Episode 1: There Is No One Right Way

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It’s National Recovery Month and the Start Healing Project is celebrating with stories of hope and resilience through recovery from substance use. In each episode, we’ll be asking our guests what recovery means to them, what life was like before recovery, and what life is like now.

This week we meet Molly, a new mom who loves music and helping others. She shares her history with opioid use disorder, mental health, and the variety of recovery treatments & tools she feels privileged to have tried.  Molly candidly discusses the stigma she faced during the birth of her daughter, and tells us the things that have given her hope and motivation to find and maintain recovery.

Resources Mentioned

This podcast is brought to you by Robin’s Hope in partnership with SAARA of Virginia and DBHDS’s Office of Recovery Services.

Episode Transcript

CHASTAIN: Welcome to the Start Healing Project, a podcast about hope and resilience and recovery. I am Chastain –

 

MOLLY: Hi, I’m Molly.

 

CHASTAIN: And we are here to talk about hope and resilience and recovery through substance use disorder to celebrate Recovery Month. Happy Recovery Month, Molly

 

MOLLY: Thanks, happy Recovery Month to you too.

 

CHASTAIN: Thank you. And for our very, very first episode of this podcast, we’re going to be talking to Molly because Molly has recovery with substance use disorder. And so Molly, before we get started, why don’t we do a quick check in because that’s something that we do here at Robins Hope? Robins Hope is a peer recovery program and we have free meetings, and we do peer support meetings where we check in and just say, hi, how are we doing? And offer support or not, just as it’s needed or not, as it’s wanted or not. So, Molly, how are you doing?

 

MOLLY: I’m doing okay. I’m excited to record this podcast. We’ve had some technical difficulties, but we’re getting it down, I’m excited. I’m a little anxious about it. And I got to say, because this is the first time that I’ve ever really had a chance to sit down and go over my recovery story, not even in depth, but like in a public setting.

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah.

 

MOLLY: And I’m a little anxious about it. Because, you know, I do worry about what people are gonna think, what people are gonna say. But also, it’s part of my recovery journey to learn how to deal with that.

 

CHASTAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I have that feeling too, you know, you and I are both peer recovery specialists. And that’s part of what we do is we share our story with other people. And I absolutely resonate with that feeling of, you know, is this something that I put out? Is this something safe to put out into the world? Is it okay to put this out in the world? Will this hurt me if I put it out into the world?

 

MOLLY: Am I shooting myself in the foot by saying something specific? Yeah, absolutely.

 

CHASTAIN: Absolutely. And so I think in saying that, I want to offer just a disclaimer to our listeners that this podcast contains content that might be triggering for some, so please, please take care of yourselves while listening. So let me check in a little bit. My name is Chastain, my pronouns are they/them. And I’m also a little bit anxious, because it’s our first time. And we have had some technical difficulties. But, that aside, we are going to have a great podcast. I’m happy that the weather is great. I’m happy that I get to talk with you today and learn more about your story because we’ve known each other for a little while, but I like learning more about the people that I am with. And we both volunteer here together at Robin’s Hope. And so I think it’s fun to just hear more about the people that I get to share with in spaces, because it makes me feel safer when I’m sharing. But also it gives me more tools.

 

MOLLY: Absolutely. I feel like it’s also the connection with people, right, the more you get to know people and the more connected you feel, I think the more open we can be with each other, right?

 

CHASTAIN: And connection is really, really important, too. I know my recovery journey. So, are you ready to get into this? 

 

MOLLY: Yeah, sure. Where should I start?

 

CHASTAIN: Well, why don’t you just tell me a little bit about what recovery actually means to you? How would you define recovery?

 

MOLLY: Sure, so, Okay. I really like the SAMHSA definition of recovery. And I’m just going to quote it because I’m gonna mess it up. Otherwise, yeah, that’s fine. It’s “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” And I really like that, because nowhere in there does it say anything about abstinence, programs, what you can or cannot do. It’s just this process of change. Improving my health and wellness – I’m doing things to keep my mental health where it needs to be, as well as working on myself physically by doing things such as making better food choices, and trying to get enough sleep and, you know, just all the physical stuff that they say to do to take care of yourself as well as the mental stuff. Living a self directed life – before recovery, I didn’t really have much direction, but now I’m taking responsibility for my life and what comes of it. And then striving to reach my full potential – I know now that the only limits I’m gonna face in life are the ones that I put on myself. And so that’s why I really like that definition of recovery.

