Hey! Guess what today is?
It’s World Mental Health Day.
Here are the 5 Things I’m Doing to Celebrate:
1. Breathing. Not, like, mindfully or anything. I mean, Mindful Breathing is AWESOME. An excellent discipline to practice. Highly recommend. But for today, I’m simply celebrating that breath is entering my body and leaving it, over and over, like living people do, because BREATHING means I’m ALIVE which means I’ve KICKED MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE TEETH. Boom. Breathing.
2. Taking my meds. Medication isn’t for everyone, but it IS for me. Taking meds is THE BEST. On the right combo, I feel feelings, I can speak with other humans, and I can accomplish some tasks some of the time without the Panic Elephant sitting on my chest. Those might seem like normal things to you, but I can assure you they’re not normal for me unless my brain receives assistance. I took my meds this morning, and I clinked my water glass with myself in the mirror. Here’s looking at you, kid. Well done.
3. Sitting. I’m sitting. Upright. At my messy kitchen table, which I’m not planning to clean today and for which I shall feel no guilt. Honestly, I would be celebrating if I was still laying down, too, because that happens, and I’m not going to shame myself for it. But for today I’m sitting, and that deserves its own praise. SITTING. UPRIGHT. And I haven’t pulled a blanket over my head yet today. Maybe I will in an hour, and that will feel nice, but not yet.
4. Releasing the Shoulds and Giving Myself Credit. I have a List, friends, of all the Things I Should Be Doing and all the Things Left Undone. You know how some people invite Jesus to live in their hearts? Yeah, well, I did that, and I also invited the List to live in my brain, and now I use the List to beat myself up. I recommend the Love in your heart part, but, honestly, the List is an ass. I excuse its presence by telling myself it keeps me accountable to necessary tasks, but given how often I forget important things, I’m not sure why I don’t give the List a poor performance review and have it leave the building under security escort. So for today, in between the breathing and the sitting, I’m reminding myself I can let go of the Shoulds and give myself credit for all the things I AM doing — which are legion but which somehow don’t count once accomplished because an undone task is always allowed in to fill the void.
5. Reminding Myself I’m Made of Magic. Depression is a liar and a fraud, and it shows up in disguises we don’t always recognize. But I AM A SPY MASTER, and I have hunted it down in all its forms. I win battles ALL THE TIME (see #1), and I’m favored to win the war. I know what it is to hope slowly and succeed eventually and to wish there was a cure instead of a learning curve and treatment. I feel — achingly and always — so very human in the Adam sense of the word; made of mud and destined to screw up the Garden of Eden like a putz. But then I remember how the Story starts and how we all — even me — are also made in the image of God, or Love which is God’s other name. Divinely inspired. Love breathed. Made of mud and mayhem, yes, but also of Magic.
So, friends, in case you, like me, find yourself mired in the madness some days — weary and disheartened and feeling small — and in case you, like me, live or have dear ones who live with mental illness and wonder how in the world to celebrate something as big and ethereal as mental health, I invite you to join my celebration. Breathe. Take what you need. Sit or lay yourself down. Let the shoulds move on. And remind yourself you’re made of magic.
We fight together.
And we shall overcome.
With love, and waving in the dark,