As Ramadan 2021 waves us goodbye and Eid al-Fitr approaches us with warm greetings, many anticipate its arrival with open arms, as they seek to delve into the festivities that lay ahead. However, not everyone shares this sense of anticipation for the upcoming holidays. Given that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, there is a hidden suffering, an unfelt sense of dread and anxiety that not many perhaps can sense, or let alone, relate to. This is for those who feel alone, for those who yearn for a feeling of camaraderie, who need to know others too have walked in their shoes, and still do. Below are a few thoughts shared by recovering addicts where they elaborate on their fears, as well as their triumphant battles over staying sober throughout all seasons and occasions of the year. In this case, regarding Eid al-Fitr. Remember that pain shared is pain lessened, and joy shared is joy doubled.
Why and how do special occasions trigger your addiction?
“Holidays and special occasions have always been a triggering time for me, because it was the peak of my using, meaning I always used more than normal, even during my active addiction. Being around family members and feeling like I did not add up to any of them, always upped my using. Even if in reality the comparison was always in my head, and that no one actually said anything. I guess in hindsight now, it always peaked my usage because the mask that I used to wear that I’m a normal person, and that my life actually is as good as it looked on paper, was put to the test, and some part of me could not handle how much of an imposter I felt. So, like any self-respecting addict would do, I did not like how I felt, so I used more to change the fact that deep down, I knew I could never be normal, I could never feel happy, content, or any sort of comfort, without the effect of some substance in me.” – Sara
“Special occasions sometimes give me using thoughts, as I am surrounded with people who are usually drinking/using. That in itself is dangerous for any addict. Also, the simple fact that I am surrounded by many people makes me uneasy, which will usually end up with a using thought, with the fantasy of if I drink, I will fit in. Being comfortable around family and friends took sometime in recovery. Going through the process of accepting my family as they are was, and still, is a challenging process. But, at least I get to enjoy my time and have an experience that I can remember with them clean.” – Mokhtar
“A brief reminiscence would be – that’s what I always did on those specific occasions, celebrations and gatherings.
My brain was programmed to do that shit automatically! In early recovery, I’m still ignorant towards other things I can actually do apart from using. So my psyche is, just do it – or think about what you always did and do the best. Another act would be that on most of those occasions, I did not feel comfortable living, or even the thought going through it. You know – one too many people, not finding myself present, social anxiety whether with strangers, friends, and sometimes even family. So how did I cope with that? Boom – get into my C-zone! Thankfully that’s not the case nowadays. Hamdullah! I don’t even remember the last time I thought about using, which is bliss – thank God.” – Tarek
Eid, and any other festivity or occasion for that matter, need not be a dark storm we enter. Although recovery is a life long journey, one of perseverance, commitment, courage, and self-discovery, companionship and checking on one another have profound results, ones you may not even comprehend how vital they are. Let this be a month of understanding and a renewal of our empathetic nature.
WE SAID THIS: Happy Eid, and reach out if you can relate! Also, don’t miss…How Alcohol Addiction Affects Families