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.

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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!

Some Thoughts

It’s the holiday season. It’s the end of a calendar year. Saturn ingresses into Capricorn in about half a day as I’m writing this. It’s a time of transitions.

I’m writing this at my desk at work, and I am enormously grateful for my life today. I am able to work. I was disabled for many years. I have a home. I have a car that runs well. I have friends. In early December, I hosted a Christmas party at my house when we came together to eat and decorate my tree. It was such a special evening.

I got to this place after many years of being in dark times. I was so low that I came very close to suicide. I have had many different changes in my medication regimen, finally settling on one that worked well. I have been radically open in my therapeutic relationships with psychiatrists and psychologists. I have meditated. I have slept when I needed it. I have exercised most days.

There is not one simple answer as to why I have recovered and am in the place I am. It’s a combination.

Each recovery is unique. We each get to search for what works for us. I am happy to share what has worked for me in this blog, and I hope it offers you some ideas.

I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Life is getting better

Therapy is one of the pillars of my recovery. I have been in therapy for the majority of the past 30 years. I was even in therapy for some of the years I lived abroad.

I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point, I learned to be radically open with my psychologists. I tell them everything. There’s an important benefit from this habit: everything has a chance to heal. My darkest secrets can come up and see the light and either transform or vanish.

I had a session last night, and I had an important breakthrough. It sounds simple, but it was quite profound for me. It amounts to:

I’m okay.

It’s that simple. I have many desires, and many times I allow them to become obsessive. I have one desire that has been dominating my life for more than a year. I realized in therapy last night that even if that desire is never realized in the way my imagination is demanding, I’m okay.

I have a lot of fear surrounding finances, but you know what? I’m okay. I’m better off than 95% of the people on the planet actually. I have a roof over my head. I have a car. I have a job. When I go to the grocery store, I buy anything I want without worrying about the price.

Relationships? I’m okay. I have been making new friends. It took a while after moving to this city for my new job two years ago, but I’m making new friends now. I have a good romantic life, too. It’s not what I want in the long run, but it’s good for now.

The most important point is that I’m okay in my own skin. I’m better than okay actually. I like being me. I could not say that just a few years ago.

Go back through the archives of this blog seven years ago. I lived in a dark place. Fear ruled me. What changed? Me. I healed.

Recovery from mental illness is real. It happened to me.

Just One

No matter how you feel today, try doing just one nice thing for yourself. Just one.

I’ve had times when I couldn’t get out of bed. I dragged myself to the bathroom and brushed my teeth. Brushing my teeth was the one nice thing I did for myself that day. On other days, I’ve cooked wholesome food for myself. That required a lot more little things to make it happen. (Making the trip to the grocery store, buying the groceries, cleaning anything that might need it like fresh vegetables, etc.) I used to live near a beautiful park, and I would go there and sit on a bench. That was nice. It was also simple.

I’m not talking about buying myself something nice. That kind of nice fades very quickly right after the money is spent. I’m talking about a kind of nice that nurtures me.

If you’re not in a good place today, perhaps you can find the strength to do just one nice thing.

Nurture yourself. You’re worth it. You really are.