Choosing Recovery

I truly thought I would spend my entire life obsessing over food, health, and weight. I clearly remember the intense pressure I felt to eat “perfectly” and follow all of the rules I set out for myself. My eating disorder took the better part of a decade away from me, and looking back I have immeasurable anger at my eating disorder and immeasurable gratitude for my choice to recover.

My eating disorder thrived on my intense need to be perfect. I lived with persistent fear of not being “good enough” in any area of my life. No matter what I did, how many foods I cut out, how hard I worked out, how “perfectly” I ate, or how many rules I followed, I could never be good enough for my eating disorder. She was my worst critic, and she was loud. Born from childhood bullies, my sensitive nature, and my fear of never being good enough, my eating disorder was my worst nightmare and my best friend. Every vivid memory from 12-18 years old involves my eating disorder, but it was my best kept secret. My parents never knew, my teachers all remarked on how polite and quiet I was, and I was known for my discipline and “will-power”.

Choosing recovery was terrifying. My eating disorder had me completely convinced that, by pursuing recovery, I would give up everything about myself that I valued. My beliefs, my community, my passions, everything. The part of me that held that fear was wrong, of course. Once I made the decision to recover, I threw my entire self into it. I knew that I couldn’t live with my eating disorder anymore, but I didn’t remember life without it. I came of age with a mental illness that warped my view of reality completely, and my recovery was spent re-learning what a healthy relationship with food is like. I can’t accurately quantify the hours spent crying into a bowl of food that I now eat every day, or the amount of times I had to remind myself that eating is a morally neutral activity. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Now, when I think about my eating disorder, I think about it in the past tense. My life now is full of color and joy in a way I never thought was possible. I’ve given up the parts of me that I held so dearly during my eating disorder – the ones I was so terrified to lose. Now, I’m a little less quiet, and my life is a lot more vibrant. My resilience brought out the best in me in ways I could’ve never anticipated. My recovery also let me access a simple kind of joy I never thought was possible – the joy of being content with my life exactly how it is. The joy of putting on clothing I love without thinking about how I could change myself to make an outfit look better. The joy of moving my body because I love it, not because I hate it. The joy of eating in the company of those who love me. And lastly, the joy of knowing that all I have to be is myself, and that will always be more than enough.


Live From Recovery

We were in the cracker aisle in the grocery store and I mentioned that a certain cracker looked good to me. My partner’s response: “eww gross” And I knew no matter how good they looked I would never be able to eat those crackers. This was not new. It was a familiar thought process. It was like a broken record that is so loud and offensive it creates a physical response. For me the physical response would not permit that (or whatever the food item of the moment was) past my lips. And let me be clear: This response had nothing to do with pleasing my partner. I’ve never been a people pleaser and he was definitely not the most important thing at that time. It was completely and utterly an eating disorder response. And for the first time, I let myself notice that I didn’t like it. I told my partner he could never make comments about my food choices again and I believe it was at that point that my recovery began.

Eating disorder recovery is slow and I did not buy those crackers, however, something inside of me stirred on that day that never settled back down. Recovery didn’t begin for me because someone else told me I had to follow a meal plan or fact checked so much that I began to believe the facts. It began because I woke up to what was happening. I started to realize that the world was not nearly as irritating as I previously thought. It was me. I was irritable. I was always hungry and I was being controlled by a mental illness.

Recovering was a long and sometimes terrifying experience but now the terror has shifted. It no longer comes from meeting my body’s needs or facing uncomfortable emotions. It is now a retrospective terror when I consider the ways I used to torture my body. When I am reminded of that terror now, I regard my body with awe and thank it for being strong enough to withstand that eating disorder I allowed to ravage it.

So what is recovery like? It is like the exact things your eating disorder tells you were never possible. More than anything it is comfort. Total comfort. I get up every day and dress in clothes that always feel comfortable. I am not ashamed of my body nor do I try to hide it. I exercise and it feels really good because my body is fueled for the exercise and responds with a sensation of strength. Gone are the dizzying and headache filled hours after a workout. And what’s more, I am rarely irritable! That’s one I never saw coming. I am proud of the long fuse I have and the stressors I confront with calm. Recovery is a million times better than your most compliant eating disorder day, I promise.


Meet Madelyn Huey, RD, LDN our newest addition to the dietetic team!

