At the end of Mental Health Week I find myself wondering where I am up to on this mental health, alcohol and other drug journey? And I'm reminded that this path is not straight for me or for anyone else. Others on this journey will know that there are lots of stops and starts along the way. I'm reminded of my childhood days and the road our family travelled on to get to the beach. It took forever to get there (especially when our old car looked nothing like the one in this picture :-) and the roads were shocking. There were sealed roads at the beginning followed by ups and downs, sharp corners and gravel and dirt tracks until we hit the sand dunes. And when we finally reached the beautiful ocean and had a wonderful day swimming and eating a picnic lunch there was the long and tiring journey home and back to reality. But it was all worth it!
The mental health, alcohol and other drug journey feels a bit like this. As a family member, it begins at home with either a total lack of knowledge or understanding of the problem (how far is the beach?) or denial that it even exists. And as the journey progresses there is a growing sense that there's a really long way to go (ever hopeful of the destination of no mental health, alcohol or other drug problem). And, it's a really tiring and long journey where the destination of recovery (swimming in the ocean on a hot day) seems so far away with a sneaky thought that maybe we'll never get there, wherever there is and we might even drown? And then there's the moments of joy as we glimpse the ocean of recovery and hope (imagined and real). But here's the thing. The journey is long and hard. There are ups and down, twists and turns and stops and starts. But hang in there because the destination is worth it. And it's not going to be perfect. And won't even look like what we thought or maybe hoped for. But hang on to hope because change is possible. Look for and enjoy every small change in the person you love and the changes of acceptance within yourself. And remember, change takes time.