Wellness in the light and dark

I find myself with a few extra minutes before I have to make dinner. The kids and I just came in from outside; now they are watching a show. I’ve already washed, folded, and put away three loads of laundry today. I went grocery shopping. I ran the kids to and fro. So in this snippet of time between taking care of the kids and domestic duties, I am going to write as part of my health and wellness plan.

We set the clocks back on Saturday night. The actually setting of the clocks back doesn’t bother me. So what, an extra hour. But it’s what that really means that bothers me. Less daylight. It’s been such a sunny, mild and lovely fall — the leaves have been beautiful and some trees are still crimson red — so I cannot complain about the cold or light.

But now the darkness.

Oh the darkness.

That is what kills me.

I’m trying to stay hopeful that I’ll find ways to stay bright and cheery as the holidays approach, but I was already craving a glass of red wine earlier when it started getting dark far too soon. I am trying to promise myself that drinking red wine all winter isn’t the answer. I’ve just got to find ways to keep my spirits up and actually enjoy the holidays this year. Last year was rough. But it was the start of a new beginning for me because I opened up about being bipolar and started getting better treatment and talking about my feelings and emotions that I had repressed for years. I am hoping now that I’ve done all that mental work that this year won’t be as bad as last year, though I am still dealing with a few things.

Over the last week, when I’ve swallowed my medication at 8 a.m. when the alarm on my phone reminds me to, I have been grateful. Really really grateful that I have had good doctors and family/friend support that’s helped me get to the point where I am at. Healthy and balanced. Mostly at least 😉 I mean, I am learning that I am an EXTREMELY emotional person, bipolar disorder aside, and that that’s ok. I’ve shed more tears over the last year than I knew were even inside me just waiting to be released. It’s been good. All of it. All of those tears as they released pain, sometimes joy and sentimentality. All of the talking, thinking, pill-swallowing, hard work over the last year has been transformational.

Now I am at the point where I can feel the joy and feel the sadness of everyday life without worry of a psychotic episode. I worry less about the past and feel less anxious about the future. It’s a new way of thinking for me, and I want to continue with it.

So as we head into darker days, I am going to remind myself to be thankful. With Thanksgiving approaching you’d think that wouldn’t be hard to do, but the stores are already inundated with Christmas stuff. As I grocery shopped today I had to avoid looking at the trees, the lights, the red, the green, the candy, the eggnog because I am not ready for Christmas. Instead I focused on my daughter in the cart, and at check-out when my eyes were drawn to the cover of Real Simple magazine that read, Thanksgiving Start to Finish, I decided that that’s what I am going to focus on. November, not December. Gratitude. Turkey. And a slice of pumpkin pie.

October went well this year. I participated in everything related to pumpkin patches, hayrides, pumpkin carving, fall festivals, Halloween, and trick-or-treat. And I did it with my kids, and I enjoyed myself, even when I felt melancholy or sad on occasion. Not all days are perfect and I still have some unrest, but for the most part I basked in the sunny days and strolls to-and-from my son’s school watching the leaves change colors and fall off the trees, and life felt simple. And I felt present and acutely aware of myself and my actions.

I hope that simplicity and mindfulness and gratitude continues this month and into next and and next and that my life will keep working itself out — the past informing the future as I live in the now. ‘Tis the season to be well and thankful.

And then — to write about it.

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