Archives for posts with tag: MBSR

I like beginnings. I’m a big fan of starting and of starting over. I love the energy of a beginning, the enthusiasm, the eagerness. There’s one thing I do know about the majority of beginnings, though; they usually follow the end of something else. I don’t always like endings so reliably well.

I’m sad that the weekend has… ended. 🙂 I had a lovely short weekend with my Traveling Partner. It was a fairly high energy visit, and we crammed into it quite a lot of hang out time, cuddle time, laughter, serious dialogue, connection, and social time – even managed to hit up a party. Twice. lol I slept like crap Saturday night (which meant, so did he 😦 ). I was so tired when I finally arrived home late in the afternoon on Sunday, after hauling ass up the highway through nearly continuous entirely pouring down freezing rain, that I barely finished a cup of soothing hot tea before deciding to just… call it a night. lol I crashed out early like an over-stimulated toddler.

This morning I woke precisely on time – well, if it were not for Daylight Savings Time, it would have been precisely on time, and with the alarm, instead it was an hour early…but… I’d slept through the night, from 6:45 pm (no kidding) until 3:28 am. I woke well-rested, and ready to begin a new week. Good enough. I got up. 🙂

I didn’t bother with the internet much – or the world – while I spent the weekend out in the countryside with my Traveling Partner. It was sad to catch up this morning and see that yet another angry man ended his life with violence, taking a bunch of innocent people with him. I have no ability to understand why we do not, at a minimum, restrict firearm ownership from individuals with domestic violence priors. I just don’t get it. If a human being is already known to have a domestic violence problem – whether they are convicted or not – why the ever-loving-fuck would they be permitted to buy or own a firearm, ever, at all? If a human being can’t be trusted not to assault people they say they love, how can they be trusted to use a firearm responsibly? These are serious questions, and they need serious consideration, serious answers, and serious action. Fuck, we are some stupid god-damned primates. I’m very disappointed in us. Anyway, this is just my opinion about the most recent firearm related sad news. I’m sure you have your own.

A new week begins today. We’ve all got yet another chance to begin again, to start over, to do things differently than we did them yesterday. That’s pretty cool. 🙂

I started the morning in the usual way, then spent some time sipping my coffee and planning my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list. I enjoy planning, and haven’t yet determined the menu for the holiday meal. I’m excited about it this year, more so than usual, because I am anticipating my Traveling Partner’s visit to my new place, and he’ll be staying the weekend with me. 😀 Fun!

A new week begins today. There’s also the work piece; short work week ahead because I am taking a couple days for a long Veteran’s Day weekend, and making the trek back down to the countryside to spend it with my Traveling Partner. We’re seeing a lot of each other while we can. When winter weather sets in, I won’t want to make the drive, and he will likely journey elsewhere, anyway. This year, we are just straight up planning around that, and I expect we won’t see each other at all for 6-10 weeks, including all of December, and much of January. I’m okay with that. I’m skillful at enjoying my time alone, generally, and have plenty to do through the cold winter months. 🙂 I’ll catch up on my reading, and have more to say about life and the world when we next see each other, and he will return with a traveler’s tales. 😀

That last paragraph started about work, ended up about love; clearly I’ve got my priorities in order. 😀

Coffee is finished. The day is started. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Maybe I shouldn’t have put my headphones on first, filling my head with music. Jungle. Drum-n-Bass. Oh. Hell. Yes. lol But… now I am staring at a blank page. Head full of sounds. Dancing in my seat at a loss for words.

If you have Facebook, let me share the moment with you. 😀

It’s not a day for adulting, really…well… I mean… I can loosen up a little. It’s Saturday. I’m not working. One more coffee and I’ll hit the highway heading for a different point of view on life, an alternate perspective, a whole other moment. 🙂

Yeah. This morning, this is enough. What about you? Needs met? Concerns eased? Able to take just a wee moment or two to put down the stresses of other days and just… breathe – or dance? If not now, when? 😉

Don’t forget to take care of the human being in the mirror. Be sure to give yourself a chance to begin again once in a while. 🙂 See you on the other side of the weekend, you beautiful beautiful human. 😀

I’m awake. Showered. Dressed. Sipping coffee in the usual ordinary sort of way. My day begins relatively gently, and I am eager to return to the office this morning. (I kind of have to write that sentence down, right there, to record factually that indeed I am looking forward to going to work, because I’m not sure that’s a sentence I use very often, or a feeling that is especially common over the entire course of my life, and I want to enjoy the moment.)