I understand you were initially planning on becoming an engineer. Tell me what made you change course and fueled your interest in dietetics.
I started out college as a chemical engineer major, not knowing what I wanted to do other than the fact that I liked math and chemistry. Within my first semester, I liked my classes, all the calculations and problem solving, but I had no passion with it. When I decided to change career paths, I thought about my best friend in high school that I’d always talk about food and go grocery shopping with. She was in school for dietetics and told me more about what it means. I thought about how much I loved learning more about food and since then I haven’t looked back.

What populations do you work with and what are your clinical interests within the realm of nutrition? 
I work with adults from early adulthood to geriatrics for general nutrition counseling, eating disorders, and bariatrics pre and post-op. I practice gentle and holistic nutrition to help others create, mend, or build a strong healthy relationship with food. My nutritional interests outside of eating disorders are any and everything involving the gut microbiota, pregnancy/lactation nutrition, and sport (specifically weightlifting) performance.

You’ve done a lot of nutrition groups in our Intensive Outpatient Program over the past few months. Can you share a bit of the content of one of the groups that would be helpful, even for outpatient clients? 
“Fueling Your Brain” is one of my favorite nutrition groups from IOP as it helps show the range of importance that nutrition has on our health. This group takes the often-repeated phrase “food is fuel” and shows where and why that fuel is needed. For example, protein, one of the 3 macronutrients, is responsible for the structure of the body and over 65% of body protein is found in the constantly adapting skeletal muscle, organs, skin, and blood. Protein is typically only thought for building muscle but has many other vital roles, such as building neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers in the brain that communicate to other cells. We couldn’t have cell-to-cell communication without protein and the process of making neurotransmitters couldn’t be done without carbohydrates, the main source of energy for the body. I feel this group could be helpful to outpatient clients as it helps remind us that we aren’t just feeding to our stomachs when we eat, but to our organs and personality.

It’s the new year and all month long we’ve been inundated with diet and fitness culture. What clinical advice do you have to help us tune those messages out? 
We are constantly surrounded by expectations for what we do, how we speak, who to know, what to wear, or how to look by people who don’t know us. Holding on to all the pressure for fitting in and staying up to date on trends each year, only to do it again with the next “new start.” My advice is to take the time this year to study yourself, practice self-care and focus on you because not only do you know you best, but diet and fitness culture wouldn’t have all the “quick fixes” for our health, routines, and relationships if they actually worked. There’s no one solution or answer for how to better any element in your life and likely what you need isn’t the same as what society thinks you need. So stop listening to the culture that doesn’t know you and start listening to yourself.

You’re newer to the Wilmington are. Any favorite spots? 
So far loving Wilmington and, of course, the beach is at the top of my list of favorites! I enjoyed surfing, kayaking, and paddle-boarding in both Wrightsville and Carolina Beach this summer. I still haven’t seen a lot outside of the beach scene yet, but I love Front Street Brewery downtown and Islands has become a go-to.

As you well know, we’re pet lovers at Chrysalis. Tell us about yours! 
I have 2 puppers, a 5-year-old golden retriever, Millie, and a 4-year-old Dutch shepherd, Brynn! They are both very goofy and derpy with much love for the water and long walks on the beach.


What is Expressive Arts Therapy?
By Jayme Sampler, LCMHC-A


When we listen to what our soul needs, sometimes it whispers, “Let me create something. I want you to listen to what I have to say.”

According to my alma mater, Appalachian State University, “Expressive Arts Therapy is the practice of using storytelling, dance, music, drama, poetry, dreamwork, visual arts, and other artistic modalities in an integrated way to foster human growth, development, and healing. It is about reclaiming our innate capacity as human beings for the creative expression of our individual and collective human experience in artistic form. It is also about experiencing the natural capacity of creative expression and creative community for healing. Expressive Arts Therapy is different from other creative therapies such as Art Therapy or Music Therapy as it emphasized the interdisciplinary use of multiple art modalities.”

In simpler words, Expressive Arts Therapies give the creator (client) space to find what works best for them as an individual, and it focuses on the process of creation, rather than the product.

Expressive Arts Therapy allows our unconscious minds to open and observe what comes to the surface- without judgment. Because Expressive Arts Therapy uses a lot of different modalities, we are not boxed, and not being boxed into a specific thing we need to do in therapy gives us a lot of freedom to grow.

