If You Can’t Fly, Then Run

If you can't fly...

Battling mental illness is exhausting, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up completely. Moving forward no matter how insignificant is a win.

I recently joined a gym with the goal of working out five times a week. Right now this feels impossible. In my current state of mind I doubt I’ll get there at all this week. I’m not being pessimistic, that is the reality of my energy level and my will. Days like this mean I wake up tired, I’m not interested in doing anything and my outlook on life is dismal.

If you can’t fly, then run

I have dysthymia so I don’t think I’ve ever been able to fly. But a really good day is a running day, and nothing holds me back. On those days life feels lighter and easier. It’s a day to make the most of my energy and my emotional high. Anything is possible.

If you can’t run, then walk

On the days when you have a wish to get something done, but everything is overwhelming, it’s time to break the mountain down into mole hills.

The days you can only walk, prioritize your tasks and do the bare necessities. Put on one load of laundry, the rest can be done tomorrow. Clean the sink, the tub or the toilet and leave the rest for another day. Break down your chores into manageable bits.

Today I decided to mow my lawn before I slept the afternoon away. I knew I couldn’t finish the entire yard, but I was determined to pick an area and get it done. When I finished I felt like I was productive, and the feeling of accomplishment was good for my self-esteem.

If you can’t walk, then crawl

Then there are days when everything feels impossible, and all you want to do is hide under a rock and die, be kind to yourself. This is not the day to worry about getting chores done or going to the gym.

When all I can do is crawl, I will walk to the end of my driveway to bring in the garbage and recycling containers or pick up the newspaper. That is all the exercise I’ll do today.

It will be a day of sleeping, cups of tea, and lots of television and the internet. I’ll strive to pick up after myself, but if I don’t then tomorrow is fine. Today I’m just trying to survive. Giving yourself permission to do nothing is a wonderful gift.

If you can’t stand being in your own skin, call a friend, a therapist, a help line, anything to get through the day without feeling you’re alone in the world.

Mental illness takes a lot from us already, but if we strive to move forward, it doesn’t have to destroy us.

The Bleak Hours

Fog
The hours, days, months, and even years of living in despair – the bleak hours.

Despair creeps in like a slow rolling fog. An insidious cloud at the edge of my peripheral vision. There are always signs that the bleak hours are coming; the flu-like symptoms, lack of interest, lack of energy and denial.

So, I sleep more, I do less, and I watch my self-esteem crumble. I can’t stay on top of my life, my simple, uncomplicated life. Most people work full-time, take care of a home, raise kids, hang out with friends and spend time indulging hobbies. I don’t work, live alone with 4 dogs, and can live my life any way I choose, and I still can’t make it happen. I have a pity-party, I feel worthless and I sleep to escape my dark thoughts.

Yesterday, I cried off and on, for no reason. I think the pain wells up deep inside of me and spills out of my eyes. I tell myself that if I don’t get a handle on the crying I will have to go to the hospital. I can feel myself breaking apart inside. I’ve been there before and when I get to the breaking point, I scare the hell out of people.

If I’m going to the hospital, I have a few things to take care of first. As I make a mental note of what I need to do I find the dark thoughts lifting. Preparing for a breakdown is too much work, so I start tidying up to distract myself. It works, and I find my internal drama quiets, allowing me to have a pleasant evening.

After a fitful night’s sleep, I wake exhausted and stumble to let the dogs out. I go back to bed for a couple of hours before I decide to get up and head for the dog park. There are other people there and we chat, but I feel detached and heavy in my body and my spirit. I can’t wait to get home.

I pick up a coffee and muffin on the way home and here I sit, browsing facebook and feeling restless. I’ll have a nap soon and sleep away the afternoon, quieting all the noise in my head. Napping is my favorite escape from mental anguish. When I wake up I will feel refreshed and in a better position to fight the chaos in my mind and body. I’ve been here before and I know this will pass, after all, God is with me and He will carry me to the other side.

The bleak hours are always there, hovering on the outskirts waiting for an opportunity to settle in my spirit. This is my reality. Time spent during the bleak hours serves to make me stronger and more appreciative of the beautiful, joyful moments. Moments that fill me with hope for a better day and a better life without the bleak hours.