Yesterday, I couldn’t watch television, and I felt awful. But this blog is about winning despite mental illness, so what did I do to make myself feel better?
I wish I could say I was perfect and turned around my thinking before I went to bed, but I can’t lie. I went to bed without brushing my teeth and feeling like crap. I’ve learned over the years that I can best judge my mental state by my level of self-care. When I don’t brush my teeth, something is seriously wrong.
But I did one thing right last night, I lifted my hands upward and gave thanks for my life and said that I believed I would wake up feeling totally new. Did I? Not exactly.
But I did the things that I knew would help me feel better. I went for my powerwalk around a beautiful park. I went to a noon A.A. meeting. I picked up my daughters from their school so that they could wait at my apartment to be picked up by their mother after she got off work. I took a nap. I went to another A.A. meeting in the evening, after which I went to one of the member’s house for some food and fellowship.
The result is that I feel good tonight.
I cannot think myself into right action, but I can act myself into right thinking.
I did the things that I knew had worked in the past, and now I feel better. I did not allow myself to wallow in self-pity. The grand result is that I am writing this just before bedtime. I’ve already brushed my teeth and flossed.
I feel good. I got into action, and I feel good.
Exercise is probably one of the best medicines we have to combat bipolar. I walk. To be more precise, I powerwalk, meaning that I walk at a fast pace and I pump my arms parallel to the ground. I also carry weights to help strengthen my arms, and it adds resistance giving my heart just one more thing to work at. They’re not extremely heavy. For about 2 years, I carried weights that were only about 1.5 pounds, but I doubled that about 2 months ago.
I’m very fortunate to live about 1.5 miles from a beautiful park that is half a mile around. I circle it 3 times, and it takes me about 30 minutes to complete. The park has a variety of plants: palms, pines, bamboo, and many flowering trees that I don’t know the names of. There is a pond with some resident ducks.
The walk is often a bit crowded, and I have to vary my pace to pass people. But everyone there is very friendly, and we give each other a nod or a hello or an excuse me when necessary. Some days this is almost the only human interaction I get since I go home and then don’t leave. My isolation is another story for another time.
Lately, my walking has taken on a meditative quality. I practice a form of guided visualization for meditation, and I’ve found that on stretches of the walk where I can see there are no people coming at me that I need to pay attention to, I can slip into a bit of the visualization. I imagine a red line extending from the Earth up to outer space anchoring me, and then I feel a line of light descending from the heavens connecting me to something higher. These two serve to awaken my chakras, and I feel totally open and free and energized. I love it.
Now it’s time for me to go walk.