Posts Tagged With: mental-health

Floors and Ceilings

The following is a small excerpt from my Big Work In Progress. I thought I’d share a taste today here on the blog. Enjoy.

“Over a month after returning home from the hospital she still felt tenuous and fragile. And yet there was something in the air, or in her dreams, or in the light coming through the windows that felt different.

Sometimes life surprised her. Waking early, feeling unusually rested, she would climb out of bed feeling oddly energetic. The morning would run smoothly, the day unfolding simply with few glitches. Afternoons flowed like water into an evening. Busy or relaxed didn’t matter. On those rare days life was manageable, easier and, dare she think it, happier.

Occasionally two such days would occur back to back. She tread lightly on that second day, aware of the fragile miracle she was experiencing. Laughter bubbled out. Fun erupted. The children’s mischief and messes didn’t overwhelm her. She could think with clarity. Planning ahead provided hope instead of a sense of dread. Creating a simple meal brought satisfaction.

Even the muscles in her body responded to the difference in the very air around her. She moved quicker and accomplished tasks without achiness or apprehension.

She thought perhaps the medications were helping.

Her husband thought so, too. He’d said as much one evening after dinner. The kids had slipped away from the table and back to a bedroom to play.

Dinner Plate Finished

(Photo credit: bazadwalker)

“Nice dinner, sweetie,” he said.

“It was good, wasn’t it?” she said running a finger along the edge of her plate. “And quick and easy to fix, too.” She felt pleased at the accomplishment.

“How are you feeling lately?” he ventured.

“Mmm. Okay, some days. I guess,” she replied.

He shook his head as if agreeing with her. There was some silence. He seemed to be waiting for her to say something more, but she didn’t.

“To me, your lows seem less low,” he said.

“Hmm.”

“And your highs, your good moments, your good days, seem,” he looked for just the right word, “tempered.”

“Tempered?”

“Yes. Not as vibrant. Happy but not too happy, I think.” His forehead furrowed as he looked at her.

“Hmm.”

“It’s like your meds have placed a floor and a ceiling on your moods.” He had emphasized the word “and” as if it were critical to the meaning of his sentence.

“Hmm,” she leaned her chin into the cup of her hand, her elbow resting on the table. “Hmm,” she repeated. “Interesting visual.”

Genius - Wile E. Coyote - Chuck Jones

In her mind she pictured a cartoon drawing of herself bouncing through a long tunnel, her head crashing into the ceiling, then rebounding to the floor. Seems like she had seen a “Roadrunner and Coyote” cartoon like that once. The hapless Coyote ricocheting off winding tunnels, his hard-hat light clicking off and on as he bounded helplessly along.

She laughed out loud at the memory of it.

“What?” he asked. “Why are you laughing?”

She described the cartoon to him and he chuckled slightly.

“I didn’t mean it quite like that,” he said almost apologetically, a grin spreading despite his efforts to hold it back.

“Oh, I know,” she smiled. Then she lifted a hand to his face across the table. His day old beard was scratchy but only slightly. The warmth of his cheek felt calming. Reassuring.

“Mmmm,” he said, closing his eyes at this unexpected affection. After a moment or two, he reached for her other hand across the table.

There was a squeal and burst of laughter from the kids in their bedroom, then near silence. Other than that, the house was quiet and still.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“For what?” he asked, opening his eyes and looking at her.  She shook her head, her eyes shiny with tears she was holding back. Taking her hand from his cheek, he cradled both of her hands between his.

She couldn’t put words to what she meant, not really, but she tried anyway. In a barely audible voice she said, “Thank you. For not giving up on me.”

“Shh…” he responded, “shh.”

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Spring Cleaning for My Heart

“When you forgive, you heal your own anger and hurt and are able to let love lead again. It’s like spring cleaning for your heart. ” – Marci Shimoff

I am one of those people who holds on tight to a hurt, a slight, a painful experience and won’t let it go.

I don’t mean to be unforgiving. But I’ve often found myself retelling an incident, names removed to protect the guilty, and feeling justified in still resenting, still being critical, still harboring the hurt.

Why?

Why would I do that? It’s not hurting the other person who hurt me. Telling the story, sharing the anger, doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it makes me feel angry all over again, resentful all over again.

I think it’s something I need to work on. Forgiving MSH if he forgets to do something I ask him to do. Letting go of the criticism I feel when someone points out improvements I need to make. Taking a pass on reliving frustrations and heartaches from years ago. The list of things I need to let go of is huge.