I am, for most values of “feeling better”, feeling better. 😀

As with any other sort of subjective state of being, it’s an individual perspective, right? I’ve still got some sinus drainage. Still have some soreness of throat. Still have the cough (which may well linger through the holidays). None of those things are what they were. The cough is seldom, and not as bad, and the sore throat and sinus drainage are also minor. I’m not overwhelmed by fatigue. I don’t have a headache. I’m not shivering while wrapped in blankets in a warm room (very not; the heat is set to “don’t let the house freeze” over night, and I’m just wearing work clothes, not even a sweater, and quite comfortable). I’m work-ready, though, and ready to work. 😀

I’m also super glad I now commute by car, even if distracted drivers keep tapping my fucking bumper at stop lights on an almost monthly basis; I’m well for most values of well, but… I’m not up to walking a mile to catch a bus on a cold morning. Not yet.

Taking care of this fragile vessel is an interesting balancing act. Long-term care means holding down a job and preparing for future retirement… short-term care may require taking time away from work to care for my health right now.

Mental health care works similarly. There is a balance between long-term wellness and urgent care needs to find. There is a balance between addressing issues that are destroying personal perspective and quality of life, and those that degrade relationships with others. A friend struggling with a loved one’s seeming lack of “acceptable” progress, which she feels is required to feel safe in the relationship, doesn’t seem to understand that being in therapy, for the mentally ill loved one, isn’t about that. It’s about saving their own actual life, their experience of living, their quality of life and ability to live and thrive – on their own terms – and achieve mental and emotional wellness – for themselves. I mean, sure. I know when I went into treatment, and this is every time, ever, I definitely wanted to preserve and heal the relationships my condition had affected…but… not at the expense of succeeding to become well, myself. Mental health therapy is for the person seeking treatment – and it’s not about “fixing” that person according to any criteria or standard aside from that determined by the treatment seeking mentally ill person and their therapist. Period. End of stakeholder meeting. Fuck right off if you think you get to insert yourself and your pet concerns into that process to exert influence over a treatment plan intended to achieve reasonable emotional wellness because you have an outcome in mind. Fuck right off indeed – and then go get your own god-damned therapist and take care of your own god-damned needs. lol Seriously, people. “My partner is in therapy” does not equate to “my partner is rebuilding themselves per my specifications”. Just stop and hey, maybe actually support the general emotional wellness of your partner, yourself, and your relationship by being kind, compassionate, listening deeply, and accepting that you, yourself, have your own baggage – and may need your own help. Your partner can not be your therapist, and their therapy is not about you.

Sorry. That’s a bit of a rant there. I’ve just been through it in too many partnerships. The “concerned” questions that mask a hidden agenda. The probing about what is going on in therapy. The lack of willingness to actually participate or seek help, while pushing the full weight of all the issues of a relationship onto the mentally unwell partner because they are unwell, rather than be accountable for some portion of the dynamic. The clear drive to push an agenda into therapy content. The disapproval of selected therapist or treatment modality because it doesn’t meet the needs of the person not even seeking help in the first place. The indirect arguments with a therapist who’s not even in the room if those pesky probing questions are met with openness and trust, but the answers are uncomfortable. Fuck all that. Everyone has their own baggage, and very few people in relationships are “crazy alone” – the crazy becomes shared over time. If you are in therapy, yourself, it’s about you. That’s okay. It’s supposed to be. If your loved one is in therapy, be supportive without being invasive; it’s not about you. It just isn’t. Just fucking chill. (I know, I know, you feel out of control because you can’t control what your partner reveals to the therapist – maybe it is the “wrong” stuff, or not enough, or not “what matters”… and you still don’t get to call the shots, and it still isn’t about you, and you still need to go find something else to do with your time and let your partner handle their business.)

