As always, my last session with Therapist has left me with something to think about, which I guess is the point of therapy! Anyway, we were talking about my recovery activity of choice, namely painting. Not painting in the artistic sense of the word, but diy. When I was getting over last year’s episode I redid my kitchen and two bedrooms, this year I took on the hall, stairs and landing before moving out to the garden. But why? What is it I get from this?
I think for starters, the actual act of painting itself is therapeutic. I realise not everyone will share this opinion!! But for me, it’s something that requires me to focus, without having to put a great deal of thought into it, so it helps to switch of the endless loop of negative thoughts. If I’m to do it right, I have to take my time, so I have to slow down – good for anxiety. It also gives me a tangible result, I can see my surroundings improve as I progress, and anything that can create a sense of achievement during a low is a good thing.
But there’s something else to it as well. Hubby and I have talked about this, and we both agree that we feel the need to remove all traces of the last few years from the house. I’m not sure I can articulate it properly, but It’s as if the house as it was belongs to us as we were then. We’ve been through the mill and come out the other side. It’s a fresh start for us, and in some way, giving the house a lick of paint is symbolic of that fresh start. Does that make sense?
This is where Therapist comes in. She made a very valid point, one which I hadn’t considered. Of course I want to put this whole drama behind me, that’s completely understandable. But there’s a danger in closing the door on it completely. I will always need to be aware of my state of mind in the event that depression raises its head again, but if I try to forget about it completely, chances are I’ll be less mindful of how I’m doing, and may miss the signs that a slide is imminent. I would have to be extremely lucky to never experience another episode, but chances are I will, and the earlier I can catch it the better. So, glossing over everything about the last 5 year’s, while tempting, may not in fact be the best plan. That said, I’m getting immense satisfaction from fixing up my house, it’s as if taking control of my environment will help me to take control of my mind.
So how do I hold on to what’s happened in a way that keeps me mindful of where I’m at, without at the same time being constantly reminded of a time that I’d rather forget? As it happens, this blog works perfectly!! In writing, I’m constantly figuring stuff out in my head, and then letting it go. It also makes me very aware of how I am in that moment, so hopefully if things do ever stay to slip again, I’ll catch it, or maybe one of you will! The main point is, it works. I get to paint away to my heart’s content, but I don’t whitewash over the past. Win win.