When given the space, we may open a door to the past, see things from a new perspective, or un-stick something we have been struggling to move past. Other times, it can allow us to do something as simple as coping with what is happening in the therapeutic process. I work with a lot of kiddos and it can be so helpful to say “Hey, there’s some markers and paper right here. Why don’t you draw a picture of [insert a situation that was hard], and then we can talk about it?” This gives them the space to let out some of that overflow of emotion and bring them back down to a level where they can effectively talk about it.

What it all boils down to is this: when we let ourselves explore our creative side and use it to our advantage, we give ourselves room to not be perfect.

If you like the statistical side of things, rather than just take my word for it, here’s some research! Expressive Arts Therapies have been linked to lessened behavioral issues in school-aged children1, an increase in positive coping skills2, lower stress levels3, personal growth, increased self-awareness, better communication skills4, and so much more.

1Dunphy, K., Mullane, S., & Jacobsson, M. (2014). The effectiveness of expressive arts therapies: A review of the literature. Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia.
2Henderson, D. A., & Gladding, S. T. (1998). The Creative Arts in Counseling: A Multicultural Perspective. The Arts in Psychotherapy
3Squillante, AnnaRose, “Teachers’ Stress and the Benefits of Expressive Arts Therapy: A Critical Review of the Literature” (2019).
4Vaartio-Rajalin, H., Santamäki-Fischer, R., Jokisalo, P., & Fagerström, L. (2021). Art making and expressive art therapy in Adult Health and Nursing Care: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Nursing Sciences



I was recently granted the opportunity to speak with and learn more about one of our newest rockstar clinicians, Lyndsey Young, LCMHC. Lyndsey is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor who is open, dynamic, and non-judgmental. She recently relocated to Wilmington, NC from Arizona with a wealth of knowledge and experience, and is excited to experience everything our beach town has to offer.

Please tell us about your work experiences prior to joining the Chrysalis team. 
I’ve worked ALL the places over the past 13 years.
I sincerely think I’ve been employed at every level of care.
I’ve been in private practice, hospital based, residential, PHP, IOP and community based.
Most recently I was the family workshop therapist at a residential eating disorder facility ant that’s where my passion for working with loved one’s of patients went next level and what I hope to bring to Chrysalis.

What made you decide in mental health? 
My interest in “helping others” started long before my education and employment in mental health. I would say the decision can be traced back to college while listening to friend share about her internship in a group home. The following year I did the same internship, and my life was changed. I sat in process groups witnessing adolescents emotionally navigate the foster care system and cope with circumstances beyond my understanding, I transported clients to appointments and listened and held space as best as I could when kids would return from family visits. It was incredibly impactful and activated the passion I still maintain for the field.

What should clients know about you as a therapist and how can they best prepare for a session with you? 
I am direct.
I mean direct.
I believe the financial and time investment in counseling is significant and by the time people get a seat on my couch they are ready to be there and “do the work,” so I don’t like to waste time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m warm and use an appropriate amount of well-placed humor and personal disclosure, definitely.
I believe connection is healing, so a client can prepare by being honest, and open to connection.

I recently learned about Javelina. Is there any wildlife from Arizona that you are missing now that you live in NC? Any NC wildlife you are particularly enjoying? 
Ha. Javelinas are not as cute as they may seem. Can’t say I miss them.
I miss the desert landscape and sunsets in Arizona, they are unmatched.
What I’m loving most about NC is the beach and the weather. It’s amazing.


With a passion for working with clients ages 5-25, Jayme is a counselor who is certified in Expressive Arts Therapy. This means she incorporates different creative modalities into her therapy such as music, dance, poetry, and art to encourage emotional expression in her clients. I had the recent pleasure of sitting down to learn more about my fellow Appalachian State alum.

What populations do you like to work most with?
Kids, adolescents, and young adults. I have special interests in treating trauma, eating disorders, and sexual assault survivors.

What made you go into this field? 
I was originally pre-med, but I knew I always wanted to work with kids. I took an undergrad psychology course in Human Growth and Development which inspired my desire to become a counselor. I saw it as a way to help kids outside of medicine.

What is your therapeutic style?
Very laid back and interactive. I have a lot of fidget toys and free stickers!

