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.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Return To Health & Balance

I joined Weight Watchers online last week after talking with a close childhood friend who had just joined and was beginning to go to meetings.  I decided about a month ago that I needed start a diet and exercise program and began to diet and exercise.  I weighed myself today for the first time in about six months and I am at the heaviest weight I've ever been by a few pounds, but during this past month I have found that I do not have an eating disorder and my body is still strong and flexible.  I realized that what I need most and have needed most is exercise.

I started out as a child very enthusiastic about dancing.  I remember taking a modern dance class with several friends when I was still in grade school.  I studied more modern dance all through high school and then some yoga during college.  Mostly I danced in my room by myself.  I discovered that I had natural talent and I loved it.  I don't think anyone has ever really seen me let go and dance and I've only seen a bit looking into the large mirror in my room.  So I've viewed my dancing as a private communing with the Higher Power and rarely had the desire to perform for others.  I still view it that way.

Several weeks ago I sent an email to the owner of a karate teaching business in my town.  I had taken a yoga class there once and really like the studio space.  I thought it would be a great place to dance.  So I asked this black belt karate teacher if I could rent out her space for an hour at a time three days a week, every other day.  A couple of weeks went by and she didn't respond, but last week she apologized and said that my email had been in the junk folder and she had only just discovered it.  She said she was willing to meet me.  I quickly wrote back and thought I had set up a meeting, but when I arrived at the studio, no one was there and all the doors were locked.

Then I thought that I probably should visit the doctor for a checkup before I find a space to dance in.  This week I have to encourage myself to make the call and set up an appointment.  I really don't like going to doctors, but it has been a year and a half of so since I went and I need to be sure that my blood pressure is good and get my blood tested to see what my cholesterol levels are.  I need to be sure that I have not become diabetic, which, thank God, I have not acquired since becoming obese about 15 years ago.

This is my main goal for the year - to take better care of my body and home.   Since I became psychotic I have become obese, dirty and, to put it bluntly, a slob.  Taking care of my basic needs to be physically fit, clean and orderly were the first things to go when I got so sick and I have struggled with that off and on for years.  Each time I have tried to change my ways I have succeeded for only a short time and then fallen back into negative patterns.  I have hurt myself for this, judged myself and shamed myself and that just served to keep me stuck.

Something in me shifted a couple of years ago.  I stopped judging myself and worked on accepting myself just as I was.  I stopped calling myself "fat and ugly" and began to love and appreciate myself.
I began buying a lot of inexpensive, but quite nice clothes from an online store called Roamans and I began enjoying wearing them.  I cut my hair shorter.  I bought earrings and necklaces.  I started wearing just a bit of lipstick.  I started smiling at myself in the mirror.  I began asserting that I liked, loved and respected myself.

I came to accept my weight and my dirty, cluttered house.  It is not what I ultimately want and sometimes it bothers me, though mostly it makes me laugh.  So now I think I'm at a point of transition into a healthy way of living my life.  I have been praying for help to continue on this path and something is happening.  My challenge this week is to begin working on creating the good habit of exercising each day.  I have a stationary bike that I enjoy and I will bike on it for 20 minutes a day and no longer.  My urge is to push myself and that's just what I don't want to do because when I do that I do not consistently sustain it and I stop.  I need to change my life style gently and gradually.  I am not in any competition, I just want to get healthier.  A habit takes about 3 weeks to make, so I've decided that for two weeks I should just do the 20 minutes daily and no more and then start to increase the length of time and the intensity.

So perhaps I will wait 2 weeks before I contact the karate teacher which will give me time to see the doctor and reinforce daily exercise.  I also know of another place, a dance studio in a neighboring town, where I could dance if this first option doesn't work out.  I want to work my way up to having a dance practice.  I want dancing in a studio space to be my reward for putting in some effort to take care of myself.  I've only danced once in a studio space by myself.  I snuck into a university's dance studio with a small boom box when no one was around.  I danced for a while in freedom until I heard someone come through the door.  It was a little Asian American girl and she wanted to get permission to sit and watch me.  I told her no because I would be too self conscious and it would mess up the practice.  I felt bad about saying no, but I just couldn't do it.

My body amazes me.  Obesity has not stripped me of my strength, flexibility and talent.  Though I don't listen to music all the time, I love it.  Music motivates me to move and be expressive.  I have a strong sense of rhythm, pacing and flow.  My body still remembers what it knew as a child, adolescent and young adult.  Singing and making up songs, and dancing, have been the closest I've come to finding joy and a kind of worship of the life force in and around me.  I feel grateful to have another opportunity to reach for health and balance.

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