I’m publicly embracing my depression and my recovery program. I’m three weeks into individual therapy, one week into group, and a lifetime into self-care. Self-care is crucial to the success of my recovery from my current bout and I’m approaching it with my usual assistant principal knack for detail and Little Engine sense of commitment. If I can survive Monster, if I can walk 100 miles within two years, if I can survive 3 different cancer scares, if I can kick ass in two panel interviews despite acute laryngitis, if I can run 13+ miles, then self-care should be doable.
This week in group, I wrote out my self-care goals. We all have to do deep breathing exercises daily. I have also committed to making my bed every day(who told me that those who can make their bed can also make up their mind) and though it is not written down, saying the Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours during that time. I have committed to resuming my running with the easy goal of running at least 2 miles at least once a week.
Making my bed seems simple, perhaps too easy. Anyone who has been in my room knows that there are significantly different emotions at play based on how it looks. If it looks like a hurricane came through it, chances are I’m not holding it together, no matter how calm and tranquil I seem. This Wednesday, post-crisis, I switched from my cozy winter flannels to cool blue Egyptian cottons. There is something comforting about fluffy down pillows and the clean smell of laundry.
For the first time in several months, I have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours daily. The Liturgy of the Hours is the other prayer of the Roman Catholic Church(most know about Mass), said daily and according to specific guidelines. Formerly known as the Divine Office, it is a collection of hymns, psalms, readings, and prayers meant to be read aloud at certain hours of the day. Ideally, it should be prayed with a group but monks, nuns, priests, deacons, and lay people all around the world also pray it alone and/or silently. I first discovered the Liturgy of the Hours when reading Kathleen Norris’ books about Benedictine faith life. I then took an all-day workshop at Fall Fest, a young adult Catholic conference in San Francisco. I purchased my little burgundy leatherette copy of Shorter Christian Prayer and have prayed the Liturgy for about 5 years. The Liturgy is poetry and advice, song and reflection. Like the rosary, it soothes me.
Running is another matter. It has been a long time since I have run. I have missed it, the simplicity of muscle and lungs. I have missed the air, the trees and plants of my neighborhood and the nearby shoreline, and the rhythm of it. But I’ll have to contend with the soreness in my ankles before I get back into my old routine. Since I’ve convinced two of my best friends to run the San Francisco Half-Marathon this July, I need to get back out on the pavement and trail.
In addition to what I’ve committed to in group, my doctor assigned the workbook, Mind Over Mood. The book introduces the reader to cognitive behavior therapy and through various exercises, allows the reader to address her/his own thinking, moods, and behaviors so that environmental factors don’t negatively trigger physical symptoms. I’m working on a chapter a day, after the other morning routines.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”