Sunday, March 20, 2011

The importance of meetings

Many people with anxiety have tried many different outlets to achieve relief: multiple therapists, different pharmacologic combinations, self-help books. While all of these have their own importance in recovery, Recovery (capital R) offers an essential ingredient to true healing: meetings with peers.

Before Recovery, I had tried many different ways to achieve relief. But what really set me on a path to better mental health was making the effort to attend a group meeting weekly. Although visiting a therapist is important, most of us don't have the luxury of seeing a professional once a week. But in Recovery you can attend a meeting (in person, on the phone, or online) every day if you like. Simply showing up is an act worth endorsing for, as are commenting on examples and giving your own. Being around people who share similar fears, angers, anxieties, and frustrations is a powerful experience and is a continual reminder that we are not exceptional; our symptoms are indeed average; and relief can and will be achieved.

You can read all the self-help books you like, including Dr. Low's, but without having a constant reminder to act on the advice the changes probably won't stick for very long. That's why attending meetings is so important. Dr. Low reminds us that changes to the brain are made "through the muscles," including making the effort to attend a meeting through getting in the car, picking up the phone, and/or logging on to the Internet--even when we don't particularly feel like it, or when we would rather be doing something else, or when we feel that we don't need meetings anymore. It takes effort to improve our lives, and attending Recovery meetings is a relatively simple--but powerful--way to improve our mental health.