Many patients with emotional difficulties, due to alcohol and drug addiction, are admitted for around 21 days in hospital. It is an intense and challenging time. The inception of this period is marked by detoxification that brings physical and emotional discomfort. Once this phase passes and a settling takes root the patient begins to feel increasingly restored day by day. The correct antidepressants and anti- anxiety medication often brings relief to long tormented feelings. My role during these days is to provide emotional support and slowly excavate the origins of the addictive behavior.
During the last week in hospital the patient often feels like they have been given a another chance at a purpose-filled life. Discussions about discharge and the world outside the safety of the hospital wards takes centre stage. At this point something unexpected happens - the patient has a deep fear and reluctance to leave. Fears of facing the outside world, concerns about losing their new uplifted state of mind and emotional stability, wreak temporary havoc. They are afraid to embrace their joy and feel compelled to restrain themselves. They are afraid to be 'too content' in case a dark cloud is looming outside the hospital doors.
The only key to shedding fears of vulnerability and uncertainty in the life of my patients is to adopt a daily stance of ceaseless gratitude. It is the perfect antidote to restrained joy. They are encouraged to acknowledge their fears but at the same moment to express their gratitude to God for every step achieved on their journey - even little ones like seeing the divine artistry of a sunrise once again.
- What next step do you need to take?
- What are you grateful for today?