Hypochondria as it Relates to Recovery
Everyone knows the type: the person who reads about an illness, then suddenly develops the symptoms of said illness. I can tell you that throughout my pregnancies there was not one symptom I experienced that my husband didn’t also share, and sometimes try to top!
I can’t honestly say I have ever had that particular mind disorder; that is, until now. I am currently sober 22 months and change, and as such am approaching another big milestone. Add to that another juncture, if you will, on my journey to recovery: the legal consequences that I have referenced from time to time on this blog are just about wrapped up. The heavy lifting is officially done, all that’s left now is the loose-end tie-up (which, of course, could be endless, I am never one to say it’s over until is really, really over). The closing of this chapter in my life book, and there is no way to overstate this, is huge.
But it’s like running the 5K, or reaching a goal weight, or achieving whatever accomplishment for which I have been striving… now what?
This is where the hypochondria has, on a low-level, set in. I find myself looking around for the people who started on the recovery road with me, and I don’t see them. I hear stories in 12-step meetings about how they have reached a goal, got the feeling of “I’ve got this,” and eventually forgot from whence they came. And that feeling only leads back to one place… the bottle.
So for the first time in my life, I am sympathizing with the hypochondriacs of this world. Because I think, “if it can happen to them, then it can happen to me.” And then I think, “maybe I am on my way back, and I don’t even realize it.”
So how do you talk back to this voice? I don’t want to disregard the concern, yet wallowing in worry and anxiety doesn’t seem sensible either.
The only way I can figure makes sense is to have a plan of attack, a checklist, and pray that I am still heading in the right direction. So, first things first, if I have a concern, get it out of my head. Which, clearly, I am doing, and have also done in my 12-step meetings. Next, remember what has worked for the past 22 months, and ensure that I am still practicing these principles in all my affairs. When I started, I had a to-do list of 4 things every day:
2. Go to a meeting
3. Talk to another alcoholic
4. Not pick up a drink or drug
Now, I look at that list and my mind panics… I only do 2 of those 4 things on a daily basis! So I go back to square one and figure out what has changed, and if the changes are working. As it turns out, they are. I went to daily meetings for the first year; the past 10 months, I have scaled back to those meetings from which I glean the most, and that change has been effective for me. Okay, problem solved.
I could also add something to the list that I hadn’t even considered on day one of sobriety: give back that which has been freely given, which is something I do on a regular basis. So although I have taken off the list, I have also added to it, so net/net it works out.
Next on the list: gut check: can I stay sober today? Because remember, today is all we’ve got. I have never asked myself that question in sobriety where the answer hasn’t been a resounding YES, so again, there is great comfort in realizing that the obsession is still lifted. Of course, if another answer were to come, back to square one: Speak. Up! Tell someone what is going on.
Finally, do a mental check-in on associations within my sober support network. For me, am I still blogging (I guess that answer is self-evident)? Am I checking in with my fellow bloggers? Am I still connected to people in my fellowship? Am I shying away from commitments, or am I embracing the opportunities? The answer to this is a mixed bag for me currently. Some I am doing well (you will read more about this one in Today‘s Miracle); some I need to re-visit. Of course, the next obvious step here: go out and do what you’ve been slacking on.
I guess time will tell is this plan of action is one that works. I have had sober time before, probably about as much as I have currently. The difference between then and now is the ongoing practice of the 12 steps of recovery. I am hopeful that, one day at time, I will “trudge the road of happy destiny!”
I’m putting this in as a reminder to myself that it is, indeed a miracle (rather than the stomach-twisting event that it currently feels like): I have been asked to speak at an anniversary celebration for an Al-Anon meeting this evening. The regular attendees of this meeting are, I assume, quite familiar with my story, although they have not met me personally. This will change, and they will hear my story from me, tonight. Right now all I’m thinking is, “Yikes! I’m venturing into the enemy camp!” But, deep down, I know this will be a monumental event, and I am, despite my nerves, grateful for this opportunity. I’m sure I will be writing about the experience!
Posted on December 5, 2013, in Recovery and tagged Addiction, Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, Disease, Hypochondriasis, Meeting, Psychoactive drug, Recovery, self-development, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Symptom, today, Twelve-Step Program, Yes (band). Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.