If you're new here you might not know this about me, so lemme tell ya:
Guys. I have a pretty fucked up brain.
Specifically, my brain has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Chronic Depression which in real talk means: I have a hell of a time coping with emotional stressors and getting out of bed on a daily basis.
Now, I've done a LOT of recovery work over the years. What does that mean for me? That means intensive therapy since 2008. Trying a lot of medications in order to find the ones that work perfectly for me (post on that soon!) Building a support system that is balanced. Finding the foods that feed my brain appropriately. Creating an exercise plan that I don't hate. All that and developing coping mechanisms for daily use. My recovery plan is pretty airtight and has allowed me to be a successful, productive and busy lady (obviously;)) but does that mean that my symptoms never resurface? HELLLLLLLLL. NO.
I have a "Brain Buddy" named Allison (who is also one of my best friends), and she's one of the people I can have long conversations with about mental health issues. We talk policy, theory, and she's also a person I can call in the middle of the night when in crisis. All this AND she has one of the most brilliant analogies for mental illness that I've ever heard.
She says that our brains are like cars, and some of us have cars that have lots of quirks, subtleties, or maybe they even break down more than others. These "special cars" come with glitches, need extra care, and require forethought before taking them on long trips. It's not bad, it's not good; it just is what it is. We inherit the cars that we do, and the only thing we can do for ourselves is learn the best way to take care of them so those babies stay on the road lookin' fly.
But this still begs the question: what do we do then? What do we do when we take care of it just so, and it STILL breaks down on the side of the road? Well, we go through the following list and find out what we need to get it back up and running.
First, ask yourself- do you have enough gas? Our bodies are definitely machines, and one of the first questions Allison will ask me is "When was the last time you ate?" I also like to check in and revisit what I've been eating. Maybe it's time for me to buy that premium fuel for a bit and eat extra super foods, juice some veggies, or take vitamins, etc. I think, sometimes, we forget to put enough emphasis on what we feed these magnificent bodies and brains of ours.
Maybe you need to let the battery re-charge: Another unappreciated self care item... SLEEP. It's something that many of us that teach recovery strategies harp on often. Or rather, strongly suggest;) We must must must let ourselves re-set and recover from our days. As someone who likes to work 86 hour weeks, it's something I have to remind myself often. I love this infographic on the importance of bedtime.
Keep those jumper cables in your car always: Now, jumper cables look different for every person. They are the little actions that give us that quick happy boost when we need it most. It could be reading an inspiring book. Jumping in the shower. Going on a run. Watching a movie. Getting dolled up. I wrote a post last year called "Shit Days Happen" where I share some of my jump start strategies. What are some of yours?
Get some friends to help you push: In recovery classes, we talk about the best support systems being like a 5 legged stool. One leg, and it topples. Same with two. Three can balance, but if one breaks you're SOL. Four is pretty stable, but again, lose one or two and you're flat on your ass. 5 legs allow you to have a leg or two disappear and still remain stable. These legs can be anything- for me, many of the legs are people. My mom. Allison. My boy. My therapist. And sometimes actions like dance class. These things help you get off the side of the road when you simply can't push the car by yourself. There is no shame in this game; we all need support sometimes. So find those 5+ legs! And know that if someone's arms get tired, you still have three or four more to help you push.
Make an appointment with your mechanic: SO CRITICAL. Many times, we simply need professional help. People who are trained, educated, and outside the situation so that they have clear perspective. It could be a therapist, counselor, doctor, or psychiatrist. Allow yourself to ask for professional help if you need it. These people exist for a damn good reason.
Ladies and gents, you can do all the "right things" and still have your car break down. It's life and it sometimes happens. Even I, Jes Baker, goes through this on the regular. And maybe your car is extra clunky like mine. If that's the case, let me make this clear: the resting state of your car is NOT your fault. The brain and body you were born into is just that- the brain and body you were born into. You are not to blame, and feeling guilty or shameful about this gets us nowhere. All we can do is learn how to tune it up to the best of our ability and utilize the resources around us when we max out our skills.
And as my goddamnwonderful boy reminded me a little while ago: "Even high performance/super sexy race cars break down, Babe." To which I replied: Oh yeah! And they need an entire TEAM to put them back on the road.
Tell me: what are some self care/maintenance things you do for YOUR car? Share them below and we'll put together a kick ass list of Break Down Strategies!