Feelings Mental Health Recovery

Getting Overwhelmed: Knowing Your Limits and the Limits of Others

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As teachers, therapists and facilitators, we have to become aware of our own edge: knowing when we are getting overwhelmed, knowing when those in our charge are feeling overwhelmed, and knowing when we need to step back ourselves or facilitate that same process of backing off in someone else. Working with the addiction and mental health population means coming to a place of deep understanding and awareness of the subtle shifts of emotional temperatures that can occur in any given situation. The process of helping others and working with others isn’t about feeding our own egos so we can feel superior, but rather facilitating and creating a safe container for those in crisis and helping them find the willingness to take a chance at finding their own edge (trying something new and finding that sense of coming close to but not being overwhelmed) and broadening their comfort zones.


There are many ways in which we can recognize when someone may need to back off, or work on getting grounded. As part of a treatment team, we have to be aware of each client’s needs and these are some of the key signs we look for as well as some of the key tools we need to have in our toolboxes:


  1.  Look for any change in a person’s baseline behavior. Some people will talk more, and some will talk less. It’s as though some are stuck in the “on” position and some on the “off” position.
  2. Some people shut down. Are they isolating? Are they crumpled up in a ball?
  3. Actively listen to what someone is saying. If someone shares his or her difficulty, take heed, are you really listening?
  4. Know who is actually working with their edge and know what their resources are. Can they self-regulate? Do they have their resourcing (their calming tools) readily available?
  5. Facilitate time-outs. Let people know that it’s okay to take breaks from a situation that is making them feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, showing someone what a time-out looks like by mirroring it, helps illustrate its safety.



While we certainly want to push our clients and ourselves to explore and expand emotional and physical limitations, it’s extremely important we provide a safe container in which this can become possible. We are empowered to show others how to orient themselves in new situations, find their grounding, and self-regulate when they begin to feel themselves slip of out of control. We are also empowered with the loving arm of compassion and service which allows us to show someone how to ask for help and accept that help when it is offered. To teach, treat, and to care for others is a gift and an honor.


Adolescence Recovery School Self-Care

It’s Cool to Go Back to School: Sober

As summer fades, we begin to feel the pull of school and all that it entails. Walking into any store right now will confirm this, hook, line and sinker. Target has their entire back section stocked to the brim with back to school supplies. Seriously. It’s happening right now and we can’t avoid it. It’s time to wipe the sand from beneath our feet and get ready to rock our backpacks once again.

Often, the dilemma for those who got sober or stayed sober through the summer break is this:  How do we navigate going back to school without getting sucked into the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol, or stress and anxiety, or all of the above? Is it even plausible to keep our old friends or is moving on safer? Will we still be hip or cool now that the crutch of a bottle or a pocket full of pills has been removed? For some, yes, it’s possible to go back into those spaces without falling down, for others, perhaps not. The answers to these questions are really contingent on the individual. Just as addiction and mental health don’t fit into a one-size-fits-all category, neither does recovery. There are definitely some suggestions that might help you find the way to your own answers and help you get back to school using a safe, sober strategy.

  • Make sure you are going to meetings. Now, more than ever, you will need the security and support of a recovery community.
  • Do you have a sponsor? If not, get one, stat. If you do have one, make sure you continue to work with him or her and continue to check in on a regular basis.
  • Ask your school advisor or counselor if there are any sober clubs or groups at your school. You are more than likely not alone in your recovery.
  • If there isn’t a sober group or club at school, start one!
  • Make new friends. Some of your old ones may, in fact, have to go. It’s for the best anyway. You are on a new path now.
  • Stay connected. There’s nothing worse than finding oneself in a situation where you feel emotionally alone and unsupported.
  • Ask for help–no matter what. It is not a sign of strength to suck it up; it’s a sign of strength to ask for help. (Took me forever to “get” this one!)
  • Get excited about school and about learning in general. You are feeding your brain, after all.
  • Make school your full-time job, in other words, give it 100% of your energy.
  • Keep your sobriety your priority and make school your driving force.

Don’t forget to have fun! Life is so much better when you have a sense of humor.

Alumni Events

Annual Alumni Event

Once again, we’ve happened upon that time of year for some organized, sober fun at our annual Alumni Weekend! In addition to the standard softball game that everyone invariably loves, there are a slew of other happenings ready for the taking. Haven’t RSVP’d yet? You still have time! The event is sure to be a blast for the entire family!

Aside from the planned activities, this weekend also proves to be a great time for reconnecting with alumni you haven’t seen in a while. It’s also an opportunity to discover how much fun you can have without the hindrance of drugs and alcohol. There was once a time when a party meant getting the various mind-altering accouterments “necessary” to have fun, only to find that the party wasn’t as full of jocular camaraderie as anticipated, mostly because you were too high to remember. Things are much different now.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our difficulties in relation to recovery, we forget how much fun we can actually have. As we begin to walk to the path of rediscovery as sober beings, we have a chance to experience life in a new, more conscious way. Sober, we relearn how to dance in the waves at the beach, explore our wonderful mountain ranges, ride bikes, swim, laugh with abandon, play softball, or just hang out with friends. We discover that  having fun is not only possible, it’s necessary. In my own sobriety, I’ve found that learning to laugh in the face of adversity is far more beneficial than succumbing to the self-deprecating call to numb out. To be honest, I’ve had more fun sober than I ever had using–I laugh more, and I experience life as a fully engaged human being.
So, dust off your sense of humor and free-spirited nature and come hang out with some old (and new) friends this weekend. There will be meetings, bowling, dinners, and of course, the now infamous softball game. What’s not to love, eh? Plus, the competition on Sunday will be fierce, with staff gunning to win their title back!
**You can RSVP by emailing: or calling 818-889-3665**
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