Mental Wellness Challenge
2022, March 17
Its not easy being green…. Well, another week screams by…
My last challenge to you was to:
- Tell one person, every day, that you love them. You don’t have to use the words – you can show your caring through your actions – and perhaps that might even be more meaningful that just words.
- Give a friend, family member, family pet a huge hug. Feel loved. Feel connected.
- Practice patience. Patience with yourself, patience with your family, patience with strangers.
I hope you smashed my challenge!
I was purposeful with my challenge. I made sure that I let the folks around me know that I care about them, that I love them. I made certain that my K. knew she was loved every day, I was intentional about being kind and caring to folks I encountered, and I did my best to make sure that my friends were loved.
I really like hugs. Yup, I’m a hugger… and I like giving and getting hugs. I even got to give my grand dog, Kona, a great big cuddle… She’s a big girl, but she loves cuddles. Such a special feeling.
Practicing patience has been – well a lesson for me this past week. I’ve had to be especially aware and intentional a bunch of the time. I’m struggling with my Ds and I get surly when I’m getting worn down. So, I must be “on it” so that I don’t go smashing through a china shop or something… What usually happens when I get worn down is I start to retreat, “turtle up”, and isolate. I know its as much for myself as it is for others around me – and I also know that when I do this – it looks like I am standoffish or moody – and I suppose that is a truth…
The last week has been a lot like the previous week. I’m feeling very stressed. I’m emotionally fatigued – tired and mood wise, well – I’m pretty raw… The “stuff” going on in the world only adds to the soup that I am dealing with in my own experience. I’ve had some sort of infection in my ears that has been a – distraction… but not a good one. More frustrating that painful or anything like that – I’ve got drops and sprays to help – but having one ear down makes my job more work.
I’ve been trying to stay away from the news as much as I can. I don’t have the energy to try to wade through what is truth and what is fiction, and its almost better for me to not pay attention to any of it and expend my energy on working on my stuff, than spend it going through a bunch of “who knows what”. This might sound selfish – and to be honest – it is, that said – I have my own work to do. This does however bring something up for me… I am truly fortunate to live where I do – to not have to worry about shelling and bombs, food, water, shelter, safety. Truly blessed.
I sincerely don’t know what’s worse for me right now – my depression or my anxiety. In some ways this is a chicken and egg puzzle for me. I don’t really know what exacerbates what. My anxiety feels stronger lately and I don’t know if that stronger sense of insecurity makes my depression worse or vice versa.
Right now – I feel like I am constantly watching myself for missteps, mistakes, errors, foibles… I have a never ending feeling like doom is right around the corner – right there – about to spring out from the darkness. Have you ever had to make a really difficult decision – say between two maybe not so great outcomes… In the space between knowing that a decision must be made and the making of the decision lies anxiety – at least it does for me. What I am experiencing fairly consistently lately is that anxiety. The anxiety is growing as my experience continues. I am trying to deal with it as best I can. I know that this unsettled feeling isn’t rational, isn’t anchored to any specific event or subject – only that I can’t shake it.
This tension exists pretty much from the time I awake, until I go off to sleep. Lately, I’ve had to have help to get to sleep because if I don’t have help, that tension keeps my mind racing. I go through a never ending churning of thoughts and worries. It would be different if I had any chance of being able to influence the outcomes of my concerns – but I do not. Still, I would lay there and ruminate all night, night after night – until I am totally exhausted. And… In the process of all this being worn down, my darkness grows.
My depression pushes good things out of my experience. It steals away positivity and cultivates doubt. I work hard – WORK at pushing the darkness back. I try to keep my focus on where my feet are being planted so that I don’t step in a spot that is extra slippery, or into a hole that could make me trip and fall. It is work. It takes effort over and beyond what I expend to get through my usual day. The other piece that takes energy is the smokescreen that I have to lay down as I move through my experience.
The difference between the Kevin of today – working against my depression and the Kevin of a decade or so ago is that I have accepted that “Nothing out there changes.” There’s nobody that is going to be able to do anything that is going to make me feel better. There’s certainly supports that can help me feel better or supported, but I’m the one that has the responsibility of working my way out of the depression.
Perhaps some of this realization comes along with my recovery from alcohol abuse. I didn’t start out with any desire to become an alcoholic – to abuse alcohol. In fact, when I was younger, I didn’t really even like drink very much. I’ve shared before how I can remember the day when alcohol changed from something that I used socially to something that I used medicinally or perhaps more truthfully abused through self medication. This abuse continued until I was lead to realize that I had a choice to make – be responsible for my actions or be alone. Battling depression and mental illness is a little like that – although I can say without doubt that I’ve never chosen to be depressed or to have anxiety or to have any of the other Ds that I have.
So – instead of feeling helpless and coming from a place of victimhood, I know that I have to act. That I have to do the things that I need to do to hopefully be able to keep myself out of the darkest parts of my forest – the deepest parts of what I know depression and hopelessness can be.
I’m a person, I have faults – lots of them. I have tools that I can use but I don’t always use them. I know routines that I should follow to feel better, but I don’t always do them. Sincerely, there’s little piece of me that is a bit rebellious about some of those things… Maybe a little like the kid in all of us that, even though we know that getting a full nights rest helps us tackle the challenges of the day more successfully, we choose to stay up and watch that television program or play that game… a little like – maybe more like I know that I really shouldn’t snack – I don’t need the calories… yet I do anyway. Self control? Honestly – its exhausting to have to watch where every footstep takes me, every actions intentions…
Writing that last paragraph – ya, I see it – excuses, excuses… I can do better for myself. Yes, yes – a little bit of pity party too. I know it – I know that I am the only person that can make the changes I need to make to make things better. I also know that the effort is worth it. In fact, “There’s benefit in the struggle.”.
So, is this as simple as “Hey, just choose to be happy!”? Hardly… At least in my 60 years of experience – I haven’t found it that way. I can put on a façade of cheer – but that’s not the same as true happiness. I’ve very often said of my depression and anxiety – “If curing my mental illness was as straight forward as quitting drinking, I’d be cured!”
This week I am challenging you to:
- Challenge yourself. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new or do something out of the ordinary.
- Make a list – “One thing I am grateful for this week.” Add something/s to it each day of the week.
- Be a blessing to someone else. Show up for someone who needs a hand.