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah. Well, thank you for being on the podcast today. I think we’ve covered it all, so, that was great!

 

MOLLY: Oh, please!

 

CHASTAIN: You’ve been listening to – no, I’m kidding. Well, tell me a little bit more about you, like, who are you?

 

MOLLY: So, I do have, I’ve got some diagnoses. I’m Molly. I was born and raised here in the Richmond, Virginia area. I am a person in recovery who uses substances therapeutically. I’ve been in recovery for about five years. I’m an MAT patient, I take Suboxone. I use ketamine medically for treatment resistant depression. I use THC medically, I have my Virginia medical marijuana card. I’ve been a consumer of the mental health system since I was about 11 years old, when I first started to exhibit those serious signs of depression and anxiety. I started taking psychiatric medication at that age, at 11. And I had my first hospitalization for an attempted overdose at age 12. And you know, growing up with these diagnoses with treatment resistant depression and generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder and substance use disorder, I used opiates intravenously. I guess I’d say just to simplify it, I say I’m in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. And yeah, I’ve tried a bunch of different types of treatment for all these different diagnoses, all these different issues that I’ve had, like inpatient hospitalization, PHP, partial hospitalization programs, 12 step inpatient rehab, Scientology based inpatient rehab, that was a trip. I’ve tried AA and NA and SMART recovery and Refuge recovery, I’ve done intensive outpatient individual and group therapy, couples therapy. And then of course, I’m currently doing MAT. I’ve done dialectical behavioral therapy, and then some experimental treatments such as, like, NAD IV therapy, and of course, the therapeutic ketamine. I do realize that I have a lot of privilege to be able to have tried these different treatments over the past 15 years, longer than that, but you know, I realized that I have privileged to be able to try these and find what works for me, I feel like some people get stuck with certain treatments and never really find what works for them because they don’t have the opportunity to try all these different things like I have.

 

CHASTAIN: Right. With the ketamine and the THC card, I think something that you and I have talked about outside of the podcast, are some feelings of anxiety about the fact that there are substances involved in your recovery. 

 

MOLLY: Yeah, it’s hard to come out and be one hundred percent honest and vulnerable about something that I kind of still feel a lot of shame around. And I feel like there’s a lot of stigma around. Because when I first got into recovery, I found myself in a space where the name of the game was abstinence. And I was counting days, because that’s what everybody else did. And every time I had a glass of wine with dinner, or took a THC edible to relax, you know, I had to be honest about it and start over counting my days. And I was made to feel that like any progress I had was reset to zero every time I had to start over. And that didn’t sit well with me, because I feel like relapse is a part of recovery, can be a part of recovery. And I feel like relapse can be a part of recovery. And it’s really hard. Some people can just go to abstinence and stick with it. And some people have a hard time with it. I was one of those people. So you know, I stopped counting the days. I know how long it’s been in general, generally, since I used my drug of choice last, I don’t need to know down to the day, because I don’t focus on that anymore. But when you’re surrounded by people who do focus on that it’s hard to try to go another way without some pushback. So you know, I feel like substances are tools – they can be used for good or for bad. Like a hammer, it can be used to build a house or to hurt someone. And I feel like the same can be said of substances.

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah, yeah. Well, what I’m hearing is that perhaps 12 step programs don’t work for you?

 

MOLLY: I would agree with that. I have nothing against them. I know a lot of people who do 12 step and find it really does work for them. And they’ve gotten their lives turned around and they love it. And that’s great. I gave it a good college try. And it just wasn’t for me. But I have found what does work for me.

 

CHASTAIN: That’s great. I’m glad you have. I’m glad you have. I’d like to revisit just for a minute out of my own curiosity, the fact that you went to a Scientology based, inpatient rehab?

 

MOLLY: It’s called Narcanon. It was down in Clearwater, Florida. Of course, it’s Scientology based, the program was written by L. Ron Hubbard, of course, and I did not – it was a 90 day program. I only made it two and a half weeks before I realized I was an adult and I could leave.

 

CHASTAIN: Right.

 

MOLLY: But what I – what I really didn’t like about it, they put you in a sauna with increasingly higher doses of niacin. And like the sauna, you’re in it for like, five, six hours a day straight. And the idea is that you’re sweating the drugs out.

 

CHASTAIN: Okay…

 

MOLLY: I’m not really sure [about] the science behind that. I don’t think there is any science behind that. 

