Feel-Good Corner

Mental Health Spring Staycation

Hey! Maybe I should go into the business of writing professional reviews. I’m thinking something along the lines of ‘Rate My Crisis Center’ or ‘Rate My Psych Ward’. I swear, at this rate, I’m on my way to testing all mental health services across the province. A slight exaggeration, but you get my point.

I’ve begun writing this blog while in bed with Mia at a new crisis centre. What happened with the previous one, you might ask. Well, I ran out of time and my ‘staycation’ came to an end. I didn’t feel read to leave and I tried to explain, but policy is policy. The one thing that bothers me is that after I explained that I was doing everything I could to help myself, a worker suggested (in so many words), that it was wrong/unhelpful of me to not go to a Psych ward because of Mia. The worker spoke about Mia as if she were an ordinary pet and seemed to have forgotten that it’s because of my ‘pet’ that I didn’t follow through with something very harmful just a few days earlier.

Regardless, I had a very good experience with that crisis centre. I made progress, I worked on some good habits, looked at things I’d been running from, etc. That’s what made it so stressful to leave; knowing I wasn’t prepared and that with a little more time, I could take a larger step forwards. So I left on April 6th and while I enjoyed the time back with my boyfriend, I felt very insecure. This is why I’m writing from another centre only two days later. I’ll have to continue writing tomorrow though because my nighttime meds have kicked in and I can barely keep my eyes open. Goodnight.

The First 48 hrs

There’s always an adaptation period when in a new centre or ward. Like the stages of grief, I’ve come up with the phases of institutionalization.

1. The ‘Oh shit, am I really doing this?’ phase:

This includes the uncomfortable phone calls, waiting room waits and general preparation. (This includes packing, if we’re talking about voluntary admission)

2. The ‘Well this is awkward’ phase:

One of the most dreaded parts, this features initial explanatory meetings and awkward silences when meeting other residents.

3. The ‘Did I make the right choice?’ phase:

Ah yes…everyone’s favourite torture-by-self-doubt. This is when we question our voluntary admission; “will it just get worse, am I trapped here, what did I get myself into, etc.”

4. The ‘This isn’t so bad’ phase:

This is the point where we (hopefully) feel secure in our decision and have settled into the new environment and routine. The less time it takes to reach this point, the longer we have to do the real work on ourselves.

5. The ‘I don’t want to leave’ phase:

This phase doesn’t happen to everybody and it depends on on many things. Sometimes, like in a psych ward for example, we’d do anything to get out – ready, or not). Other times, often in a good crisis centre, we may feel unready and/or unwilling to leave the safer and lower-stress environment.

I went through the beginning stages pretty quickly at the previous Center. Once I got there, it took little time to adapt and be confident in my decision. As you know, this was so strong that I felt badly unprepared to leave. Hence the reason I’m here instead of back to ‘ordinary’ life. I WISH I was ready but if I force things too quickly it’ll just result in failure. It’s important that I regain control and find a better combination of meds.

Anyway, this centre was a little harder to get used to. This is my third full day and I’d say it took until now to get adequately acclimated. The staff are very kind though and so are the residents. We were very few but increased to 5, including myself. As usual, Mia adapted faster than I did. She’s truly incredible and people love her. The Muff is also getting better and better at her job, which continues to amaze me. Just last night I forgot to bring her to the bathroom and closed the door to my room. I could hear her barking up a storm from the washroom, so I assume everyone else did too…OOPS! Muffin did the right thing though, because one of her tasks is to bark if I’ve gone somewhere without her. It’s my bad for breaking the #1 rule.

4 Days In:

Can it really be that it’s only been 4 full days? It’s hard to believe. The big news of today is that Muffin and I are changing room. Yup, we moved up in the world – literally. We are now upstairs with a roommate who’s quite nice. Everyone here is, and we’re up to 8 now by the way. (Too many people!!!) The room is spacious and best of all, it lets in a lot of light through the large windows. So we packed up and set things up again after a few trips up and down the stairs. There’s less storage space though so I’ll need to arrange things tomorrow before it becomes a disaster.

The other big news is that Mia and I went on our first sanctioned outing. We walked to the nearby Tims and she greatly enjoyed it. I was a little anxious honestly, with all the sounds, cars and people. It was sensory overload and also made me miss and appreciate my car even more. As with the last Center, I didn’t bring it. No distractions!


In my quest for better-ness here and at the previous crisis centre, I’ve been trying to surrender myself to the Tao. This effort in itself is wrong to begin with, as I’ll explain later. For now, let’s examine Tao; The Way.

Taoism is a philosophy based on the Tao Te Ching, a text written by Lao Tzu around 400 BC. I’ve read my share of modern self-help books (to little avail), so I guess you can say that I’m ‘time travelling’ the concepts of inner peace, harmony and letting go. I’m beyond fascinated; I’m rivetted and convinced that Taoism is key to my recovery process. By recovery in this case I mean living with my mental illness mix in a state of mental health rather than a perpetual uphill battle.

