Bipolar Bad-Ass Training, Revised—Part 2

The area I revised most in my Bipolar Bad-Ass Training after reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, was in Securing Down Time.  Rubin’s book showed me there’s lots more I might be doing to Fill My Well between battles.

I always loved the idea of Artists’ Dates, a practice Julia Cameron promotes as part of The Artists’ Way.  It’s a date with yourself, taken alone, to indulge your artistic and playful side.  It might be a trip to the zoo, if you love animals, or a stroll through a beautiful garden, or wandering through a toy store to find a box of 64 crayons just like the one you had when you were eight years old.

I’d gotten out of the habit of taking an Artist Date, and my playtime had gotten noticeably grim.  I go to movies, but only if I can smuggle in a can of pop from home to save money.  I go to Barnes and Noble, but only to read the art and crafting magazines, never to buy one.  My life has become governed by my checking account balance.

So, I’m determined to find new ways to tickle my fancy and get the creative juices flowing.  One thing I want to do is read more poetry.  I love poetry, but have never sought it out.  This weekend I checked out a collection by Mary Oliver.  It’s breathtaking and sumptuous.  Why didn’t I think of this before?

Another quest is to read more children’s literature.  Since reading is difficult for me, Kidlit ought to be a bit easier and, therefore, more enjoyable.  I’ve started a list to take with me to the library—The Golden Compass and books by Elizabeth Enright and E.L. Konisberg.  I’m actually looking forward to reading these books instead of dreading a task that’s “good for me.”

As a person of bipolar persuasion, cheerfulness can be suspect.  Glee is just downright symptomatic.  So, I’ve grown accustom to tamping down any giddiness just as I’ve learned to throw a net under feelings of melancholy and pensiveness.  The result is that I don’t foster cheerfulness, which is just not a way I want to live.  I want to laugh more, even if its only between episodes.  So, I need to hit websites like I Can Has Cheeseburgers and hang out more with my friends Matt and Jeff—sure-fire ways to laugh until I choke.  I need to celebrate my good days between episodes, share them, revel in them, create some kind of goofy tradition to mark those too-few moments.  I’m still noodling on that one.

Another thing that Fills My Well is being outdoors, but I hardly spend any time there at all.  I used to take walks in the old town cemetery and drive out to the corn and bean fields around town, but haven’t in a long time.  This past Labor Day I went to a big park and ate lunch in the sunshine.  I knew it was good for me, but I was depressed at the time and only felt lonely, which soured me on trying again.  I need to find new places outside to claim as my own, maybe places where I can sketch, or take walks—something.

What Fills Your Well will be different from what fills mine.  I hope you take a moment today to consider what would trip your trigger.  What kinds of things did you like when you were a kid?  What did you love to do?  Could you try those things on again?  Are there things you’d like to try if only…?  What’s stopping you?  And if the answer to that is being bipolar or in other ways challenged with mental illness, think again.  It might not be the barrier you think it is.  It might be something you can hop over on your way to glee.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn McCullough
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 20:31:04

    I love Mary Oliver, and I love the question about what I’d do, if only. Only, I don’t have any idea that might be. I think I’m doing exactly what I want to–except not traveling the way I’d like in recent months. Great post, Sandy!


  2. pegoleg
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 11:37:01

    I go for walks by myself all the time. We have several wonderful state parks near me and at this time of year I want to be outside, walking in the changing leaves. I also sometimes feel “oh, poor me, I have nobody to walk with”, but then I have to shake it off, thank God that I CAN walk, and keep going, scattering the crunchy leaves before me.

    Except then I daydream about how some psycho will come upon me alone and leave my horribly disfigured corpse in a delightful canyon in the park, which COULD happen, right?


    • Sandy Sue
      Oct 11, 2011 @ 14:43:37

      Okay, so maybe you don’t want to read the beginning of my story “October Roads” in the fiction section of my blog (i.e.. Heaving Bosoms). It might not calm those fears.


  3. docrob50
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 21:25:42

    ….yeah and what about Harry Potter?

    I remember the poker game in the show’s finale. Jon Luc / time travel…..oh and Dax and Worf. I’ve found so few who were Deep Space 9 Fans – are you?


    • Sandy Sue
      Oct 12, 2011 @ 10:47:18

      I didn’t watch DS9 and Voyager as much as Next Gen. I thought it was a mistake to overload us with so many series instead of letting us enjoy each one on its own. But, thinking about it, I *could* pick those up now at Family Video and see what I was missing.


  4. ManicMuses
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 04:59:37

    What a great idea…to read kidlit when the BP is trying to keep you from reading anything at all.

    When I was in the hospital, they gave us a whole list of things to do on a shoestring budget that would help us get out and fight the monsters within. After reading your post, I need to go and dig it up! I’d be happy to share if I can find it 🙂


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