It has been months since I opened my WRAP® PLAN workbook.
There have been so many things competing for my time, that I let my own needs, my personal self-care slip to the side. I know there will be good days and days of inactivity.
But practicing self-care has been an important part of my recovery. It is important that I remind myself about putting on my own oxygen mask before helping others.
Looking at what I do for self-care, some people might classify it as work, even hard work.
Today, for example, my self-care included 1 ½ hours on the tractor mowing. Then, I got the weed eater out and edged different areas around the house, garden, and my compost pile. Following that, I attached the garden cart to the riding mower, took my limb lopper, and trimmed branches.
We walk the dog around the tree line and every year I trim low branches that are touching our heads as we walk.
It really is an amazing thing to see. Over time, the forest is reaching out and claiming the open areas. Walking the same path, for several years, the growth stands out. Especially in areas where we walk between the fence and the forest. Here, the opening can get ridiculously small if I don’t stay watchful.
Lately, I have stopped being watchful about my self-care.
READ: My First Day
Taking a more lackadaisical approach has stressed me out. I let the most important tasks sit and have been putting off all kinds of important projects. It turns out I have 7 credits on Audible. I have a friend who sits by the mailbox waiting for the next credit, and I am just ignoring mine. However, now that I have found them, I picked two DBT workbooks to listen to going back and forth to work.
So yesterday, I pulled out my WRAP® (wellness recovery action plan) Workbook.
I received this copy from On Our Own last summer. In it, I had taken notes and created a personalized WRAP plan, just for me. I’ve used it before, especially in relation to my road rage. Having felt all was not right after I hit 82 MPH passing a car, on a curve, on a two-lane country road, at night, without the dotted line on my side, I checked out my list of triggers.
Road Rage was almost the first Trigger I listed.
This experience was an eye opener for me. The stuff I am learning works! I cannot tell you how good that makes me feel. It also was a reality check on my driving, getting me back under control. And listing other triggers gives me confidence that I can be more aware of things that may increase my anxiety and lead to a depression relapse.
Being a workbook, there was a fair amount of white space at the bottom of the Table of Contents page.
As I flipped open the book, I found I had written five tenants of the WRAP ® philosophy. I must have written it over two group sessions because some are written in black ink while other parts are in blue. Looking closer, I think some is written in pencil. The point is, I have been over these many times.
I just have forgotten how helpful remembering this is to my recovery.
As I go to put these five tenants down, I can’t remember what our Facilitator called them. I am thinking of them as underlying beliefs or components of a successful WRAP® plan.
Here is what I wrote in my book:
- HOPE – Life can get better.
- Personal Responsibility – It is my job to get better.
- Education – The more knowledge you have, the better you are equipped to understand what works for you.
- Self-Advocacy – You are your own best advocate. You have the most at stake.
- Supporters – Five is ideal, so you do not wear one person out. I started with zero and now have three.
Re-reading then entire WRAP® manual from cover to cover is giving me new confidence in my plans for moving forward.
Every day has the potential to be great. I know how it works. What is thrown at me I cannot control? It is how I think about the event that determines my attitude towards it. Despite my illness, I can say that I have had a wild ride so far. Getting to go and do things in many parts of the USA and different parts of the world. I am eternally grateful for those opportunities.
Believe me, when I say, I have #1; Hope.
Sometimes it may need a reality check, but hope has played a vital role in my life and any accomplishments I have. My hope is almost always connected to a plan. This combination has helped me achieve many goals I have set for myself.
Applying personal responsibility to my recovery puts the outcome squarely in my hands.
Applying myself, using the tools I have learned, and above all, asking for help, is me taking personal responsibility. Depression wants me to stay quiet, to never, ever, ever, ask for help. Secrecy and sneakiness are cornerstone approaches of my depression. Blaming others is depressions attempt to make me bitter. Anger and resentment do not fit well with being in control.
Education has been my middle name.
Had I thought a little harder about it, I would have found a way to be a professional student. I did make a run at it, taking 7 ½ years to graduate with my BA in Political Science and a minor in Geography.
Self-Advocacy is a part of my wrap plan I have struggled with. I wrote about one Psychiatrist appointment where I brought up my concerns about not being able to get out of bed. I also talked about the amount of sleep I was getting. He mentioned that as people age, they do not always need as much sleep. This comment threw me. The next thing I know, I had reverted to my concealed depression. I was the poster child for happy and healthy for the rest of the visit.
It took me three days to understand what I had done.
I finally called him and honestly told him how I was feeling. This led to the first change in my medication. Even though I finally recognized what was going on, I was mad at myself for reverting to old habits. Yet, I did figure it out and made the call.
The final item, having supporters, has been a struggle.
I have thousands of friends across the globe. I make friends easily. When I am on my game, you could even call me charming. But that outgoing exterior comes at a cost. And there is a limit to my interactions with them.
“How’s the wife?” “What are the kids doing this summer?” “I heard you got a new puppy.” All this superficial banter gives people the impression that I really care about them. They value my interactions with them because I make it about them.
I can last about 45 seconds chit-chatting about these sorts of things.
Just don’t begin to share your feelings or I will find an excuse to getaway. “Oh look, a squirrel,” and I am gone. Recently, I have tried out asking more questions with someone I just met. I let the conversation go on for almost three minutes before we stopped. I believe we would have talked longer, but his wife came out of the restroom and they were on their way.
So, building a safety net of supporters has been an extreme challenge.
Luckily, one of the Peer Advocates at On Our Own has doggedly kept in touch with me. I also now have a trusted family member, and a therapist that I have been seeing. I do not feel comfortable calling anyone except my Peer Advocate. And even that is hard. Knowing calling others is helpful, depression gives me hundreds of reasons not to call. This is another way depression foils my recovery efforts.
Finding my handwritten notes inside the WRAP® Plan Workbook, made me smile and reminded me of the value of working on my recovery with purpose.
My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.
Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder last year, I am sharing what I learn. If you know someone who might benefit from reading this, please share.
I very much appreciate your comments.