(OK, you need to take care of yourself always, but hear me out.)
When I was in treatment, we learned myriad coping skills and thought restructuring activities. I filled two notebooks. I came home with a thick folder of worksheets and my DBT workbook. I journaled every day. We usually meditated in at least one of our daily groups. I read my Journey to the Heart. I did yoga several times a week. And between all that AND five hours of therapy a day (and meds), guess what? I felt pretty awesome.
I came back to NYC a month ago tomorrow (what?! time is weird), and to be honest, the transition hasn’t been all puppies and sunshine. In fact, I haven’t had enough puppies or sunshine. (If someone wants to help with the puppy part?) To come back from intensive daily treatment under 24-hour care, back to life on your own in a stressful city is…a lot.
And I’m moving. And looking for work. (And currently in a holding pattern for two gigs that would be ~40 hours/week worth of work—things look incredibly close with both of them, but nothing’s certain yet.)
Overall, I’m still feeling better than not, but I’m having definite times where those dark thoughts come flooding back in or when anxiety starts racing through my veins again.
And then I realize: it’s because I’m not taking care of myself the best way I know how. The best way I know how does include journaling and yoga and meditation. It includes paying attention to my feelings and asking myself what I need in any given day, and what’s not working for me. (Today: obsessively jumping between Twitter, Facebook and my email: not working. And time to put my screen time limits back on Instagram)
It involves not attempting to jump back into my old routine, because, LOL that wasn’t working for me. It involves taking time to fill my cup by spending time with people who make me smile, who challenge me to think about things in a different way.
It involves reminding myself that I do have a mental illness, and I am still recovering. I love this quote from this piece:. “Acting fine is a cognitive process.” I know what I’m supposed to do to “act” fine, but I’m suspended between being totally fine and totally ill, not feeling like I fit in either. I may never reach my old levels of productivity, but maybe that isn’t a bad thing, as someone who would often run herself into the ground.
This is when the work happens—when feeling great, that “pink cloud” (to steal recovery-speak) phase starts fading, and staying focused on the lifetime journey in front of me. Taking care of myself now to prevent relapses down the road. Remembering I’m on my path, and eyes on my own paper. What works for you may not work for me, and vice versa.
I’m just a girl out here, staring at a llama ad on the subway, and asking it to love her.
What are you doing to really take care of yourself today? If you stop and ask yourself—and really listen—what is it that you need?