For individuals that struggle with mental health concerns, substance abuse and addictions; recovery can seem unnecessary. It’s something that people that “really need” it should take advantage of. WRONG! There are a variety of situations that warrant seeking help and varying degrees of severity. Some may not recognize the need to seek treatment until a catastrophe strikes and there is no where else to turn. Our modern culture has a name for such an event or a time when all other options seem to be gone: rock bottom.
What is “rock bottom”? While reaching this point may vary for each person, some hit the bottom and then realize they need help. While any catalyst that leads to recovery is ultimately going to get them help, it’s often a time of great distress. The trauma from hitting rock bottom can make the recovery process longer. When is the right time to seek help and enter a treatment program?
So, is this rock bottom?
One 15 year old had just binged on beer and tried drugs for the first time. The crowd he was running with was more accepting of him than any other. He had been bullied in elementary, looked down on by the cool kids and he just wanted to fit in. His group of friends were loyal, always included him, stuck up for him in a fight and never let him down. But this crowd also liked to “have a good time”. The social isolation and need for acceptance was so comforting. Fast forward to age 18. Leading a carefree life, feeling indestructible the weekend binge episodes felt epic. The anxiety was gone. Holding down a job was never an issue because it fed the addiction. Some times he would drink alone.
Highly emotional relationships would make the feelings of anxiety and depression return. A panic attack on the first day of a new job meant he never went back. The feelings were so intense that he would turn to self harm. At one point, living on his own, one of his friends takes his own life. He’s arrested for a DUI; but can’t explain the situation because he is intoxicated. He is found with car keys outside of a car but doesn’t know if he was driving. He spends the night in jail because his family wants to “teach him a lesson”. The next DUI he wakes up in jail, again, no memory of the night before.
This is when the self realization occurred. Is this rock bottom for me? When anxiety and depression have completely ruled every decision and an addiction to alcohol was the only thing to help ease the pain; this young man was out of options. Rock bottom for him may be very different from others. In this example these events, these situations, and the final self realization was enough to cause change. Acceptance is difficult to discover and in these moments of clarity, action is imperative. Many times we build a life that seems full proof only to find in an instant it is all gone wrong.
Know Yourself – What are your limits?
Teenage years are often a time of great self discovery. Neurological development is in its final stages. Our brains are finally coming to a point where decision making and impulse control are more deliberate. We become more aware of who we are. We decide the road we want to take to build our futures. Education and careers are started. We start building our future and choose new roads to lead us to happiness.
It is at this point when those that have created vices and become reliant upon unhealthy outside forces reach a point where rock bottom is truly possible. Perhaps they delay it by making a good decision or two, but the life that we begin in early adulthood is important for directing the future. Not everyone NEEDS to hit rock bottom to seek help. When this period in life comes, there are big decisions that can be made. Putting health first and finding help before reaching a point of rock bottom is possible when honestly evaluating your life choices.
Finding your limits and knowing what you are capable of is one of the processes that are learned in the young adult years. Recognizing what your needs are, what your goals are and how you can accomplish a task can help you realize your limits. Taking on challenges and experiencing stress can also increase awareness of limits. Many people find different situations trigger emotions that are extremely difficult for them to control. In these moments, they don’t have the skill set to overcome the trigger and they fall back on whatever gives them comfort. Having the ability to identify these limits, know what triggers emotions, and find the resources to make the right choice can make living a healthy lifestyle possible.
Denial is a very real state of mind that is actually a function of our primitive brain. This primitive brain is responsible for survival so it is very difficult to change. Often those that are headed toward rock bottom can experience moments of denial.
Refusing to acknowledge that something is wrong is a way of coping with emotional conflict, stress, painful thoughts, threatening information and anxiety. You can be in denial about anything that makes you feel vulnerable or threatens your sense of control, such as an illness, addiction, financial problems or relationship conflicts. You can be in denial about something happening to you or to someone else.
When you’re in denial, you: Refuse to acknowledge a stressful problem or situation, avoid facing the facts of the situation and minimize the consequences of the situation.
Mayo Clinic – Denial : When it helps, when it hurts
A healthy habit of honest self evaluation can help young adults to avoid having “rock bottom” moments. Using this checklist as a guide, find some quiet time away from other distractions to evaluate your current road in life.
- Am I happy?
- What things make you feel joy?
- What times in your life have you been the happiest?
- What people have helped or supported you in the past?
- How can you build those healthy relationships?
- What do I want from life? (Family, career, goals)
- Where do I see myself in 5 years?
If you answer these questions honestly, you may find that a change needs to be made. Being honest with yourself may be hard! It’s ok to admit that you need help. With the right support, there are many skills that can be taught to increase your ability to have a healthy and balanced life. Even if you think help isn’t needed, take a second look. You don’t have to go it alone. Seeking help for a short period of time to validate your decisions can help build the confidence that is needed to ensure a healthy life style is possible. Don’t give up before you begin!
Using mindfulness tools and conducting periodic self evaluations is a great habit to entertain. Meditation has proven to provide clarity and great health benefits for the brain. Even 20 minutes of silent reflection can make a in brain health. Add a mindful approach to every day and keeping healthy habits a priority.
Everyone Deserves Happiness
You are not the exception. You can have a happy and successful life, it is not necessary for you to suffer through hard times on your own. The stigma around mental health conditions can be replaced by education. Just because you can put a name to how you feel, doesn’t make you less of a person. Being able to explain why you react a certain way around different triggers can help you find solutions. Many people find a sense of relief in gaining a diagnosis and putting a label on what they feel.
Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel has a phrase for the process of identifying emotions. In a YouTube video, he explains how the brain reacts to the mindful approach of identifying feelings. By learning to use your left brain, the logical side, to identify what your right brain is telling you that you feel, you can actually trigger a physiological process that calms those emotions. Simply put, if you can name it, you can tame it.
“Let’s say your daughter falls down and scrapes her knee. One way you can understand what happens there is inside of her the pain from her knee is going to come up and register itself in the right side of her brain. The feeling of shock and surprise and humiliation will be in the right side of her brain. And yet for her to make sense of what happened she’s got to use the left [side of her brain] and link it to the right. So here’s a way you can do that.
You say to your daughter, “Wow, I really see what happened that was really scary because you were running along, you were so excited to see your grandma, you didn’t know there was a broom in your way because you were looking at her and then you tripped and that was really a shock. And you felt really, really bad. And now your knee really hurts.”
Those moments are ways of teaching her to name the inner experience that she was just having of shock, of pain, and when you do that the brain uses process called ‘name-it-to-tame-it’ where when the left hemisphere [of the brain] names what’s going on in the right the whole system calms down.”
Kids In The House – How Storytelling Connects Both Sides of The Brain
Learning about ourselves, finding what makes us happy, achieving our goals, we can focus on positive aspects of life and encourage the right choices. But at the end of the day, if you don’t have the right support – there is absolutely no shame in looking for help. Making a quick phone call or checking into a therapeutic treatment center, whatever provides you with the support to be successful, take those steps. Don’t waste time being unhappy. Don’t get to the point where you have hit rock bottom. Learn more about yourself and find the right support to give you the right skills for a healthy life.
Treatment programs like the ones offered at New Roads Behavioral Health are designed for a variety of people. Our team is trained in many therapies and we’ve seen people from all over the country in a variety of situations. There is help for you. Don’t hit “rock bottom” before deciding to reach out. There is hope and we can help: 888-358-8998.