Amy’s Story: From Refusing to Feel to Living a Life of True Happiness | All Points North

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Amy’s Story: From Refusing to Feel to Living a Life of True Happiness

Written by Samantha Carter

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that reflecting on the hard things makes us miserable. Therefore, why do it? Still, these thoughts and feelings continue to rise up, begging to be seen and heard. If we don’t address them, we often find other ways to silence the noise through drugs, alcohol, or negative coping mechanisms.

The same was true for Amy. While she spent most of her life avoiding the hard stuff, it was the one thing she needed to do in order to change her life for the better. After spending nearly 4.5 months in treatment at APN, Amy opens up about some pretty powerful lessons learned in her podcast episode, I Thought Being Happy Was Impossible: Recovery x Amy. To learn more about her healing journey, check out the full podcast episode or continue reading the article below.

Seeking Treatment at APN

Coming to APN wasn’t Amy’s first rodeo. In fact, she’d been in and out of rehab programs for years without much to show for it.

“I came here because I was having terrible emotional issues,” Amy said. “I was drinking and I had been to three other treatment centers in about a three-year period. It just wasn’t giving me what I needed so I started looking for a treatment center that really focused on trauma. I just felt that was something that was really missing in my recovery [and that’s when] I found APN.”

Amy had been grinding the same gears for so long that she knew it was time to do things differently.

“For me, a lot of my life has been experiences on top of experiences that I wasn’t recognizing, wasn’t dealing with, and didn’t think were worth acknowledging,” Amy said. “I kind of stuffed everything down and I definitely came to a tipping point where my mental health got really bad. I started drinking a lot [and] I just didn’t want to feel.”

Even though Amy was a wife and mom to four children, she got to a point where she had to prioritize her healing above all else.

“I just felt like there was no other option,” Amy said. “There was no place for me at home. You know, I wasn’t being a functional member.”

After an extensive online search for an addiction treatment facility that focused on trauma, Amy was pleasantly surprised by the depth of this level of treatment at APN.

“I just thought [trauma] was one area that I hadn’t really touched so I was like, okay, let’s let’s try this. Let’s go in this direction,” Amy said. “I think that APN is certainly on the forefront of helping people with their trauma recovery from substance abuse [to] mental health [and everything in between].”

It Takes What It Takes

Oftentimes people in active addiction or mental distress hold an assumption that the duration of a treatment facility (usually 30 days or less) is what it takes to heal. However, Amy had to learn the hard way that it’s not always that simple.

“I think that when I go to treatment it takes me a few weeks to get comfortable and to get my head in a good space to really take in the therapy, get to know the therapists, and all the people around me [to] have some trust” Amy said.

Having been to multiple facilities in the past without long term success, Amy was beginning to realize she would have to dig a little deeper than checking off another 30-day treatment from her to-do list.

“You know, when I first started going to treatment I would go for 30 days and [after that] I thought, I’m going home. Everything’s gonna be good. You know? Nothing could be further from the truth,” Amy said. “When I came [to APN for] the first time I thought, you know, I’m going to stay for a while. I’ll stay for months if I have to … I mean it takes what it takes.”

Opening Up About Therapy and the Struggle to Surrender

Armed with this new motivation, Amy began immersing herself in the therapeutic experience at APN.

“I think the therapy here is amazing,” Amy said. “I had an incredible therapist, [Michael]. He did my group every day in the morning for two hours. You’re with these people the whole way through and you get to know each other and it’s an incredible experience. I know more about these people than I’ll ever know about other people in my entire life and [now] they’re my good friends. [I learned that] people come to treatment for different reasons … but when [we’re] here [we’re] all the same.”

Even though Amy found herself blown away by some of the comradery she was experiencing in her group therapy sessions, she also struggled to fully surrender to the process during her first stay at APN.

“So, the first time I was here [I struggled to fully immerse myself in the activities],” Amy said. “[We had] different classes – DBT, CBT, art, yoga – and for a lot of that I didn’t have a good headspace for it. Emotionally, I don’t think I was ready for what that could do for me. I was still kind of pushing away a lot in my mind. So, although I was learning a lot, I wasn’t practicing a lot. [Then], I started really getting into my therapy and feeling a lot and being very emotional for weeks for the first time in my life. [It was] almost like an overload–you know tears for hours. [So], towards the end I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I gotta go home.’ And I literally bought my ticket and went home the next day because I thought I [couldn’t] do it anymore. I was exhausted.”

Coming Back to APN and Realizing She Had a Story

While Amy initially took the easy way out – doing anything she could to escape the intensity of her pain – it would soon prove to be the harder path.

“At the same time [that I left APN that first time], I knew [this hard work was] kind of where the recovery really begins,” Amy said. “My biggest problem this whole time was I never wanted to sit in my pain. I wanted to run away, and I did. It hurt. I ran away all the time. So, I went home for a while, and I knew I wasn’t fully home. I kind of had one foot here, one foot there. Then in June I just realized I [had] to go back.”

No longer choosing to run from her pain, Amy was finally ready to dig deeper.

