Monday morning is a stressful time for many people. Anxiety about work or a depressed mood are not beneficial for anybody but they can be dangerous relapse triggers for people in recovery from addiction.
One way to deal with the Monday blues is to confront it head-on and make a virtue of it. Michael Arnold is the director of alumni and recovery support services at Harmony Foundation. She has found an engaging way to help people in recovery snap out of any dark moods they may be experiencing.
In May, Michael started a podcast called “Monday State of Mind” to give the recovery community a positive start into the workweek. Her sheer boundless enthusiasm alone will cheer up your Monday—or any other day for that matter. “I know the good that happens when I choose to be consciously aware of my state of mind,” explained the woman known as the “Hurricane of Happiness” in episode one. An alumna of Harmony herself, Michael continues to use the tools that were given to her while she was there as a client.
The fuel behind “Monday State of Mind” is her intense desire to “recover out loud” and in the process help others in the same situation. “ At Harmony, I get to help alumni implement the foundation they learned into their daily lives and help show them how to continue to take their power back by creating and living lives that are filled with continuous growth, meaningful connection, service, gratitude, and so much more.”
“Monday State of Mind” means to tackle thought-provoking questions that relate to recovery and how to apply the answers into the daily life of listeners. Michael aims to challenge listeners to ask themselves whether their state of mind is helping them catapult their week forward, or whether it is harming their week.
And when things don’t go your way, you just have to deal with it—appropriately. The week leading up to episode nine reminded Michael to keep it authentic when she realized that her request for listener questions had resulted in zero replies. In typical Michael Arnold fashion, she turned that Monday disappointment around and made it the topic of the episode that followed four episodes about humility after all.
At first, she got anxious and started blaming herself for this “failure.” Destructive, self-defeating thoughts showed up: “Why are you even doing this podcast?” and “No one is listening!” Then her ego chimed in: “Michael, you can’t admit that no one submitted questions. Just make some up!” But she felt fairly uneasy about making things up—she didn’t want to be a fraud. Instead, Michael called a friend who put her straight: “Michael, this is your opportunity to really show what you have been talking about. Your topics are happening to you. You have a great opportunity to be humble to the world and talk about it.”
Michael realized that “in order to change your state of mind you have to make tough decisions to grow. You have to be prepared to be a little uncomfortable.” She understood that she can’t expect listeners to be transparent, truthful, and vulnerable if she is not prepared to be so herself. After all, nobody is perfect and you can’t beat the Monday blues by faking it.
Catch the podcast here: https://stage.harmonyfoundationinc.com/monday-state-of-mind/
Michael Arnold is the co-author of Drowning in Addiction: A Personal Guide to Recovery
Harmony Alumni Share In Their Own Words
The holidays mark a time end of year celebration but for people in recovery, however, the holidays can be more complicated emotionally warns The Recovery Book: “They are also a time when temptations to jump off the wagon seem to multiply.” Holiday stress can cause people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction to resume or intensify their substance misuse. The increased presence of alcoholic beverages during holiday celebrations can be a dangerous trigger. So, how can people in recovery avoid all that? Continue reading “Renewing the Holidays”
Addiction is a family disease. The Recovery Book advises family members of people in recovery that “Everyone in your family, as well as other people in your lives, has been affected by addiction in some way. Now you all need to work on getting your lives back to some kind of normal.”
Michael Arnold is a recovering alcoholic who now works as an alumni relations manager at the Harmony Foundation. In a recent Facebook Live with her twin sister, Michael and Casey talked about the impact Michael’s addiction and recovery had on their relationship. Both siblings demonstrated how important clear and honest communication is for the family dynamic.
Michael talked about the need to share with “brutal honesty what addiction can do to your family.” Casey talked about how hard it was for her to watch Michael decline in active addiction, realizing there was nothing she could do, that Michael had to save herself.
Michael recalls doing things to her family that “just weren’t nice.” Casey remembers all too well. Seven years ago Michael helped to put her twin sister briefly in jail—just to hurt her. Michael was in such a bad place that to hurt her sister made her feel better.
“I never thought I could be close with Michael again, never thought I could trust her again,” Casey said. But change can happen. Recovery can work miracles. “Michael has changed. She is not the person she was seven years ago,” Casey said. “She is not that selfish person that put me in jail. She’s working very hard at it every day.”
For desperate family members the trick is to be patient and supportive. “Don’t hammer people in recovery about all the mistakes they made in active addiction” all the time. “Show your love,” Casey said. “You need to have grace and patience with them. As family members you have to give them space to recover, the harder you are on them the worse it’s going to be.”
