A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This Past Week

My clothes arrived this past Thursday and they all fit except for a jacket which I will return for a refund. When I tried them on I had to face the fact that it's past time to lose the weight I've put on. So for the past four days I've been exercising on an inexpensive version of a stairmaster and have been cutting back on how much I eat. So far I've lost two and a half pounds. I want to continue exercising daily till I leave for my five day trip to Charleston, South Carolina on June 4th. During the trip I know we will be doing a lot of walking, so that will help me, though I know I will eat a good dinner each night, even dessert as a treat. I'm hoping that after the trip I will continue to exercise once a day. Christina once told me that if you want to make an activity a habit, do it for twenty one days straight. Well, I should hit that mark before I leave. So far, I've been enjoying the exercise. I watch DVDs and that helps the time go by more quickly. I work out soon after I wake up. I find my appetite has diminished too.

I had my eyes tested last Wednesday and picked out a frame. I've noticed within the last six months that my eyesight has gotten worse. I have trouble reading the menus on my satellite programming even when I'm a few feet away from the screen. And night time driving, which I dislike anyway, has become more difficult. I had my eyes tested a little over two years ago and didn't need to get new glasses, but now these glasses, which I've had for many years, are starting to fall apart, so I decided this time I would get new glasses. The examination didn't take long and my eyes, though a bit more near sighted, are fine. I was told on my last visit two years ago that sometime in a person's forties the eyes start to get noticeably worse. Well, I've hit that mark. I can't complain because my eyesight has been fairly good, now I just need to wear the glasses for distance viewing. I can read the computer screen just fine and also have no problems reading books and magazines without glasses, so I don't yet need bifocals.

I went out with my brother on Saturday night to see someone named Bill Kirchen and his band play at the Creative Arts Center in a nearby town. The Creative Arts Center just opened sometime last year and it's been doing really well. They give classes in painting, drawing, pottery, cooking, craft making, writing (that's where I took the writing workshop). They have a large coffee shop where there are music performances on Fridays nights(local bands) and Saturdays nights (national bands). They also have an amateur night once a week and a movie night too though I haven't been to either. A few weeks back they had a poetry slam. Now that the weather is so much better I'm going to try to get over there every week or so. Aside from the university, there's a dearth of cultural activity so this arts center is a real boon. And the performance on Saturday was excellent. I found myself yelling out shouts of appreciation along with other people in the audience. That felt good. We got there early so we could get good seats. I got myself dinner: a red pepper/mozzarella panini sandwich and a cafe mocha. Then the band played two sets. All in all we were there for about four hours heading home around midnight. At first I thought I'd be nervous being around people but the atmosphere was so relaxed and welcoming I felt as if I fit in too. When I got home I turned on my small amplifier and started playing my electric guitar and singing for around an hour and a half. I discovered a couple of weeks ago that a very good local guitarist is giving guitar lessons. I'm going to email him and see if he has any time available.

Today I put on some of my nice clothes and went to work at the local library. I was surprised by how good the clothes made me feel. They're not fancy or anything but comfortable, presentable and well made. The artist in me liked the feel of the clothes and the colors. I even put on an inexpensive necklace and earrings to complete the outfit. I think my mother will be pleased with the choices I made when I see her in June. They only needed me at the library for an hour and a half. They have a rotating collection of audiobooks. The librarian had me pack up each audiobook, checking them off a list as I went along so they could send this bunch out and receive a new bunch. The director of the library wants me to be more familiar with their collection and layout before I start shelving books. I'm going to go in in a couple of days and thoroughly check it out. It's a small library, only two rooms but they have quite a good collection. There's an interlibrary loan system with fifteen to twenty libraries participating in this area. I can go online, pick out a book and have the town library order it for me. The one library card is good in all of the libraries too and I can return what I take out to any of the libraries. It's a really good system which I haven't yet taken full advantage of (but I will). The people who were working there seemed pleasant and capable. There was some good natured joking going on. I especially like the director who was friendly and patient. I think I'm going to enjoy working there.

Tonight I went to the Monday night Al-Anon meeting still wearing my nice (not yet covered with cat hair) clothing. Someone asked me to chair the meeting so I did since we all take turns. One of today's readings was about the difference between submission and surrender. The first of the twelve steps goes like this: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable." This step implies surrender to something beyond our control and a realization that we need help. This surrender leads to a gradual acceptance of the situation. In contrast, when we submit to our powerlessness we don't really accept it and we still want to control it through self-will. As it says in this reading, we want to "play God", we want to have power over others so that we can change them to fit our specifications. Al-Anon teaches again and again that we don't have the power to change others, only ourselves and so the focus should be on ourselves. This doesn't mean we can't offer support to others, but it does mean that when we want to start controlling others behaviors that we should stop and take a good look at ourselves instead. Why can't we let go? Why do we have to insist on our own point of view? I know I personally am finding this hard to learn. A part of me wants to insist on my own point of view but if my point of view is hurting more than helping another, then I want to stop my unmanageable behavior. I want to surrender to the fact that I don't have all the answers.

I feel good about what I accomplished this week. I got myself out of my house and engaged in the life around me. This week gives me hope that I'm progressing in my recovery from schizophrenia.
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