Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

I Did It! (And Don’t Ever Have to Again)

In order to be discharged from the inpatient psych unit at Laurel Regional Hospital, all patients had to make a list of goals that they would work on once they got to sleep in their own beds.
Three top goals for me were: 1. To work less (ha!), or at least to base less of my self-esteem on royalty statements, 2. To take up a hobby (non-work related), and 3. To invest more (or at least as much) energy into local friendships than I do to virtual pals (e-mail friends) and long-distance relationships.
Upon unpacking my bags from the hospital, I was determined to become a woman who enjoyed scrap-booking (my new hobby), and a domestic diva who would instinctively know which color candle to place in front of which accent piece to make the living room sparkle with that feng-shui everyone is talking about.
That flopped miserably. (I suspect scrap-bookers and interior designers have similar genes to clothing designers–they all know not to wear striped shirts with plaid pants, a talent I lack.) The 200 bucks I forked over at Michael’s was a complete waste, unless Eric decides to do something with all the candles, frames, and other crap still sitting in a bag in the garage.
So I switched gears–I tried tennis. But unfortunately for everybody, my ballet training complicated this new pursuit a bit.


“Stay rooted! Feet on the ground. No pirouette please,” the instructor yelled to me and my partner, also a former dancer. Together we performed a beautiful Swan Lake production for the observers–Eric said we were unmistakably the worst tennis player he had ever seen.
But we laughed a lot, and that meant I was at least getting somewhere on my third goal (real friendships versus virtual ones).
“Let’s do a triathlon,” she said.
This delighted me, as I have always wanted to do one since my marathon training days. I tried two of those long distance runs, but ran into knee problems (no pun intended) both times once I got to 18 miles. I wasn’t going to risk further injury for a metallic blanket (you get when running across the finish line). So I told myself I’d do a triathlon and be nicer to my body.
But then I got pregnant. Twice. And wasn’t nice to my body at all–given the protruding belly and the hormonal, bio-chemical, and neurological explosion inside my head as a result of the births. All pre-kids goals took a back seat to those small people who were literally in the back seat.
The cheesy motional speaker Anthony Robbins says that “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Richie Rich Andrew Carnegie writes that “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”
Perfectionist Americans are pretty obsessed with goals, in my opinion, so I have to be careful with not going too goal-crazy. (Everything in moderation, even moderation.) But setting goals has been an important exercise in my recovery. It has, on a number of occasions, helped me to climb out of the Black Hole, as long as my goals are realistic enough (take a shower three times a week, eat a bagel, walk for ten minutes, don’t order the turkey sandwich off that psych ward menu again). Because with each small accomplishment, I am able to pat myself on the back, and say, “Well done,” and try on a bit more self-confidence (with my striped shirt and plaid pants).
Last weekend, my ballet partner and I competed in our first triathlon! Two goals in one! (She is live, real . . . not virtual, and our sport counts as a hobby.) I must confess that the rush you feel crossing the finish line with people cheering you on from the sidelines is hard to beat. It’s up there with a good vodka buzz.
I’m still pretty wiped out from swimming a half mile in a really gross “freshwater” pond (future post coming on that experience), pedaling 14.3 miles on a mountain bike while the race bikes sailed past me, and then running 3.5 miles past a chicken farm, the smell of which nearly had me barfing.
But I did it! Which means I get to cross it off my list and never do it again if I don’t want to.

  • Hi Therese

    I enjoy reading your stories. Let us never lose our sense of humor about mental illness.
    Another person taking anti-depressants!

  • Sandy Slaga

    Way to go, Therese!

  • fabiola

    This is inspiring since I am going thru my own kind of mess and am totally not motivated to do anything. trying to find my motivation. I have not always been this way. My stepson came to live with us 2 1/2 years ago and it has been hell. I am now in therapy, he is too. My husband is just now realizing my mental state has been destroyed because of his child. I dont like having him around, and try to be positive but then he will do something to irritate me. Cant send him back to mom she is in another country and doesnt want him with her. So here I am stuck. I am Catholic and try to stay spiritual but am having a hard time keeping faith. financial we are not too good. I have 2 biological sons. I need all the prayers to help me. thank you for listening.

  • bluezysuzy

    I’m inspired by the comments of everyone & could really relate to Therese’s article. Unfortunately, as many interesting and motivating books and articles as I’ve read on goal setting, I seem to be more confused than ever – my goals have a “shelf” life of about 3 days and then I wonder whatever interested me in such an objective to start with. So I figure it’s back to the basics – get up in the morning, brush my teeth at night, and even pull 4 weeds from my garden. I guess the solution is that we keep adding to the steps we take, no matter how miniscule they are, and eventually excitement in something will emerge…I hope and pray for all of you! Thanks.

  • Linda

    All my life I have struggled with the concept of setting goals and following through. It’s as though I’ve just missed a train that everyone else is already on. Then a dearly loved psychiatrist said to me: “Well, you just like to roll along in life and take things as they come. What’s wrong with that?” It’s not that I don’t have intention and don’t accomplish things in life but like many others, I just don’t lay the steps out neatly ahead of me. I find that doing so impedes me and drains all the energy out of what I’m doing. What ever happened to marching to the beat of a different drummer?

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