As I make progress and hash out some of the underlying issues that have caused my depression to intensify at different times in my life, I am beginning to see the value of visualizing my new future.
I asked for professional medical attention 5 months ago because I have lost my focus.
I could NOT see any way forward.
I was up against the wall and could not see the next hour, let alone what my life going forward would look like.
Boy that was scary and depressing.
And it turns out that it was Major Depressive Disorder. It was the illness I had spent 43 years hiding, concealing, faking how I felt, being a high-functioning depressed person. I have used the term Evergreen to describe how I felt I must look, act and be seen by others.
To the outside world, I was putting on way more than just the “never let ‘em see you sweat” persona. I was Batman and my superhero mask would never, ever come off in public.
Only Alfred, my butler, knows my real identity.
Which is kind of sad, because for all those years I didn’t even trust Alfred. And Alfred wasn’t even my butler and had a different name and is a woman. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. I only bring it up because I couldn’t be my authentic self to my family or even to myself. When I had trouble getting going in the morning I would conjure up Mary Poppins and sing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
Anything to keep me from facing myself.
I know what I want and have always gone after it. Unfortunately, I can think back to many times where depression would let me get within sight of the finish line, and then would pull the rug out from under me. Heck, depression even allowed me to achieve some of my major goals before snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. How jacked up is that?
So now I have written most of a page and have yet to list the first thing I will do in my new life.
Hmm, this happened yesterday, too. Is this a pattern? Am I secretly not wanting to say what my future will be? It is easy to be a perpetual student, always learning something. Heck, I would probably still be in college if they paid you to go.
The fact that it took me 7 ½ years to graduate speaks to that. Of course, somewhere in those 7 ½ years was 1977, my lost year, my first major encounter with my lifelong arch-nemesis depression.
So, my goal today is to list 101 ways I will live and enjoy my life going forward.
In my new life with depression, I will:
- Focus on being in the moment, in the present.
- Take time to smell the roses.
- Travel to places I have never been
- Travel to places I have enjoyed in the past
- Not “Should on myself”
- Have a Wellness Recovery Action Plan that I share with my supporters
- Get better at recognizing unhelpful thinking styles
- Learn more about self-care and work it into my daily routine
- Learn to say NO.
- Learn to say YES.
- Not hide from difficult decisions, but rather face them and challenge their existence, motives and the reality surrounding them.
- Have empathy for others
- Learn more about people beyond the basics
- Learn more about myself
- Accept myself completely for who I am, warts, successes and everything in between.
- Spend more time with family
- Have a plan for the next time I retire that keeps me active and engaged with others.
- Laugh more often
- Cry if I want to
- Explore how I feel and why I feel.
- Become a Peer Support Advocate, taking the State Examination.
- Learn how to use SMART in my daily routine.
- Continue to blog (journal) and share my progress as I work through issues related to depression and my new relationship with it.
- Collect resources I can use to stay on track and make them available on my blog so others can easily find what they need if they need it.
- Remember that my decisions often impact others and I need to be consistent in my decision-making progress when others are a part of it.
So, I will not get to 101 today, but this is a start.
It also was easy to start with very generic and general to-dos but listing more personal things may take more courage on my part and a little more consideration about what and who I will include in my new life.
As this will impact the next 30 years or so, I feel alright in taking my time about this list.
And I feel I can come back to this from time to time and make sure that my list is current. If I am finding additional things that I enjoy and want to include, I can delete things I am not doing, or I can make the list longer. I am in control of my future. I am advocating for myself and what I need to be the best person I can be.