 

CHASTAIN: Okay. Yes.

 

MOLLY: But yeah, it was interesting. Like I said, I didn’t last long. 

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah, it sounds, it sounds… 

 

MOLLY: Abusive?

 

CHASTAIN: It does sound a little –

 

MOLLY: Traumatic?

 

CHASTAIN: Traumatic and abusive. But thank you for giving me the words. I want to let you define your experience. 

 

MOLLY: That’s right, yeah!

 

CHASTAIN: Thank you for sharing that with me. Also, I know that you’ve done dialectical behavioral therapy. That’s something that we actually have a group here for at Robin’s Hope. It’s not a therapy group, but it is a DBT tools group where we go through a workbook that one of our facilitators, Michael, runs. And I know that DBT is something that you have a lot of experience with, would you want to share a little bit about that?

 

MOLLY: Sure. Yeah, I was in DBT therapy for about seven or eight years, I want to say. You know, the full DBT therapy program is where you do individual [therapy] for an hour a week, group [therapy] for two hours a week, and then you have phone coaching access to your therapist during the day, basically. And you learn a bunch of skills in the realms of emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. And even though dialectical behavioral therapy was developed by Marsha Linehan for people with borderline personality disorder, I have found, in my experience and from talking to others, that people with substance use disorder are actually finding it, finding DBT very helpful, because you are learning these skills that, as a person who uses substances, this is what you’re dealing with. When I get really overwhelmed and I get a big craving, and I want to use my drug of choice, I can turn to my DBT skills training, and pick a skill and, you know, try to cope with that emotion instead of giving in and doing what I really don’t want to do.

 

CHASTAIN: Right. It sounds like with substance use disorder, which is something that I do not have in my recovery background -I do have addiction, but not from substances. It sounds like there’s emotional dysregulation, and that’s why there’s that benefit from the DBT.

 

MOLLY: I would say, oh geez… When I was using, I used to numb. I used because it felt good, first of all, that rush of dopamine. But also, it overpowered all the bad feelings. I remember the first time I ever used an opiate. And I remember I was, no – I wasn’t anxious. And I wasn’t depressed for the first time in my life.

 

CHASTAIN: Oh, yeah.

 

MOLLY: Oh my gosh, that feeling of just, you don’t have the whole world on your shoulders. And I said, “Wow, is this what normal people feel like?” If so, this is what I want. Right? Right. And of course, I spent the rest of my using career chasing that feeling and never getting it back the way I wanted to.

 

CHASTAIN: And that’s the lie. Right?

 

MOLLY: Yeah, that is the lie. You know, it’s what they call it chasing the dragon, you know, you’re always chasing that feeling, that first time and you’re never gonna get that. It’s never gonna come back.

 

CHASTAIN: So what was your life like before recovery?

 

MOLLY: Um, before getting into recovery, I felt like I was immature, unconfident, aimless, hopeless. Hopeless is a big one. I felt a lot of strong feelings and I didn’t like that so, of course, I was using to numb them. But when you try to numb negative feelings, you can’t selectively numb emotions, you numb everything. So I was miserable. I was depressed. I was often suicidal. And I felt like my life was going nowhere. And I didn’t have any drive. I had gotten out of college, I was living with my parents. And I had gotten into some legal trouble, I was dealing with a possession charge. And I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t really care if anything bad happened to me, because I didn’t have any motivation anymore. Well, I never really had much motivation to begin with, I felt.

 

CHASTAIN: What brought some hope into that for you? Where was the turning point?

 

MOLLY: It’s hard to select this one turning point but I think what I can say is when I met my husband, I had a lot of realizations. I met him about, almost six years ago. I, again, I was out of college for a few years, and I wasn’t really doing anything. But when I met Michael, it became clear to me what I wanted, you know? He had a place to live, a car, a good job, the physical things that I always wanted. But he also had that other stuff I wanted, like good relationships with his family, and he had a kid that he had a good relationship with. I wanted to be married and have my own kid eventually. But I didn’t really realize that’s what I wanted, until I saw it in front of me. I said, “Wow! This guy has this, his life is going pretty well. He’s not doing all this sketchy stuff that I’ve been doing.”

 

CHASTAIN: The sex, the drugs, and the rock and roll?

 

MOLLY: Absolutely, that’s exactly what it was!

 

CHASTAIN: That’s what my son calls it.

