Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Funk

Happy Friday all!

I am so tired today. I put whole beans in the paper basket of my coffee maker and wondered why it came out all watery...

It's cause I'm not sleeping right - violating all the rules. Going to bed whenever; falling asleep in a crumpled heap on a couch that is a foot and a half too short; sleeping with the light on because I'm too tired to turn it off; sleeping with the TV on...all night. It's no good!

And now I'm in a funk! The Vortex is looking more attractive, while only last week, I was doing so well! Gotta re-group today and get back on track.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Waiting for class to start. Thought I'd see if I can blog from my phone. 

Sorry if this looks all funny...

Everyday is a struggle. Not just for the mentally ill, but for everyone really. It's how you respond to it and rise up to meet the day that counts. 

Happy Tuesday! Make it a good one!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Crossing the Line

It's cold and raining today, but it's sunny and 72 in my head right now! I'm feeling really good! It's the third week of spring semester and I'm fairly on top of things so far.

I think about how things were last year. I was doing okay, but was closer to the edge - walking on a thin line between mental health and the abyss. I have gotten so much better these past twelve months - between medication changes and therapy I've come a loooong way!

Had I not reached out for help back in September 2012, I'm not sure I'd be here today. Sometimes that's all it takes when one is at the end of one's rope - simply reaching out to another person for help.

And that, dear friends is why I'm in school now. I want to be the hand reaching down to another person, helping to pull others up with me. I want to give back the gift of life - and sanity - that I was given. I want to see other people begin to reach their full potential as I am on the road to reaching mine.

That is what keeps me going and makes me happy on this dark, cold, wet day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The 7 Habits of Mental Wellness: Habit 1 - Be Proactive

This is the second in the series: The 7 Habits of Mental Health Recovery - based on the late Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. See "The 7 Habits of Mental Wellness"  for the introduction to this series.

Habit 1 is Be Proactive. It is the habit of personal responsibility. Before I go into how it relates to mental health, let me give you a little background on proactivity from the late Stephen R. Covey.


Habit 1 basically says that ultimately we are in control of our own individual destinies by the choices we make and the actions we take. The results we experience in life stem from our responses to the various stimuli in our lives. Covey said that each time we experience a stimulus, no matter how quickly we respond there is a space between the stimulus and our response. No matter how small the space, it is in that space that our freedom to choose our response lies - and our freedom to choose is our power. It is by choosing to respond “responsibly” to the stimuli in our lives that we become proactive and thus more effective as people.


The other way we exercise (or don’t exercise) our proactivity is in what we choose to focus on. All our thoughts and actions are oriented around two areas: our circle of influence, which includes those things about which we can do something (e.g., the quality of our work, what we wear, what we say); and our circle of concern, which includes those things about which we can do nothing (e.g., the weather, the family into which we were born, world crises). Covey taught that our power lies in letting go of the latter, and focusing on the former - those things over which we have control. When we do so, gradually we gain more control over our lives and our circle of influence expands.


Now, what does one do when one is mentally ill - when one's space between stimulus and response is molecular in size or one is consumed with the things over which one has no control?

For many of us who are mentally ill, there is something we can do. If, for example, the stimulus is our cycling negative thoughts and amorphous fears, and our response is normally to dive head first into the Vortex, one can instead use that tiny space between stimulus and response to ask for help or accept an offer for help. If the stimulus is a chemical substance to which one is addicted, and the desire to use is so strong that it seems impossible to ignore, one can instead use the space to decide to seek treatment. Even if that is all we can do in the present moment, sometimes that's all it takes to expand our influence and change the course of our future.

For example, when I was at the end of my rope a year ago, and thoughts of death were comforting, not frightening, I didn't have it within me to help myself. The distance between stimulus and my response was really small, and my response was one-tracked, negative, and repetitive. But somewhere inside, my conscience tugged at me and I told on myself. I shared my thoughts with my husband; and he was able to get the help for me.

Here are some simple suggestions to help expand your circle of influence and widen that space between stimulus and response: 
  • ask for or accept an offer for help
  • take a walk
  • get out into nature
  • blog or journal about what you are going through and what you are feeling
  • do something creative (e.g., color, collage, scrapbook, cook a nice meal, dance, write a poem)
  • call a good friend
  • set a small goal and work to achieve it; then set a bigger one, etc.
  • go to a support group (e.g., AA, NA, depression/anxiety, ALANON...)
In addition, doing the following will chemically alter that distance between stimulus and response:
  • take your prescribed meds
  • get 8 hours of sleep
  • eat a protein-carb balanced diet (my idea, not necessarily that of your physician - check this out with her first)
Both lists represent simple things that will help connect you back into yourself, begin to respond proactively to your mental illness, and expand your control over your mind and your life. Give them a try and see what happens!

NOTE: Just a reminder again that I am not a doctor, nurse, psychiatrist, psychologist (yet!), mental health worker, etc. I am just a student and patient trying to find my own path to mental health. ;)