Michaela Jones: what recovery means to me

3rd July 2018

Michaela Jones, National Recovery Community Development Officer with the Scottish Recovery Consortium, tells us what recovery means to her.

I am really pleased to have been asked to write about a subject so very close to my heart. It is not hyperbole to say that recovery, for me, is a life and death issue. And my ongoing recovery (10 years last weekend – yay!) is a testament to a conscious choice to live life as fully as I can.

It’s like being on Desert Island Discs to think of my top five in terms of what recovery means to me. If this was an audio article The Jackson Sister’s “I Believe in Miracles” would be in there for certain, but here goes:

Addiction is a logical response to mental ill health….until it isn’t

I have learned to understand the intimate relationship between my addiction and my mental health. Despite the stigma that people like me endure I am clear that I used alcohol to manage symptoms, and it worked for a very long time. However, as with most things, the thing you use to solve the problem eventually becomes the problem itself. Recovery is, therefore, not simply a matter of stopping drinking, it is actively taking steps to stay well.

Everything you know about addiction is wrong

I have stolen this line from Johann Hari, who’s Ted Talk  says it all much better than I can. For me, recovery means understanding addiction, and subsequently recovery, as the process of moving from isolation to connection, from individualism to community.

We all need a tribe

I have lost count of how many people I have met, in active addiction or recovery, who say they never felt as if they belonged. This is, in itself, a pretty sad indictment of our society – but that’s another whole can of worms. Recovery has given me back a sense of belonging, that there are hundreds, thousands, millions of people just like me. They are my tribe and I am proud to be a member.

We can fix it

Recovery for me is an active process – in fact I would call myself a ‘recoverist’ i.e. a recovery activist. I really believe in community resilience and that the answer to some of our most pressing problems lies in the margins of society. If we can really listen, really hear the voices of those with lived experience we are in with a shot at making things better. I and millions like me are living proof that change is possible.

Joy!

I am not suggesting that every day in recovery is a bowl of cherries – although it is true to say that my worst day in recovery is infinitely better than my best day in active addiction. But there is joy, and beauty and love and I am 100 per cent sure I would not have experienced these things so intensely had I not embarked on my recovery journey. And there are dogs – the sheer wonder of loving, and being loved, on my own terms by another living creature has healed so much pain.

Recovery matters….because life matters.

 

The Recovery Walk and Festival will be held in Glasgow on the 15th September 2018. For the first time the event will bring people from addiction and mental health communities together to celebrate and promote recovery! SRN is delighted to be supporting the event and would encourage anyone with a passion for recovery and wellbeing to get involved.

 

Read other contributions to the ‘what recovery means to me’ series