 

MOLLY: That’s what it was! It was pretty sketchy. I mean, it’s fun for a while, but, but Geez, you know, after a while you get tired. You get tired, and you have to keep it up, and chasing the high and staying well. And always wondering when you’re going to get your next, your next drug, your next use, your next fix. It’s kind of awful, it’s pretty awful. But, you know, I, I saw that it was possible to have this life that I didn’t know really existed, because I had never really seen it. And I was motivated, I finally found some motivation and some drive in life and set some goals and started working towards them. And now here I am married with a four month old daughter with my husband and I am so I’m just so glad that you know, I gave myself the grace to give myself a chance and be patient with myself and get to this point where things are okay, now. And yeah, I still have my bad days, like, nothing’s perfect. But it’s not… Getting up every day is not as hard as it used to be.

 

CHASTAIN: Right. What is it – what does it feel like to have that motivation in your life now?

 

MOLLY: Um, you know, it’s, it’s pretty great. I feel like I can do anything. I feel – like, I do! It’s almost like a superpower, you know, being in recovery, because I feel like I have that lived experience. And I know what it was like, and I still remember what it was like. And I hope I never forget. Because knowing what it’s like is how I can identify with people who are still where I used to be, and hopefully help them see that they don’t have to be like that they don’t have to live like that all the time or anymore.

 

CHASTAIN: Is that what drove you to become a peer recovery specialist?

 

MOLLY: Um, I wanted to be a peer recovery specialist because I wanted to help people in a bigger capacity than I was. I was helping my friends like I always do. And I thought, you know, I could probably make a career out of this. And I found out that being a peer recovery specialist was a thing. And of course, I had that lived experience. And I thought, wow, I could really do this! And I felt confident. Because there’s not a lot of things I feel confident about, but I felt confident about that. So here I am, I’m about 50 hours away from the 500 we need to become certified. So I’m working on my application now. Get ready to send it in in a few months.

 

CHASTAIN: Congratulations!

 

MOLLY: Thank you!

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah, I’ve got my hours, I need to go ahead and take my assessment.

 

MOLLY: I know that you’re there too.

 

CHASTAIN: I am there. I am there. I’ve just been procrastinating and studying because test anxiety, that’s the thing.

 

MOLLY: I got it.

 

CHASTAIN: That’s the thing. You know, one of the things that we have as peer recovery specialists is this lived experience. Can you talk to me about the difference between lived experience and work experience and why you think that that’s important in our role?

 

MOLLY: I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. So I remember being in college and taking these classes, abnormal psychology and positive psychology and quantitative versus qualitative research methods and, you know, all that stuff you take when you’re a psych major. And then I compare all that to my lived experience and they’re just different. Not – one is not better than the other. But they’re definitely different. With my lived experience I didn’t have to, you know… I felt college felt like the next right thing. I was – I didn’t really know that not going to college was an option. My family was like hey, you graduate high school and then you go to college, and that is what I did. And a lot of my using started when I was in college and happened through my college career. I don’t know how I got through school and graduated with a degree, but I did. And I did have to drop out my last semester to go to rehab. But then I came back and finished up and all that. But you know, the difference is between… I think the difference is between like, knowing because you read it in a book, and knowing because you experienced it yourself. There’s a huge difference between that, you know. I think you can know the theory, but if you don’t know it in practice, what does it really matter?

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah. Yeah, I would agree with that. How do you think that – how do you think that that helps others?

 

MOLLY: I think other people would rather talk to someone who’s had the same experience or similar experience that they had, than talk to someone who maybe has the letters behind their name, or has that book knowledge, but hasn’t been through it themselves. And I think it’s crazy that the standard of care is for us to go to a therapist, which is someone who, even if they have the same experience, cannot self disclose that. Trust me, I see the good in it, I go to therapy myself. But I just think it’s kind of silly sometimes that we go talk to someone who doesn’t necessarily know what we’re talking about, what we’re dealing with.

 

CHASTAIN: Right. Yeah, here are these tools. I don’t know if these tools are…  Here are these tools! I can’t say that I’ve ever used the tools.

 

MOLLY: Or I can’t say that they’ve worked for me for this issue.

 

CHASTAIN: Right. Exactly. Exactly. So what does life look like for you right now, as someone in recovery?

