Goals for the Next 30 Days: Continue to Function at 9-10

Epic Journeys

When it comes to functioning on a scale of 1-10, I’ve generally rated high.  But, there are days.

Function measures how a person gets daily tasks accomplished like getting out of bed, taking a shower, tackling chores.  General consensus of the treatment staff is that if a person is a 4 or under, they probably need to be admitted to the hospital.  Here’s what I’m doing to keep my Function score high.

  1. Attend the After-Care support group for one month.
  2. Schedule weekly appointments with my therapist
  3. Continue Daily Planning
  4. Monitor for symptoms of Lapse and put Step-up Plan in place

The After-Care group is an extension of what we did every day at the hospital.  It’s a combination of checking in and being held accountable.  There’s also a deep and unique understanding between peers.  We know the pain and the faulty thinking.  We know when to challenge someone and when to soothe.  There’s nothing like being with folks who “get it.”  But since this group is an hour away, I only committed to attending for four weeks.  Gas money only stretches so far, and I won’t dig myself into debt that way again.  I’m hoping for other options by the time July rolls around.

Weekly sessions with Megan, my therapist, is a no-brainer.  She goes on maternity leave soon, but carefully matched her cases to other therapists in the clinic to minimize our trauma.  I’m constantly amazed by her level of professionalism and the great respect she affords us.  I’ll miss her, but that won’t stop me from utilizing her sub.

Daily PlanIn treatment, we made planning an art form.  Self-monitoring, setting small goals, and marking successes kept us moving forward.  It’s easy to lose track of what’s important.  I took the sheet we filled out every day, customized it for my needs, then took it to my copy shop where they made a tear-off pad that I can carry in my writing bag.  In the morning, I rip off a page, quickly fill it out, and tape it in my journal.  This way I can see my progress and where I need to concentrate my efforts.  By keeping my daily plan, I was able to recognize the depression sooner when it came back this week and watch to see if it would turn into a lapse.  With that criteria on my daily plan, I didn’t need to guess or stew about it.  And if I lapsed, I had my Step-up plan taped to my Mind Palace, ready to be put in place.  This time the mood shifted and I didn’t need the extra measures.  It was good practice, because I will need them sometimes.Step-up Plan

Even for a planner like me, this new level of self-monitoring feels gnat’s ass-obsessive sometimes.  But, I can see how much it helps.  I can feel it.  And that’s all that matters.

30 Day Forecast

Start BoldlyWednesday was my last day in partial hospitalization.  It was a surprise.  I went to the scheduled appointment with my counselor to talk about my progress and the work I’d been doing on my discharge plan.  When I asked him when he thought I might be ready to leave the program, he said, “I’m thinking today.”  I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and said, “Okay.”

Because I know recovery isn’t about feeling perfect or feeling done.  It’s about practicing new behaviors in spite of how I feel.  It’s about The Work.

Every morning in the group, we filled out a plan for the day.  It included things like errands and chores, what we planned for exercise and relaxation.  We kept track of our sleep patterns, listed things we were grateful for that day, and our successes.  But at the top of the page, we rated how we were functioning.  On a scale of 1-10, we noted how well we were able to perform our daily tasks, not how we felt.  That distinction was important.  Emotions, moods, and thoughts changing like the weather can make a person feel dysfunctional.  Noting objectively that we got out of bed, ate breakfast and washed the dishes, drove to group, and made plans to see a friend afterward proves that we can still operate in the world even if we don’t feel like it in the moment.  What we do matters.

And while I feel much more stable emotionally, it’s a high pressure system that comes and goes.  The practices I put into place and actually perform every day will help me weather what comes next.  And next.  And next.

And there’s a lot of Work to do.  It’s mostly planning and monitoring, but it’s also reinventing myself as a social creature.  I’ve written here about my tendency toward isolation, my resistance and anxieties where other people are concerned.  So, I’m trying something different.  I’m attempting to let go of my old notions of Support Systems, Intimacy, and Soul-Matedness, and simply ask people to Play with me.  I plan something I want to do (like see the new X-Men movie or go for a walk) and just invite others to join me.  No huge expectation.  No smoldering resentment or disappointment.  Just play.  And it’s amazing to me how easy this is.  Simple.  For a mind that complicates and twists on a regular basis, simple is good.  Real good.

As part of my discharge planning, I have a list of goals for the next 30 days.  These will determine the nature of my practice for now.  And they will also help me make these changes into habits that, hopefully, will carry into whatever weather the future holds.

It’s up to me.

It always is.

I’m on an Adventure.

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