Monday, May 3, 2010

Mental Health Day

From a few weeks ago...

I'm not an extrovert, but I play one in my life.  This week, I had no fewer than twenty meetings and six evening commmitments--including a networking event I hosted for nearly 100 people--in the span of four days.

Needless to say, I woke up exhausted this morning.  And then when I rececived an email with some not-so-good news, I did what any overworked, exhausted and completely depleted person would--I crawled back into bed, swaddled myself with sheets and bawled. 

This latest round of self-pity lasted for over an hour, at which time I could no longer ignore the beckoning sunshine and the crisp spring air blowing through my matted morning hair.  It was simply too beautiful of a day to stay indoors.  To mourn that which cannot be changed.  And then I had a realization--I should take a day for myself.  To do whatever I wanted.  No work, no rules, no obligations.

And then I sat there.  Nothing.

A run?  Well, that's kind of like work.  Write?  That would involve the laptop.  (hence why I originally wrote this with old-fashioned pen and paper), which I had zero interest in opening.  TV?  Too much stimulation.  Pilates class?  Another obligation.  Shopping?  No money.  Massage?  See the previous statement.  Walk?  I didn't feel strong enough to get out of bed.  Read?  Too much thinking.  Piano?  Too fragile to hear what I sound like after years of neglect.

It's scary to realize that you've been going, moving and doing for so long that you can't even remember what it is you'd LIKE to do, given complete and utter freedom.  I had absolutely no idea.

Last night, I read a great article on running and meditation, so I decided to give that a try.  Much to my cat's consternation (she's a big fan of the wallow), I reluctantly unwrapped myself from the twisted sheets and sat down on the floor.  I tried to breathe, to stay present, to relax and let go, to listen.

And then I decided that I wanted to go to the park.  Not to run, not to walk, just to be.    

I grabbed a blanket and some of my dog's toys, packed her into the car and took off--no agenda.  We played with balls and sticks and dirt, basked in the sun, and then took a short jog.  No watch, no goal, no plan.  I didn't get annoyed when she stopped to sniff or mark her territory.  I tried to soak in the colors, the air, the breath, the joy.

Then I was hungry.  And I'd been craving Chick-fil-A.  So, I got the usual--eight piece chicken nugget meal with lemonade.  I got home and the food made me think of more food, so I decided to watch Top Chef Masters on the DVR.  While eating fried, processed food.  I giggled a little, then cheered on a friend of a friend, grateful for the opportunity I had to eat at his restaurant back in January.  Grateful for food and for friendship.  The darkness lifted a little.

I decided to watch some 24.  To turn off the Blackberry.  To scream a little at the scary parts.  To just escape a little.

And then I put some clothes away and vacuumed the bedroom.  Not because I had to, but because I wanted to.  I put on loud music and danced.  Naked. And I'm currently sipping on some wine and enjoying the view from our rooftop deck.  I'm more relaxed.  I'm centered.  And I haven't touched work all day.

It's so easy to get stuck in the hamster wheel, to keep running and running until even the things you used to enjoy aren't fun any more.  Until you don't even know who you are or what you like.

Sometimes, you just need a day off to discover yourself again.


  1. I did this a little while ago. I got a babysitter, went to the river walk, a museum, and a coffee shop... all things that are hard to do in my real (toddler) life.

    That day got me through MONTHS to come.

  2. Bravo! I think I need a mental health MONTH. Any suggestions for that? :)

  3. Great post. Sorry to hear you had bad news. Glad to hear you allowed yourself to feel it and then decided to be good to your self. How about taking an hour of each day as mental health time?

  4. I hear you sister.....nothing like turning up the music and dancing alone. I truly enjoy your blogs


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