COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is all we all seem to be hearing about lately. I feel like I’m living in some sci-fi movie, or an alternate universe. Every day, more public spaces close down and offices urge working from home. I know this is what we need for the good of public health, but I’ve got to admit: As a person in recovery, the idea of being so removed from my community is a scary one. And I know I’m not the only person feeling this way.
I have been in recovery for 8.5 years. I am someone who needs routine and resists change. Sound familiar? Maybe you can relate. I crave following a schedule. I need structure, deadlines, and plenty of human contact. I am not good with unstructured time, too much time alone, and disruptions to my daily routine.
On most days I go to a recovery meeting in the morning, talk to my friends after the meeting, go to work either at home or in the office, and then wrap up the day with a walk or a visit to the gym, followed by something social or a church activity. Most days I see people, spend time with friends, talk to others in recovery, engage in some form of exercise, and usually attend a meeting or a worship service. I am someone who needs interactions, encouragement—hugs!
When I first heard about the virus, I was nervous about the prospect of having to self-quarantine. I hate being sick in bed because it removes me from my community, my routine—my hugs. The idea of being quarantined is my worst nightmare. Luckily, I haven’t had to be on complete lockdown, but I have not been commuting into my office in New York City, and all this work-from-home time is tough. I’ve been on video calls and conference calls, but there’s still an underlying feeling of disconnection, and with that comes my inevitable feelings of self-doubt. Good times!
I am currently working from my public library. It’s helpful to work from here and see people, but I fear the day is coming soon where libraries will close. With that comes my fear of recovery meetings, church, upcoming plays and concerts being canceled. I understand that this is needed to keep us all safe; it’s just emotionally difficult for me to comprehend.
Finally, and most importantly, I know that picking up a drink or a drug is not the answer to anything and would only make matters much worse. My sobriety is my most prized possession, the biggest gift that I have, and it allows me to have the beautiful, full life I have today. So I know that using is off the table completely. But, if you are struggling with your sobriety (many are and there is no shame in that), please do reach out to your therapist, doctor, or recovery community right away. You do not have to do this alone.
In order to get through this, I know I am going to have to talk myself down from a lot of fear and panic. I’m going to rely on the work I have done, the tools in my toolbox, and the strong friendships I have developed over the years. If ever there is a time to use all that I have gleaned over the past 8.5 years of recovery, it is now.
Stay close to your people (even if you have to give up the hugs), your recovery community, and your higher power if you believe in one. Recovery makes us strong. We can get through this!
Holly Jespersen is Shatterproof’s Senior Communications Manager.