“That second time I came back I remember going through those doors [at APN] and [feeling] like I was just skinned,” Amy said. “I felt like I had nothing left. I was ready to be completely vulnerable, just completely see-through with everybody.”

In the process of being so vulnerable and brave, Amy discovered who she truly was.

“That was the first time I realized I had a story,” Amy said. “Because you go to these treatment centers or any therapist and they say, ‘tell me your story.’ I would always say, ‘I don’t have a story.’ I couldn’t even put pen to paper with it. And then that second stay I realized I had a story. And then I had to start addressing the hard parts of the story which is exactly what I didn’t want to do. That was very, very hard and took weeks of emotional pain I had to sit through. I couldn’t have done it anywhere else [other than APN [where I felt] so safe [and] supported.”

Learning and Embracing New Tools

As Amy got further into her healing journey, she began to pick up new tools to help her in her recovery, tools she was previously resistant to.

“Towards the end of [my second stay with APN] I started doing yoga,” Amy said. “I could not do yoga before. I shared this with my therapist. I said, ‘I can’t do yoga because when I take a deep breath I start to feel pain. For some reason that’s where my pain [was]. [But] I got to the point where I could do yoga and I could take that deep breath.”

These weren’t the only changes Amy was starting to notice.

“I started to do art where before I couldn’t do art because I thought I’m terrible at art. Then I realized I don’t care if I’m terrible. I still want to do art. It’s relaxing. It’s fun. Towards the end of my final stay here I finally started to get things. We talked about codependence, being healthy, filling up your time, exercising, connecting with nature, reading, staying in touch with your friends, community. I just I started really getting it, and I think in order for me to get it I had to go through the storm [first].”

Back to the Real World

With everything Amy learned, it would soon be time to return to the “real world” and apply the teachings in a more organic environment.

“You’re definitely in a bubble when you’re in treatment,” Amy said. “I think most people would agree that going out into the world can be a little shocking, especially those first few days to that first week. It’s also kind of sad because you [leave] your dearest friends and your therapist and everything. I think that’s really hard. [But I was amazed by] how much of what I learned here became second nature.”

At first, Amy thought that implementing the new skills she learned would be hard. However, she soon found out how much these activities helped fuel her recovery work.

“I think starting my day with exercise is so important,” Amy said. “I wake up [and] I know that’s going to happen really soon and that clears my head. I need to keep my head clear because that hamster can get going and that is what gets me into trouble. Exercise, you know, meditation certainly, and yoga is a part of that. [I’m able to] focus on what I’m doing but I’m not thinking about my problems or anything else. I’m present [and that] has become second nature.”

Giving Back and Helping Others

Now that Amy has finally found a good rhythm for herself, she feels committed to helping others feel similarly.

“I’m so passionate about this world [of trauma recovery],” Amy said. “I’m [now] able to help other people [who are] struggling. A couple months ago I flew to help a friend get back into treatment and I was so honored that they asked me to do that.”

Even though she’s dedicated to helping others now, Amy wasn’t always sure that’s a role she wanted to play.

“Raising four children for a number of years [with] my fourth going off to college, I was kind of thinking, gosh, I don’t really want to take care of people anymore. [Then], I came to the realization, that is what I do. [So now, I remain] very passionate about helping people and giving [back]. I think [it just brings me] so much relief [to know] there’s one less person suffering in the world. To say it’s rewarding I don’t think does it justice.”

As Amy continues forward in her recovery, service remains a huge part of her personal journey.

“It’s been an incredible journey, really incredible,” Amy said. “Almost every day I think, how can I help more people? Because not everybody has access and I think that people [who] are struggling just don’t know where to turn.”

Reflecting on APN and Happiness

In speaking to others who are just in the beginning stages of their recovery or perhaps haven’t even started, Amy has a powerful message to share.

“You know, I can still remember the first time I came [to APN] walking through those doors,” Amy said. “It was like walking into a warm hug. I just left the world outside and [instinctively knew], I am safe; I am supported; I [am] ready to do what I [need] to do.

Now, something Amy previously thought was so far out of reach is finally a part of her world.

“Through the grace of God, I am here,” Amy said. “I am happy and healthy. That was another [reason why I initially put off sobriety and trauma healing work]. I thought, I don’t know if I’ll be happy [without alcohol], but happiness is what you get.

Not only did Amy feel the grace of a higher power, but she also felt it at APN.

“I feel there’s so much grace here in all of the groups, the therapists, and the clients. When I walked in my process group I was like, okay, you know there’s grace in this room. You can feel it.

After 4.5 months at APN, Amy can finally live her life in a sustainable and healthy way. Now, she gives back to others and feels a sense of pride over the hard work she’s accomplished.

If you’re interested in learning more about All Points North and their addiction and recovery programs, submit our confidential contact form or call us at 855.934.1178 today. You never know how good your life can get until you let yourself feel the things that are hard.

More From Amy

Listen and watch Amy’s episode of Recovery x APN below, and find more episodes on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.