What advice do you have for parents who’ve never brought their kid to counseling? 
Just because your child needs counseling is not a reflection on your parenting. Kids need a confidential, non-judgmental space to process their thoughts and feelings.

What do you like to do in your free time? 
Cook and bake, spend time with my dog and cat, and go to the beach. I also play computer games that my young clients got me into, which was a good outlet especially during COVID.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I make homemade pickles and know every word to every Taylor Swift song ever.

What’s on your travel bucket list? 

Jayme is now accepting new clients and takes BCBS and Medcost. To make an appointment to see her, please call us at 910-790-9500 or email





October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and today I had the opportunity to interview one of Chrysalis’ own, Sarah Snyder, who has been cancer free for eleven years this year! A special thanks to her for being open to sharing her story of survival, inspiration, and courage. 

When were you diagnosed?

“I received the diagnosis on Tuesday, February 21, 2012, at 31 years old, with a 10-month-old and a five-year-old.

I sat alone in Dr. Charles Scott’s office at Wilmington Health. I was there because the week prior he performed a breast biopsy, and it was time for the results. He first came in and checked my biopsy incision, said that “everything looked good”, and promptly excused himself so I could get dressed and we could go over the pathology. It may not have been a red flag for others, but because I had worked in healthcare my entire career, I knew that if I were really fine he would have said just that when he checked the biopsy site- there would have been no reason for a second chat.

I knew the next time he walked into my room, I was going to hear a word that no one is ever prepared for, and even though I had hoped that I was wrong, the pit in my stomach was telling me to prepare myself because my life was about to be forever changed.”

How did you handle the diagnosis?

“When Dr. Scott came back into my room, he was carrying a piece of paper and his nurse Angela was with him. He looked me in the eyes and asked, “Ready?”, I remember slowly nodding my head “yes”, even though I was not ready. “Ductal Carcinoma Institute” was his statement to me, but behind those big words was the real diagnosis… breast cancer.

I do not remember everything that Dr. Scott said to me while I sat on his examination table because, for some reason, I was intent on not breaking down in tears. I remember not wanting to look weak in front of him, so I kept telling myself to “hold it together ” and “don’t you dare cry”. My mind was busily trying to accept my diagnosis and everything about to follow. I remember thinking about how I was only 31 years old, had a full-time job, was a full-time college student, and was just three courses away from completing my MBA. Most importantly, I had two small children at home, and couldn’t help but wonder who was going to help my husband raise them if I died? My mind went back and reviewed the previous six-month journey that brought me to this very spot and how I had hoped to get here, just not with the same ending.”

What do you mean, “hoped you’d get there”?

“In September of 2011, I was sitting on my couch when suddenly, I had this weird sensation run from the middle of my left breast to under my armpit. It was not a painful feeling, just a very odd one. At that moment, I had a powerful thought, “you have cancer”. At first, I thought, “what a crazy thought”, but at the same time, I had a pit in my stomach because breast cancer has affected every generation of women in my family. It has always been a worry hidden in the back of my mind that I, too, would pull the unfortunate short straw and be diagnosed with this disease. To ease my mind, I scheduled an appointment the next week with my GYN. When I explained the sensation I had as well as my family history of breast cancer, I was certain that my request for a simple mammogram would be instantly approved. I expected him to appreciate my being proactive and would order the test, even if just to ease my mind. He instead patted me on my knee and told me that I was being overly paranoid and that a mammogram was unnecessary because I was too young to have breast cancer and no insurance would cover it. I left that office feeling shocked and unheard, but I was not yet defeated. The following day I scheduled an appointment with my PCP to get a second opinion, believing that even though I did not feel heard the first time around, I hoped this doctor would hear me out and take my concerns seriously. Two weeks later, I told my doctor the same thing I told my GYN, the sensation I had, my family history, and my request for a mammogram. I was unfortunately told very similar statements as before, “too young”, “your family history is not that bad”, and “no mammogram is needed”. 

I wish I could tell you that the third time was the charm, but unfortunately it was not. Neither was the fourth. I spent the next six months “doctor shopping” for a mammogram. I even went as far as calling a local radiology office to ask if I could pay cash for a mammogram, but their answer was no because special testing requires a referral from a medical provider. I honestly could not believe that it was this challenging to get a mammogram! I think this is the point where I started to lose hope and began to feel defeated. Defeated as a patient and defeated as a woman, but I knew that I had to keep going and make someone hear me.