How much energy is this draining from me every single day?

Would I feel less tired if I used that energy to plant a forgiveness garden? Could I let the heartache or misunderstanding dissipate and disappear through some physical act of letting go? Could I write it down and set a match to it?

Huisvrouwengymnastiek / Gymnastics for housewives

Gymnastics for housewives (Photo credit: Nationaal Archief)

I’ve always loved the idea of spring cleaning. A hundred years ago it was a huge process that involved cleaning soot from walls, beating dust and dirt from rugs, sanding tables,  disinfecting dark places, opening windows and finally letting in fresh, healthy air. Disease and infection and vermin thrived if spring cleaning didn’t happen every year.

Could lack of forgiveness be the reason my energies are low, my vibrancy diminished?

Today I’m beginning the physical spring cleaning of my home. Perhaps, I can also begin to purge the emotional and spiritual dust and grime. I’m sure there’s room and need for fresh air and sunshine in a more than a few of my nooks and crannies.

Can I let love lead and heal my heart? Sounds difficult. But then, it must be easier than holding on to all my junk.

Hmmm. Forgiving. Healing. Letting go.

I’ll have to play with that idea today as I organize, dust, vacuum, polish, sweep, scrub and clean.

Wish me luck.

Categories: Love, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Tiny Wisp of Hope for the Day

feather

(Photo credit: matthewvenn)

“Hope is an unbearably precious thing, worth its weight in feathers. If that’s too much to think about, best to tuck it in a pocket anyway, and make it a habit.” – Barbara Kingsolver, from “High Tide in Tucson, Essays from Now or Never”

Feather

 (Photo credit: gemsling)

 

Categories: Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Emotionally Hydrated in a Dry Heat

Call me strange.

Not quite the epic beginning as Moby Dick’s “Call me Ishmael.” But it will do.

No I’m not starting a novel, don’t worry. I just find myself reviewing my life lately. Which is something I usually avoid religiously, especially if I’m a bit overtired.

What I stumbled on in my revelry and self-scoriation was this bit of wisdom and light:

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

Those fifteen words, strung together in the specific order they’re in, have made a world of difference for me.

medicine?

(Photo credit: Brenda Anderson)

I took life so seriously, for so many years. I didn’t see much room for laughter or joking, for silliness or play. And then a series of people taught me without even trying, that there needs to be, and can be, joy amid the sorrow and laughter even when the world is pressing in.

Some days I think the only thing that gets me through is the ability to smile in spite of it all.

And some days seem filled to the brim with joy and laughter.

Stumbling on the idea of intentional happiness as a daily balm, a kind of lotion for my soul, has made all the difference.

I choose to see the positive. At least I try to.

Call me strange.

Categories: Humor, Joy, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ll Take Silly Quizzes for Eight Hundred, Alex

Please answer the following QUIZ truthfully.

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate chip smiley face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When someone cuts me off in traffic I usually:

A.) Yell obscenities at them and then blaspheme their children

B.) Follow them too closely and try to cut them off as well

C.) Figure I deserve it because I’m such a bad driver

D.) Hope they make it to a bathroom stall before it’s too late

If an associate or friend says something rude to me I will most always:

A.) Come back with a quick, witty, mean-spirited retort

B.) Mutter under my breath, but keep smiling, while planning revenge

C.) Try to think of ways I can change so they will like me better

D.) Wonder if they’re seeing a therapist for anger management

A friend fails to answer my text or phone message or email after repeated attempts, I will:

A.) Delete them from my contact list and refuse to respond if they try to contact me

B.) Remember all the times they’ve ignored or slighted me in the past, then simmer and fume

C.) Figure I’ve done something to offend them and think of ways to make it up to them

D.) Wonder how soon they’ll have their technology up and running again

A blogger posts a silly quiz on the internet  with results I don’t agree with, I proceed to:

A.) Post a comment that lets them know what genus and species I think they belong in

B.) Create my own silly quiz that makes fun of their silly quiz

C.) Take the results to heart and begin a regime of self-improvement

D.) Keep following their blog, assuming they were having a writer’s block sort of day

Now add up how many questions you answered A, B, C, or D

If you answered mostly A.)

