Mental Wellness Challenge
2023, March 30
Another week flies by…
I challenged myself and you to some thinking and some doing… So – I’ll check in with how I did on my challenges… They went something like:
- Tell someone who supports you, that you appreciate them.
- Have a little look the way you see your interactions with the world… do your attitudes come from a “position” or from an “interest”… if you want, you might want to look for some reading or videos on “interest vs position”… This can be in negotiations or your perspectives… I’ll do the same.
- Sit in the sun and think a little about how you build or can build resilience in your life… because change is a constant…
I really try to acknowledge the folks in my life that support me. They are important to my well being and to my world. I got a card from someone once that said “The difference you make, makes all the difference.” and this is a truth
Looking at way I navigate my world is something that I don’t always do well. I very often approach interactions with other from a position perspective instead of an interest perspective. Being aware of how I get to where I want to be can be smoother if I enter into my interpersonal interactions from an interest based approach. I see, in my own life, that positions are difficult to move off of, while interests allow space for compromise.
Building resilience… something I struggle with… I AM getting better at building resilience to adversity. I am working at being more nimble in my efforts to manage change in my life. I shared about change being a constant – so being more able to deal with change is important to me… being able to adapt reasonably quickly to difficult situations isn’t something that I am stellar at… so – knowing that – I have been intentional about maintaining a store of “emotional buffer” that I can deploy when I am struggling. Resilience to adversity… there’s a pile of work to do there. I am getting better at not letting myself fall into that comfortable place of being a victim. I am learning to be a better advocate for myself… sometimes I even need to advocate for myself – from myself… shut down that “inner roommate” or inner negative selftalk.
I’ve had a pretty decent past week. I got to visit some family that I haven’t seen in far too long, my K and I spent a couple of days together – away from the usual routine, I stretched and grew a little mentally, I did a little baking and I did some taking care of myself. All in all – not bad.
I think that maybe spring is on its way. Taking a long time – but just maybe the seasons are turning. Our trip to see family last week took us through some snow storms and crummy weather, bad roads and messy cars… I’m really hoping that we are into warmer weather… I’ve really had enough of the cold.
I’ve shared a little about my personal wellness model. The tool that I use and work with to keep me headed towards wellness. The model has 8 facets to it… Supports, Commitment/Persistence, Awareness/Vigilance, Connections, Purpose/Intention, Acceptance/Understanding, Values and Action/s. None of the individual facets are more or less important than the other. The model is only one piece of my journey though. The model sets up a means for me to think my way through issues, conflicts (internal and external), personal expectations, experiences. I’ve started to use the word Intention along with Purpose… For me the two concepts are very closely related. OK – so these are the bits and pieces of my thinking tool…. What else is there?
The model is worthless if I don’t use it. So – there’s an applications piece here too… Persistence I suppose. I’ll be 100% honest – I don’t always use my model as consistently as I should… I pay for that…
This is an EFFORT piece for me… Its work. I have to do it. If I don’t do it – it doesn’t get done. NOBODY can do this for me. This is the chunk of my journey towards wellness that can be elusive. When I am fatigued, when I am unwell ‘have a head ache, body aches, got the yuckies’ I still have to work my model. I still have to “take the medicine”. I think this is the piece of mental illness that frustrates so very many people – myself included. The working at being mindful, focused on wellness, staying on course very often feels like pushing a chain or a rope. The medicine – the “fruit of the labor of working model” isn’t immediate. Very much like antidepressants – this takes time to work…
I’ve had places in my experience where I had to examine every step I made. I was walking a precarious ledge. A careless step could have meant disaster. Disaster for me. I know that nobody else in my experience at the time knew that I was trying to claw my way out of craggy place… how could they? I didn’t share it with any of them… so no fault to them… I don’t know if this helps understand the effort that I had to put into my initial ‘escape from Mordor’… and while I didn’t have Sauron haunting me – my own darkness was sinister enough.