 

MOLLY: I feel like there’s just a whole lot more possibility out there. I feel like if there’s something I want to do, I can probably do it, as long as I have support from my, from my network. I feel hopeful. I feel like I’ve got that life worth living. And I think the thing I cherish the most are my relationships. When I was using, I used alone for the most part. And I preferred it that way. You know, when you use alone, you don’t have to share your drugs. You don’t have to deal with people who might steal from you or assault you if something happens to you. And of course they always say never use alone because you can’t Narcan yourself.

 

CHASTAIN: Right.

 

MOLLY: I know, that’s very important. Not a proponent of using alone. But you know, there are reasons that people use alone and I, I was alone. But now, you know, my relationships with other people, like with my husband and with my mom, with my siblings, with my friends, with people I just come into contact with here at Robin’s Hope. It’s so, I feel like – maybe not easier. But it’s simpler. I am more able to open up and be vulnerable and connect with people. Because I’m not feeling like I’m trying to hide something all the time.

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah. That’s a big feeling.

 

MOLLY: Absolutely. I don’t feel like – I can be honest. I can be honest with people about how I’m doing on any given day. I can be honest with people that I feel like using today, and I really don’t want to, but another part of me really does. And I can be honest, that, when I’m feeling something that I really don’t want to feel. 

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah, that’s one of the things that I love about Robin’s Hope is that we get to show up as we are.

 

MOLLY: Yeah.

 

CHASTAIN: And that nobody’s trying to fix us. When we’re here, they just listen. And if we want some advice, they’ll give it to us. And if we don’t want advice, then we just get to be heard and exist in our feelings and exist in the state we are, and then sometimes it just helps to be heard and also hear how others are doing.

 

MOLLY: What I really like about Robin’s Hope is that even though I facilitate a group or two, I can show up to any of the other groups as a participant, right, not as a facilitator, not as a PRS intern, but as just a Robin’s Hope member.

 

CHASTAIN: Absolutely. I also facilitate some groups and I have that same experience. You know, I started here as a member and then became a facilitator and your experience has been the reverse of that.

 

MOLLY: The opposite, yeah.

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah, yeah. And for our listeners, Robin’s Hope is a peer recovery organization, it’s a nonprofit organization. And we offer groups seven days a week virtually and in person groups [two days a week] here in Chesterfield, Virginia. So please check us out at Robinshope.com. Molly, what would you like our listeners to understand most about you and your journey through recovery?

 

MOLLY: if I could get one message across, it would be that there’s no one right way to get into or maintain recovery. Whatever works for you is what works for you. It kind of irks me, when people push their style of recovery on someone else. I really do think there’s a difference between saying, “This is what worked for me,” and “You should try this because it worked for me.” I think it’s also important that people are able and allowed to define their own recovery and what it means to them. You know, some people think that abstinence is the one way for them, and that’s fine. And then other people just do harm reduction, you know, any positive change, not using alone, using with Narcan, using with clean supplies, you know, doing whatever they can to make their using safer. And that’s fine, too. You know, going back to that SAMHSA definition of recovery, nowhere in it there doesn’t say anything about not using substances. Nowhere does it say anything about a 12 step program or the SMART recovery program or any one program. You know, it’s really just this process of change that gets you to your life worth living. And I really hope that people take that away, that there’s – if it’s working for you, then don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah. Yeah. I think that there’s a lot of stigma around recovery and recovery work and also around addiction. One of the things I’ve heard you talk about is, you know, getting clean, getting clean, and then how you feel about that, which is, do you want to say something about that?

 

MOLLY: Yeah, I think I think I hear you. Getting clean implies that you were dirty before. Yeah, I think person-first language is really important. I’m not an “addict.” I’m a “person in recovery.” I’m not “clean,” I’m “not using.” I think the way we use language really ties into stigma.

 

CHASTAIN: I agree. Yeah, I agree. Earlier, I heard you describe a situation as “crazy.” And one of the things that we learned in PRS training is we, we shouldn’t describe things as crazy. So in my head, I replaced it as chaotic because that was a phrase that one of our R-CPRS Heather [Pate, Robin’s Hope Program Director] said recently, she – I heard her replace something that was “crazy” with “chaotic.”

 

MOLLY: I love that, I’ve not heard that before. And I’m gonna start adding that to my repertoire of person-first language. 

 

CHASTAIN: Yeah, that’s a really good one. So instead of saying something is crazy, nutty, batty. You know, what have you. Sya it’s chaotic, because that’s how it actually feels right?

 

MOLLY: Absolutely.