I hope we never meet in a dark alley, or a lighted one for that matter. Why do you want to jump to the worst conclusion about people? I know traffic isn’t a fun place to find yourself day in and day out. I’ve spent more time than I’m willing to admit stuck behind silliness, squeezed into two lanes from four, and mystified by the rudeness and poor vision of others. I’ve also worked with my share of dweebs and space cadets. It could be very, very helpful to you if  you decide that others’ lack of skill and finesse isn’t going to determine how your day goes. In other words, RELAX a little bit. Loosen your grip on that steering wheel, pop in some chill tunes, think happy thoughts and go with the flow.  You’ll get where you’re going eventually. And if you don’t, you’ll at least not be quite so irritable or isolated.

If you answered mostly B.)

You might want to consider adding some sugar to  your diet and an extra hour to your sleep. Seriously?!? Do you even like your life? If it’s all about revenge and retorts and one-upping the other guy how fun can things be? I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no one keeping score anywhere! Surprised? No matter how many people you put down, criticize, back stab or plot against, your life isn’t going to be better because of it.  In fact, it’s possible you’ll have a really lonely and horrific life, one in which people avoid you and don’t invite you along for the ride. You need to watch more 40’s and 50’s musicals and some Jerry Lewis movies. Laugh a little more. Curse a little less. Try on a smile.

If you answered mostly C.)

Lighten up on yourself and read more limericks, jokes and humorous blogs. You take life way too seriously.  Really. I know it is a serious business and there are important things to deal with. Other people’s opinions about you ARE NOT one of those important things. Even if you are a politician, which I hope you aren’t, other people’s opinions of your aren’t real, or important. Be nicer to yourself. You’re a great person with all kinds of wonderful going on. You ought to admit it. Look in the mirror every day and say in your most sultry voice, “Hi there, beautiful!” If nothing else it’ll make you smile or laugh.  And heaven knows we could all use more laughter in our lives.

If you answered mostly D.)

Fill out the application for sainthood and prepare to be translated into a higher form of life. Really, you need to be writing this blog for me. It’s a wondrous thing to assume the best, rather than the opposite. Optimism and cheerfulness are in short supply. It’s nice that you’re setting the example for the rest of us curmudgeons. Hopefully some of your good will can rub off, or radiate or jump start some of us into a better place. Thanks for sharing your bits of sunshine.

If your answers were even between A, B, C, D you might want to schedule an appointment really soon with a massage therapist, a travel agent, your banker or your broker and a lawyer. I’m not sure what it means and am not in the least qualified to give you any advice at all.

However, I could give you my standard answer for most problems that arise. It’s worked on more occasions than I can count.

Eat something healthy and delicious.

Drink an extra glass or two of water.

Take a nice long nap, and then go to bed early tonight.

Eat some good chocolate (very crucial).

Last of all you need to know that everything is going to be all right.

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sleepless in Phoenix, Or a Suburb Nearby

Caffeine has a significant effect on spiders, ...

Caffeine has a significant effect on spiders, which is reflected in the construction of their webs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Either the decaffeinated soda I had at the movie wasn’t, or my brain is being hotwired by miniature gangsters.  Little zingers of electricity keep pulsing through my head every twenty to fifty seconds, just enough to keep me from dropping into dreamland for some much-needed rest.

Today Yesterday was my first Saturday back at real life after my three-week attempt at turning my body inside out through the process of coughing. Luckily the experiment failed and I remain skin side out. I’m a bit tuckered. I think I might have overdone it with the weekend warrior thing so soon after recovery. Oh well.

It felt glorious to be out doing yard work, (remember I’m in Arizona, 75° F today, all the windows of the house open, sorry northerners.) I cleaned up most of the leaves that froze and fell when the temps dropped below freezing for our one week of winter, and I took care of the weeds that sprouted after last weekend’s glorious rain.

Equally satisfying was juicing oranges from our backyard tree, mopping up the mess afterwards and getting some household tasks done that I’d neglected for a month or two.  I also successfully avoided battling the Saturday grocery store crowd by simply not going. I didn’t dust, but I did open the windows and air the house out, which probably added a layer of dust.

So yes, a tiring but satisfying and productive Saturday.  You can insert whatever image of me you want to conjure, smiling happily, wiping the sweat from my brow, cheek smudged with dirt, hair sufficiently mussed. I’m inserting a lovely image of a caffeine molecule. Isn’t it pretty?

Caffeine mol2

Caffeine molecule model  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luckily this sleepless night won’t turn me into a frog princess for the entire week.  I can sleep all afternoon on Sunday, since I won’t be watching the Superbowl or the overpriced commercials. I’m not actually anti-football. I’m really just anti-doing-what-everyone-else-feels-compelled-to-do.

