I’ve had a lot going on mentally the past few days. A blog entry I read on here led me into a rabbit hole comprised of hours and hours of research, which led to some surprising revelations for me. I will go into all of that in further detail soon when I have more time, but right now, I wanted to share one of the fruits of my revelations and the emotional roller coaster that accompanied them.
I am going to go on a solo retreat. Among many other issues with myself that need addressing is the problem of support slowly turning into enabling, and my leaning on that support has progressed into an unhealthy dependence that mentally traps me in a “Victim” mentality rather than a “Survivor” mentality. My home is full of amazing people whom I love, but it still houses the ghosts of my past abuse, and that drains me on a constant basis.
On the rare occasion that I am up to leaving my house for an extended period of time, I’m more capable and more functional. My agoraphobia either virtually disappears, or inverts on itself until it is practically a lust; for the outdoors, for fresh air, for new sights. I can spend more time with my son, I want to explore everything, to overfill myself on the experience of just, living. I’m no longer trapped in my bed by depression; my limbs start responding to my will, and I can get up with the sun and be productive. To reference the film What About Bob?, it’s like a “vacation from my problems”.
Experiencing this phenomenon over and over made it hard not to notice the pattern. And now, I have this rare window of opportunity, where I am in between responsibilities at the same time that I am actually feeling ready to do hardcore work on myself, and push myself further. So I am going to take advantage of it.
I’m still figuring out logistics of course, but it sounds like I’ll be staying at my in-laws property (about 3 1/2 hours north of where I live), staying in the campers they keep on the property year round in the small rural town it’s located in. I’ve never gone there this late in the year, and I’m sure I’ll be cold, but I honestly don’t give a shit. I’ll wear layers. Not to mention that multiple years of being a prepper, well, prepared me, quite well. With the right supplies I’d be confident in camping out in the woods for 8 days, so having campers with electricity and plumbing and a refrigerator might as well be the Ritz-Carlton.
More importantly than that, it will be the first time I’ve taken any kind of trip by myself, and the longest I have ever been alone my entire life. My anxiety problems prevented me from taking the test to get my license, so it’s rare for me to even be at a grocery store by myself. Someone is always driving me, and we have no public transportation in our area, so I almost never even have opportunities go anywhere alone. I think that at nearly 30 years of age, it’s definitely time to break that seal.
I know that I am more capable than I appear to be. I’ve shown time and time again that when circumstances force me to be functional, I can be. I have the skills, and if I didn’t have the willpower, this “disease” would have killed me before I turned 10. My continuing to exist has proven the strength of my willpower, and even as I sit here, trapped in my bed, unable to bring myself to stand up, I trust in that willpower, and I know it will be there when I need it.
To be clear: I am not advocating that anyone ever try to help a mentally ill person by recommending that they basically “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” or “will their way out of an illness”. I am saying that a deep well of willpower goes a long way towards enabling me to fight my illness, and that I am making the personal decision to force myself into this position, which is completely different than being pressured by someone else in a way that merely makes a mental illness sufferer feel that they just aren’t strong enough. Treating someone with mental illness as if they could just snap out of it at will is never okay.
I need to do this for me. I talked to the hub, the sub, and my mom about it this morning and everyone is supportive and on board to do what is necessary to maintain the household while I’m gone, and I feel very supported and freed by that.
I want to force myself into capability, not because I believe that one can escape mental illness that way, but because I need to prove that capability to myself in order to keep having hope. I don’t want to forget that I am a capable person to such a degree that I become even less capable. I want to reality check myself with my own awesomeness, even if that involves accidentally getting a fish hook stuck in my thumb and having to deal with it myself instead of having assistance. I want to struggle, to fight back, to continue doing what has to be done even as my illness fights me with an identical vigor.
Obviously, my plans are still tentative in terms of location and dates and all that, but I have the most important parts outlined, and I want to share them here, since I wrote them in a notebook during brainstorming.
To test and prove my capability to myself. To commune with and throw down with God. To figure out my path and set goals for my future. To address my identity issues, including my newest revelations, and my overall mental health. To test my reaction to the loss of intrapersonal support. To mourn my losses and bury my dead in private. To explore the world around me instead of hiding from it. To explore and express my creativity. To prove my self-reliance to myself and stop re-victimizing myself by falling into over-dependency. To renew, redeem, and rebuild myself. To claim my autonomy instead of fearing it. To build my self discipline. To make choices, not just plans. To reconnect with nature and the world outside my bedroom. To hold myself to the mark.
Day by Day Focus
Day One: A day to acclimate, adjust my headspace, and get settled in and generally prepped for the week ahead. Methods may vary, but the set-up will take a lot of industry, which is a good thing.
Day Two: A day dedicated to analysis of my mental health and mental illness, approached (as much as humanly possible) as a scientist, not as a victim or sufferer.
Day Three: A day dedicated to mourning and goodbyes and acceptance. The letting go of my grief, both the untended grief from my past, and the grief I am still experiencing in the present.
Day Four: A day dedicated to communing with God, and dealing with other matters of the spirit and soul. Ranging from praise to screaming in rage, but real intimacy with Him either way.
Day Five: A day dedicated to creation, exploration, and discovery. Spending time on art, writing, exploring nature, maybe even studying some mathematics. Definitely listening to music.
Day Six: A day dedicated to labor. I need to believe that I can keep myself on point. Mostly physical labor, with the focus being on learning discipline and being industrious.
Day Seven: A day of decisions, choosing my course, and setting goals, but physically restful.
Day Eight: A day of balancing rest and industry. Packing up as well as resting, and aiming for the top, trying to maintain the discipline it takes to beat my inclinations toward inertia, and alternating between the two if possible, trying to solidify new modes of thinking and operating.
Journaling throughout every day is vital.
So, that’s the core of the plan so far. Hopefully it will be happening within the next three to four weeks.
I honestly can’t wait.