With the emergence of spring comes brighter days in both the literal and metaphorical senses. Those of us who suffer from seasonal mood issues find ourselves in bloom right along with the crocuses and the dogwoods. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and so many of us are thinking about … relapsing?
That’s right, you aren’t alone: Many people with addictive issues find themselves challenged at this time of year by the sense of good times and nostalgia that can become infectious. How unfair that we have to worry about feeling “too good!” And yet, if recovery is to continue, it is all too important to be mindful of triggers, even the most totally unfair ones. I am speaking particularly of substance-use issues, but these concepts apply to many different problems that are all too similar, from gambling to eating issues to sex and shopping.
If you have any familiarity with recovery, you might be well acquainted with the HALT concept: To avoid relapse, don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I’d like to add the letter “O” for Oblivious. I wonder if what happens with the “feeling-too-good” trigger isn’t that we feel so good we become oblivious to the reality of our past issues; we start thinking maybe we were crazy to imagine that “problem” was really a problem at all – didn’t it make life more fun? Wouldn’t this great time I am having be that much better if I just brought that old frenemy back into the picture?
You can probably guess from the tone of this article that the answer to that last is a resounding “no.” All that good you’re feeling? You owe that to the hard work you have put into your recovery, and you owe it to yourself to enjoy the fruits of that very worthwhile labor. This is the way I think about combatting the “O.” It doesn’t have to be a matter of refusing to feel too good, but rather of never failing to remember the hows and whys of getting to this point.
Spring can be another (or a first?) season of feeling healthy and happy and full of promise in all the very best ways, if we remember to keep doing the things we do to keep ourselves well. Enjoy!
<i>Jessie Timmons is a licensed therapist at the Camac Center at 12th Street Gym. To learn more, visit jessietimmons.com or 12streetgym.com.</i>