A couple of weeks later I was at work in my office when one of my medical assistants came in and asked if I was still looking for a new doctor. I told her I was, and she told me how amazing her PCP was and urged me to call her. I took down the information, but I was reluctant to call and go in because I wasn’t sure if I could handle being dismissed by yet another physician. I gathered my hope and made the call to Dr. Catherine Daum’s office at Wilmington Health later that day and scheduled an appointment with her later that same week. Walking into Wilmington Health for the first time was a little overwhelming but as soon as I met Dr. Daum, I knew I was in the right place and that this was going to be a different experience from my other appointments. Dr. Daum listened to all my concerns and without any hesitation ordered a mammogram. I cried tears of joy in her office because someone finally listened and was willing to help me. One week later, I went in and received the mammogram that I hoped for, and after I few days I was back in Dr. Daum’s office being told a mass had been found and that she was referring me to Dr. Charles Scott, a surgeon with Wilmington Health who specialized in breast health/cancer. I met with Dr. Scott for the first time a few days later and he, too, listened to everything I had to say. He asked me if I wanted to revisit the mass in six months or have him perform a surgical biopsy; I choose the biopsy and the rest is history.”

What did your cancer treatment look like?

“I opted for a bilateral mastectomy, which was performed three days after I met with Dr. Scott on February 25, 2012. I was officially cancer free. A couple of months later in May, I had my reconstruction surgery by Dr. Kenneth White at Wilmington Plastic Surgery.”

What was your biggest self-discovery or revelation after your diagnosis?

“That’s a hard one, I have had a few revelations.

“1. You must be your own advocate. If you feel that something is not right with your body, do not let anyone (healthcare professional or not) dismiss you. Get the answers you need.

2. Attitude is everything. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew that there were only two options for me to take: the low road or the high road. I refused to fall into a pit of depression and let this diagnosis win. I can’t say that I was not scared because I was, and while there were some bumps in my road to recovery, I knew my faith and hope were stronger than any fear. By no means do I mean to not take the time to break down and feel all of your emotions (I would have my breakdowns in the shower), just don’t live there.

3. Take your time and let your body and mind heal. Do not rush back to anything, work, school, or responsibilities. Too many times the mentality is to “just get back to your normal and everything will be better”. But what the message should be is, “take the time YOU need, and do not compare your journey with anyone else’s”. 

4. Ask for help when you need it. Asking for help does not make you weak.”

What was the most difficult part of your journey and how did you overcome it?

 “Survivors guilt…

Almost immediately after my cancer diagnosis and my initial surgeries were complete, I started speaking and volunteering at as many breast cancer events as possible. Although I had always participated in these charities, I felt a new pressure to pay it forward. I thought I owed it to all of the others battling cancer since I had it so much easier. I also began to experience insomnia and anxiety symptoms and found myself obsessively reliving the day I was diagnosed. I would think about that day step-by-step every single day. I thought about it while I was driving to work, even while I was on vacation with my family. Despite the persistence of the thoughts and memories, I never addressed these issues or thoughts with any of my doctors. I assumed it was normal. I told myself that since my cancer was caught early and I survived, I should just deal with these issues. After all, I did not have it nearly as bad as other individuals diagnosed with later stages of cancer, so I did not have the right to complain. I should just be grateful.

Two years after my diagnosis I received a phone call that one of my closest friends and biggest support systems during my cancer battle had been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. I remember immediately breaking down, not being able to catch my breath, and saying, “She is too good, it should be me.” After she passed, the thought of “it should have been me” turned into “why wasn’t it me” and later that thought was not just directed at my friend’s battle, but at anyone that did not survive their cancer battle.

I began feeling compelled to follow stories on social media about families documenting their terminal cancer journeys. I felt like it was my responsibility to show these families support during what was the worst time in their lives. But what I did not realize was that I was punishing myself for not suffering enough and ultimately for surviving. 

One day my friend asked me why I was constantly following “those sad stories”, and I told her, “I needed to experience the pain, difficulties, and loss other cancer patients not as lucky as me go through to be worthy enough to be a “real survivor”. I will NEVER forget the look on her face after my response, in that moment I knew I needed to get this figured out. I began seeing a therapist to help figure out why I was no longer myself and had these crazy thoughts and feelings. What I learned was that I was, in fact, not crazy and that all the emotions and symptoms I had been experiencing were Cancer-related survivor guilt.

