By Sarah Farmer, Certified WRAP Facilitator
Sometimes life sucks, no matter how well you live your WRAP or prepare for a potential crisis. A recent accident brought this reality home and left me feeling like I’d lost control of my life.
After 35+ years of hard work gaining physical and mental wellness, I finally felt excited about my future.
Then, a day before a glorious beach vacation, I was stopped at a red light and a driver plowed into the back of my car. A split second changed my life. It left me with chronic physical injuries, vision challenges, a (now) 1 year+ constant pounding headache, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
I suddenly had no idea how to recover my wellness. Oddly enough, I didn’t have a WRAP for “unpredictable injuries caused by a Lyft driver who was texting.”
After months of pain and little progress, I lost hope. I fell into a deep depression and spent most of my time sitting alone in the dark (because light now hurts my eyes), pondering the pointlessness of life. Not a super helpful coping strategy and certainly not a wellness tool I’d recommend. But it was my reality, and I couldn’t mask the sadness.
At about month 6 post-accident, I realized I was ignoring the best tool I had—WRAP—and that I needed to find a way to cultivate hope, or I wasn’t going to recover. So, I developed a WRAP specifically for my accident recovery.
More than a year later, I’m still in pain and having brain issues, but I’m learning self-compassion and having far fewer days of depression. It took me accepting that my baseline wellness looks different now and taking personal responsibility for adding an entirely new set of wellness tools to my WRAP. I may or may not regain my past capabilities—either way, I once again have some hope that my future can be meaningful.
Think for a minute about your wellness recovery:
- When and how did your recovery journey begin?
- Was it gradual? Or do you remember a certain turning point?
- Are you just beginning your recovery or are you well on your path?
- Have any setbacks derailed your journey, and if so, how did you (or will you) get back on track?
- Are you on the same wellness journey you were 1 or 5 years ago, or has it changed over time?
The answers to these questions will be different for everyone because wellness recovery is a unique and deeply personal journey.
Working toward wellness is a voyage that requires patience, resilience, and self-compassion. From the first realization of the need for change, to the small victories along the way, every step contributes to living your best life.
Acceptance of the need for change opens the door to seeking help and support, whether it be through WRAP, therapy, peer support groups, medication, lifestyle changes, letting your supporters take on a heavier lift for you, or a combination of things.
Here’s a few things to remember if you start to lose hope that recovery is possible.
Connections Can Help Us Heal
One of the key concepts of WRAP is support, and the WRAP resources recommend having at least five supporters in your life. These are people YOU choose to support you in maintaining your wellness and in times of crisis.
By reaching out and allowing people into your life, you open yourself to receiving validation, empathy, hope, and understanding. It also gives you the chance to support other people and build meaningful connections.
Asking people to be our supporters takes courage. It isn’t easy to be vulnerable or to admit you’re struggling. But doing so is a form of self-advocacy. It’s also a way to model for others that asking for help is a strength—not a weakness. For some of us, asking for help is the bravest thing we’ve ever done.
It took me 6 months to ask my supporters for help, because I’m used to being independent and being the caregiver—not the person needing care. I was embarrassed, but it really saved me.
If it takes a while to find supporters, don’t give up. Start by offering support to others or making peace with people you used to be close to. Having five people is great, but even a connection to one person who gets you and cares about you can be life changing.
If you haven’t created or updated your list of supporters and how you’d like them to support you, now’s a great time to do that—just in time for Recovery Month in September.
Remember that recovery isn’t a “one and done” process; setbacks are a natural part of the journey. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, that you are weak, or that you should give up. It means you’re human!
We all make mistakes, and we all experience life challenges or stressors that we can’t control or predict.
If you have a setback, take time to process what happened and whether you need to add anything to your WRAP to help prevent future issues. Did you learn something new about yourself? Is your self-talk giving you hope, or is it holding you back from moving forward? What do you need to do to get back on track? Allow yourself time to learn from the setback, rather than punishing yourself for human mistakes.
Every step forward, no matter how small, is a win worth celebrating.
Whether it’s managing anxiety in a social setting or completing a task that felt overwhelming, these moments build confidence, hope, and motivation to continue the wellness journey.
After every hard experience, try to think about things you did well, rather than only the things you did wrong. Then ask yourself what you could do better next time and make those things part of your WRAP.
WRAP’s power is that it’s YOUR personal recovery plan. It is as unique as your fingerprints.
Your WRAP is your pathway to wellness. Living your WRAP and truly applying the values and ethics of WRAP to every aspect of your life will help you maintain recovery and know that no matter what life throws at you, you can find your way back to wellness.
Let’s continue to foster a community of understanding and empathy, where everyone’s wellness journey is respected and celebrated.
Thank you for being part of the WRAP community!
REMINDER! We’d LOVE to hear some of your wellness recovery stories. If you are interested in writing for us, please check out our Writer Guidelines. You never know who you may inspire!
- WRAP, Updated Edition
- WRAP Workbook
- WRAP Cards Bundle
- The Wellness Recovery Action Plan: Five Key Concepts to Guide Your Path to Wellness
- You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health―With Advice from Experts and Wisdom from Real People and Families
- Recovering from Depression: A Workbook for Teens