July 24, 2014 8:30 pm
The Serenity Prayer, a commonly recited prayer and adopted by Alcohol Anonymous and several other programs. I was first introduced to this prayer during my most recent hospitalization in early May of this year. When the recovery specialist (RS) entered the room she wrote on the board “Developing Your Safety Crisis Plan.” Now, my current state of mind at this time was extremely low: severely depressed and suicidal, and I did not care about developing a so called ‘safety crisis plan’ because I did not plan to leave the hospital alive: I wanted out. I could not leave the seminar since as an inpatient you are required to attend all groups, participate, and make progress in your treatment plan for the day. So I sat there. Giving the RS the death stare while shaking my left leg which I could not control and biting my nails anxiously as I mapped out my “death” instead of my “crisis plan”. Since these groups are for the patients the RS’s job is to encourage others to participate ,share their story and coping skills to the group. Of course, in my head I’m like “yeah right you are NOT getting a word out of me about my safety crisis plan when right now I just want to hang myself with the sheets in my room.” [this did not happen]
Patients, one by one, started to share their story and open up about what brought them into inpatient. My mood suddenly shifted. The knee shaking stopped, the nail biting, and racing thoughts. My mind started to connect with the other patients in the room and all I could do was cry. Tears started to fall and then all eyes were on me. Now, I do not like to cry in public and having people stare at me is a big no-no. But this time it felt right. I felt like this is the place I can do this. The RS did not single me out but asked if I wanted to share my story. I did not. I just wanted to listen, process, and cry. And, so I did.
We went through identifying our triggers/sensors, the warning signs, identifying coping skills, and things to do for healthy behavior. When it came to identifying things to do for healthy behavior the group was silent. It seemed like nobody knew what to do to maintain a healthy behavior. I did not blame them. How can someone with anxiety, bipolar, or depression maintain a healthy behavior during an episode? A few minutes later, something I will never forget, one of the patients stood and recited The Serenity Prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
And said, “this is how I maintain my healthy behavior ,by reciting this prayer during my manic episodes.”
While I was hospitalized I lost touch with my faith for many reasons. My family and friends would tell me to pray and seek God. And honestly, during that time I could not for personal reasons but obviously could not tell my loved ones that I did not want to “pray”. I did not want to ask God to forgive me for something I truly did want to happen to me. So,I found peace in this prayer. From that moment, I became one with this prayer and recited it day in and day out until I was discharged.
Today, I have a clear understanding on how to maintain a healthy behavior (i.e. eat, sleep, take medications, attend all appointments etc) during my extreme manic episodes. My faith is not where I want it to be but I am just taking it one day at a time and asking God to help me accept myself first, before anything else, then help me accept the things I cannot change.
Recovery is my permanent vacation spot forever. A place where I’ve finally found peace within myself and the courage to stand up and say,
Hi ! I have a mental illness (several) and I am alive and proud to be here talking to you today.
I am standing up for mental illness are you?