Today is the highly productive, Tuesday after Labor Day. It also marks five years since I was released from the psychiatric ward after treatment for a manic episode. It wasn’t the first time, but hopefully it will be the last. I’ve accomplished a lot since then but I’m most pleased with maintaining my emotional sobriety.
In the midst of my mania, I thought I could publish my unedited journals instead of actually writing a memoir. Yes, that’s what unbridled delusional thinking is like. Once I recovered, I set out to write a memoir by taking a master class, putting my butt in the chair five days a week and churning out enough words per day to create a manuscript. I sent said draft to an editor. She gave me her review and ended it with, “Thanks for letting me read it.” Hardly glowing praise, that was twelve months ago, exactly.
I’m actually celebrating both anniversaries today. Realities take time and hard work to accomplish. My book has been reworked, massaged and pulled into fruition harder than a batch of salt water taffy at the State Fair. It’s back on my desk with comments from my husband (aka The Last Word) and I will be querying agents very soon. My mental health, despite the pandemic, racial unrest, climate crises and the looming elections, has never been more stable. Hallelujah.
There are many reasons for my enduring stability, most of which are included in the book. One I came across recently was the concept of self-care.
I feel like I’ve been taking care of babies since I was nine, because I have. I was a pro at diaper changing by the time I turned ten and my youngest brother was born. Now Brian is teaching me to care for myself.
We spoke this past weekend about “babying yourself” and what that means. Nurturing myself is not about buying things or spoiling. Keeping myself safe from threats to my mental health (lack of sleep, not taking my meds, extremes of all sorts) being kind, allowing self expression and getting regular exercise all are part of a regimen I’ve learned to do to stay on track.
So today I celebrate five years of freedom from the hospital. My real, actual memoir has been created. I will continue to be vigilant about my mental and physical health like my life depends on it, because it does. And I will care for my needs, baby.