I breathe. I relax. Memories. Wow. I still carry around some pain and some anger about an ex who worked very hard to “guide” my treatment in therapy, with some degree of success, to my detriment – over time I ended up becoming progressively much worse. I’m glad I am out of that relationship. Turned out that mattered a great deal and was an important positive change. Turns out it is still enough to ruffle my feathers when watching friends go through it from an outsider’s perspective. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of damned work. People seek therapy because they are hurting. Therapy itself is sometimes a process of feeling all the hurts until the hurts are processed and in perspective – that just doesn’t even sound pleasant, and it isn’t at all. It’s a process, and the tedium and strain and quantities of change and upheaval are not eased by attempting to interfere, that’s really what I’m saying. 🙂 (And, just to keep it real, I’m still working on plenty of my own issues – remember that whole “living alone” thing? Yeah. Therapy turns out to be muuuuch easier in that context. Much.)

It’s a new day. A good one for all manner of new beginnings, and starting things. Where will you take it? Will you use your human super powers for good or evil? Will you be listening deeply, or waiting for your turn to talk? Will you make taking care of yourself well and with great skill and compassion a high priority? Will you take one step to change the world for the better, yourself? Take a look around. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I woke three times, all three times feeling well-rested, the first two also entirely able and willing to return to sleep – so I did. 😀 It is Saturday, and I have succeeded in doing the one thing I did plan to do today; I got the rest I needed. 🙂

Good self-care is critical to my wellness. (Yours, too, probably.) I used to suck at it completely, always over-compromising what it takes to be well and feel good by grabbing onto other experiences and choices, for…well… reasons. Reasons that seemed to make sense in the moment, but more often than not were excuses and rationalizations for “doing whatever I want” – or, actually, whatever someone else wanted. The cycle of exhaustion, meltdowns, and poor outcomes was so predictable that for many years I simply called the entire mess “hormones” and put that shit on my calendar without any particularly successful effort to mitigate or improve any of it (because… “hormones”… well… that shit can’t be fixed, though, right? Right??) (Actually, no. It turns out that conflating hormones, mental illness, a lack of emotional intelligence, poor self-care, and plain old-fashioned inconsiderate shitty behavior, assumption making, and personal bullshit leaves quite a lot of room for improvement… so… maybe rethinking your inconsiderate bullshit, at a minimum, is a good place to start? 😉 Just saying.)

I am watching, from a distance, as two relationships in my social network struggle with a partner’s mental illness. Both have been deeply committed loving relationships of decades of mutual affection, support, and shared family life. Both are struggling with the challenge of making love work, while also supporting a mentally ill person’s personal challenge with finding wellness, and juggling all the other elements of family life: work, kids, bills, grocery shopping, and even the assumptions of strangers and the well-meaning “help” and support of friends, sometimes less than ideally helpful, no doubt. (Been there.) It’s fucking hard to be mentally ill. It’s fucking hard to love someone who is mentally ill. The coping skills and rationalizations that allowed these relationships to succeed and perhaps even appear functional before mental illness finally prevented that from being a thing at all are reliably breaking down now that these mentally ill friends are seeking (and getting) treatment that may actually result in wellness. Their partners may not be much help at this point, and in fact, their hurts, anger, resentment, and emotional wellness concerns are reliably welling up and becoming problems that need to be managed. It’s when a mentally ill loved one begins the journey to wellness that everyone else’s rampant crazy bullshit comes to the forefront – along with the rationalizations, excuse-making, justifications, chronically incorrect and untested assumptions, and refusal to respect new boundaries and changes of behavior. It’s ugly and it’s hard. There are literally no “good guys”, and as soon as “the crazy one” begins to practice things that are more sane, the crazy on the other side of the relationship becomes apparent – often accompanied by utter refusal to acknowledge it, be accountable for it, accept it, or change it.

When people who are mentally ill seek treatment, find it, and begin their journey toward wellness, the first set back is often because within their once supportive network of friends and family (“I’m here for you!”) are people who are suddenly not so willing to “be there” if “there” turns out to include being aware of their own bullshit, and their continued commitment to a status quo that it turns out has favored them, and met certain needs that must now be met differently – in, oh, hey, some new healthy way. It’s hard. It’s hardest, frankly, on the mentally ill partner now responsible not only for staying focused on treatment, but now this mentally unwell person struggling with their situation is suddenly also forced to have to provide support to the adult in the room who turns out to be less than ideally adult (and sometimes fully unwilling to even be aware of that).

