Though taking care of yourself is very important to your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, self-care is frequently overlooked. It is often because we are overwhelmed with long hours at work, with the demands of parenthood, or just with the general hustle and bustle of life. However, since the start of the COVID19 pandemic several months ago, and the isolation that comes with it, worry and uncertainty have increased, even in those who may not be naturally anxious, and this has led to a rise in mental health problems as well as physical ailments.
There are many signs of feeling stressed, including but not limited to: anxiety and/or depression; an increase or decrease in sleeping and eating habits; muscle tension; headaches; worsening of existing physical or mental health problems; and/or a rise in substance use. If you have any of these symptoms, please contact your local health care provider and consider trying new things to improve your general well-being.
Learning to deal with stress in positive ways has proven to increase overall happiness and health, and can help you become resilient when dealing with things out of your control. The good news is that there are some things you can control, such as how you respond to tough times.
Caring for You
Taking care of your physical well-being may include:
Eating well-balanced meals
Exercising regularly (consult a physician first if you have underlying health issues)
Developing a sleep routine
Avoiding or cutting back on substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
Getting outdoors to go for a walk or to get some sunlight
Keeping any medical and dental appointments
Taking care of your mental and emotional well-being may include:
Maintaining your hobbies and interests
Connecting with friends and family online or by social distancing
Reducing your use of social media and your exposure to the news
Finishing a good book
Talking to a healthcare professional, such as a therapist or physician
Taking a break to eat lunch or unwind if you’re working from home
Writing down your feelings in a journal
Driving around your community with the windows down to get fresh air and a change of scenery
In any case where you are feeling immediately suicidal, please get URGENT help by calling 911. If you are having severe negative thoughts, you should get in touch with your physician, therapist, or hospital to determine the best course of action. In any case, do not wait and do not assume this will fix itself. Help is out there.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these resources are also available to those in a serious crisis (please click on the blue links):
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522.
National Child Abuse Hotline: call 1-800-422-4453 or send a text to 1-800-422-4453.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: for mental and behavioral health services near you.
Psychology Today: A national online database of mental health related articles and of therapists listed by state.
Your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. It is hopeful that the spread of Covid19 will be contained or at least slowed with safety protocols in place, such as face mask wearing, social distancing, quarantining, and school closings, but these practices, along with rapidly changing data, uncertainty about the future, and the general lack of personal connections, can also come at a cost to our mental and emotional well-being. If you’ve ever considered adding some positive coping skills to improve your health, mood, and attitude, now would be the best time to do it! It is never too late to take a step in the right direction.
We Do Recover
My name is Karen. A wife of 32 years. A mom of two. A business owner. Possibly your child’s soccer coach or girl scout leader. A volunteer for many organizations. And I am an addict….
This will surprise many who know me. You? An addict? But you have a beautiful house, a loving family. You seem to be so successful? Newsflash – an addict does not always mean a homeless junkie you see on the streets. That guy with all the tattoos or the girl standing on the street corner. An addict is a person who needs to get outside themselves, hide their feelings, deal with life by putting a drug or drink in them to cope/to function.
My abuse didn’t begin until well after a bad car accident at 24 yrs. old that resulted in injuries that could not be treated. I was prescribed opioids for the constant pain. I took that fist pill and felt calm. Like I had a few beers without the hangover. I rarely took them. But always felt good when I did. Fast forward 13 years. I noticed extra energy when I took one. Company was coming, and I needed the energy. And that’s when my disease, which had been lying in wait decided to appear.
Addiction isn’t a disease some say. “You made a choice.”. You would be right. I chose to follow my doctor’s advice and treat my pain the only way the experts knew how. BUT, because I have the disease of addiction, I couldn’t stop at one or two. If I honestly look way back at my teenage/college years, I had trouble stopping drinking at times then. But all college kids drink, right? No big deal. Until it was.
I am one of the fortunate ones. I didn’t lose everything, and my active addiction only lasted a few years. But in those years, I lost my family’s trust, ruined our finances and missed most of the first few years of my daughter’s life. I left it up to my seven-year-old son to watch/feed his sister while I hid in my room from everyone. Fourteen years ago, my emotional pain was great enough, my life was ruined enough, that I decided to get help. Walking into the recovery center alone was the scariest day of my life. I didn’t know if I would be able to go home or would have to stay for 30 days. The thought of leaving my babies tore me to pieces. But I knew if I didn’t get help, I would lose them. Luckily, I was able to do outpatient with the suggestion of joining a 12-step fellowship. I went to that first meeting and felt like I was home. The love and support and hope filling that room was overpowering. These “junkies” and “crackheads” made me feel more love than I have ever felt in my 39 years.
