There is a chance that this post can help you go from this to this.

I’m unsure if I’ve shared this with you that I spend my 40 hour weeks teaching a class (I wrote a 330 hour state funded program!) for adults that are pursuing a career in Peer Mentoring (PM). PM is the brilliant forefront of behavioral health and where a lot of the funding is being directed; yay more jobs! They have found impressive and positive recovery results from those that are coached by a trained professional that not only has the technical skills, but lived experience as well. The one time mental illness has a silver lining. In the class we cover a million topics (the history of mental health, ethics and boundaries, documentation, funding flow charts, group facilitation etc.) but my FAVORITES are the subjects surrounding personal growth.

And today, well, today we worked on problem solving our lives and it was fucking awesome.

This was all “inspired” by the fact that I felt like shit.

Some days are up, some are down, and today was definitely the latter. SO we made up a process and diagram just for those days when you feel less than great. Or maybe you feel absolutely fucking terrible. The thing to remember is that you have ALL the answers and you can find solutions all on your own; it’s just a matter of asking yourself the right questions. This process that borrows from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) will hopefully help with your next day full of not-awesome.

Here is how it goes:

1.) Write an “I Feel” statement.  Yes, write. It’s so amazing what the commitment to paper (or whiteboard) can do for problem-solving. WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT. Today I felt “like shit.” Simple and straightforward. That’s it. Done!

2.) Underneath it, describe what that looks like: symptoms, adjectives, emotions; things you want to shout aloud. Today I felt tired, but not sleepy. Like I should (ugh, don’t ever should on yourself!) be happy but instead, I just felt heavy. I felt apathetic and fed up with my fucked up brain for not giving me a break and just plain cramping my style. FUCK YOU NEURONS!!!

3.) Identify the core components of your life. The big things; the items that most affect the way you feel. Many people have a list of 10+ things and that’s totally cool. Today I focused on the major areas: medication, nutrition/food, family, exercise, sleep, and work. Get it down. This is what you’re going to work through in Step 4 so make them thorough.

4.) Assess those motherfuckers. Are you utilizing them properly? Can you improve? Are they positive or negative in your life right now? Is there something that needs to be tweaked? WHAT ROLE ARE THEY PLAYING IN YOUR DAY TO DAY?  Answer these honestly.  I hadn’t taken my medication in two days (DUH YOU'RE NOT FEELING WELL factor here). I was eating “well enough” but not superdeeduper great. I could use a high dose of exercise today. I’m not sleeping. At all. And it’s because of my 86 hour work weeks; I’m fucking burnt out. So there. I’m basically needing improvement in all areas. No wonder I feel like shit.

Now, there is the potential that some of your core items are going well (others had partners, house maintenance, creative outlets, etc.) AND THAT’S AMAZING. KEEP THAT SHIT UP! And then proceed to Step 5.

5.) Solution-ize. What can you do TODAY (you’re feeling crappy today, aren’t you?) to rectify some of those core issues? Be reasonable, effective and gentle with yourself. Create your action plan, and if you can’t do them all today, put a select few in the immediate future! Having this to look forward to can ease some of the stress right now. I decided to leave the class right then and there and take my medication. This step is critical to my wellbeing and if I didn’t do it then, I’d likely forget. So check! I was already making progress. Nutrition: I need more greens. A trip to the juice bar across the street during lunch was in order. I need an endorphin boost bad; though I normally don’t attend to this specific one, I’m gonna go to a dance class tonight and fix that shit STAT. Be as detailed as you possibly can - I wrote down that it was at 7. So, I don’t sleep. And when I don’t sleep I am easily overwhelmed, angered, grumpy, and depressed. STOP NOT SLEEPING JES IT’S SMOTHERING YOUR FIRE. Okay Self. I promise to be in bed by midnight, come hell or high water. And lastly… work. Sigh. The last few days zapped my energy and glossed over my eyes. Though it was positive, I need to take a break from it all tonight. Movie night with cheap wine and a friend is my new plan. The piles of to-do’s will be there tomorrow! (Note: movement and food are loaded subjects and do NOT need to be on your "list" of they cause more mental trauma than healing. This was simply where I was at on this particular day.)

6.) Put them all in order. When we’re in any sort of crisis stage, we revert back to a toddler mentality. Meaning: we need organized instructions to make it through.  Because you were so detailed in your solution stage (riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight?) it should be a snap to organize them into an action plan starting right now! THEN, you get to execute them without hurting your brain or feeling overwhelmed or wondering what you should do next etc. I KNOW it sounds so basic it hurts, but it’s really important and you’d be surprised how often we forget to do this. SO, I took my meds right then and there. I got a spinach + kale + dandelion green juice. I’ll be present at dance class at 7, and then proceed to NOT work until midnight when I will force myself to go to bed. Sunday I have family dinner, and I’m definitely looking forward to that.  I love my mom. And Christmas decorating!

(An image from Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls that might be a little more legible than my whiteboard work:)

I’m not exaggerating when I say that after completing this diagram I felt immediately better. Something about facing issues head-on, an action plan to follow, and a reason behind my emotions really solidifies my core. I also assisted three others with this process (all drastically different outcomes!) and it had the same result. Kick-ass to say the least.

How are you feeling today? No really. I want to know.
And are you going to try this diagram sooner or later?
If so, I wanna know how it works!

Sending you all love!       

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