Present Day, April 1st, 2020

FURLOUGH – day 4

Today was my first “teletherapy”. Having been about a month since my last therapy appointment, and with no face-to-face therapy in sight for the foreseeable future, it was time to bite the bullet and delve into the world of technological therapy. I suppose this can take on a number of different appearances. For me, it was entering a video chat room similar to Zoom but through a physician certified site for confidentiality purposes. Both my therapist and I were on webcams, so there was visual to go along with the audio.

It felt awkward, but it should be known that for me therapy always feels awkward. It always feels like I am supposed to have some more specific agenda than surviving my mental illness when that is typically the only agenda I arrive with. It is also practically by definition a time in which I am supposed to share my feelings. This is something I am not good at, am not comfortable with, and rarely know how to even put into words.

Most of today’s session focused on the general lack of motivation I have to do anything during this time. Literally…anything. I have about the first two or three hours of the day down. I have set a time limit of 8 o’clock to be out of bed on the weekdays. Otherwise, I could easily sleep and/or lie there until noon. I either exercise first thing or have my coffee first thing. Whichever the case, Coffee, waking up, exercise, showering, checking up on the latest news and social media updates, and a household chore or such tend to get me up to about 10 a.m.

Aside from that, I have got nothing. I know there are household projects to be working on. I know there are things I could clean. I know I have a hobby I enjoy working on. Hell, even on the relaxation side there are movies I have been wanting to watch and books that I could read. But I am pretty much uninspired and paralyzed. So we talked about setting out a daily plan and trying to find the motivation to stick to it. That’s just the thing. I have no idea where this motivation is supposed to come from.

I have not found this to be an unusual challenge in my bipolar journey. It really should not be all that surprising. This is a mental illness that often lacks the desire to even be alive, let alone being productive with that life. Baby steps literally can be great accomplishments.

Take today for instance. I had set out to take a bike ride as my form of exercise. I put it off for about four hours hoping the weather would warm-up and the sun would come out. Finally, it reached the time where it was going to happen, or it was not. So I set out. A baby step. But it was a pitiful effort. Oh, I climbed the hills I intended to climb and accomplished the route I intended to accomplish but I could have ridden so much harder. But I didn’t. In fact, at one point I almost broke down in tears and had to stop. Just feeling so overwhelmed. So helpless. So hopeless.

There were other things on my agenda for today that I accomplished. All of them in fact. And yet still so much time spent just feeling lost. Unmotivated. Uninspired.

I’ll try again tomorrow. A new agenda. A new list. A new attempt to find the motivation to get out of bed, get active and get productive. It will be a struggle. Not just for me, but for so many others. A struggle we have to face one little step at a time.

Present Day, March 26th, 2017

Today is a personal retreat day for me. I’m loaded and prepared. My Chromebook, headphones, journal, novel, Kindle, A Guide to Rational Living, and of course…I will go through copious amounts of iced coffee.

My wife and I pre-planned a number of these retreat weekends throughout the year. Time for me to catch my breath, and try to reset anything that might be trying to misfire in my mind. I say “weekends” because that is the goal. So far, personal calendars and weather have transitioned them to single day getaways, which is fine for now. However, as winter gives way to spring, summer and fall…I look forward to hauling the camper out for overnight trips with a little more nature and a little less corporate America.

Today? This will do.

There is an agenda, but a loose one. An alternating of mediums between productivity (such as blogging), relaxation (such as likely taking in an episode of my newest addiction…The Blacklist), and mental health productivity (such as getting down some life application notes from my journey through Abert Ellis’s book). But it is loose. I won’t feel guilty if I don’t achieve all of these things (at least, that is what I am telling myself at 9:15), and I haven’t set times as to when I will move between events or activities. Just going with the flow. As much as I know how to.

If you have mental health issues, or a beating heart, you should schedule some of these.

If you have a significant other with mental health issues, or a beating heart, you should allow them to.

While we all seem to thrive in various levels of community, I believe we also all have needs of resetting as individuals.

It is no magic formula or guarantee of sanity. It is just what we are doing. What we had recommended to us to do. And what for today, I’m glad (and thankful to my wife who is covering the family business and kids) I have the opportunity to do.