Facing Tragedy

Taking care of our recovery as people living with mental illness is the single most important thing we can do when we are faced with large tragedies in the news. It is vital for ourselves and our families and our communities and our nations that we continue to recover so that we can help our friends who are hurting.

My recovery is based on

  • Keeping in close contact with my psychiatrist and taking the medicine that has proven to me it works
  • Keeping in close contact with my psychologist who gives me a safe place to explore my experiences and my reactions to them
  • Eating healthy food
  • Getting good sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Making a dedicated time for meditation

Our recovery does not have to be complex. All we need is a few simple things to keep us on the road to feeling better and being caring members of our communities.

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Moods

I had disembodied anxiety this morning. I couldn’t put my finger on where it was coming from.

I found myself using ineffective coping mechanisms to try to lessen the anxiety.

During my morning break at work, I went to a nearby cathedral where I sat for a short meditation. In that state, I realized this is the energy of a new kind of dating life that I’m wanting to experience. There are a lot of unknowns around my dating life at the moment, and my body was reading this ambiguity as anxiety.

I now recognize the energy as the creation of this new dating life. The energy is still there, but it doesn’t feel like anxiety any more. It’s just a kind of rustling in my stomach. It’s a little pleasant actually.

All of us have moods. We have to realize they’re not permanent.

Living with Ambiguity

Life is full of times when we don’t know exactly what to expect. Many times it’s simple things like how much mayonnaise the deli clerk will put on a sandwich. Will it be too much or just right? Sometimes the ambiguity will be about major topics like finances.

The weather can be a source of ambiguity. Will tomorrow by sunny as predicted? Will it rain this afternoon?

People can bring ambiguity into our lives, and our relationships can be a source of it.

I have not been good with ambiguity in my life. I feel great stress by having so many unknown things going on. I want certainty. I want to remove the guesswork. The result has been that I have felt great stress at so many things.

I have transferred my stress at ambiguous situations to other areas in order to imagine I was creating certainty. I have used shopping as one means to cope with ambiguity. It’s simple. I can decide some item will add value to my life. I search for the item. I find it. I search for the best price, and then I buy it. The whole process is a means to control this one aspect of my life while so much of my life is unknown.

I also use other means to cope with ambiguity. I want to remove the uncertainty.

Today, I can recognize when I’m trying to cope with my dislike of ambiguity. I can talk about these things in therapy, which relieves a lot of the stress. I can also meditate and release my need to control. I used to walk, but I have plantar fasciitis in my right heel preventing me from getting that kind of exercise to relieve myself.

I am grateful I can recognize when I’m uneasy today and take steps to help myself feel better.

Create a Reason to Smile

Today, I was reminded that there is a lot of good in the world. There are people around us with genuinely good hearts.

Sometimes, our individual lives feel bereft of reasons to smile. Sometimes, our lives are sad.

Let’s each one of us create a reason to smile today.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be incredibly simple.

If you stand up out of your chair and walk outside and turn your face to the sun, that’s a wonderful reason to smile. If you choose a tea you like and make yourself a soothing cup, that’s a delicious, warm reason to smile. If you have a friend, thank them and smile. If you pick up a piece of trash on the sidewalk, that’s an excellent reason to smile.

Our world can be overwhelming.

With a little act, we can each create reasons to smile.

Celebrate Every Victory

Healing takes courage. It’s hard work to face our challenges no matter where they come from and turn them into opportunities.

We are brave when we call a doctor or case manager or a friend who supports us just to report on how we feel.

We are brave when we make an appointment with a caregiver.

We are brave when we leave the house to go to that appointment. We are brave when we ride the bus or drive our car or ride our bicycle or walk to that appointment.

We are brave as we sit and wait our turn to see the caregiver.

We are brave when we speak honestly to the caregiver about how we feel. Being honest takes the most courage.

We are brave as we follow through on the things we know will help our recovery.

To be blunt, people who live with mental illness are brave when they breathe. Life is not simple.

If you are a person who lives with a mental illness, be kind to yourself and pat yourself on the back just for getting out of bed. You deserve it. You’re doing a good job just living.

One further word

Yesterday, I wrote Try.

I grew up as a minority. I’m gay in a vastly heterosexual world. Minorities are taught we must achieve value for our existence in order to be accepted by the majority. We have to prove our right to exist. To be blunt, I must do something in order to have the right to breathe.

The idea that trying is not enough, the idea that I must triumph in order to have worth is what I’m trying to bring to light.

It’s repulsive.

Every human on Earth is worthy regardless of their level of achievement.

If you try and the outcome is miniscule, that exceeds what the Universe is asking for.

Try

Few clichés make me angrier than Yoda’s “Do or do not. There is no try.” I sit here in my imperfection, and I want the world to know that sometimes simply trying is heroic.

I remember one bout of depression that was so profound the only effort I could make was to lie on the sofa and sing “la la la” over and over. I barely had enough energy to brush my teeth. Singing “la la la” to myself while I was prostrate and immobile was all the effort I could muster.

I will not apologize for not being a superhero.

If you try to do one simple thing to take care of yourself today, you’re my hero! If you sit up on the side of the bed and stand up and walk to the sink to brush your teeth, you’re my hero! If you put on clean clothes despite the voices in your head telling you it’s not important, you’re my hero! If you wash one dish from your pile of dirty ones so you can look at a pretty plate under your cheese sandwich, you’re my hero!

All you have to do today is try! Don’t let Hollywood tell you that if you’re not a super-model or superhero, then you’re worthless. Don’t listen to the news. Don’t listen to the internet.

Don’t listen to Yoda!

If you’re breathing despite all the anxiety or depression or mania or voices, you’re a hero!