spring has sprung_bicycle_cherry blossom


I’m a recovering addict who doesn’t like to feel shitty. I’ve discovered through years of trial and error that taking positive actions (especially when I don’t want to) that support my emotional and physical well-being pays off. I’ve lived through 25 years of season changes without getting high and have learned how to surf them with some grace. This is what I hope to share in my blogs – practical tips on how to cope with whatever life throws your direction without getting high.

Believe it or not – changing seasons have the power to wake up the disease (of addiction) and this can cause a lot of emotional discomfort.

I wrote Part One of this blog two weeks ago and since then everyone I talk to says they’ve been feeling crazy. A lot of people are going through a hard time this month and people in early recovery seem to be feeling it the worst.

The good news is that, for the majority of people I’ve spoken to, the root of their discomfort is connected to the change of weather and not their deep core issues. Though many of them fail to recognize this. When recovering addicts feel bad, the first thing they do is intellectualize and over-analyze their emotional life to get a false sense of control over it. When this fails they get filled by overwhelming helplessness. Some people will be experiencing some level of seasonal affective disorder because they slacked off on basic daily doses of fresh air and exercise all winter and they probably lived on comfort foods rather than a healthy balance of fresh vegetables and fruit. The good news is that these feelings – like all feelings –will pass. The current blahs and waves of depression hitting you this year don’t have to be repeated.

Recovery lifestyle changes are easier to embrace when you are given a choice between feeling good or feeling lousy. If you read this blog regularly you’re probably sick of hearing this – but trust me, physical activity pays off long-term in so many ways. You don’t have to become a crazy gym fanatic. Hike, walk, jump rope, bicycle – just move your body in the winter months. When its zero degrees no one wants to go outside. Do it for springtime sanity. Play it forward.

The change in weather is going to have an affect on you. Your energy may feel unsteady. Some days you’ll feel tired yet the weather is making you believe you should be super energized. A voice in your head is now blaming you for not having energy – like it’s somehow your own fault, like you are ruining a perfect day by being tired. Jeez – there’s nothing like the negative self-talk of the addict mind! Instead of staying stuck inside your head try this – accept that today you’re tired. Set lower goals and be gentle with yourself. Maybe you just need some rest. A lot of people experience a shift in their sleep patterns. Be patient. Don’t judge yourself. Honest – it is all going to even out.

It’s not just us – everything’s messed up. Trees were without buds late this year then almost overnight flowers opened. We are not alone. A shift is happening and nothing seems to be running smoothly. (It was seventy degrees yesterday and tonight its twenty-four). Whatever your body is doing energy-wise allow it to be where it is at. Stop expecting more of yourself. The renewal energy of spring is going to happen for you. It’s always our internal struggle with acceptance that feeds the disease. When our body feels off and we decide that our entire life feels off. We feel like shit so our life is shit. The worse we can make ourselves feel, the more that cocktail two tables over is going to call out to us, the more we’re going to want to linger in the scent of a joint that passed us on the sidewalk. The disease will point out drug or alcohol solutions to these feelings whenever it can – and our job is to recognize where these triggers are coming from – the dis-ease we feel internally. Recognize it and let it go. Getting high will not make things better. It is not the solution. Trust me – during springtime these ideas are going to pop into your head without warning. This is a trick so don’t turn it into something wielding power over you. Call a friend in your support system. You never have to tough it out alone.

This is the rollercoaster of seasonal changes: Lust, thirst, anxiety over lust, anxiety over cravings, melancholia over memories (which are often memories of times when drugs and alcohol still worked and these may involve outdoor patio cocktail memories), loneliness will accompany lust, financial insecurity may arise at the thought of needing new clothes or appear as harsh self judgment over not having money to buy thing you feel you can’t live without.. While beauty starts to spring up all around us with the rebirth of spring, on the inside we may be digging ourselves deeper into self-centered despair. Again, this is when you need to reach out and get together with friends. At a time of turning the soil over on our most powerful negative feelings, we need to step into the sunshine of community and of service – volunteer to garden in the community or find a volunteer position that is of personal interest to you. Get out among people.

If you are in early recovery and unsure what is going on inside of you – what is real from what may be the obsession or a general sense of hopelessness the solution is always in connecting to other people in recovery and disclosing what you are going through. You do not have to tough it out alone. These feelings are temporary. They may last a day or a week but they will pass. Soon you will land in a comfort zone and will be present to experience the vitality of the new season. This rollercoaster ride will come to an end.


Patty is a nationally recognized certified recovery coach and writer. She lives in New York City.

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