Recovery is absolutely a team sport. Not only do you need to recruit the best players, but you need to train them, too.
I suck at sports. I’m neither proud nor ashamed to admit it. It is simply a fact: I am not the athletic type. I am, however, the organized type. I recognize the power and enjoy the process of creating and perfecting a plan, sticking to it, and recruiting qualified individuals to assist in implementing that plan.
In short, while I’ve never worn a jersey with my name on the back, I do recognize the power of teamwork. That said, I haven’t always been the best at it. Given the option of doing a group or solo homework assignment in school, I nearly always chose the latter.
I prefer to work alone and, as a writer, most of the time I do. But I’ve never worked entirely alone, because I can’t. None of us can—at least not if we expect to be successful. I’ve worked with many people throughout my career—agents, editors, publishers, producers, and others—and were it not for them, I wouldn’t have a career.
In many ways, recovery is its own profession, and it requires just as much diligence, resilience, and teamwork as any worthwhile career path. At certain times in my life, recovery has had to become my full-time job. Some people label such stints with terms like “unemployment” and “disability,” but for those of us living with serious psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, we know that recovery can be the toughest job in the world. And despite the fact that no one is handing us degrees or stacks of cash, we deserve some credit for it.
I have worked harder at my recovery than I ever did in law school and graduate school combined. Over the years, I’ve worked as a restaurant server, jewelry store clerk, barista, fudge confectioner, gift shop attendant, estate lawyer, and now, writer. While each of these positions has presented its own unique challenges, not one of them has been half as challenging as my recovery.
And the single factor most responsible for helping me evolve from full-time recovery to full-time writing to full-time living again hasn’t been my personal perseverance or my personal anything—it has been my team.
While I’ve never worn a jersey with my name on the back, I do recognize the power of teamwork.
Soon after being diagnosed with bipolar I, I learned that recovery is absolutely a team sport. Not only do you need to recruit the best players, but you need to train them.
The only exception to that rule for me was my number-one overall draft pick, Who was already in the know about everything—Omniscient, in fact—and fully trained on all matters. Most Gracious and Most Merciful, the Creator is the glue that holds my team together. And thank God for good psychiatrists, because I finally found one of those as well.
After years of scouting in two separate states, I recruited a top-notch psychiatrist I trust, who does—and prefers to do—psychotherapy in conjunction with medication management. While he was exquisitely trained when it came to psychiatry, he had no training when it came to me. That took time. But working together, we’ve formed a partnership, and it works. He is my star offensive player.
Unlike my psychiatrist, my husband had already been recruited to my team long before I was finally diagnosed with bp. While he was exquisitely trained when it came to me, he had no training when it came to psychiatry. Thankfully, he is an avid reader and an attentive partner, and as a result, he has become and remains my first line of defense with respect to spotting the initial signs of mania or depression. He is my star defensive player.
The rest of my team is made up of my parents, my sister, about a dozen tried-and-true friends, and two cats. They all play different roles in my recovery, but they are all part of my team, and they know it (with the exception of the cats, of course, though I suspect they know more than they let on).
Recognizing that I have this treasured team ready to step into action whenever necessary—and that I don’t need to train or educate any of them mid-game—gives me an enormous sense of relief and a newfound appreciation for teamwork.
I would walk through fire for my team, but thanks to them, I don’t have to.
Printed as “Flight Of Ideas: Recovery Is a Team Sport,” Summer 2017
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