‘Shouting recovery from the rooftops’ by Beth Burgess

Shouting recovery from the rooftopsI remember Beth Burgess joining the Wired In To Recovery community in November 2011. She certainly shouted from the rooftops and it was great. Here is Beth’s first blog and some comments she received. These comments refer to the prejudice that recovering people feel and fear.

‘I have had enough. Enough of saying to people with a half-smile, “Er…yeah, I don’t really drink…any more.” “A health kick?” “Yeah, something like that.” I have had enough of putting ‘career break’ on my CV. I am fed up of insinuating rather than being honest.

I have had enough of not telling people where I go every Monday night, as I scuttle off under cover of darkness to my ‘meeting’. Enough of celebrities telling the media they are going to clinics for ‘exhaustion’. Enough of addiction and recovery along with it being hidden away and ignored.

I realise that people do not feel they are in a position to self-disclose. And it’s not their fault actually. It’s because of the stigma that has been attached to addicts and people with mental health problems in general.

But we can accept that we will always be seen by society as the lowest of the low, or in some way broken – or we can start to change that. I am fed up of veiling my past; instead, I’m going to celebrate my recovery.

I’m going to step up. I’m going to shout my recovery from the rooftops. Even if I am one of the few lone voices doing so right now, I have to do it – for you, for me and for every addict who wants to recover and is afraid to ask for help because of the stigma.

Yes. I have had mental health issues. Yes, I have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Yes, I have suffered from an addiction to alcohol. The list goes on actually.

But these are not things I chose to have. They were things that were part of my journey, put on the pathway for me to deal with for whatever reason.

And I am not ashamed any more of having had these problems – I am proud of having overcome them. I am proud of the person these experiences have made me into and I am proud to be able to help other people.

In my practice as a Recovery Coach, I am making it part of my company mission to use any publicity I can get to disseminate discrimination against us, to show that recovery is possible and that recovering addicts can contribute massively to the world around them.

I can see the celebration of recovery here on Wired In is growing in momentum, and that makes me so happy. Surely, now is the time to spread that outside the recovery community to the people who hold and control the stigma itself – the rest of society.

Will anyone join me in my mission to stand up and be counted as someone who is not afraid of saying who they are and what they have overcome and achieved? “My name’s Beth, and I’m an alcoholic. And so much more.”‘

Beth, I love the energy screaming out of your blog. I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days with Phil Valentine (CCAR). He said they don’t even use the ‘S’ word, instead they do lots of talking about their experiences, to anyone who will listen.

Since he told me this in October, I have spoke to over 200 people at two churches, a prison and a staff event for drugs and mental health workers. Not one single negative experience. My advice is GO FOR IT !!!!… and two BBC radio interviews. Carl C

Hi Beth, great blog, good for you. I work full time and I have never been able to tell my employer that I am in recovery. I have to attend a lot of appointments as I am on a methadone prescription, so every fortnight I go to the Dr, then once a month to see my key worker. So obviously my colleagues know there is something going on, but I have never felt I could tell them due to the stigma attached to drug addicts Katnip xxx

I love your passion and I totally identify. It is so important that the wider society can see real recovered addicts and alcoholics. To see that it is possible. The media is only a reflection of our society; the medias view on addiction will change once society changes. Society will only change if we change. I have a responsibility to do my part.

I share my experience as much as I can. However I am married with three young children. My anonymity remains important at this time. Part of me wants to shout from the rooftops but I know that would be selfish. Honesty without harming others. Stigma remains ever present. I need to respect my wife and children. They need their anonymity too. Hopefully this will change and I beleive its people like you that will make this happen.’ Thanks Beth. 🙂 Platos Cave

Katnip and Ian make a very good point, that as much as we would like to tell everyone about our recovery journeys, unfortunately the wider public is just not very open minded at the moment. It has wider implications with regard to employment also.

Whilst I do talk to some of the people in my life about my recovery, it’s not something I feel like I MUST share with everyone. A lot of it is personal, and to be honest, is none of their damn business! Which is why I think sites like Wired In are great. We can shout as loudly as we like about our recovery, but still retain our anonymity if we like. Sapphire99