Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Overcoming obstacles

My youngest monkeys


OK, so a week ago this past Saturday I broke my ankle in two places and damaged the ligament. Last Wednesday I went in for surgery to have the bones set, and held with pins and plates, and have the ligament re-positioned and held by pins.

Ugh.

I'm not gonna lie, it was painful, and if I am not careful about my pain meds routine, it still will be painful!

Next week I get my cast on. Starting from that point, I will be able to do more things as it relates to getting around. As it is now, I have to keep on a strict regimen of elevating and icing the ankle. Obviously, I cannot be out of bed for very long periods of time and bearing weight on the injury is an absolute no-no for 3 months. Sounds wonderful doesn't it?

Well, since this is an unexpected turn of events that has the potential to throw me in a tail-spin on a mental health level, it is my cue to set up antecedents to prevent a melt down. I have spoken quite a bit about responsibilities and our mental illness and I wanted to take this opportunity to use this experience as a way to see responsibility in action. Hopefully, this idea of mine will not only help keep me mentally healthy, but it will help my peers who struggle with similar situations to see that no one is perfect, we all break down at times and we all can be successful in living a life over and above the mental illness.

My plan...



What is an antecedent? According to an online dictionary, an antecedent is a thing or event that exists before or logically precedes another. Some synonyms are: precursor, forerunner or predecessor. Using the word as an adjective it means: preceding in time or order, previous or preexisting.

Most of you are familiar with this concept, so for those that aren't - basically setting up antecedents merely means to observe possible pitfalls in a situation and to add preexisting elements that can avoid an undesirable outcome. For example, let's say I over spend money when I have been triggered. As an antecedent to the negative consequences of over spending (like, over-drawing on my account) I would leave my debit cards or cash at home when I go out to get fresh air, or take walks. Or perhaps, if I had to do some shopping, as an antecedent I would have a support person come along and have a list written out and that person could then assist me in purchasing only what is on the list.

So, for my current situation, I have taken some time to assess what might be things that can trigger me or make this recovery difficult. Namely, sitting in a dark room for hours on end and mindlessly doing nothing. I need to avoid occupying my time with things that will bring on depression full force and at the same time be mindful about the doctor's orders so that I may heal properly. A lot of the time it is easy for persons in my situation to neglect doctor order's because injuring myself further isn't always top priority to avoid. When mental illness has gripped our minds for so long, it is difficult to remember that I am worth something and that my affection for myself is healthy at a level that I want to care for my physical needs. These are hard concepts to not only acquire, but to maintain. First steps:


  • Assess and meditate on desired outcome.
  • Assess and meditate on potential dangers that could prevent my desired outcome.
Next steps:

  • Formulate a plan
  • Execute said plan
During my assessing and meditation portions I compiled resources of assistance and I pulled in my support system and informed them of my needs. Many may find this difficult, understandably so. 

Ask yourself, "How likely will I get my desired outcome in this situation if I do not ask for help?"

That should help you through any hesitation in asking for help. I assure you, if you follow these steps and you do the uncomfortable things, when all is said and done and you can look back on your success, you will feel very empowered and any discomfort from asking for help will melt away through pride in yourself for your accomplishment.

Aj and I spent time talking about the dangers of a relapse and what we can do together to prevent any negative consequences coming from this injury and we started this together. Please do not fret if you do not have a mate within your support system. I happen to, therefore I am utilizing that avenue. Other's may have a mate, but that mate may not be all that understanding. The point is, while you are assessing what you have for resources and what you do not have, a mate is not the corner-stone to success. Being honest with yourself is.

If there is no mate, or no supportive mate, then your plan may look a little differently. It isn't "bad" or "good" - it just is. We use what we have not mourn over something we don't have, hindering our forward movement into success. Please, for anyone who has to go this sort of thing alone, give yourself an extra pat on the back, because that is showing that much more strength that you are still fighting! For others, remember even having a supportive mate doesn't mean you'll see eye to eye. You may have to re-evaluate what is possible and what is not possible for support from time to time. Again, being honest with yourself as to where you are and what you have at your disposal is more important than having certain other things. 

For my situation at its current space right now, this is where I am.

Aj and some other friends from my support system have done the following for me:

Now, I do not have a before photo, but let me tell you... outside my bedroom window was quite drab. The fence between our property and our neighbor to the left had fallen over, and there were no plants or bird feeders etc. Before,  the trees were there and a bird and a squirrel would frequent the fence line in the back, but it certainly wasn't what I would say beautiful. 


What you can't see in the photo is the lights that have been put in the pots, so at night it illuminates and there is a window box right below the window that has more flowers in it, that soon will grow tall enough I should see them from a sitting position. Essentially Aj and our friends created a mini-paradise for the birds, squirrels, and bumblebees.

This is pleasing to see, hear and smell. Even on the days that it is a little rainy. It serves another purpose:


My two cats love to go to the open window and watch the animals that are attracted to the area. It is always soothing to watch my cats enjoy themselves.

So far, my youngest son has contributed to the design (the tile inside the basket):



And these birds have visited the area:




My older sons are working on making their own bird bath! I am excited to see that :)

My mother (another important person in my support system) has not only been staying with us to help this past week, but she has also taken to her creative side and provided me with these so that I may thank people who offer help or kind thoughts:

As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, Aj has also set up our room so that there is seating along side the bed so that visitors can come in and spend time with me (in the pictures case, it was my two youngest before they headed off to school!) Our house is super tiny, and it isn't practical right now to get me out in the living room, so we made arrangements so that my room is presentable and available. Our home-schooled kids can come in and spend time with me too while we work on school! 

The bottom line here is this: I have taken the time to see the weaknesses in my situation and their potential danger to my continued well being and the impact that will have on my family. I am taking responsibility and outlining a plan, with antecedents that will keep me healing and healthy and a daily basis.

I am going to be documenting my experiences with my new menagerie and the animals that come to visit and sharing them here as a skill to stay positive and mentally clear and healthy. I am assigning myself one project daily, small or large depending on my abilities and pain level. Today's project is getting this post organized and posted. Tomorrow's project is compiling a list of work related items for Aj's business and working with him on the computer portion of it. The following days project is helping my mother with her arts and crafts blog and finally, Friday's project is to get the boys a design for their bird bath and have Aj get the materials needed.

I will post pictures of my days utilizing this plan and my thoughts along the way. We are all faced with challenges, some we can see coming and others we cannot. I hope to use this unfortunate event as a positive for myself and the peer support system that we all have been working so hard with!

~MJ

P.S. Groups are still on for the Sunday's listed on the events calendar. My apologies for the 16th, as that was the day after I broke my ankle and I didn't get to posting the cancellation of the group on time. Thank you for your understanding!