I took suggestions, I listened. I learned that I wasn’t alone and that my brain is wired differently. That I think differently than “normal” people. And by working a program, I learned to love myself and accept myself for who I was. I discovered a peace and serenity I never had in my life before.
And then after about 6 years, I was “cured”. That’s what my disease told me. No more meetings, no more network. Eighteen months later, no more clean time. I still remember where I was when I picked up that one glass of wine. “Alcohol wasn’t part of my story”. Lie. “It’s never been a problem”. Lie. Oh, this disease is insidious. Very quickly, everything became a problem. Gone was the serenity I worked so hard for. Back to living life in a haze and hating myself more and more for it. And those same children that I ignored long ago and ignored again? They saved my life. They called me up on my crap.
I now have 3 ½ years free from active addiction. I did what I had been taught. I humbled myself and said, “I can’t do this alone”. I reached out. And thank God, several hands reached back.
Life is not a bowl of cherries. This past year has been the hardest of my life. I watched two family members slowly die. Helping to care for both. BUT I reached out. I was never alone. Someone was always there to be strong if I couldn’t be. Using is NOT a choice for me today. And I thank my Higher Power every day for that. I have witnessed several people dying from this disease in the past few years. My heart breaks as I now write this for a dear friend who buried her husband today as a direct result of the disease. (He was “normal” too.)
I write this in the hopes that someone will read this, relate and get the help they need. You don’t have to be miserable and hate yourself anymore. You CAN find that wonderful person inside of you. It’s not easy and takes A LOT of work sometimes. But it is so worth it! If my friend could see the devastation left behind, maybe he would have reached out a little harder. Because it’s not just you that you are hurting. RIP, MB.
*Please be aware that some policies, locations, programs, and contact information have changed due to COVID-19 protocols. Maryland's current orders by Governor Hogan are located here. *
Ashley Addiction Treatment: An inpatient treatment center that personalizes clinical programs based on individual need. Located in Havre De Grace, MD. Please visit here or call 800-799-4673 for information about online and in-person meeting services.
Celebrate Recovery: a local support group for those with addictive behaviors. Located in Bel Air, MD and Joppa, MD. *Online meetings are still available.*
Mt. Zion Church in Bel Air, MD: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, MD: Please register here to join.
(Postponed: The group is usually held at Mt. Zion Church at 5:45pm on Thursdays and at Mountain Christian Church at 6pm on Fridays.)
GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing): A local support group for those who have lost someone to addiction. Located in Bel Air, MD. *Online meetings are still available.*
Contact email@example.com for more information.
(Postponed: The group usually meets at 7pm on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at Mt. Zion Church in Bel Air, MD.)
The private national Facebook group is still available. Please visit here to ask to join.
The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center: A clinic that provides immediate care for mental health and addiction. Located in Bel Air, MD. Please visit here or call 410-874-0711 for information about online and in-person meeting services.
Loving An Addict: A local support group for family and friends of those in active addiction. *Online meetings are still available.*
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(Postponed: The group usually meets every Saturday at 7pm at Mt. Zion Church in Bel Air, MD.)
We serve locally but think globally. For counseling, or for addiction, substance abuse disorder, or mental illness treatment, please contact your area’s health department, county government, hospital, or law enforcement agency.
Rage Against Addiction Programs
Daughter's House: A local sober living house designed to assist women who are transitioning from substance abuse treatment. Click here to visit the Facebook page.
HALO (How to Live Without Our Addicted Loved One): An online grief support group. Click here to ask to join the private Facebook page.
RAA ABC (After Baby Care): A program that provides newborn-care items to mothers in recovery. Please send monetary donations to:
Rage Against Addiction (Rage ABC)
P.O. Box 1
Forest Hill, MD 21050
Rage Club: A program offered for children who are touched by substance abuse disorder. Click here for more information.
Rage Against Addiction Team
Wendy Beck Messner
Founder and Executive Director
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Recovery Coach and Daughter’s House Program Director
Family and Recovery Resources and Support
Rage Against Addiction
P.O. Box 1
Forest Hill, MD 21050