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My Abstract Thought Sucks! But It’ll Come Back...

Many of you out there in early recovery are probably struggling with things like math classes, writing creatively, or the music you used to love to play! Heck, trust me, when I first got clean I couldn't hold a beat on my drum set, and failed math classes when it was my best subject in high school! But you should know that these effects on your brain aren't permanent as long as you stay clean and sober! And eventually you will be even more badass at it than you ever were; just know recovery is possible!

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Math was always my best subject in high school. But, when I found early recovery, right after my recent heroin use and alcoholism, I failed an introduction level math class in community college. I honestly couldn’t believe it and was dumbstruck on it. But my therapist told me that this was pretty normal for someone coming back from what I’d gone through with addiction. 

My therapist told me that it would take time for the brain to rebound from my use with heroin and alcohol, among other things. And that didn’t just mean my mental health, but, it also meant my abstract thinking. 

Abstract thinking meant the type of thoughts that were required for things like algebra courses, among other types of upper level communication, attention spans, or anything involving creative thought. We call it "thinking outside the box!"

I thought I was losing my mind, but this wasn’t true. Heck, something that I was named the best at in my graduating class—drums—I couldn’t even keep a great beat! But that was because my abstract thought was still bouncing back from the drug use. Although I kept trying and practicing too, it was seeming that nothing would cure the rabid headache besides time and properly taking care of myself!

It took me a solid 6 months to get my feet back under myself. But with patience and taking care of myself—for the most part—I started to develop back some sense of abstract thinking. I started to get back into writing with my college courses, I developed my abstract thinking further. I took a semester off from the math courses and focused on starting slow.

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The next year I got back into the math classes at my community college I started at an even lower math course. And although I went in thinking I couldn’t do it, I was roughly 9 months or more into feeding my abstract thoughts back into a healthy regimen. And then, I did the impossible… or well, I proved how recovery is possible!

I went on to get 100% on my first test in the intro (double intro) class and then from there was keeping myself accountable with studying and doing homework. Pretty soon halfway through the course it was like I was better than I had ever been, not missing a point throughout the course.

Nearing the end of the course I still hadn’t missed a point, and although I wasn’t getting a credit towards my University transfer with this, it proved one thing… recovery is possible! Heck, I did so well in this class that I ended up getting 110% overall!

Pretty soon the teacher and I were buddy-buddy, and I she asked me to come on to not only group tutor her classes next semester, but take on all three of her courses! I was scared and left the room crying, called my dad and he said I should be proud of myself! I think that this was the first time in my early recovery that my mother had said that she was proud of me, too! So I accepted the offer to become a group tutor and teacher aid in college.

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I'd gotten 50 hours of paid training and added international honors to my name with this, as well as a paid time for each class that I was teaching! I was rated one of the best teaching aids in any of the tutoring programs at the community college! Not to mention that the upper level math classes I started to take were going super well, too! I ended up getting over 100% in the upper level math courses too, as well as acing the final exam well enough that I didn’t even have to take it and I could still get an A/4.0 in the class!

Pretty soon I moved onto the University and was into some calculus and trigonometry level stuff, getting A’s in this and eventually chose a major that was completely filled with abstract thought; Sociology and Substance Abuse! I did great and graduated Cum Laude!

This just goes to prove that if you give recovery a chance to blossom and keep yourself healthy along the way, that anything is possible as long as you make sure recovery is possible in your life, too! So, say it with me, as I now sit here writing, loving, and laughing in life with no qualm to holding a beat on my drums… RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!

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