Soon after my partial hospitalization last Fall, my therapist recommended a regime based on scheduled blocks of time. Fess’ing up that I spent lost time starring out the window and being no help to my family or myself triggered a need to be more capable and productive.
I began living life in chunks of time, focused mostly on my productivity as a parent and spouse — as well as my commitment to recovery. Days have started with journaling gratitude, affirmations and prayer. Mornings have consisted of getting the family ready for school and work with breakfast and packing lunches before my husband heads out the door. After bringing our son to the bus, chores, step work and regular doctor appointments etc., I usually attend a twelve-step meeting midday. Before bus pick up and kick-starting the second leg of my responsibilities, I have a few hours for necessary rest and reflection. Playtime with the boy, homework, sports, dinner and a structured bedtime routine rounds out my routine.
This seems to be working, so before traveling from Virginia to Massachusetts for an Easter celebration with family, I spent weeks mentally and logistically preparing. I was concerned about the break in routine and how it would affect my recovery. It felt like it should be a no brainer, but traveling for a week required my full attention and gobs of energy.
Thankfully, time back home was amazing. Good work paid off. I had an opportunity to reunite with family as well as test my newly found attitude and state of being. Proud of my balance and ability to care, love – and let things slide as well, each moment of our trip was beautiful.
Ripping off the band-aid again and returning to Virginia consequently hurt. The tears rolled down my face as I shuddered and gasped for breath sobbing. Despite crying, I was actually happy to be feeling without fear as we drove down Route 95. My family and I first left Massachusetts for Virginia two years ago. If we hadn’t taken the leap, healthy moods I now understand wouldn’t exist. I’d certainly be self-medicating – squashing feelings and being unaware of the lie I was living. Without transplanting to Virginia and spiraling out of control, barely getting by would have lingered – at best.
On cue and upon returning home to Richmond I fell apart. For a few days I floundered, questioning my value and self worth; beginning to beat myself up with notions of despair and anguish.
So I got a new journal and started writing. I attended a group therapy session, quickly attended a few meetings, got my plan together for another week and began to feel like recovery Kate again. My therapist explained that my rebound proves how simple coping mechanisms such as routine journaling and scheduling work for me.
Almost feeling comfortable in my skin, I’m tempted to believe this is a turning point – a time when I can confidently look forward to next life steps. But in reality only a few short months have passed since I’ve begun this program. Risk of relapse is real.
Managing my disability remains a challenge – I get anxious easily, shake like a leaf and can’t process numbers or use my memory to complete even simple tasks outside my structured routine. I get tired and overwhelmed easily. I fear letting go and watching my mental wellness go haywire. I’ve always accepted change without fear – but only by stomping on my anxiety until it bubbles like hot lava. Another explosion may be lethal, so yes — I’ve picked up my routine again, which is grounding.
There are bumps, of course. Today is day three of a rainy stretch. Making my son’s lunch, managing homework and considering today’s itinerary hurt my bones – and dulled my capabilities. I stayed in bed for an hour too long and almost missed the bus. Writing this blog is helping my energy and enthusiasm. Up for four hours and I’m starting to feel capable today. Opting for awareness and having faith in what’s supported to be, I’m abandoning my once loved and manic way of “making things happen” and securing my seat belt for the more sane road reality has to offer.
From 1,000 miles up, describing how scheduling and productivity makes me feel hum drum . . . that I’m weak to rely on a simple practice that’s beneath me. But it helps illustrate the irony intrinsic to my recovery: reality is far more joyful and content than any moment living the thrill of mania or a good high. Being sane and clean beats insanity or illegal drug use any day –factoring ups, downs or anything in between. While this may sound like easy logic to some, it presents a life worth living to me. There’s nothing boring about that.