Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Mental Illness to Mental Stillness: Sweating out my depression through good deeds.
Welcome to #Maintenancemonday! A day I chose to give back through Sweat Therapy. This week’s Maintenance Monday I chose to clean a well-known abandoned camp site at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center on the American River Parkway.
**please before reading this article, open up Spotify (Not a Sponsor) and put on 'No Rain' By Blind Melon
How I used "Sweat Therapy" to go from Mental Illness to Mental Stillness
Flashback mode activated! *Use your imagination on the sound fx* VWHOOOSH
Monday: I awoke to the all too familiar symptoms of anxiety; heart palpitations, sweaty feet; brought on by a weekend of late night shifts and bill collectors.
Step 1: Identify the symptoms - get up, get out!
Step 2: Outsmart your brain, escape bed:
I violently rolled out of bed and with a THUD! "I'M UP!" Someone had to knock some sense in me. Anyone familiar with depression knows how comforting the sheets are - manipulative bastards... No, there was only one clear option if I wanted to beat the emotional forecast. Get up, the river's calling...
Step 3: GET OUT! - Side note: Bring lot's of water and be prepared to cry and sweat like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
I had a goal to make Mondays a weekly river clean-up day and I wasn't going to miss my first one. Once I made it past the cat, the sheets, the fridge and every other shiny distraction... I laced my shoes and found myself powerwalking like a tweaker to the perfect healing playlist, made specifically for days I feel anxious and seek relief.
Step 4: Adjust atmosphere to symptoms- Find music that fits your mood:
Sometimes you need a good cry. I had 1.56 miles to get to my destination, which means I had cried to a good 8-10 songs.
Let the battle of emotions begin. As I swung my plastic bag full of cleaning supplies around the world I noticed the drivers in this neighborhood slow and tip their Gucci glasses to the tip of their noses as to fully observe the teary eyed hoodlum with a plastic bag purse and a grown out peach mullet power walking down an upper middle class street to the tune of Buddy Guy's "Feels like rain". (Don’t judge, you'd cry too)
Step 5: Be in it - ditch the mask and be open to the possibility of not being ok
In Urban Archaeology trash is a magical tool into someone's intimate life. Down at the river is a grove of live oaks, resting over merging pathways that few dare take for what they might see. If you take another look you'd notice an abandoned camp site, an explosion of litter, gallon bottles of emptied dry gin, yellow hospital socks, an alcoholics anonymous book filled with creased pages, little notations, a notebook lined with self-healing techniques, baby binkies, games that reconnect the lonely.
I sat, allowing gravity to rest on my shoulders, sinking into the trunk I rested on, drinking in the words of disconnect, dehydrated with curiosity, I read on. (I also forgot water thus the notation to bring water.. you're welcome).
There was a note that read:
"To anyone that uses this area for a dumpsite!!! (ok cool, he's addressing the residents and hoping they take responsibility for themselves) Clean up after yourself you're not 5 years old anymore. (Ok, I see where this is going, little childish but go on) You're killing the wildlife, you're destroying our natural resources (Ok, valid points but maybe consider that the residents were evicted and unable to move the camp, happens all the time) you're the reason people can't stand the homeless. You're an adult act like one. (OK FIRST OFF! Don't bitch about a disposition you know nothing about. Second off, man up and clean the fucking mess yourself. Third, offer a solution. Fourth and lastly, thank you for your love of the environment but please don't forget to pick up your humanity with the trash you left for the helpless duckies to choke on.)
-Just Some Guy"
This spot chose me to clean her. It took me months to notice but then I couldn't un-see her. She was kind to let others take refuge under her and to let me have multiple crying sessions under her grace. Now it was my turn to give back and not just bitch about the mess with an aggressive note to people in a situation I’m not in.
Triggered Memory Rant: Why the note bothered me
When I was a child I remember wandering around the block picking up cigarette butts because I knew that from the picture on the sewer drain that they would end up where the fish lived. That was bad. That's all I needed to know. The older kids around the block had stopped me with a pile of butts and smacked them out of my hands. This was the moment I decided that nature had an enemy, that misunderstood minds had an enemy. Since then I've never had a moment of mental stillness unless I was doing my part. When a job needs to be done, find a way, do it. In the end it took 23 bags of garbage, misc. furniture, a garbage can and more that I’d rather not mention, a 1/4 mile hike across bedrock and sand to the dumpster by the park 14 times, equaling up to 28 trips minus a few that my good friend Steve helped with near the end of day 1. I did it simply because it was a simple task, one in which I could control and in doing so was rewarded with the satisfaction of a job well done. Now I'm too tired to cry.
Until next week Goodnight
Nothing will humble the uneasy soul like a job well done.
Author: Lily Mott
Editor: L.Becker Author of the ShadowGate Series
Big thanks to Steve A.K.A. Superman for always helping a girl out!