OK – so, when I first realized that there was only one person that could get me to wellness I was scared spitless. I wasn’t severely depressed by choice… but I was complicit… I wasn’t negligent, I was ignorant. I hadn’t made the realization that I was responsible for my own wellness… so there I was… You see, up to this point in my life I viewed my mental wellness as my doctors responsibility, my therapists responsibility… “FIX ME”… but I learned that there’s no external “FIXER”. When this came to me I was lost, broken, sick, exhausted… In that space, in that piece of my experience every move, step… breath (pretty much) had to be contemplated, thought about, evaluated… in these early moments of my journey out of my darkness I didn’t have my model. All I had was a realization that I had to find my way. All I had was a glimpse of light, of hope in one direction and darkness, sulphury fires and smoke in the other… and between the two… lots of slippery, jagged, slimy, sharp as razors stones for a path.
I don’t recall the trip into that place. I know there were cuts and scrapes (figuratively) along the way… but not the nastiness of the place I ended up in… maybe I dropped into it… fell from someplace into the dungeons of Mordor…
I do know that those first few days fumbling to find my way were excruciating. I had just come from a place where “not being” held more appeal than “struggling to be”… and I was just realizing my ‘want’ to survive. One step forward, slide two or three steps back. I liken this piece of my journey to this rocky, craggy hurtful place because my body physically ached. Ached like I was trying to claw my way out of that crappy place. The pain was real. It was a pain, an ache that ibuprofen or acetaminophen didn’t relieve. [I have some arthritis now – and I will share that the discomfort that OA causes now is nothing compared to the pain that I felt at that broken place in my life.] It was frustrating as hell too. I would feel like I was making some progress – maybe I was getting too confident – and then I would do the snakes and ladders thing to some new craggy place. The darkness, the depression and anxiety was so thick that I couldn’t see my way forward. If you can imagine a pitch black place where there’s not enough light to see where you have to put your feet… one right in front of the other… sometimes feeling the way with my hands…
I am very grateful that I am not in that space any longer. I might even venture that I have some gratitude for the experience of that darkness. For the lesson/s learned. I’ve learned that I never want to mindlessly, carelessly wander into that wilderness again. Along the way out from that space, I had the good fortune to have some folks through me a line here and there, a candle when it was super dark.. (I just had to make sure that I didn’t let the flame die out.) and along the way, I was able to learn about responsibility. Learn about what I needed. Learn about how I fit into my own picture.
My model bubbled out from that experience and it does help me stay safer, healthier. I don’t know that would say that I am living in fear of that place. I have a respect for that place, but I’m not afraid of it. There is a sense of fear/trepidation regarding something happening in my life that has me ending up in a place like my darkness… and that is a reasonable motivator.
My life took me through many cycles of major depression. The difference between where I am now and my approach to my wellness is my realization that “Nothing out there changes.” PERIOD. My depression isn’t something that can be cured by someone else. 100% there are supports and tools that I can use to help me be well.. but I have to do my part.
Some things I need to acknowledge. When I was super sick, I wasn’t able to do all this on my own. I had people who helped me. I had medication that helped me. I had services that helped me. The medications did NOT fix me. The others did NOT fix me. The services did NOT fix me… but I wouldn’t have been successful without them. I’ve come across folks that are reaching out for help and I reach back to help them. I can only do what I can do. I can only offer the supports that I have to offer. I don’t have the skills of a dragon trainer… I’m not a magician or a learned sage… I am just a lowly wanderer. I know that I would foolish to step into a dragon pit with even the smallest of critters, or to try my hand at some incantation… I can tell my story, I can offer the map that I have made for my path and I can offer encouragement… Hang On, Pain Ends and “Nothing out there changes.”
This week I’d like to challenge you to:
Look for the newness in your experience. Look for something to be grateful for. Look for somewhere to be the change you want to see in the world.
That’s it, I challenge you.