It’s a see-saw, people. When we love someone with a mental health challenge, over time, we make room for some weird and possibly damaging bullshit that changes who we are, ourselves, a little at a time. When someone we love who is mentally ill seeks help, and begins to make real changes, on purpose, with the intent of becoming well – our own crazy is going to well up and fight back, and our failure to be observant and aware, and also take the very best care of ourselves, for real, is likely to be the first step on the path to seeing that relationship simply end. It will end in screaming tantrums, outrage, defensiveness, accusations, and generally – a lot of needless yelling. The cause I most commonly see as obvious and avoidable is that instead of partnerships fighting mental illness together, partners become adversaries and basically forget all about the actual issue being someone who is sick, and not able to be at their best, who needs help, support, consideration, and compassion.

Reminder: getting a diagnosis does not suddenly make someone who is mentally ill magically able to not struggle with mental illness. They can’t just point to a page in their handy “So you’re depressed?” handbook or their “The basics of living with PTSD” guide and go down a list of steps to “make it all better” for some other person. Fuck you. That’s sort of one of the limitations of being unwell; there is a fairly commonly implied inability to do all the things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s fucking hard. I’m saying a great many relationships that end over mental illness don’t end because a partner is mentally ill – they end when that person seeks wellness and messes with the stable status quo that has allowed the “well” person certain… sanity privileges, that they must now give up in favor of dealing with their own unaddressed bullshit. No one in a relationship recovers from mental illness alone; everyone must deal with their bullshit. Everyone has bullshit.

When I hit that wall in my own relationship(s) I was fortunate. I chose to move into my own living space, and make a significant lifestyle change for a variety of reasons that overlapped in a useful way. I live alone. Sure, there’s bullshit, and I definitely trip over it frequently – and it’s all mine. My bullshit. My issues. My limitations. It’s also my home, my rules, my way; the failures are mine, and so are the successes. I was able to let go of my attachment to “being heard” by my partner(s), and able to comfortably take time to be heard by the woman in the mirror – because I could recognize, in the silence of solitary space, that this was in fact where the issue rested, for me. I was able to begin to sort out my bullshit from the bullshit in my relationships that wasn’t mine, and let go of trying to fix other people, or a relationship dynamic that was unavoidably damaged by my issues, and work on practicing healthier practices that support my own mental wellness… and having gained a measure of wellness, emotional resilience, and stability, then I could begin to tackle the complex challenges of “making things right” with emotionally hurt partner(s). Please note: I am not recommending my choices to anyone else. I am this person here, and my needs are what they are; I thrive living alone. You are likely someone else altogether, with different needs, and other choices may be preferable for you, personally. I’m just saying – achieving wellness may very well destroy existing relationships, and not through any failure of the mentally ill person, and in no way directly caused by their illness, but totally because they attempted to get well – and wellness did not meet the needs of that relationship. It’s totally a thing.

Prepare for change. Seeking mental health changes things. It’s a thing people know about.

Are you a “bad person” if you can’t stay in a relationship with someone who is mentally ill? I mean, you wouldn’t leave if they broke their leg, right? It’s a complicated question. Just as complicated as “Am I a bad person if I can’t stay in my relationship because my partner won’t respect new boundaries and changes in behavior as I improve my mental health?”

Helpful friends don’t feel any more comfortable than anyone else in the context of watching lovers struggle with mental health concerns. Everyone has their “good advice” to offer. People take sides without ever seeing the entirety of the dynamic. Also hard.

Every bit of all the hard stuff is 100% hardest on the person who is mentally ill, who is trying their damnedest to find emotional wellness – they are the one who is sick, people. I’m just saying. Seriously? Find some fucking perspective. Be there for a friend. Listen more than you talk, and refrain from making assumptions. Be encouraging. Be considerate. Be compassionate. If a relationship is struggling with mental illness, everyone is hurting, everyone is injured, everyone is struggling – and no one is the good guy; we’ve all got our own bullshit to deal with.

Two different relationships, two different sets of circumstances. I find myself fairly certain one relationship has already failed, and wondering if the other might manage to survive this; it’s in how they treat each other. In both cases, I see the mentally ill person doing what they must do to become well.

