Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Celebrations: when are they a bad idea?

Today a dear friend passed away.

She was a 45 year old mother of one child, a six year old beam of sunshine. In fact, our daughter and he are only 5 days apart, and they are great friends! She died of leukemia which was diagnosed only 6 short weeks ago. 

Believe it or not, this post is not about the sadness that I may or may not be feeling about this. I am merely setting the stage for a particular  DBT skill that is very useful. So, as it goes, yesterday was a due date for some very important documents that my family relies on for finances and I was unprepared and was not able to file them. In fact,  I went to bed last night expecting to do them first thing in the morning, only to wake to this news about our friend. Which of course only compounded the stress. I am tending to my personal ailment of my pulled muscle, but it still hurts. I say all of this because this is the thought process I have to go through in order to be sure I am reducing as many vulnerabilities as I possibly can. With a mental illness, I am responsible for taking care of everything that is in my power to care for, I am responsible for preparing myself for contact with things that I cannot control and I am responsible for tending to any distress that will come from the unexpected that I am not in control of. 

That being said, as the stress began to mount yesterday and then the heavy news this morning, it was time for me to be sure I was caring for any physical ailments, like my shoulder. I made sure I had eaten properly and I made sure to carve out time in my day for a rest, because today is a day that I know I will need a bit extra. These are things that although they may seem minor, they go a long way in preventing a crisis. My moods swings are already brittle and are unable to bear much weight. I do have to say though, they are much stronger than a year ago, or six months ago. I am gaining in strength. This growth is from diligent practice and use of these skills. OK, so what now? I am not faltering a bit with the mounting stress and I feel really good about how mindful I am being about it all. Today, I checked my V.I.T.A.L.S. 



I validated myself situation with the paper work, in that I am not perfect. I do the best I can. I imagined how my day would look and feel when I did have the paper work completed, which I had set aside time for today, even though it would be one day late. Then, I took small steps, I laid out the paper work in sections and did each one on a time frame of 15 minutes. I told myself, "I have 15 minutes and then I can go onto the next, only 15 minutes" and so on until all of the paper work was done. Instead of looking at the larger picture that the paper work would take at least 3 hours. I then applauded my efforts and gave myself cheer-leading self-talk through out, because not only was the paperwork stressful, but now I had the weight of my friends death too. A lot of cheer-leading! I lightened the load by rearranging my schedule where I could, I canceled some plans for this evening so that I can get the extra rest that I need... and now, I plan on sweetening the pot by treating myself to some popcorn and chocolate. 

I believe that there is never a bad time to celebrate. It simply is a matter of what you are celebrating and how you are doing it. My efforts need to be celebrated, yet throwing a party would be tacky and needless. So, my celebration will come in the form of some mindful solitude, popcorn and chocolate. 

MJ