a new skill I had always wanted to learn. I started participating in more Yoga classes from home. I called family members I hadn’t talked to in a long time. Even though I was bound to my tiny apartment, I gained the freedom to choose my own definition of happiness. Not only has it helped me stay sober, but find more identify within myself.
I Recognized Resiliency
These blaring internal issues being stirred up from an externally chaotic world forced me to face these problems head-on. With my built-in survival mechanisms, my brain paid more attention to the negative thoughts that came my way than any positive thing going on. As a person who has been through the harrowing consequences of addiction and come out the other side, I failed to recognize in that moment, that I did once come out of the other side. I already had the tools needed to handle any other stressful situation, I just needed to apply them. Leveraging these challenges to grow and evolve, I asked myself what I needed in this moment. Starting small, I incorporated different practices into my life. Journaling, meditation, and a yoga routine were just a few of the things that helped me.
I Made New Sober Friends
Another anxiety I had at the beginning of my quarantine was finding ways to fulfill my connection to other sober people. In-person 12-step meetings and support groups were out of the question. However, thank God for technology. Through the weeks, I tried various online meeting platforms. Some larger, and some smaller. I found one that had a smaller group of regular attendees from all over the world. Each one I’ve gotten to know on a personal level, and today, I can’t imagine not seeing them on a weekly basis.
I Found Contentment Within Myself
As an alcoholic who loves being busy, I find that the weight of the word, “more” sometimes rings true in my life than I care to admit. More work, more money, more travel, more shopping keeps me busy and distracted from what’s really going on. Though, when my life came to a sudden halt, the thought of no “more” distraction and more stillness for an extended period of time was a hard pill to swallow. It was the moments of forced simplicity, bouts of depression and anxiety, deep belly laughs through Zoom calls, and sobering moments of reflection that helped me recognize what I have and where I am exactly in this moment is enough.
I Found That I Can Stay Sober In Any Situation
It was uneasy feeling at the beginning of my quarantine that kickstarted an evolvement of growth and ultimately helped me take a deep look at myself. Though it all, the quarantine not only helped me renew my coping skills, but understand that I can stay sober in any situation, so long as I do the work necessary.