For about the past 4 or 5 days, I was feeling really good. I was having to concentrate hard on staying “in the now,” but it was working. I could meditate and concentrate on walking through my day until I would have another chance to meditate and refresh. At that next meditation, I could do the same thing.
Yesterday, I woke up agitated. I was not in the mood to allow life to flow. I wanted answers to my questions. I wanted to know the outcomes of present situations. I wanted. I needed.
I was not in a good mind space.
My strength is that I recognized it. I knew I needed help, so I reached out for it. I called my therapist, and he happened to have an opening. I jumped on it. I saw him late in the afternoon after work, and I was able to talk about what was going on.
There are a lot of changes happening in my life. I’m dating as I’ve written about here, and it’s the first time I’ve been dating in an extremely long time. There’s lots of new energy surging through my life. All this affects my equilibrium, and I know how important it is for me to stay on an even keel.
I am so grateful for the tools I have as part of my recovery. Yesterday, I recognized I was off balance, and I used a tool to help me regain it. It worked. I left the psychologist’s office much calmer.
My life is changing. Normally, that’s scary. Right now, I’m walking through it.
I only have to do one thing.
I don’t have to feel completely better all at once.
I don’t have to completely heal all at once.
I can take just one small step toward feeling better and healing.
I don’t have to be cheerful and bubbly if I don’t feel like it.
I can choose to smile for just one second. I can choose to feel that smile on my face for just one second.
This morning I get to take one step forward.
Just one. That’s all I have to do right now. Just one.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.