self care

Week Two is in the books y'all! On to week three!

Last week the focus was on gratitude.  And I started listing the three things I was grateful for every day.  At first it felt kinda lame to be honest.  And it was easy.  But then Thursday happened.  Holy Thursday Batman.  It was insane.  I ended up working 9.5 hours to cover someone's shift because she was super sick (totally worth it, I don't like people who have been throwing up making coffee. . .).  Then I had a meeting to go to, and then I had the LGBT* teen group I help run. 

It was hard to think about what I was grateful for on Thursday.  On Thursday I was feeling stressed, tired and emotionally spent.  But I found gratitude.  Even on a shitty ass day.

I'm going to keep up this practice.  It is good for me.  It keeps me focused on the good, especially on the days where the good is hard to see.

 

Thus,  On to week 4!  Week 4!

Journaling.  Every. Damn. Day.

I'm going to journal every day.  This is different than writing.  I can write without having feelings.  I can't journal without having feelings.

This will be harder than it seems.  Figuring out WHEN to do it.  To take 15-20 minutes to journal.  When I feel like I can get to feelings safely without compromising the day.  When I can do it without waking up at 4 am instead of 4:15.  Because that is a massive difference.  It's really damn early, ok?

What are your self care goals for the week?

How did last week go?

Lemme know!

I don't need you anymore. On freedom from fear.

I think I could write a thousand blog posts this week.  There are so many things I could talk about.  It has been an eventful week.

My wife and I (finally) announced on Facebook that we are having a baby.  And so I want to tell you this incredible news.  I obviously have a lot of feelings regarding being a parent, especially a parent with mental illness.  I started to write that post and it simply didn’t flow.  So I am going to make this announcement and then move on to another topic altogether.

Last week I took a quick 3 day trip to Chicago.  One of my good friends is a business and life coach and put on a workshop which she invited me to attend, so I took hold of the opportunity and headed north. 

I had a lot of time to think.  I took the train and thought.  I rode CTA and thought.  I took the Metra to my cousins’ house and thought.  I took this workshop which made me think.

It was good for me to think.  To analyze, to find clarity.  And I had a moment.  A moment I don’t fully understand but which I know has already had a profound impact on my life.

I used to, and still do to an extent, have this feeling that I am like a pile of legos.  Disconnected.  I know all the pieces go together, but I’m just not sure how.

I lost a lot of myself during the dark years.  I lost my love of music.  I lost my hobbies.  Everything was about survival.  And now I am coming out of that.  I am leaving survival mode and learning how to thrive and it is hard.  That broken, hurting kid still lives within me.  But I wrote her a letter and found healing.

I know where the pieces go now.  Where they go for now.  And I love this metaphor because it leaves room for growth and change.  Lego's are adaptable.  

And so I'm learning there are parts of me I simply don't need anymore.

I don’t need survival mode anymore.  I don’t need to live in fear.  I have powerful coping skills already in place.  

I will never go back to where I was, because it is hard to go back to that place.  I remember my first therapist telling me that it would take years to heal, because it took years to get to where I was.  And I believe that is true.  Which also means it would take YEARS to go back to where I was.  A switch won't flip and I'm magically back to where I was.  I can't go back to where I was because I have worked for years to get to where I AM.

And where I am is safe.

I am safe.

That phrase is powerful for me.  Like, bring me to the verge of tears powerful.

I am safe.

I am safe, and I haven't felt safe since I was 17 years old.  I lived in fear of what I could do to myself, what I had done to myself.

But I am safe now.

I no longer need survival mode.

I don’t need to fear.

Holy. Shit.

Welcome to freedom.

Self Care Saturday Check in and Week 2!

This week's project did not go as planned.  Day 1:  Awesome walk around the park with the wife and the dog!  Yay!  Day 2: oh crap, my knee feels stiff and swollen.  So I made myself do some form of self care every day, but walking was simply not in the books for this week.  I had no phone hammock time, I thought and journaled on the train to Chicago, I walked around Chicago and allowed myself to really be in the moment.  No phone, no headphones, simply enjoying the city.

In short, I practiced self care, just not in the way I intended.

And honestly I considered stopping this project.  "You can't even do it right the first week!" keeps running through my head.  But usually when things are hard it means you need to keep going.  So I will keep going.

Week 2!

Gratitude.  There are many ways to practice gratitude.  My wife and I try to tell each other three things we are grateful for at the end of every day.  Some people keep gratitude journals.  I like to write people letters.  But in some way, shape or form I am going to actively practice gratitude this week.  I hope to write some handwritten letters.

What are your plans for this week?

How did last week go?

On Medication.

If I were to list all of the medications I have been on during the 14 years I have taken them, the list would read like a comprehensive glossary of psychotropic medications.

You name it; I’ve likely been on it.

I’ve had good experiences with medications, and I’ve had bad experiences with medications.

Truth be told,

I hate being on meds.

Last week I called my psychiatrist to have my medication upped.

I could feel my mind running away from me, becoming a beast I could no longer tame and I knew I needed help.

I don’t want to need help.

I hate this illness.

I hate that I can be walking around, feeling completely “normal,” whatever the hell that is and get bitch-slapped across the face with an episode.  A reminder that “normal” is something you will never be.

 

Things have been harder the past few weeks, and that got me thinking about spoon theory.  Some of you are familiar with his theory I’m sure, but many of you are not, if you are not, read this.

I have an ebbing and flowing tide of spoons.  Sometimes I have a pretty standard amount of spoons.  Sometimes my spoon supply runs out.  Sometimes I use ALL the spoons at once, and then don’t have anymore spoons. 

I am low on spoons right now.  I can make it through work fine, and if it’s an uneventful day, I still have spoons when I get home and can have a good evening without breaking down.  If we are busy all day and the espresso machine breaks and we can’t get cleaning done because we’re backed up because the espresso machine is broken, and then after work I have to go to the DMV, I don’t have any spoons left.

Medication is like a back up reservoir of spoons.  Sometimes they take forEVER to ship (still waiting on this dosage change to take effect. . .), but they make it easier.  They give you a couple of extra spoons every day.

I hate that I need medication. ( have I mentioned that?)

But I need medication.

 

I am hurting because this illness makes me hurt.

I am hurting because I am proud of the work I have put in to get from where I was to where I am.

I am hurting because I was working on going off medication (with the help of my doctor, NOT on my own.  I know that’s foolish) and now my dosage is being upped, and there will likely be more changes on the 12th when I see my doctor again.

 

But I know being on medication, or having to up my medication does NOT mean I have failed.

Or at least I kind of know it.  I know it enough to remind myself that this is not some failure on my account, but rather a part of an illness which will be with me for the rest of my life barring medical miracle.

I am not a failure for needing meds.

You are not a failure for needing meds.

Whether it is a short term, “tide you over until you work through some shit” thing.

Whether it is a long term, “I will be on these or some other medications my whole life” thing.

Medication is not failure.

Medication is not shameful.

Medication is self care.

Medication is self love.

Loving yourself is hard.

Love yourself anyway.