JK Rowling, author of the world-famous Harry Potter saga once said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” It is hard to imagine a world in which Harry Potter, his magical school Hogwarts, and his friends weren’t well known. The Star Wars of a new generation, the books, movies, theme parks, and endless merchandise are recognized worldwide. Before JK Rowling amassed a fortune greater than the Queen of England, she was at a rock bottom point in her life. Inconceivably, the Harry Potter synopsis was rejected by publishers twelve different times. Not only was the series rejected, Rowling was a single mother struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, and a financial low point in her life, without a job. Her now beloved characters, storylines, and magical worlds were written on cafe napkins. Six years went by before a British publisher picked up her book and within three days, an American publisher made a six-figure bid for the rights.
The low-point of Rowling’s life was a series of circumstances in and out of her control. According to her, in a Harvard University commencement speech in 2008, “By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.” Feeling like a “failure” at a rock-bottom low point in life is something that so many of us can identify with, especially if we’ve lived with, or are currently living with alcoholism, addiction, or other mental health struggles. At the lowest point in our lives, we might find ourselves depressed, jobless, homeless, without family or friends, and alone. We’ve reached what we consider to be the lowest of the low in our lives by comparison to what we believe to be “success” or “happiness” in other people. We’re addicted, we’re stuck in a cycle we can’t get out of, we feel feelings we can’t change- whatever it is that is driving us downward, we feel incapable of changing it.
We are capable of changing it. When we’re talking about mental illness, the power to change is in our hands. All we have to do is refuse to keep digging that rock bottom deeper and instead turn our efforts toward digging ourselves out. Unfortunately, sometimes, that can be easier said than done.
In the rooms of recovery support group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous, you’ll hear talk of “rock bottom” and the many ways people found themselves there. Rock bottom is different for every person, just as is how long they stay there, how they get out, how they return, and how much worse it gets. Especially for those recovering from addiction, of any kind, and alcoholism you’ll hear that it can, and it many times does, get much worse. Rock bottom, they say, always comes with a shovel.
Problematically, there is a myth of rock bottom which is pervasive in the world of recovery and perpetuates the idea that “things” have to get as bad as they can possibly be before someone is willing” to recover. Meaning to say that it is only until someone hits their ultimate rock bottom, that they are struck with the awareness necessary to decide to make real change. Drug and alcohol addiction, specifically, make this a dangerous myth because rock bottom always has the luring threat of a final and fatal detour by way of overdose or accidental/injurious death. Non-substance mental health issues have a tragic potential as well by way of suicide attempts. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. Your life is worth living. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The reason we need to call rock bottom a myth is because we need to have a global understanding that efforts toward recovery can start absolutely anytime. Anecdotally, we consistently hear stories of how “it has to get worse before it get better”, however, we also hear that sometimes when “it” gets bad, that’s bad enough to make a change. According to estimations from the CDC, 72,000 people lost their lives to opioid overdose in 2017, a nearly 20,000 person increase from 2015. On a national scale, opioid addiction alone has become “bad enough” and with the numbers of lives lost to one particular substance addiction alone increasing every year, we simply cannot afford to push the myth forward that “it” has to get worse, before it gets better. We cannot afford to let people think that it has to get as bad as it can possibly get before real change, life-changing change, can take place. Seeing this truth, or coming to believe this truth as someone who is suffering, is a challenge. What’s often times needed is a wake up call.
Our loved ones don’t have to find themselves at the bottom-most point of their lives, with or without a shovel, before we intervene and hope to give them a wake up call that their current level of suffering is suffering enough.
Interventions come in many different shapes and forms, but not one style of intervention is the right fit for everyone. When planning an intervention, it is critical that an interventionist take the time to learn about your loved one, your family, and every piece of information necessary to provide the “wake up call” necessary to a loved one needing help. Our best hope in staging an intervention is that our struggling loved ones will realize the extent of their suffering already and choose to refuse digging any deeper. They will see that they are neither too far gone nor are they not far gone enough to need treatment, support, and recovery in any capacity. The right intervention planning will include treatment placement or planning, coordination for a Safe Passage transportation, and the foresight to enact Monitoring Services long-term, to ensure that rock bottom need never be visited again.
Mental health struggles of any kind can cause delusions of grandeur in many ways. Along the journey of recovery, it is easy for our loved ones to find themselves working backwards, repeating old behaviors, or telling themselves “I’ve got it from here”. Ongoing accountability and support is critical for building a foundation upon which life can begin, grow, flourish, and in which our loved ones can ultimately thrive.
Hired Power knows what it takes to stay sober and maintain recovery. Our recovery services are designed with two key goals in mind: to help you stay on the path of recovery and make sure that you can bring recovery home. With a team of experienced professionals with unmatched passions, you can feel secure knowing you’re never alone. We’re here to stand by you.
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“I don’t look at you (Hired Power) as hiring a service, I look at you as saving my life.” (referring to his ability to stay sober after returning home).