Once the game starts all the great walking paths will be deserted and it’ll be like an early morning walk, without the cold and without the sun in my eyes. Nap or walk, walk or nap, oh the indecision. Oh, oh, I could do both! What an idea!

The other bonus of being sleepless is being able to catch up on my blog reading. I’d gotten spoiled having all day long and all night long to troll the blogosphere while I was sickly. I think I spent way too much time reading. Is that really possible?

Now that I’m back at work, back on a schedule, and plugged back in to my audio book listening binge, I’ve had to pace myself with the blog reading and tangible book reading. Sigh. There’s a stack of eight books on my desk just begging me to open them. I have a feeling I’ll be pressing the renew button on my library website a few times.

Phoenix, a Cray X1E at Oak Ridge National Lab

A Cray X1E at Oak Ridge National Lab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking of the internet. Do you ever get the feeling that your entire life revolves around or is dependent on computers? Think about it. From buying groceries, even with cash, to finding out movie times, to communicating with anyone in any way except face to face, requires a computer involved in the process. Unnerving isn’t it?

Most people are in shock on hearing of someone who doesn’t own a computer or a cell phone or who aren’t connected somehow to the internet. I only feel envious. How glorious to live at such a slow pace. It’d be like going back in time twenty years.

That’d be tough to go backwards though. Once you’ve been exposed it’s like you’re a technology junkie for life. There is no going back. Sigh.

I guess having my bankcard mysteriously duplicated, used in some other state and subsequently decommissioned by the fraud detection dudes has put me on edge and made me a bit jaded.

I should be grateful, and I really am, that someone is brilliant enough to write software that recognizes that I can’t possibly be buying groceries or books from a brick and mortar store in one state while buying gas and soda in another state on the other side of the continent. Lucky me. Lucky bank account. Not that they could have bought much with the funds that are in there; another tank of gas, maybe a movie, some popcorn and an extra-large caffeinated soda.

Okay, okay. I’m done being a cranky whiner.

In my defense, the caffeine is still playing games with my brain cells; Space Invaders or Tetris, or both at the same time I think. I’m probably not accountable for anything I’ve written in this entire post.

My pillow keeps calling my name. I wish it’d stop.

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Wondering

Question mark icon, blue

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why?

Why?

Why?

Ah, one of the great mysterious questions.

“Why.”

It seems one of the first questions children ask.  And ask, and ask, and ask.

The other question children pose is “What’s that?”

“Where,” “who” and “when” come later in life.  Those must be concepts that require different developmental milestones.

“Why” and “What’s that” continue to be questions throughout childhood and especially into teen years.

As an adult “Why” and “What’s that” are preeminent. They actually constitute the bulk of our thinking, our decision-making, our emotional equilibrium or lack thereof, our spirituality, our love life, our family dynamics.

English: Question-mark icon

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course in the grown up world the questions come out a little differently.

“Why me?”

“What the heck?”

Those are just two iterations of the same sentiment.

Then there is “Why is this happening this way, and why now?”

There’s the precarious “Why not?” which carries the possibility of putting someone over the edge either direction; into extreme behavior, or into action one has put off far too long.

Asking “why” about others will only bring you grief and confusion and heartache.  Usually.  However, if the answers you get are true and clear and open, it might lead to understanding, but that is a rare and tenuous thing.

“What’s this and what am I going to do about it” are a healthy combination to ask together.  Logic is trying to take the lead in a question like this.

How often does logic really win out in our lives though?

Probably not often enough.

Hmmm. I wonder why.

I’m back to asking “why” again, about so many things. I hate when I get this way. I prefer my less ascerbic self, my optimistic self, my non-sarcastic self. “Why” seems to bring out the worst in me.

Maybe the best answer should always be, “just because,” or “because I said so.”

Question mark

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But why? I’ll usually ask.

Why me?

Why now?

Why this?

Why?

Why?

Why.

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Connect The Light Bulbs

Lately, I’m only partially aware, only half-awake, my eyes shaded to most of what’s going on around me. It’s like part of me in is the room and the other part of me got left somewhere else.

Is it intentional?  No.  It’s probably lack of quality sleep and being off my routine. Or, maybe it’s hormonal. Or not. Maybe I need more chocolate. Or less.  It could be I’m dehydrated most of the time, since I don’t think diet Pepsi and hot chocolate count towards daily water intact.  Or could they?  Maybe I’m lacking a specific mineral in my diet, so I’m taking a vitamin supplement.  Perhaps I need more exercise. (My daughter doesn’t need exercise. She chases an 18 month old energizer-bunny toddler around all day while her med school husband is off slaying dragons.)

