Alisa’s Recovery Story: One Day at a Time, One Step at a Time
Alisa and Bentley
As a psychotherapist, I get the unique honor and privilege of experiencing another person’s inner world. Brave is the term that best fits when a client makes a decision to let another human being help them in such a personal and intimate way. I do not take this act of trust lightly. I can sense when they make the decision to trust. I validate the courage, the fear and assure them they are in the driver seat and I am along to assist them in the journey.
Many of my client seek me out for my Complex Pain Recovery® Services. Alisa was one who had hit her bottom. As you read her story you will experience the courage it took for her to first, ask for help and second, to accept the help. She was willing to open her heart and mind to a new way to be. She embraced a recovery mindset and began to live life one day at time. And as she affirms it is sometimes one step at time.
Five years later, Alisa has become a powerful woman in charge of her life. She has the psychological flexibility to create a life worth living, maintain inner peace, and to thrive. Thank you, Alisa, for sharing your story of recovery. It is an inspirational gift.
"My name is Alisa, and I live with chronic pain and chronic illness. Anastasia and the recovery lifestyle have helped me so much in the last 4 years, and I want to share my journey with you all.
My chronic pain started in 2010 (age 20), after driving overnight. I woke up from a nap the next day with blinding abdominal pain. I had had some weird digestive symptoms for a few years before this, including some sharp abdominal pain, but nothing like this. Doctors treated me for a hernia at first, but when that didn’t resolve the pain, I became a full-time patient to try and get a diagnosis for what was going on with me. I quit my job, dropped out of college, and moved to Europe, where my then-husband was stationed with the U.S. Army. After two and a half years of pain, building symptoms, and a million doctors’ appointments and tests, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Behcets while hospitalized. While the diagnosis made some things better, it did not help the chronic pain. I tried working several times, and I would end up exhausted and miserable and would end up having to quit; there were even times I would close my office door and cry in the middle of the work day because the pain was overwhelming. Other symptoms were popping up too, and most of them my doctors weren’t able to explain; others caused me to be diagnosed with more diseases and put on more medications. Emotionally it felt like I was being buried. Through all of it I just kept trying to push through, pull myself up by my bootstraps, and be productive despite my failing body. All of this led to me snapping in November of 2017 and almost attempting suicide; I called ended up calling 911 on myself. I was hospitalized at a local psychiatric hospital, and they were the ones to point me towards Anastasia and Chronic Pain Anonymous. In the four years since then, I have done a lot of sessions with Anastasia and have also been a part of her Chronic Pain Support Group. I am also a member of Chronic Pain Anonymous and I am currently working the 12 steps with a sponsor. Through this work, I have been able to restructure my life and the way that I think about my certain circumstances. Instead of beating myself up over how much I can do, I pace myself each day, knowing that I have limits but that I also need to do the more gentle things on the harder days. Instead of panicking when my pain gets bad twice a day, I use my toolkit of ways to make the pain better, and then I let the pain go and go back to what I was doing before the pain came on, putting my Higher Power in control of the pain instead of myself. Just letting it go and not letting myself get anxious about it helps it not spiral out of control like it used to. Instead of obsessing over a symptom or a problem with my body, thinking about and researching every little thing it could be, I let my doctors worry about it and focus on the fact that I am not 100% in control of the medical process, and that my higher power has my back and will get me the things I need to get through it. All of these things took years of baby steps to get into a routine of doing, and I am so glad that I did the work, and am continuing to do the work, one day at a time. I am just as sick as I was when I started this recovery journey in 2017, and in some ways my body is doing worse. However, mentally I am in a much better place. Before I met Anastasia I had one superior goal in life: to find inner peace, even just a few moments of it. Through my work with her I now have regular moments of inner peace, and I am still flabbergasted that I get to say that despite being disabled and in pain 24/7. Professionally I am able to keep a steadier schedule thanks to pacing, which has given me the chance to work again part-time without draining me of all my energy. My personal relationships are much more open and honest, which has created a much stronger connection between me and my loved ones without the pain getting in the way. Last, but definitely not least, I no longer feel worthless; I am proud of who I am, right here, right now. I am so grateful that my Higher Power brought me to Anastasia and that I am able to do this journey one day at a time, one step at a time. "