Side note: Have you ever thought about how hills have perhaps the greatest flexibility in
all English expressions? Maybe I’m simply pre-coffee rambling- half a cop in constitutes pre- coffee to me – but it’s kind of interesting. The direction one moves on a hill is the basis of several expressions describing both facility and ease, AND difficulty. Example:

“It’s an uphill battle.”

“It all went downhill from there.”

The first expression connotes difficulty, as in walking up a hill is harder than walking down one. Hence an uphill battle equates a challenge go g struggle. The second expression forgets that going downhill is physically easier, because it implies that downward motion equates a worsening situation. Pretty fun right? No? Ok, moving on. Where was I? Well folks, this is what happens to my brain without Vyvanse. Right, I was talking about my own battle and Taoism having the potential to enhance my (and EVERYONE’s) mental well-being.

Taoism has three main principles: Simplicity, patience and compassion. It promotes harmony, acceptance and action-less action, meaning to follow the natural flow of things without force and to act as action presents itself. It is a wholehearted acceptance of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, which only really exist due to their relative and comparative descriptions. I’m saving a more in depth explanation for an upcoming blog so I can dedicate it entirely to that subject.

I’ve been trying to think about how I can use ‘The Way’ in my circumstances of living. It’s not easy and by that I don’t mean because its based on an ancient book. After reading it, (translated and ‘simplified’), I think the precepts are classic and timeless. They are as relevant and pertinent today as they were way back then.

When I sit outside with Mia lately, I’m feeling the Toa itself. The sun bathes me in warmth and the wind brushes against my face. We’re transitioning from the cold of winter to the Spring of change that will slowly usher in the soft intensity of summer. In this moment, I feel the Toa. I am the Toa. We are all, the Tao.

It can be discovered naturally by any of us because it belongs to no one and everyone. Wholly accessible to all, the Tao is all encompassing and we’re already a part of it. Our problem, (or mine anyway) is that I’ve strayed too far from it. However the more I think of the Toa, the more elusive it will be. Toa can be explained as a concept and way of being, but it’s more than that. It IS the being. And to think too much of this being is to create a separation. Thus the closer I grasp it with words, the further we grow apart. But for the sake of sharing what I’m learning and feeling, I must try to encapsulate the indescribable.

One thing I’m reminding myself of is that Taoism isn’t/isn’t necessarily a religion and shouldn’t even be reduced to a lifestyle. It’s a state of being and this is what creates the paradox. The more one tries to follow ‘The Way’, the further it gets. So how do I integrate Taoism if to truly live it, one must let go of the pursuit? Am I making any sense? To live it is to not deliberately follow it. Mind-warp! It’s not like a traditional religion where study and devote practice distinguish the believer from the non-believer.

Perhaps however this conundrum is what can help me find ‘The Way’. I already feel like a paradox, so why should I not be perfectly suited to the path?

What I do know, are the things I’m already feeling by looking into Taoism:

• Reading the Tao Te Ching brought
me a feeling of calm and peace. Simply reading… that says a lot.

• I’ve been plagued by unanswerable questions for quite a long time. A bit of fun with philosophy is great-except when you start feeling nihistic and fatalistic. The Tao on the other hand is about letting go of these questions. Not ignoring them by force, but accepting them as is, without the need to change, control or obsess.

But…that’s it for now about Taoism. I happily look forward to getting back to you about it soon!

Day 6:

Mia is being a pain in the butt today and I’m writing this at 5 a.m. so that’s saying something. I was half asleep – half awake most of the night because the window was open in our room (which felt fantastic and I was so comfy), but she kept low-level barking at what she heard! I feel really bad for my roommate and I’m gonna have to ask later see if she was disturbed. We went outside where Mia barked some more and she’s still standing on guard. For what? That’s anybody’s guess. All I know is that I’m up with no chance of going back to my comfy bed, which just sucks. Oh well.

Mental Update:

It’s a difficult time but I must admit that things are slowly improving. I’m still waiting for my psychiatrist to call!!! I’ve left so many messages with the secretary to no avail and I really need a med adjustment! I’ve seen a bit of improvement with what I adjusted myself but I know it’s not permanent and I’m getting antsy. The therapy sessions however are proving very helpful and I’m getting much needed time to pause and reflect.

Here are some pics from the centres:

My first room at the first centre
Working on some art in the kitchen/living room:
My first room at the second centre:
My second room
The adorable Muff!
I look drugged…and I was!
A friend I made crocheted a scarf for Mia! It’s so cute!
First vs second cake after I badly messed up: (Make sure to read the measurement of baking soda – tsp not tbsp!!!)

On that note, I’ll end this blog…until next time!

Wishing you a very happy Sunday!

What's YOUR take?