Today is feeling like just another day with depression. No matter what I’m doing, my thoughts are constantly wishing I wasn’t around. My mind keeps telling me a wide variety negative things. I try to find something that I enjoy doing to help me get through the day, I use my wellness toolbox. Today, I’m going to a Coyotes game. I love hockey and I love the Coyotes! We’re playing the LA Kings. Going to the games can be tough because they’re so crowded, but my husband helps me through it all. Only 4 hours until we leave to go to the game. I’m hoping I’ll feel even a little better once I’m watching the game.
A wellness toolbox is a list of any and all of the tools that an individual has found to be helpful from their own personal life experience. Everyone’s wellness toolbox is different because they are based on personal experience. A wellness toolbox can be edited as you learn new helpful tools and/or cross of ones that no longer work for you. My wellness toolbox contains the following tools:
- Clean the house
- Talk to or meet up with a friend
- Cook (organize ingredients and make a whole meal)
- Listen to Jennifer’s Rabbit by Tom Paxton (a song from my childhood)
- Take the dog for a walk
- Call friends from support groups
- Organize anything I can find
- Play the piano
- Workout and eat healthy
- Go to therapy or a support group
- Watch old family videos
- Look through old photos
- Avoid caffeine
- Light candles that smell good
- Stay away from crowds
- Watch a funny video or movie
- Color in my adult coloring books
I have done several of the things in my wellness toolbox, so at least I know I’m on the right track. I’m also planning on cooking tonight, so that’s another thing I’m doing for myself. There are some things I’ve tried, but wasn’t able to do, such as coloring. I tried but couldn’t do it for some reason. I guess I’ll try it again a little later.
This is the reason I completed the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), to help me and my loved ones when I’m struggling with either mania or depression. I’ve already found it useful. I’ve even added something to my toolbox; the coloring is a new tool. I will keep my wellness toolbox handy so I can reference it whenever necessary.
I went to bed last night hoping that today was going to be different. When I woke up, I knew that it was going to be another day dealing with depression. The first sign was that I slept until 10am. I don’t sleep that late when I’m feeling well. Then my mom called me, which normally makes me happy, but this time I couldn’t feel anything. I’m dealing with a loss of interest in things I normally enjoy. My energy level is extremely low, everything feels like a major tasks. Even writing has become a huge task, but I force myself to do it.
Yesterday, I forced myself to get out of the house and go to my mother-in-laws when she invited me. It was extremely difficult, but I did it, and I’m glad I did it. It helped me feel a little better. Maybe today I should do the same thing. There’s a friend’s house I could go to; she understands depression and doesn’t judge me at all. I’m going to try my hardest to go over there in little while. I actually just made plans with her, that way I have someone to stay accountable to.
I’m pushing myself so hard. Sometimes I feel like I should just give in to the depression. It would be easier to just let go, but I need to put up a fight. Although, I’m wondering what the reason is why I’m fighting the depression. Am I doing this for my family or my husband? Is it possible that I’m doing this for myself? I don’t even know if the reason why matters. The most important thing is that I am fighting the depression. I’m not simply giving up. There are a lot of things that I could do to help. One thing I could do is to look at my Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and looking through my wellness toolbox for suggestions that I know are helpful when I’m in a depression.
I finally completed my Wellness Recovery Action Plan today; even though I started it over a month ago. I did complete most of it on my own, but I brought it to Connecticut with me so I could get some input from my mom. She was my caregiver for many years, and often still is, which gives her a different perspective than I have. She had some really great insights and ideas that I added to my plan.
My WRAP consists of a wellness toolbox, daily maintenance lists, what I’m like when I’m well, identifying my triggers, what to do if my triggers arise, a list of my early warning signs, symptoms that mean I’m getting worse, what to do when I’m declining, questions to ask myself, my crisis plan, who I give permission to make decisions for me, meds I refuse to take, what hospital to take me to, what to do if someone feels I’m in danger, and many more things. There is also a whole other section to be completed during or after a crisis, called post crisis planning.
The wellness toolbox is just a list of tools that I’ve found to be helpful for me. Some examples I listed are to listen to the song Jennifer’s Rabbit (my mom used to sing it to me when I was a child), cook, play the piano, or look through old photos. I also had to come up with a description of what I’m like when I’m feeling well. Some examples are that I sleep well, I don’t ignore my duties, and I’m willing to try things with the help of others. I also had to make a list of things I need to do for myself every day, weekly, monthly, and periodically. Examples range from taking medication daily, cleaning the house weekly, seeing my doctors monthly, and visiting family every 3 months.
I identified triggers that made my symptoms worse such as being in crowds, feeling judged, and a lack of sleep. I have a list of what to do when these triggers occur, like stand with my back to the wall in a crowd, tell my doctors when my sleep is off, and walk away when feeling judged. A list of helpful activities includes blogging, playing Sudoku, and taking the dog for a walk.
It also has a list for early warning signs which include increased negativity, increased foul language, and uncontrollable emotions. Things I need to do when I see these early warning signs are call my doctors, use my wellness tools, and take my medications. Other lists are about symptoms I have when I’m breaking down or getting worse. Some of my examples are extreme paranoia, hallucinations increase, and not making sense when I talk. A few of the things than might help at this point are to keep track of all symptoms, contact my doctor, and make sure the problems are not due to side effects. I also need to ask myself questions such as, ‘Am I rational and reasonable? Do my meds need adjusting? Do I need to consider hospitalization?’
There is also a crisis plan that goes over many of the same aspects; however, it also has a section for who should take over. I was able to make it clear that if I cannot take care of myself properly, then my husband, mother, and psychiatrist are allowed to make decisions for me. My one stipulation is that my husband and mother must agree on the treatments. I can also list who I don’t want involved in my treatment. Personally, I wrote that only my husband, mother, and psychiatrist have permission; no other family member or friend can make any decisions for me. WRAP also has a section on medications. I wrote in my current meds, dosages, and reason for taking them. I also wrote in what meds I refuse to take, and what meds I’m open to taking. I also said that I’m only open to other treatments that my husband and mother choose after doing thorough research. I wrote in which psych hospital I want to go to, and which one to never send me to.
The WRAP crisis plan is very thorough. I hope that I never have to use it, but it’s nice to have it, signed by my husband and mother, so I know that I will receive the treatment I want and need. Not only does it provide comfort to me because I know that my wishes are clearly stated and understood, but it also makes it easier for my husband and mother if and when they need to take over making decisions for me. I know that being a caregiver is an extremely difficult job; by completing my WRAP, I am attempting to make their lives easier.
I highly recommend that everyone who is diagnosed with a mental health illness take the time and complete a Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Hopefully you would never need to use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there just in case.