Appealing to people in the audience who have family members with addiction, Casey said, “You have to choose either to be there and support them or walk away. You can’t live in the middle and hold their past wrongdoings against them—that doesn’t help them recover. I have nothing but complete love for Michael now and I’m just so proud of her. It’s been a journey for both of us.”
Michael shared her side of that journey. Only “when I went through rehab did I get the tools to tell myself everyday to have that patience, to be so grateful that I’m sober. I have to know that my family will trust me; that they should realize that I’m a changed person but time is not on my side.”
It’s important to remember that recovery is a process. “I thought simply that Casey and I would be okay now that I’m sober. The relationship would be fine but it wasn’t,” Michael remembers. “Casey gave me that space for about a year to recover, but then she said ‘we need to talk about what happened’ so that we can move forward.”
Casey had to tell Michael what she had done to her and “she took it hard. I love you, I forgive you, but you have to earn the trust back.” That shook Michael, “but now our relationship is even stronger because you have to be able to open up about these things or they will simply fester.”
Making amends is an ongoing process for Michael now and Casey knows it. “Michael is ruthless and relentless about her recovery—she has even written a book about it. She is working hard every single day and that is all you can ask.”
You may recall the American Romantic Comedy “Failure to Launch” in 2006 that describes a 30-something man struggling to leave the nest. This concept isn’t foreign when describing young adults’ struggle with achieving the next milestone of independence: moving out of their parents’ house. Dr. Jean Twenge writes extensively on the trends of stagnation and delayed pursuit of independence in both the Millennial and iGen generations. But what can we do to support confidence and the pursuit of autonomy and freedom in our young adults?
An Uphill Battle
For many young adults, American society has given them expectations that they can do anything they want, be anything they want, follow their dreams, and thus, never settle for mediocre in their identity, career, or relationships. For the adult child, this becomes a rude awakening when facing competitive college admissions, fighting for quality jobs, and budgeting to live on their own with the rising cost of living. Dr. Twenge speaks extensively about the ways young adults are set up to fail—highlighting loneliness, a lack of self-esteem, and elevated anxiety and depression as some of the challenges of our 18-35-year-olds.
Recognizing that these challenges may lead to stagnation and loss of confidence, it is important to foster hope for these generations, both in themselves and the communities they cultivate that can help them achieve success. Below are some ideas for young adults to support their transition to independence from their parent’s home:
- Identify communities of support-By finding and strengthening connection to communities that feel like-minded and relatable, you can shift from family of origin focus to relating to others and developing other spheres of connection outside the home.
- Explore other’s experience-Knowing that you are not alone in how you feel and the struggles you face can make the transition less lonely and more hopeful by learning form other’s experience and strategizing your next move.
- Build confidence-Engage in self-discovery by identifying areas where you have strengths. Identify what’s most important to you through values exercises at Lifevaluesinventory.org and explore career strengths and direction at youscience.com.
- Positive reframes-Practicing your ability to rewrite negative thoughts or experiences can be a powerful tool in creating confidence and hope of independence. Reframing negative thoughts as temporary or your best effort can inspire movement and hope. To learn more, consider individual therapy where a professional can teach you these skills through Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or identify a gratitude practice that can shift negative thoughts daily.
Fostering hope and confidence is not exclusively the job of professionals. The support of parents can also be crucial to the confidence of a young adult. Here are some ideas for parents to encourage the exit from the nest:
- Support structure-parents’ ability to provide rules and expectations in the home can be an important incentive for young adults to exit and live on their own. When we think of the movie “Failure to Launch,” the parents made it too easy and convenient to stay in the home, thus stifling any urge in their son to leave. Structure can support expectations of a young adult’s transition from the house in a supportive way.
- Remain consistent-being consistent and true to your word as a parent is just as important now as it was when your young adult was a child. Predictability can support your young adult in building respect for your position in their exit from the home by identifying a timeline for your young adult to move towards independence and freedom.
- Provide encouragement-with change comes anxiety. Remember to be encouraging, positive, and reassuring towards your young adult that you are still a part of their lives and care about them as they make this transition. This will allow them to feel comfort rather than anxiety or grief at the loss of daily contact and connection offered in your household.
In whatever ways one accesses the confidence to pursue independence, knowing there are loving, caring connections between the person and others is a vital component of their success. There is no rule book for how to move from failure to launch to thriving in freedom. In a generation that feels more lonely and anxious than ever, community connection and meaningful interactions can help. We can support the next generations in their success though encouragement and kindness, and in this effort, we all win.
“Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle, and best at the end.” ~Robin Sharma
Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.