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and the Art of Slowing it Down
Practice makes perfect
September 11, 2014Posted by on
Here are ways that I have learned to cultivate coping strategies/skills with my manic-depressive disorder. Making the list will help inform my play; so it has a purpose beyond trying to help you, my readers. It will also support my latest ‘project’.
• I take my medicine at the same time everyday. Like clockwork. Every morning, every night. It is now a part of my circadian rhythm and I would argue largely responsible for my stability. Note to Reader: I haven’t slipped into major mania or depression in seven (7) years since I started doing this. Surely, my time is coming?
• I sleep as much as I can. Periodically I go through creative periods when I require less sleep, like I am experiencing now, but on the whole I get a good eight (8) to ten (10) hours of sleep every night. My husband hates it but he has accepted it. I find that lack of sleep really gets in the way, on occasion, when we have a social event and I, invariably, am the first to leave the ‘party’. Often naps don’t quell the bedtime zzz’s when I wake up at 3am. Nobody should wake up at 3am if they are not breast feeding…
• I keep the communication open. With my husband especially. I try to be honest and tell him the first moment that I notice something out of the ordinary; but it is hard. I don’t always want to believe that I am not normal… Together, we pay special attention to my triggers and talk about what’s going on when we see changes in my behaviour. Then we seek the help of medical professionals as soon as possible so as to avoid a relapse.
• I practice yoga. My first class was in New York City in 1998; and over the years I have learned many nuances in it’s eight (8) limbs to help me manage off the mat. Yoga gives me faith that I can endure the strain. It helps me stay centered in face of many of life’s challenges. It’s not about the perfect posture, the best part is that it helps ME better know myself! This November, I am going to take a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course in hopes of deepening my practice. If I am honest I really could work harder at taking a few deep breaths when ‘the shit hits the fan’ at home. How my husband would appreciate if I took a few deep breaths! Sadly, I still just throw more shit at the fan!?
• I meditate now and again. My relationship with meditation is unstable… it flows in and flows out of my life but Chopra has me convinced now that it is a panacea for all. So I am committed to do it more; since the full moon August 10th I have been doing it consistently, every day, and I feel remarkably better. My perspective is lighter, more open. As it helps to remind me that I am connected to the Source of all things in the most obvious & subtle ways. It doesn’t take too long; just fifteen (15) to twenty (20) minutes. Often I replace sitting cross-legged with lying on my back and listening to a Yoga Nidra recording; Yoga Nidra is a great relaxant. Am sure that you can find it online? That said, meditation is also the way that I pray these days. In silent just trying to connect to the Spirit. I don’t ask for much anymore… I don’t think that I want to be disappointed.
• I keep my house neat and tidy. I am a minimalist and designer at heart but often find that having white towels and bed sheets in every room diminishes the clutter; moderates the distractions/visual noise. I am a visual person. Each room in my small three (3) bedroom apartment has an identity of it’s own but all of the walls are white and the furniture is stained the same black/brown color. My accents are like jewelry decorating the spaces. For me all the white is not boring but it silhouettes the decorations, making them all the more special. I appreciate homes with more color, more variety, but I really don’t think that I could not live in them!
• I am working on monitoring/managing my alcohol consumption. It’s too easy to kick back and reach for a glass of wine; my husband and I, we work hard to keep it in check. Mind you, I am fully aware that I should give my medication the chance to work better for ME. I should really leave it alone to do it’s job – if only I could stop the compulsion to self medicate. Oh why do I meddle? Why do I self medicate?
• I stay connected. Outside of Instagram and Facebook, I work hard at fueling the relationships that matter most to me. I follow up with things that are going on in other peoples lives, I send photos, let people know when I am thinking about them and I use my physical resources rather than just relying on Uncle Google to solve all my inquiries.
• And I write this blog. Before there were journals. Now there is a blog. God willing, next there will be a play!
I will also take a moment to share things that I am not very good at but I think could help further.
• I talk to a professional. When I need it, therapy often helps. Usually I leave a session with a least one good kernel of knowledge. At times I find it liberating to have a non judgemental third party opinion.
• I have a gratitude jar. But I don’t use it often enough. It sits on my altar, as a reminder to be thankful, nonetheless. I see it practically every day but am often not inspired enough to take the time to write down what I am thankful for at that moment. Being grateful for things that are outside the things that we take for granted takes considerable effort. But as with anything, I imagine “Practice makes perfect”. That said, I will stop for a moment now and find something to add to the jar!
• I eat healthily. But I need to eat more slowly. My weight is in check but I imagine that my body could pull the vitamins and nutrients from my food better if I would merely take the time to chew my food well. Maybe today I will remember: “My body is a temple”?!
• I walk. I don’t run, I wish I could run but I can’t. I have a slipped disc. So I humbly walk, saddle bags and all… but when I am not exercising I should really walk slower! Like my late Grandmother always reminded me, I should really “stop and smell the flowers”. Often I miss opportunities to connect with my neighbors because I am rushing past them in the grocery store or on the sidewalk. There I said it, I rush. I am a rusher… I rush past divine opportunities to feel a little less alone in the world.
• I put the phone down. As of late I am trying not to check my phone when I get up to pee in the middle of the night AND I am trying to get through at least one hot cleansing beverage before I check my email in the morning. But that’s not the only problem, I trust I really should just turn the ringer off… because every time it beeps, I am on top of it and quick as lightning to reply… my iPhone has got a hold of me and I want hold of it!
So there you have it, a handful of things that help me get by. I hope that they will help you too!