March Madness

TumbleweedPhew!  February is behind us.  Enough, now, of the darkness and bitter cold and on to mud below and sun above.  Historically, March is the time I rouse from my mental hibernation and blink at the mess I’ve made while thrashing around in the dark.  I spend too much money when I’m brain-sick.  I eat compulsively.  Fat and broke, I usually overreact.  Last year and the year before, I put myself on strict money and food diets… and I ended up in partial hospitalization.  Hmmm.  Maybe this is a pattern I need to address in IPR.

The mission of IPR (Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitation) is to help those of us with mental illness succeed at a goal we choose.  My goal is to keep living in my apartment, not taking sabbaticals in the hospital, so my caseworker, Aly, and I look at any skills needed to do that.

Partial hospitalization gives me structured support, a place to do the hard work of managing my illness when it’s overwhelming, and accountability to professionals who understand me.  One of my new skills is to seek out more structured support outside the hospital setting.

Seeing my therapist and participating in IPR every week are two kinds of structured support.  Recently, I added a weekly meeting with my Peer at Integrated Health Services (where I worked for a time last summer).  Allison and I sit for an hour and talk about doing the hard work of recovery.  The more I can get this kind of help, the less likely another hospitalization.  And since the Partial Hospitalization Program closed its doors last year, my only option now is full admission to a psych ward.  To me, that’s not an option.

So, it’s also important to look at this pattern of deprivation in the early spring.  As Aly and I talked through this, it seemed so simple.  Now is not the time to white-knuckle anything—not my budget, not my diet, not an out-dated version of myself as responsible and in control.  If there was ever a time for my Kinder, Gentler practice to kick in, it’s in March.  Now is the time to acknowledge how ill I’ve been and how well I’ve coped.  Now is the time to gently come back to cooking at home when the depression lifts enough to allow it.  Now is the time to remember that this is what my savings is for—to pay the bills my illness created over the winter and to give me space to breathe.  I’ll be able to live within my means again, but not right now.

This whole idea is radical—not clamping down to pay off my Visa bill or repaying the money I took from savings.  The idea that I can do those things later, should do them later, boggles my mind.  So simple.  So very Kind and Gentle.  It’s lovely to be my own best friend.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl LaVille
    Mar 07, 2015 @ 08:46:11

    You are brave and strong. Since you often don’t see it in yourself, it is up to those who care for and with you to keep you informed! You ARE brave and strong. Winter is over; Spring is around the corner. Kinder, gentler…


    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 07, 2015 @ 08:50:08

      Thanks for this, C. The belief that I’m bad/wrong is so deep. Even though I know in my head that’s not correct, I forget. Reminders are GOOD.


  2. Littlesundog
    Mar 07, 2015 @ 08:58:51

    We all need reminders… I find the Universe offers them up continually, so I need to keep my eyes open! Spring is indeed just around the corner with her soft rays of sunshine, singing birds, and gentle rain. Remember to be gentle with yourself! 🙂


    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 07, 2015 @ 09:01:07

      I so agree. But sometimes I only see the reminders I’m looking for—even if only unconsciously. It takes an outside perspective to remind me of the stuff I’ve forgotten.


  3. David Kanigan
    Mar 07, 2015 @ 09:10:07

    Yes. Let three sentences say it all.


  4. ljcriswell
    Mar 09, 2015 @ 00:09:47

    So glad to hear you are letting the kinder, gentler person hold your hand and guide you through. It does sound like such a more peaceful way of going about life. Be well.


  5. Kitt O'Malley
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:56:29

    Love this post. Thank you for the information about IPR.


  6. LindaNoel
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 18:22:23

    This post about doing the opposite of berating, belittling, beating on your Self is very helpful for me, too. I looked at recent selfies (only for my purview) and finally realized that I am, indeed, on the old side of life. When I’m honest about where I really am, I can make better choices about what to do and how to think about my life up to now — acceptance and acknowledgement what I really did and felt and the culture I survived in by being myself, instead of lamenting, “Wish I had done, why didn’t I, I missed out because, etc.” It is kinder and gentler thinking and feeling, too.


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