What applies to recovery from addiction also applies to mental health recovery. One cannot overcome a disorder like major depression (or any dark night of the soul experience) by oneself. The weight of the suffering is too immense, even for the strongest-willed individual, to bear alone. Whenever I see people withdraw, isolate, or try to “beat the illness on their own” their symptoms invariably worsen. Conversely, when people take the risk and reach out for help, they open themselves to a healing force more potent than any known drug.
Healing in community is about holding space: holding space for love, care, reflection, laughter, crying, feeling what we’re feeling, dancing, screaming, sorting through, moving past, sitting with, or for whatever else we may need.
Healing in a community is not about putting our problems off on another person, but about holding space for us to set down the weight we’re carrying for a while, and sometimes it’s even about letting others hold and share our weight while we do the same for them.
Unfortunately, there are many spaces that don't feel healing because they focus on individualistic modalities of repair. At our core, we are meant to come together with people that have common interests or goals to support each other and keep each other accountable.
How do you know if a community healing space is right for you? Here's a checklist that you can use to make sure you are in the right space for this current season of your life.
Do you have a common interest or goal that is connected to this particular group? This might be the main reason we join a group or community, to find like-minded people without having to sift through the internet or join a bunch of in-person groups and waste your time.
Does it feel like self-care when you partake in this group? You should feel some sort of lightness or relief talking and holding space in this community setting. Let's be real though there will be times when things get heavy and emotional, this is part of the healing. Being witnessed in your pain and sadness can cause you to release the heaviness of whatever you have been carrying.
Do you look forward to your meeting times? This one is one for you to reflect on after a few sessions, this might time months to get to a place of feeling comfortable sharing in a group but if you have a general sense of excitement around getting together or even just a spark of curiosity around what you will talk about that is a good indicator that this community space is working for you.
Do you feel seen, heard, and valued? This may be the most important element! If you are feeling seen, heard, and valued the level of healing can be unlimited.
Look for spaces that fit you and your needs. There are so many online groups out there that you are bound to find something that makes sense for where you are in your life.