I notice that I have finished my second coffee, and my playlist just ended. It is a lush rainy Saturday, and I’ve got some important self-care to take care of; it’s been a long week, and I find that my own emotional wellness is very much tied to skilled self-care. 🙂 It’s time to get started on the practices that keep me well. Doing so, and staying committed to them, has changed my world, and also my relationships. I swallow one last bite of oatmeal, grateful my relationship with my Traveling Partner has endured my changes. Love matters most.

My busy week has been nothing like “routine”. I’m still smiling. I did not see my Traveling Partner last night, as we’d planned, the hour of evening was later than we’d figured when my hair appointment ended, I’d started the day quite tired already, and my partner considerately suggested I get the rest I needed and embrace the late Thursday night ahead without additional fatigue. Good idea. I agreed. I’m still smiling. I’m alert. Rested. In no particular pain in spite of the rainy morning. I am ready for a late night! Bring it!

It’s been a busy week, sure. It has, however, been more ups than downs. More successes than failures. More challenges overcome, than challenges that thwarted me. More wins than losses. More beautiful moments than aggravating ones. I suspect that this is the truth of life, generally, much of the time, for most of us – if we can find the sweet spot in our perspective from which to view our experience.

This morning I sip my coffee and practice a favorite practice – I take the things I need to practice it with me everywhere I go: memory, experiences, presence, and a kindly disposition toward my very human self. I start simply enough, by remembering something, maybe looking through my recent photographs, or contemplating a moment, conversation, or experience – one that felt really good. That’s the important bit; start with something that feels amazing, before working towards transforming the perspective on a less comfortable moment. Because that’s totally possible too, and does not require compromising my values, telling myself pretty lies, ignoring painful truths, or constructing a fake narrative, it just takes some understanding, some compassion – and some practice. (I learned to transform some painful, awkward, or uncomfortable recollections into recollections with positive value more or less by accident, through the practice of “taking in the good“, and I don’t have “steps” to offer to make that a reliable thing; it requires practice, no avoiding that.)

Did the phrase “working towards” cause you to lose interest? Yeah… You’re probably going to have to get over that. Just saying. There are verbs involved. The effort must, in fact, and unavoidably, be your own. 😉

A beautiful way to say thank you (to me) (because I like flowers) (in vases) (and being appreciated). Flowers from colleagues. My work space smells like a garden. 😀

The complicated week has been dimpled with beautiful moments. A promotion. An appreciative gift of flowers. Smiles from colleagues in moments of shared success and celebration. A festive dinner out with my Traveling Partner and a dear friend. A delightful outcome on new hair color. It’s not even over yet – and there’s still more to appreciate, to pause for, to savor, to relish, to sit with in gentle contemplation over a great cup of coffee, too early in the morning. 🙂

So look, my life isn’t “perfect” (and that’s not a thing, so let that go now!) – my arthritis pain has been kicking my ass all this rainy chilly week, and I’ve had an on again/off again headache that has chased me for days. My schedule is a so far off routine at this point it is wreckage, calendar in useless tatters, which is deeply uncomfortable for me. My sleep, until last night, has been of exceedingly poor quality, offering little rest. A wee fish in my aquarium died. The first time my Traveling Partner ever saw my new place, my bed wasn’t made – which bugs me. The powerful “Me, Too.” meme unfolded on Facebook and Twitter, which although powerful and extraordinary, was also painful, uncomfortable, and saddening. Life is not about perfection. We are human. So human. Pain is a thing. Sickness is a thing. Emotional anguish is a thing. Running late is a thing. Being ditched is a thing. Disappointment is a thing. Setting ourselves up for failure is a thing. Learned helplessness is a thing. This is a “choose your own adventure” sort of experience – and you have choices. But…

It isn’t “easy”. It does take practice. It is utterly necessary to “do something” about “that” – whatever it is. 🙂 One thing at a time, and it’s okay to take it slow, to fumble, to get it wrong, and to have to begin again…

…like…

…a bunch of times.

This is your experience. The craftsmanship involved in making it a “good one” (defined by you) is yours.

This morning I’m fortunate to be sitting in the sweet spot. It’s been a busy week. I’m still smiling. That’s enough. 🙂