My trips to Houston always breed interesting blog posts. Every time I talk with Dr. Mary Oxford, she gives me tons of amazing things to write about. We have some of the coolest conversations.
Yesterday we discussed a number of things. One of the big themes was — how do I keep going? How do I continue this journey of working on myself and staying curious?
There is no end in sight for my development and healing. It’s not as though some day I’ll graduate from the work I do on myself and be deemed “healed” or somehow done with the work. That’s not why I do the work.
I am constantly asking questions. I’m still in therapy twice a week, and there are still times where I go to therapy three times in one week because I’m really hammering away at an issue. I work a program of recovery and I stay close to my sponsor. She has become a huge source of inspiration and growth.
I have learned to love the work, I guess. There are days where I want throw my hands up and say, “ugh, I am done with this self-help shit.” In fact, there are days where I do exactly that. And then I take the minutes I need to (usually) sit in my self-pity about how “I’m never going to get better, why should I even try?” And then I pick up the pieces of my day and I keep working.
The work brings the light. The work keeps the candle burning. The work I do when I am not depressed keeps the light on when I am depressed. I am always preparing future Sim for the shit storm. There might not be a shit storm for a while, and if there isn’t, the work makes the good times that much sweeter. However, life comes with shit storms.
I don’t look at the fact that I know there will be shitty days with this attitude of doom and gloom. I’m not (always) afraid of the bad days. I don’t (typically) dread them, because I know they are a part of my cycle of depression. I mean, really, they’re just part of the cycle of being a human being.
If you know me, or my journey at all, you know I do a lot of maintenance to keep myself healthy and happy. I don’t mind the work. I love it.
Some people get tired of working on themselves. And don’t get me wrong, there are days when I am in my depression and I think, “oh my god, you’re telling me I’m never going to be healed? That I have to keep up this work for years and years to come? And I’m STILL going to suffer from depression. despite the work? Fuck that!” And then I read notes to myself that clearly state, “yes, dear, this work will continue, and yes, you will still have shitty days despite the work, and yes, you badass warrior princess, you can do it.”
The cost of the work is time and dedication. I have to remain consistent in my treatment, and that isn’t always easy to do. Thankfully, I have built my treatment into my daily life. It’s been five years. I can’t believe it’s been five years. But, after five years it comes naturally. It doesn’t (most of the time) feel like an inconvenience, it just feels like part of my day.
I wake up, I practice gratitude. It’s not something I force myself to do, it’s something I’ve been doing for a few years. I don’t even have to remember to do it, I just do it. I go to sleep, and if I can’t sleep, I write and meditate. It isn’t frustrating (most of the time) or hard to think of what to do when I can’t sleep. I tried a lot of things to help my sleeplessness, and that worked, so that’s what I just naturally go to.
There are days when I think “ugh, please not more therapy!” and then I go to therapy and talk about that.
The pay off of doing these things is that I don’t want to kill myself. I am fully aware that when I am suicidal, suicide is the best option I can think of. The work I have done and continue to do keeps a tiny ember burning in the darkness that says, “hey, I know you and I know you’re happy to be alive. There’s a chance you’re not totally in the best place mentally right now, maybe you could reach out/go to a meeting/ask for help/call your psychiatrist, and try to get out of this.” And then I’ll do one of the things that I have trained myself to do and I will come out of that mindset and think, “whew, awesome, I am so glad I’m alive. What can I do to make that ember burn a little brighter next time?”
I know that if I didn’t do this work, the chances of suicide sounding like a good idea and then not doing anything to change that thinking get higher and higher.
Another pay off of this work is that there are a lot more good days. A lot more days where I feel really solid about being alive, even when I am in depression. Because I practice mindfulness when I am depressed, I also practice mindfulness when I am not depressed. It makes happy days happier and sad days happier.