Failing at recovery

Written by: Dawn Gibson-Winder Recoverer

In this week's blog, I share my recovery journey with the Chrysalis Effect program. I write about what happens when our good habits slip and the importance of accepting our faults. I also look at the mindful practice of self-love, kindness and compassion.

I lie here on the sofa, finally able to rest while the kids are at school. I have to admit I’m feeling a little sorry for myself this week as I came down with a cold virus. Winter seems to have set in both outside my window and in my spirit.

My inner gremlin isn’t helping my state, I feel I am failing at recovery, it continually reminds me I am not good enough at maintaining my wellness program. It taunts me as I lie here thinking of what I would be doing right at that moment if I didn’t feel so under the weather. Trying to remind myself this is temporary, pushing out memories of my sofa-bound days of the past, remembering how far I’ve come.

‘Did you take your vitamins and the echinacea?’ My gremlin says.

‘No, I kept forgetting’. I reply to my inner critic.

‘Are you eating enough vegetables or drinking enough water? What about the eight hours of sleep?’ The critic keeps reminding me of all my failings. ‘I keep meaning to go to bed early, but…’

‘No excuses! You really need to look after yourself better.’ I’m reminded harshly.

‘Yes,’ I concede, there is so much more that I could have done to avoid this virus. This is the judgmental part of me that is always telling me it’s my fault and that I brought it on myself.

Like the old hangover days of my youth, I promise myself ‘Never again’.  I admit I fell off the ‘wellness wagon’ and I need to check myself into my own ‘self-care’ rehab. I start getting out my vitamins and supplements, print out recipes and start to review my program for maintaining a robust, healthy lifestyle.

It is time to stop attacking myself and treat my body with the care, compassion and respect it deserves.

I’m learning from the Chrysalis program to ‘dig deep’ so I need to work out how I got here. Why had I not followed through on my self-care plan? Why had I not stuck with my ‘promise’ which was to commit 110% to my recovery and wellness routine?


Looking back, digging deep

I had started to feel my old self, my energy had returned, and I had lost my debilitating brain fog, this meant I could get so much more done. I could catch up on all the jobs on my ‘to-do list’ and move forward. I had  ‘the buzz’, the high feeling from achieving, and it became difficult to stop even when my body was resisting, warning me to slow down.

This is all the stuff I had been learning on the Chrysalis program and had been warned about. I had done the classic thing and pushed myself too hard, too fast. I had been running on empty as the old habits returned. It was so frustrating, and disappointing, but this time I know will be different. I have the support of the program, and I know this is part of my recovery journey. I don’t have to suffer shame or self-loathing as I have in the past. I have new tools, I can pick myself up and take action.

Finally, I’m ready to let go of the guilt and my perfectionism and work on self-love. I first need to stop overthinking and do something to help get rid of the negative thoughts and beliefs. It is time to be kind to myself. It’s time to meditate.


Meditation time

I found a meditation that is easy and effective and works for me, called Loving Kindness Meditation. It is an ancient meditation that has originated from Buddhist traditions and has been scientifically proven to have amazing results.

It is a very simple practice but ever so powerful that helps to bring me back to myself. I listen to a short version which enables me to focus for a moment on the people I love. I’ve also taught it to my two young children, and we use it as a family bedtime ritual.

Sitting back, I put on my headphones, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths as I listen to the calm voice guiding me through the Loving Kindness meditation.

The teacher asks me to imagine someone I love deeply in detail and feel the connection, and then I am asked to repeat the following phrases slowly imagining the person is receiving the words.

May you be happy and at ease,

May you be safe and whole,

May you be at peace and free from suffering,

The teacher then guides me to send this love and kindness to myself.

May I be happy and at ease,

May I be safe and whole,

May I be at peace and free from suffering,

This meditation is an excellent way to take a moment to appreciate people we love, which we never usually get to do in the rush of daily life. But we also get to remember to be grateful and to send that same love to ourselves.

It’s amazing how even in those few short minutes, I am more calm, connected to life, and feeling less sorry for myself as I think of people I love. I take myself off the sofa, now I’m feeling a little more energy and make myself a cup of tea.

On the CE program, I’ve gained more understanding of why people with chronic fatigue-related conditions need to incorporate meditation into our daily lives. We need to deeply relax our bodies and minds to enable us to heal, the practice of meditation is vital. Like anything worthwhile, it takes dedication and practice! I found it more manageable when I realised that I could use various styles of meditations for my different moods or time of day. With just taking time to meditate, I feel so much better, it is a tool I can pick up wherever I am, and it can be just what is needed to press the reset button.

What type of meditation helps you to go back to self-care?


With huge thanks to Dawn for sharing her beautiful story with us.

The Chrysalis Effect


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