“Be Scared and Do it Anyway!” by Sara Bown
I am somewhat ashamed to admit that when the pandemic was first declared I thought, “Here we go again,” and largely thought it was “just another flu”. I can also say that my thoughts have changed! At the time, I was working for a General and Thoracic Surgeon here in Windsor, and when HE stopped coming in and cut the office hours down to once a week and phone follow-ups, I started to pay attention!
I have spent most of my 40 years here on earth running away from myself, and when the government said that I had no choice but to stay home with me, myself and I, as long as we were all from the same household, I was petrified. I was about 18 months into a good solid recovery from alcohol addiction and I thought, what I am going to do without seeing people that care about me, going to support meetings and distracting myself with friends. I was terrified of relapsing without my caring support network, and my disease was happy to start talking to me about it too. I had already lost my dream job, my marriage, my friends and my family and was now well on my way out of the pits of my own personal hell, I knew I could never go back there so I had to arrest my fears and do whatever it took to stay safe and well. Enter Zoom and online supports…
When it was first suggested to me that I start attending online support meetings, I thought there was NO WAY I was going to sit on camera looking at myself for an hour, but my fear of relapse quickly crept in and it was do or die time. Fear ruled my life for as long as I can remember, fear of everything! I could now let go and be free to be my authentic self. I felt held back my whole life, but I was the one that put those barriers in front of me. I have learned now that when I feel fear – fear of ridicule or rejection or joining an online support meeting with strangers– I just need to do it anyways. So when faced with the opportunity to find support online, I jumped into action and I started up a weekly meeting and spread the word, along with a few of my friends, and it has evolved into the Windsor Essex daily online recovery meetings: Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Rise!
With the support I receive through this online group, my life today is much more meaningful. I have learned that there is very little purpose in my life for the guilt and shame and fear of my past now. It only serves to hold me back and cause pain. I now have a wonderful meaningful job and feel like I am nowhere near back to my old self, but in fact light years beyond what I could have ever imagined. Where there is a will to live there is always a way!
Because of how much online support during this pandemic has meant to me in my recovery journey, I am inspired by the work being done to support our local caregivers through an online format as part of the Caring for the Caregiver project. The Caring for the Caregiver virtual conference is taking place this October 16th and 23rd, with a focus on providing education, promoting wellness, and supporting caregivers to connect online and share their experiences. Supporting caregivers of people with mental illness and addiction is vital and it is a group that is often overlooked and underappreciated! I’m living proof that receiving support from peers online is life changing and I have never been happier.
About Sara Bown
Sara Bown is a team member working within HDGH’s as a Mental Health & Addictions Secretary. In her free time, she enjoys spending as much time as possible with her step daughter and Grandson. She loves to cook for her friends and loved ones, try new coffees and talk recovery. Spreading hope is now her passion. The Downtown Farmers market has been a favorite since the Pandemic started and consequently extended its season. Supporting local has become important to her, now that she has her own small business at home too! She just really enjoys the freedom from addiction and spreading hope to others who need it. Breaking the barriers and stigma are important these days to her as the disease of addiction continues to increase. “There is so much hope out there if you are willing to break down those walls and open your heart to the possibilities!”