If I think I want or need something, shouldn’t that be enough?
Yet here I am negotiating with myself over what I want. Even after a lifetime of making my own choices, I am stuck between my ideas and depression. Now it is possible that my depression has allowed me a few “wins.” You know, just enough to keep me in the game.
My depression will let me win the battle as it continues to win the war.
And it will let me think all of this is my idea. By appearing to cede control to me, I get a sense that I am in charge. I can see myself making decisions and directing my own future. Depression loves this sort of thinking. It is happy to let me think I have it all together. This way it is free to concoct its next scheme.
If it can arrive at a scheme that will get me into the abyss, it celebrates.
And did I mention that my depression is patient? It can wait weeks, months, and often years until its plan comes together. And while it is waiting, it continues to feed me little nuggets of its plan. These often pique my curiosity and are one of the best ways my depression can lure me over to its side of the room. When my depression gets me going, it knows I will be circling the drain in the near future.
It does this while allowing me to make all the decisions about what I want.
But if I am not clear on what I want, how can I know when I get it? I may think I want to lead a balanced life with depression. So, I learn what I can about it. There is the Change Triangle, DBT thinking, and the help of my Peer Advocate. And then I have written my personal Wellness Recovery Action Plan.
Using my personal WRAP, I can look at myself and compare what I see to what I wrote.
I can see what I look like when I am well. Then I can see what signs there may be when I am a little off my game. Nothing that has me up against the wall, but something is not quite right. Having this information is super helpful in determining what I need to remain on an even keel. The best part of this plan is I have written down activities that I can use to bring me back into balance,
These activities are ones that I chose, that I will find helpful.
It is not a list of “tried and true” sayings or affirmations. These can be motivational on some level, but they often do not move my attitude or my thinking. What I wrote down were my experiences and my own personal activities that have made a difference to me in the past. And by examining the list and pulling out one or two actions, I can generally get back on track.
“No harm no foul.”
But sometimes, I slide a bit further. When this happens, I can look at page 2 of my wellness recovery action plan. Here I have described what I look and feel like when I am slipping. While I am still not circling the drain, I can see it from where I am standing. It is important that I figure out something that will keep me up on the counter. As I get further down in the sink, I can see the drain getting closer and closer.
This is when I need my WRAP plan to tell me what will get my attention and give me what works for me.
I have a Wellness Recovery Action Plan workbook that On Our Own gave me to use. I attended weekly sessions where a trainer spent time on each session. As each lesson progressed, we were encouraged to write in the workbook. I can tell you that I not only wrote what came to my mind but some of what others had suggested. The fact that we all shared thoughts and ideas of what worked for us, I found very helpful.
The wrap workbook is divided into sections where I can write my personal lists:
- What are my wellness tools?
- What is my daily maintenance plan?
- There’s a page to list what I’m like when I am Well.
- Then what I need to do every day to stay well
- Plus things I might need to do.
- Then comes a list of my personal triggers.
- And of course, my trigger action plan.
- Next are my early warning signs.
- Then my early warning signs action plan.
- Next is my list of signs that things are breaking down.
- And then my action plan for when things are breaking down,
- Finally, there is my crisis plan. This includes what I am like when I am well, signs that others need to take over, and a list of supporters and their contact information. This includes a list of people I do NOT want to be contacted.
- At the end is my post-crisis plan.
From the WRAP website, I got a copy of their On-the-Go Crisis plan.
This folded paper plan I keep on a clipboard at eye level, just to the left of my desk in my home office. It is a reminder that I have thought through what stages I may be in. More important, I have also listed things that are meaningful to me to help me stay well. Again, the whole idea is not to have a generic script to follow, but actionable items that I write down.
I know what I wrote works for me, which gives me the confidence to use and trust them.
Since my time in 5 East almost 4 years ago, I have only gotten as far as my early warning signs action plan. Thankfully, I have not needed to start my when things are breaking down action plan. This is no small feat given how I spent the first decades of my life. The fact that I am constantly learning about depression and my relationship with it has given me a host of tools. And these help me see what my depression is up to.
In addition to having a WRAP plan, I have other resources I can call upon.
Some of these were there all along, but I did not recognize them until after I was up against the wall. What gives me the most hope is how much support I have. I cannot say enough about how thankful I am for this. Once a week, without fail, I receive a call from my On Our Own Peer Advocate.
She calls just to see how I am feeling.
No judgment, just understanding. And I am comfortable enough with her that I can be honest in my answers. Ok, sometimes I say I am fine when I am a little less than fine. But I have been totally honest about all the big questions. And I have shared concerns about therapists, medication doses, and how to keep track of my daily medications so I do not forget them or take them more than once.
Finally, I have a good understanding of the change triangle.
Knowing where I am and what that means gives me insights into what I must do to move forward. Getting back to WRAP, if you do not have a personal WRAP plan, I would highly recommend that you get the material and write one for yourself. Click this link, WRAP PLAN. I am not a WRAP salesman and I have no business relationship with them. In fact, they don’t know I exist or that I am sharing links to their material.
I recommend this because it works for me, and it may work for you.
Using WRAP, I have tools that can keep my depression from deciding what I want or need to do. A WRAP plan that I personally wrote gives me ideas on things to do that have worked for me in the past. Knowing I have resources and tools makes going forward easier. This gives me the confidence to do what I need or want, without having to listen to my depression.