 

CHASTAIN: I think that’s a good one. You know, most speaking like that clean, dirty, you know, something’s dirty. That’s a stigma. Like, have you experienced stigma or discrimination and your recovery?

 

MOLLY: Oh, yeah.

 

CHASTAIN: Oh, no! 

 

MOLLY: Oh, yeah! Well, a situation that happened recently is, I’m a mom of a four month old daughter.

 

CHASTAIN: Who’s beautiful.

 

MOLLY: Oh, she’s wonderful. She’s so beautiful. Yeah, you’re right. But I, goodness gracious. When – I got on Suboxone when I was pregnant. And you know, Suboxone is safe for mom and baby. But there are, you know, some things you have to deal with. When I went to the hospital to give birth to my daughter, I was induced. And 24 hours into labor, my epidural failed, and I felt everything.

 

CHASTAIN: Oh, no.

 

MOLLY: I told the anesthesiologist and she didn’t believe me. She wrote in my medical chart that she did not believe me when I told her my epidural had failed. And I don’t really know what she was thinking except for, you know, I guess it was the stigma, I guess it was the discrimination. I guess she thought that I was lying about the state of my epidural, because I’m a person with a history of substance use, because I was on an MAT medication. And I had to really advocate for myself to get what I needed, which was adequate pain relief. I don’t need to get into all the dirty details. But it was very traumatic.

 

CHASTAIN: I would imagine. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

 

MOLLY: Thanks. I wish, you know, I wish I could change it. But you know, I did what I could. I filed a formal complaint against the anesthesiologist. And I had a meeting with her and with the Labor and Delivery leadership at that hospital to let them know that, hey, it’s not okay to treat people like this, regardless of what’s in their medical chart. If someone’s in pain, believe them and treat them! I’m a big proponent of the dignity of risk argument, which is basically – it’s essential for my dignity and self esteem that I have the right to take reasonable risks and not to be impeded by others concerned about their duty of care. In other words, it’s my right to make my own mistakes. And you do not have the right to swoop in and prevent me from doing so because you think it’s the right thing to do.

 

CHASTAIN: Absolutely.

 

MOLLY: Yeah.

 

CHASTAIN: Absolutely.

 

MOLLY: And that’s what I tried to get across to them, is that just because I have substance use in my background does not mean you can deny me adequate pain relief. It does not mean I’m going to relapse and die. It just means that I need pain relief, and you need to treat me like anyone else.

 

CHASTAIN: That is so correct. I think that the dehumanizing of people in recovery from mental health and substance use disorder is so prominent in our society, because we don’t understand the roots of these things. And we’re doing a better job now, because I think that trauma is something that we’re starting to really understand now. But it’s, it’s getting, I think it’s slowly getting better. But I think that talking about it here and hearing your story is one of the many ways that we can get the message out there.

 

MOLLY: I think looking into trauma is really important. I like how Robin’s Hope is for people who are recovering from trauma, not just mental health issues, not just substance use issues. But trauma issues. Pretty much everyone I think has experienced either an individualistic or collective trauma.

 

CHASTAIN: I agree.

 

MOLLY: At least once in their lifetime.

 

CHASTAIN: I agree. Well, we’re currently living through a pandemic.

 

MOLLY: That is a collective trauma.

 

CHASTAIN: Which is a collective, global collective trauma.

 

MOLLY: Yes!

 

CHASTAIN: And there, I know that – I don’t have the statistics, but I know that there has definitely been an increase in overdoses during this time.

 

MOLLY: Oh, yeah.

 

CHASTAIN: Because of the, the trauma, the sense of hopelessness, the stress, the depression, the isolation.

 

MOLLY: It’s also the lack of accessibility to resources.

 

CHASTAIN: One hundred percent.

 

MOLLY: Yeah, you know, I know someone who was just getting into recovery, and attending all these in person NA meetings and doing better than they had been doing. And then the pandemic hit –

 

CHASTAIN: That all goes away.

 

MOLLY: It all went away. And unfortunately, that person ended up taking their own life. And, you know, it’s incredibly sad, because what could we have done differently? I mean, you can’t change anything, you can’t go back. But you just, think what could have happened differently? How could we have saved a life?

 

CHASTAIN: Right, so how can we take that horrible lesson and move forward and make resources accessible? I think that the availability of online resources has been really great for me. I know that had Robin’s Hope not been available virtually for me as a recovery option, I would not be here.

 

MOLLY: Right.

