Sir Ernest Shackleton, the great British Explorer once said “We must have that banjo! It’s vital mental medicine!” While I do LOVE the banjo I definitely don’t consider it vital mental medicine for me (although I’d take it over bagpipes or the accordion). But the quote got me to thinking…what is MY vital mental medicine? What is it that, when I’m severely down, I turn to to bring me back up?
You know what I came up with? Nothing. Not one single thing. I need to look at this “vital mental medicine” differently. The word “vital” means “necessary to the existence.” It seems this “vital mental medicine” is something you’d take BEFORE you got down. Especially since when you’re down you don’t really feel like you exist.
I would say reading the Word would be my vital mental medicine. And so would meditating. Deep, slow, focused breathing. And so would exercise. Like a brisk walk outside, or Holy Yoga. But these are all things I have to do BEFORE I get down. But why do they all have to be things that don’t come easily to me? Things I’m not naturally drawn to? I have no answer for that.
The second part of this is knowing how to keep with your vital mental medicine even when you’re having a crap day. Eric keeps telling me, mostly on my worst days that I need to “work my plan.” When I was feeling good I had made a plan for each day of the week. The plans always include reading my Bible, exercise and meditating, along with all of my housewife and Mom duties. So when I’m feeling poorly I need to work my plan (plan your work, work your plan).
It makes sense. When I’m thinking clearly I made a good daily schedule. When I’m not thinking clearly the one decision I have to make is to do the next thing on my schedule.
I also give myself more grace on those bad days. If I’m not able to do everything on the plan at least I’ve done SOMETHING (which is a whole lot more than if I didn’t have a plan at all).
So there you go. I’ve got my vital mental medicine worked into my plan. Sticking to the plan I made when I felt happy and sane is what will keep me from complete nuts-ville on the really bad days. Now figure out what YOUR vital mental medicine is and then make a plan. If you only have depression-filled days right now then ask someone you trust to make a plan for you, even if it’s a temporary one. And then work your plan.
Oh, and for the record….I know that vital mental medicine is never alcohol or shopping. Don’t put those into your plan.