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.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Good Habits

Three weeks on a diet, exercising almost everyday for an average of 50 minutes a day. As of last Monday I have lost 1 and 1/2 pounds, but I will weigh myself again tomorrow morning. I should have lost between 1/2 pound and a pound more this week. Slow and steady, in it for the long haul... I've been keeping an offline and an online log of what I've been eating. To do that requires a certain amount of discipline in calculating the calories of specific foods. I keep my food log close at hand and bring it into the kitchen with me when I prepare my meals. Then at night, before I got to bed, I go online to Anne Collins' forum and post what I ate, drank and how much I exercised, along with any comments I can think of.

I started out following a meal plan, but didn't have all the ingredients and so I'm only following some of the recipes. The dinners are rather large and I might cut back on them if I don't keep losing some weight each week. Basically, I've just been getting used to eating regular, healthy meals and getting daily exercise. I find establishing a daily routine is what keeps me on my diet and exercise program. At least so far it has been working for me, but I need to stick with it longer to make it a permanent lifestyle change.

I saw my therapist this week and talked mainly about two things: the diet and exercise program and my desire to push myself to start a mental health support group in town. I told her that I began enthusiastic about the Anne Collins program and then after a week and a half got a little depressed. Somehow making meals for myself made me feel lonely and I also felt down about just how long it would take to lose the weight. My therapist said that even if I didn't lose any weight at all, I was improving my life by eating healthy and exercising and that I should feel good about this. I said I needed more time to get used to the change.

Then I told her that I had contacted the minister about starting a support group, but that the minister implied that it might be more difficult to start a group than I imagined. My therapist concurred saying that people worried about confidentiality. She said she knew some people who would go to the AA meeting in town from quite a distance away so that they could reduce the risk of having their illness found out by their local communities (neighbors, employers, etc...). I decided to go ahead and form an online mental health group, advertise it and see if anyone in the community responds to it and/or to the idea of starting a face to face group. An online group would give access to support, but would allow for anonymity, so I figured that was a good place to start.

I went home and formed a Google group, wrote an introduction and then ordered business cards with the group's name, email address and web address. On the cards I had written--"Get Support. Give Support. Fight Stigma." I debated about whether to include "Fight Stigma", but decided to include it because I do believe that stigma prevents so many people from coming forward and getting the help they need and deserve. Making the choice to join an online support group is a simple way to stand up for yourself and in doing that, I believe you fight stigma. I should get the cards by the end of this week and then I'll have to go into action and start posting them all over the place, especially on the two college campuses; then I will wait to see if anyone has the interest or the courage to post online.

I just went looking through the yellow pages under psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and social workers in this area and was surprised by how few of them there are. My psychiatrist is one of the major ones, not because he is so extraordinary, but because there are so few. He works in two other towns as well.

All in all I'm feeling pretty good. In fact, I'm impressed with myself for sticking to the diet and exercise plan for three weeks. Chris has said if you can keep up a new behavior for 21 days, you're on the road to making it a habit. May it be so. As for the online support group, the test will be me getting off my butt and advertising it in the community. If I can do that, I'll be proud of myself. It will be the first time I've put myself out there in several years.
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