Cancer-related survivor guilt is a complex, multi-faceted emotion that has not always been recognized and talked about. Luckily, the stigma surrounding survivor’s guilt is lifting. More mental health professionals are starting to speak on this topic, as well as oncology professionals learning to recognize it so if their patients are suffering, they can offer them resources and support.” 

What advice would you give on how to best support a loved one going through breast cancer? 

 “1. Just be there. Love them. Check-in. Cheer them on. Have a positive attitude. Make them laugh. Going through cancer is hard enough. But if you have someone, or even a community of people, around you to help you through the fight it makes all the difference.

2. Spend time with them to offer a distraction, and try to attend doctors’ appointments with them.

3. Offer, but don’t force. Be flexible. Every day can be different when a loved one is going through treatment. Educate yourself and try to find yourself an outlet as well. ❤️❤️❤️


October 9th marked the five-year anniversary of Chrysalis’ Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). We proudly remain Joint Commission accredited and licensed by North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. Since we launched, we have had approximately 155 admissions with an average length stay of 8 weeks. We had to pivot to virtual the first few months of the pandemic, but reinstated in-person programming in October 2020. We have revamped our programming many times over the years to be more client-centered and offer a wide variety of groups (with some new one’s coming soon!). This summer, we began an additional morning track so that we could accommodate clients’ varying schedules for school and work. We are proud of the work we have done, the clients we have served, and being able to offer this level of care in our community and beyond (the next closest IOP is over 130 miles away). Many thanks to our exceptional IOP team members who are committed to providing compassionate evidence-based care. Many thanks to our referral sources who trust us with your clients. And many thanks to the clients who show up multiple times per week to do the hard work of recovery!


TW // Discussions of Drug/Alcohol Use


September is Recovery Month. For this year’s blog, I interviewed an anonymous friend of mine who is soon to celebrate 15 years of sobriety! Special thanks to them for sharing their inspiration, hope, and wisdom. 

Tell me a little bit about your recovery journey. How long have you been clean/sober? What was the starting point for your recovery? What were the turning points/pivotal moments in your journey? 

I believe that I am a person who was born with the genetic predisposition to become an addict. From as young as I can remember, anything that made me feel “different” or “better”, even before drugs and alcohol, like food & male attention, I wanted MORE! There was never enough. When I discovered alcohol and drugs it was the same way. I would create boundaries for myself like, “I’ll never snort anything” or “I’ll never do drugs that make me hallucinate”, but I eventually breached all those boundaries and then some. Over the years, I would use and abuse any substance I could get my hands on but alcohol and cocaine were my favorite. I experienced a lot of awful consequences, some of them legal and social, but most of them emotional and detrimental to my self-worth and self-esteem. My husband went to treatment first. He started trying to get clean in 2005.
I decided I should try too even though I wasn’t “as bad as him.” (Honestly I just thought his drug use was the problem in our relationship). Fast forward two years after he goes to treatment and I am still a sloppy, falling-down drunk who can’t stay sober on her own. I finally surrendered in October of 2007. My sobriety date (and I am 100% abstinence-based sober; no weed, no delta8, no kratom, no nothing) is 10/13/2007. I got into a 12-step program and got a sponsor and was working the steps as best I could, but I was still very sick. About two years into my sobriety I got very into my eating disorder and was underweight with some other health issues due to my ED. I found myself in therapy and soon after changed sponsors and started to work on the steps again but more in-depth. During that process, both through therapy and steps, I started to change and find some peace. I also began medication for my anxiety at around 3 years sober, which has also been an amazing help. Doing a thorough 4th and 5th step, really digging into my resentments and why I behaved and chose the things I did, really changed my life and allowed me to see how I
worked in these patterns. They were always the same, just different characters, and they never worked. I was always unhappy with who I was and how I felt in my skin, and what was going on inside my head was complete self-hatred and chaos.
Working all 12 steps and continuing to do that today, along with the aforementioned therapy and medication, and a strong spiritual practice that my 12-step program helped me develop helps keep me in a place where, at most times, I feel an immense amount of peace, and even if I am unsettled or upset the peace is deep inside of me, I know it’s there and that maybe I am going through it for some time, but as long as I’ve continued this path, the peace has been there, even in the midst of the storms of life.