 

CHASTAIN: And you and I have discussed how online resources are important in our lives. Would you like to share more about that?

 

MOLLY: Yeah, one thing, one good thing that came of the pandemic is that it pushed a lot of peer support meetings into the virtual space. I can attend a meeting that, pretty much any program, any day of the week, with just my computer or my phone. And like, how crazy is that? We couldn’t do that a year and a half ago.

 

CHASTAIN: Or is it chaotic? 

 

MOLLY: Ugh, thank you! How chaotic is that, that we couldn’t do it a year and a half ago?

 

CHASTAIN: I know? I know!

 

MOLLY: Good catch. Goodness gracious.

 

CHASTAIN: I’m teasing, teasing. I’m teasing. Molly, what would you like to say to people currently in recovery, or who are just starting to take those recovery steps?

 

MOLLY: To those who are just beginning their recovery journey, or who – to anyone who’s struggling with recovery, I would just say to just keep going. Keep trying different things until you find what works for you. There’s no one right way to do this. And it’s going to be different for everyone. For example, let’s see – for example, I attend a lot of peer support groups for different topics. Because I’m a new mom and I’ve been dealing with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, I’ve been attending virtual support groups run by Postpartum Support International. And because I’m a person who still uses substances, I’ve been attending Harm Reduction Works meetings, all of these are virtual. I see a psychiatric medical professional, I take psychiatric medication. I also – like I said, I see a psychiatric mental health professional. I take medication. I also, like I said, use the medical mental health treatment like ketamine infusions and Suboxone, medication for opioid use disorder. I do individual therapy, group therapy, I participate in recovery related subreddits on Reddit and in Discord servers for people in recovery, where I, you know, I’ve made some great friends over the years. And I also have local friends who I consider my support. So I’ve been – you know, every time I see a new avenue, that’s going to help me with my recovery, I give it a shot. And if it works, I add it to the basket of my tools. And if it doesn’t work for me, at least I tried.

 

Unknown Speaker  

Yeah, that’s amazing. Thank you. Thank you. And I want to thank you so much for sharing with me today and sharing with our listeners today. And thank you so much for your advocacy work. Because I think that’s so important. And thank you for how you show up in the world. And thank you for your facilitation here at Robin’s Hope because we’re so glad to have you.

 

MOLLY: Thank you so much! I’m, look, I’m really glad to have the opportunity. All I really want to do is help change one person’s life. If I can do that, then I’m going to, I’ll feel fulfilled. And if I can help more than one person, that’s just grand!

 

CHASTAIN: Absolutely.

 

MOLLY: I’m just here to share what I went through. So other people don’t have to suffer like I did.

 

CHASTAIN: Would you like to to give your group a plug?

 

MOLLY: Yeah, on Saturday mornings at 10am. We have Mid Morning Music with Molly and it’s basically a peer check in, but each week we have a different theme to bring a song. For example, bring a song that makes you want to move or bring a song that helps you cope. And you know, we check in, say how we’re doing. We play these songs, we talk about why we picked them. And it’s a really laid back group. And yeah, I know Chastain joins us every week. 

 

CHASTAIN: I usually do.

 

MOLLY: I get to, you know, it’s nice looking into everyone’s musical styles and what they like to listen to. I like learning about new music.

 

CHASTAIN: I do too. I do too. It’s fun. And it’s also fun to see how other people cope through music. I think it’s really interesting.

 

MOLLY: Absolutely.

 

CHASTAIN: It is. And you can also catch me and Molly in peer support groups during the week. And I facilitate two groups right now: I facilitate our LGBTQ+ Hope group for our members of those communities. And I also facilitate a closed group on consent and boundaries and relationships. And all of the information about these groups and more can be found at Robinshope.com. And we’ll have links to all of the resources that we’ve talked about, and information about groups, and all kinds of stuff on our show notes. So you’ll find that at the link that I’m going to give you in just a second. So you have been listening to the Start Healing Project, a podcast about hope and resilience and recovery. Find us on the web at www.Robinshope.com/podcast.. That’s R-O-B-I-N-S-H-O-P-E.com/podcast. This podcast is brought to you by Robin’s Hope, in partnership with SAARA of Virginia and DBHDS’s Office of recovery services. Thanks so much for listening!

 

MOLLY: Yeah, thanks for having me. And yeah, thanks for being here.

 

CHASTAIN: Thanks for being here, Molly. Really appreciate it. Bye, everybody.

MOLLY: Bye!BH

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