Just a little bit better

I have suffered from depression and anxiety for many years, decades in fact. For years I did not know what was wrong. Then I got the diagnosis, and to some degree it was good news.  Hey yes there is something wrong I can take a pill and make it go away. Wrong. Oh, I took the pills. I recall asking the doc how long I had to take the anti-depressants, he said most of his patients never stop. So, I took the pills and when they didn’t work so well, I took more pills and different pills. I finally gave up and stopped taking pills and started to “self-medicate” that did not work out so well either. Then more pills. Then someone introduced me to a wellness action plan. So, I built one and it helped. And I played with it a little and I followed it sometimes.

Then came COVID, with all the stress and the anxiety that came from COVID and all the turmoil and unrest I knew I had to get serious about taking care of my mental health. More serious I should say. And I took a deeper dive into my wellness action plan. And I started following my daily maintenance plan religiously. Now that is not to say that I did everything every day, but I made sure I was doing most of it most days, which became every day, which became I need to add more stuff.

And now I sit, and I write as I feel good. I mean I feel good, I am happy, I feel joy. No pills and the “self-medication” side of things is now DDP Yoga, Keto lifestyle, Tai Chi, Judo and above all time with God. What are the changes you may ask?

  1. I get up at 4:00AM every day
  2. My coffee is ready and waiting when I get up (may seem small but it is big)
  3. Time set aside for me
  4. Unashamed podcast
  5. Daily scripture reading
  6. Daily mindfulness
  7. Daily DDP Yoga
  8. Daily Tai Chi
  9. Daily Judo
  10. Intermittent fasting
  11. Keto Lifestyle

This list is the nuts and bolts of what has changed. Some stressors have become less, some things I thought I had to do the pandemic taught me I did not. But for me it all starts getting up and giving myself an hour and a half of not having to be accountable to anyone but myself and to learn about what I need to feel joy. And Wow has it changed my life.

3 Random morning Haiku

Being present here

Just listening to the song

Letting it sink in

Nice drive this morning

Music and weather on point

Springtime in the air

Front porch morning time

Sun comes up behind the trees

Pushing back the cold

When the snow melts

It has been a rough couple of weeks here in our beloved Ozarks. We had some insanely cold temps and a significant, for us, amount of snow. Now I understand folks from the Northern parts of the US deal with this kind of weather for months at a time. Down here we do not, that’s part of why we live here. I love being in the Ozarks where we get all four seasons, sometimes even in the same day. I love that we generally get about two weeks of hard winter and about two weeks of really hot summer. Other than that, and the occasional tornado, the weather here is pretty nice.

All that being said, the last couple of weeks have been tough. Water froze, pipes burst, the heater had a tough time keeping up and the roads sucked. I found myself quite frayed more than once. I lost my temper, shouted at people I should not have and generally wondered what the heck was going on with me.

Well I figured it out. For years I have been using a Wellness Recovery Action Plan or WRAP from the Copeland institute. This has been a tool that I use daily. Well I should use it daily. I realized during this cold snap and general winter wonderland we have been in I have been neglecting my daily maintenance plan. I revisited it last week and saw how many things I had not been doing. This has really made me see how important taking the time to make sure, regardless of what is happening around me, I am taking care of me. I have truly come to understand that if I do not take care of me, I am no good to anyone. In fact rather than being a part of someone else’s solutions I become a part of their problem. And that is the last thing I want to do.

If you are not familiar with WRAP or even the SAMHSA version called Wellness Action Plan (WAP) I encourage you to look it up. Build one, take a class, just do it. It does not matter if you suffer from a mental illness or not. It is just as good for diabetes or high blood pressure or weight loss as it is for depression or anxiety or anything that gets in the way of your wellness.

Today the snow is melting, the temperatures are going up and our little taste of winter should be in the rearview mirror. But for me what lays ahead is a review, and reflection, of what I need to do to guard my own wellness. And to build on the work I have done.

Be Well!

5 more Haiku

Early morning drive

The varying shades of gray

Sunrise color

Rough bark gray sky snow

Winter morning in my woods

Working through the form

A Gray stone morning

Sky and markers match my mood

Cemetery view

Top the rise and see

Headstone maker matched the sky

Winter in my heart

On a bright white page

Ideas begin to take form

Rise of an image

Grace

I like to be old

I hope to become older

Age comes with blessing

Another Beautiful day in the Ozarks

Well it is a cold gray morning here in Southewest Missouri. I have my coffee made and the woodstove fired up and life is good. You may not understand how important that last statement is. “Life is good” for someone like me who suffers from depression and anxiety is not something we say very often. I was sitting here this morning drinking my coffee and thinking bout life, and just being happy. You may not understand what an amazing feeling that is. Often people who do not suffer from depression spend much of the time happy, just feeling pretty good about the prospects of life in general. That is not to say that everyone does not get hit by the blues. It is not to say that no one faces tragedy or heartbreak. It is to say that for many of us with major depression that feeling of happiness, is rarly there. So this morning as I sat and reveled in feeling of happiness I took time to reflect on the things that got me here. First the knowledge that Christ strengthens me. My faith and my Bible studies have done much to help me in this battle. Second I would say my mental health providers and teachers. Being able to learn how to identify aspects of my mental health and learn to identify triggers, and early waarning signs have made a huge positive impact on my life. Changing the way I eat and the activities I do has also made huge strides toward this beautiful moment of happiness.

Honestly there has not been just one thing. There was no magic wand there was only work. There will still be a lot of work. Knowing that I have the tools for recovery, knowing that there are treatments for this disease. Knowingg that I am not alone in my battles. These things are haat truly make this a beautiful day in the Ozarks.

Be blessed, and be well.

3 haiku

Lightning flash outside

Thunder rolls in the distance

Brings my heart true joy

To search for the words

That discribe this one moment

Seeking my own heart

Rain beats down on the roof

Helping me to find the words

To bring myself peace

Early morning storm

Early morning storm

Sounds of rain on the window

Lead pen to paper

Another Haiku

Falling rain snow sleet
They call it the winter mix
Bad time to feel old

Haiku 2

Early morning song

Highway sounds in the distance 

My tree frog choir