What do you do to maintain your recovery? What’s most helpful? 

As mentioned above, 12 step meetings (in several Fellowships), I have a sponsor, I sponsor others, and I pray, meditate and read spiritual readings almost every day. I continue to work on steps 10, 11, and 12, which we call the “maintenance steps”. I practice yoga in a way that helps me feel centered, strong, connected, and at peace with my body. I continue therapy and medication. I am transparent about my feelings and I am surrounded by a network of supportive friends and a husband who’s also clean and sober and we support each other’s health.  

Do you ever have any urges to drink or use? If so, how do you handle them? 

I still have a lot of dreams, but rarely ever the urge. Recently I did have a brief urge, it was the 1st one in I don’t know how many years. We had to put our sweet dog to sleep less than a week ago. It was just his time as he was old and very unwell, but it was still incredibly hard. I was in so much pain over his loss and the void he left in our little family. I cried for days leading up to it and days after. On the day we said goodbye my chest was so tight when we returned home and he wasn’t there, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be in pain and the idea popped into my head “damn I could have a drink and numb this pain”. I know that’s a lie and my disease is just looking for a way to sneak in when I’m vulnerable. I talked to my husband, my sponsor, and other people in my network. I went to a meeting and shared. I prayed about it and found gratitude that I didn’t follow that urge and that it was only a fleeting thought. I emailed my therapist the next day too. I know that I am only as sick as my secrets so I don’t keep any, especially about my alcoholic mind.  

 What advice would you give to a newcomer in recovery? 

Don’t give up. If you drink again, come back to recovery anyway. Never stop stopping. You are worthy, your life can be peaceful and content. It takes time and it takes effort but the time and effort to get sober/clean is much better than the time you may stay drinking and using. It may suck in the beginning, but everyone you may meet has been where you are- so share your stuff, find a trusted group of folks in recovery that love and support your path, and get in the middle of recovery. Leave old people, places, and things alone for a while. One day you may be able to re-engage with some of your old activities as a sober person but for the first bit, let that stuff go and get on solid ground. Don’t give up on yourself. You’re not as bad as you tell yourself that you are. You are a sick person who made some bad choices, but you are not the sum of your mistakes. Those things are what you did, not who you are.

 What advice would you give to someone who has relapsed in their recovery? 

Relapse happens. It sucks, but it’s true. Addiction is a disease, so I try to think about it like this: if someone had cancer that was in remission, would we get mad at them if the cancer came back? Hell no! It’s a disease. Sometimes it takes more than one approach to treat it. Here’s another disease analogy: if you know you’re diabetic but don’t change your diet or take insulin, you will stay sick and probably die. The same is true for addiction; just knowing you have the disease does nothing for you. Self-knowledge will not heal you. Here’s the good news, recovery can and will heal you. Find a recovery path that works for you and follow it. Heal the parts of yourself that cause you to need substances to escape. Treat your disease like your life depends on it.  

Any quotes or mantras you use to help you through hard times? 

“Leap and the net will appear” – this is a quote I use about fear! Just do the darn thing. 

“Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all our problems” – this is a line from the Big Book and I have found this to be 100% true in my life. I got sober because I wanted to stop drinking and hurting, but what I got back was a blueprint for life, and a way of living that is unbelievable.  

“Never quit quitting.”  


Kelly Broadwater, LPA, LCMHC, CEDS-S specializes in working with eating disorders and co-occurring substance use disorders. She has been honored to be a part of many clients’ addiction recovery journeys.


Whether you’ve been waiting for sweater weather, all the pumpkin spiced items, or for the leaves to change, you can also look forward to a different set of seasonal produce! Here are some fun ways to get more variety in your kitchen with these seasonal activities at home and within the Wilmington community.


Looking to start a garden? Now is the time to start, before the frost hits around mid-November. Here are some plants you could directly sow the seeds of into your outdoor garden this season!

    • Apples
    • Broccoli
    • Cucumbers
    • Leafy greens
    • Pumpkins (September-October)
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Tomatoes

Planting calendar for Wilmington, NC. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, 
When to plant vegetables in Wilmington, NC. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2022, 

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