I digress.  I digress a lot lately.  That thing you do when you go to get something but can’t remember why you are in the room you’re in, so you walk back to the spot where you had the thought that you needed something in order to help you remember what you were doing?  I do that far too often lately.  Like, hourly. Like, way too much.  Slows me down, ruins my groove.

I sit down with paper and pen in hand to create a menu for the week and from there a grocery list. I come up blank. The connection from point A in my brain to point B in my brain has a short.

English: Closeup of a string of decorative Chr...

Closeup of a string of decorative Christmas lights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actually it’s probably more like those strings of Christmas lights my son helped me hang on the house yesterday.  One bulb missing or broken is okay.  The string still manages to stay lit.  Two bulbs out, half the lights won’t come on. Replace the missing or broken bulb and voilà a whole string is working again. It’s a little miracle to me, since I don’t understand electricity.

Now the house looks great and thanks to the stellar design of outside plugs under the eaves and indoor switches, all I need to do is flip a switch and the house is lit up all red and green and cheerful.

I need a “brain on” switch. My brain probably needs a loose bulb snugged into its socket a little tighter.  Or maybe one of my neurons cracked and needs replacing. Maybe a few mental bulbs are out along several different strings.

If only a brain fix were as easy as those lights from yesterday’s stringing exercise.

The energy required to make my brain work more effectively isn’t, unfortunately, something I can plug into with a wire and socket.  It’s something much more elusive than that.

When I let myself be in nature, breathing fresh air, that’s one of my electrical cords connecting me to the energy of the earth, to beauty, to life.  I try to plug into that often, but that’s slipped lately. I’ve been busy!

Magic in a Bookstore

Another power source for my brain is reading, usually.  Although lately, reading has been of the audio type and requires less brain power and perhaps less of the written word is absorbed. But  I don’t know.  I’m rambling now.  Rambling happens often lately too.

Maria

This is someone named Maria.  I don’t look this good in a fedora, or anything else for that matter. (Photo credit: tamara.craiu)

Recently I was in a bookstore as part of a treasure hunt.  Dressed in a fedora, sunglasses and a trench coat, I was to wait until being located by a gaggle of girls, then hand over a clue to each group that found me.  Very few people looked at me oddly, which I found strange, since I’m certain I looked questionable.  The best part of this was having an entire hour to peruse bookshelves filled with newly minted books. It was nirvana, bliss, heaven and grace all packed into one hour.

When my assignment was over, I ended up buying a book.

It was a real book, not an audio one. Hard cover, with a dust jacket.  I took it home and read it that night.  Yes, I concentrated long enough to read it in one sitting.  Short book. But packed to the brim with wisdom and insight that I’ve needed to learn.

It’s a keeper. It’s one of those books I’ll end up writing in, with exclamation points, underlining, commenting, question marks, maybe even cross-referencing. No, I won’t be lending out my copy.  Well, maybe, but you’d have to promise not to read all the margins or make any of your own notes.

The book is Anne Lamott’s “Help. Thanks. Wow.  The Three Essential Survival Prayers.”   This one sentence speaks to my current need for brain-power and clarity.

“In paintings, music, poetry, architecture, we feel the elusive energy that moves through us and the air and the ground all the time, that usually disperses and turns chaotic in our busy-ness and distractedness and moodiness.”

Some of the energy I need is in the created world, not just the natural world.  And the energy in that is readily dispersed by my overly scheduled, multi-tasking, transmission-challenged but driven life.

Perhaps if I slow down, notice the beauty around me in the architecture of a wall, the care in the moulding of a door frame, or in the design of a freeway bridge,  I might touch some of that energy.  If I take time to hear the poetry in a song, or the music itself, or actually read a poem, I might connect a loose bulb in my head.  The lights may reignite mentally if I allow myself time to experience art in diverse places and ways.

String Light

String Light (Photo credit: felixtsao)

Energy is captured in the beauty and art in my life, just waiting for me to plug in to that brain enlightening power.

What better time of year than now to look for the light and energy that surrounds us, to gather it in instead of pushing it away. Maybe I can do that.  Maybe I’ll get all my mental light strings lined up and glowing again. I can try.

Categories: Books, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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