Sorry I’ve been away, dear reader. I had surgery a week ago. I have never had surgery before and let me tell you, it is for the birds. I am in such pain. Originally I was on a medication that I was allergic to. No rash, but I was so confused. I was saying things that made no sense, trying to do things that made no sense. So I got off that and tried something new to no avail. I am just in extreme pain.
And so I have been trying to rest. I have basically been living on my parents’ couch. I couldn’t even get up off the couch without help from either my mom or dad. They had to help me walk to the table for meals. Even if I didn’t want it I needed help for everything. I am strong-willed. I like to take care of myself and I like to be autonomous.
But sometimes you have to rest. Sometimes your body is sore. Sometimes your body is healing. Despite medications, there is pain. It is this pain that indicates the healing. If you felt perfect after surgery, I’d be a bit worried about you.
Rest. You must rest.
This is true also of mental illness, sometimes you just need some rest. From time to time you have to bow out. You have to say “no” when people ask you to go out. And that is okay. You are allowed to take time for yourself, to put you and your health first.
Sleep can be a wonderful thing. I know that when I am feeling beautifully bipolar I need more rest than when I am well. It comforts me. It helps me. It mends me. I will go to bed earlier than I otherwise would. Usually I wake up earlier, but sometimes if my body and mind need it, I will sleep a bit more. Sleep allows not only your body to physically rest, but also to let my mind mentally rest.
Then there are times when the mind needs a little extra time to rest. During this time, I usually find myself in a psych ward. You have to look at it for what it is – a place where you are stress free and in a protected, scheduled environment. Not all are as good as the last one I may have visited, but I know it is a place I can mentally rest.
Some people view the psych wards or hospitals as this shameful, embarrassing place and they aren’t. These places are there to do exactly what I’ve been talking about – allow you to rest. My first psych ward encounter did that. It allowed me to rest by not forcing me to do too many groups and allowing me to see my family twice a day. It equated to a feeling to of being held in someone’s hand, safe and protected. I didn’t have to look over my shoulder. I didn’t have to worry about what was coming next. I was safe.
Maybe that is what rest is – a time when you feel safe enough to let your guard down and heal. I know that here at my parents house the first few days I slept and that was okay because I had someone watching over me. When I had to get to use the restroom, someone would help to a hall which I could hang on to.
Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. There are so many components to living well while being beautifully bipolar some of which include regular therapy, medication, exercise, and yes, rest. If you research mental health at all you will see that good sleep habits (rest) are up there with the important dynamics of a successful life living with mental illness.
Don’t be scared to take a breather. Don’t beat yourself up for going to bed at 7:30. Nap time is okay. Don’t be ashamed if you need some time in a psych ward, planned or not. Life has a way of taking care of you. Listen to your mind. It can often still be trusted.