Sunday, April 24, 2011

Adventure Bowl
Guide for New Readers * How it Began & How it Works

Dear BlogHer readers - I have marked below in PURPLE where the blog picks up from where you read it on BlogHer.

A friend recently sent me a link to BlogHer and asked me why I don't write some blog posts there.  I thought it was a sweet suggestion.  She felt that many, many women have moments of their life where they go through depression and maybe they might find my experience of overcoming it (though I am always aware it might come back), helpful.

I wasn't sure which one of my blog posts to post on BlogHer - maybe I thought if I started at the beginning, the cause of my depression - which started on the day I found out my cousin was murdered.  It was then compounded because within a matter of months I lost my job as a comedy writer, ended my relationship with my boyfriend and my Mom went through such a long illness (er, um... nervous breakdown after my cousin's trial) that readers might think my life was... hmmm, what's the expression...

"A colossal bummer."

So I started my first blog on BlogHer with an Adventure Bowl story that glossed over my depression and went right to the fun part (I'm such a good Catholic like that).  I talked of how I finally decided that laying in bed, day after day, was just not working for me.  I didn't mention that at the time, I was rounding the 2 year anniversary of my cousin's death and thought it would be a really crappy way to honor his memory by being stuck in bed, the covers pulled over me, a bag of Doritos for lunch... you know, just like yesterday, the day before that and all the days before that.

So I decided I would take action.  Everyone had been telling me to read, "Eat Pray Love" and I did.  It INFURIATED me.  How was THAT book supposed to help ME?  I could barely shower myself or make even a bowl of cereal for myself - how was I going to travel three countries for a year.  Um... and with what money???

But I did respect the author's desire to take action.  Okay, I could "take action," too.  I did want out of this depression and I wanted out BADLY.  I had already lost so much.  "Okay, take action... I'll do it."

BlogHer readers - The Post picks up here!

I would put, in a bowl, which I named the Adventure Bowl, all the fun things I wanted to do.  It started with 20 suggestions and I could ad as many as I wanted, whenever I wanted.  The only rule, pick one a week - and no backing down, no excuses.  At first, I started off small - get a pedicure.  Go for a picnic in the park, eat a cupcake like I'm a little kid again (pure joy!), go to a fancy hotel and walk the grounds.

Basically, I was going to "Eat Pray Love" within a ten mile radius of my house and for under ten dollars.

I started to find the old me on these little adventures.  Find my smile.  Feel... happy.  I started to get more daring in what I would ad to the bowl - go paddle boarding, save up and go for a massage, test drive a Porsche, crash a fancy hotel pool.

It was these more daring adventures that boosted my confidence and helped me conquer fears.  When you start doing that, it carries over into other aspects of your life:  soon after (many months) I lost twenty pounds, I landed a dream job (I became persistent because I was ready to go after what I wanted - another great aspect of these adventures).  Additionally, I was becoming more social and I found myself standing up for myself more.

I still do the Adventure Bowl each week.  My favorite one so far?  Going jet skiing with one of my best friends and my sister.  I conquered a few fears - the ocean and the idea of losing control.  My sister swore I would be too scared to go fast on the jet ski but it was she who was begging for mercy when I was ripping through the water, and she who was clinging for her life to me :)

I was shocked by how many women on BlogHer read the post.  I know that going through a depression, for me, a situational depression, and working hard to overcome it, would resonate with a lot of women - I get so many amazing comments here and in the blog's email.

But when I saw today, that over 800 women has read that post, I was shocked.  But thrilled, too.  And many of those readers have come here - many reading this blog for over 2 hours at a time.

I just want to say thank you.  It really means a lot to me.  I like the thought that maybe it makes someone reading this blog, going through a hard time - feel less alone.  A single mom wrote me, she just wanted to get under the covers.  She's scared if she does, she may never come out.  I know what that feels like.  

While she enjoyed reading my story and thought the Adventure Bowl sounded awesome, she felt like I did when I read "Eat Pray Love" - who has the time or money for this?  

That's why I wrote today's post.  To clarify how I started off doing "adventures" that no other person, except one going through a depression, would consider an adventure.  If you are not getting out of bed because you are depressed, going for a pedicure, going to lay under a tree with a good book IS AN ADVENTURE.

Start off slow.  The only goal in the beginning is to get out of the house.  To put a smile on your face.  To remember the old you.  And to work slowly and gently to getting back to her.

I also explained that giving yourself these little adventures would give back to her family 100 fold.  Never feel guilty about taking time for yourself when ultimately, a happier more joyful you, makes your family happier, too.

I hope many of you will try an Adventure Bowl for your self.  I'd love to hear about what Adventures you would add to your bowl.  Also, if you have any questions, please let me know.  I would LOVE to answer them.  Thanks for stopping by :)




Shirley said...

Your adventures are wonderful ones. I had finally learned to managed my clinical depression and my latest breakup - then I lost two friends and two stepfathers in as many months, with an emergency drive across three states to see my mom in the hospital, just in case she didn't make it.

The adventure I started out with? Drinks with the girls. I'd stopped taking the dance class I used to enjoy, but I did go back to meeting them at the bar next to the studio AFTER class for wine. Sometimes it takes all the energy I have just to do THAT ... but I do it. I love those beeyoches, and they understand if I don't want to do any talking that night.

A guy friend is trying to get me to meet one of his friends. I think I may be brave enough to at least message him on Facebook today. Not sure enough to risk putting it in an adventure bowl, but I'm considering....

Fatina George said...

I like this. I hate how "having fun" seems to always mean "spending money."

Also, I haven't read Eat Pray Love but I got free passes to the movie. I expected to hate it and I did.

MsJoyner said...

Love this post, found you on BlogHer and I'm one of the people reading 2 hours at a time. I really love your blog and your attitude!

TK Kerouac said...

maybe you can write a book out of your experience?

Lily said...

I second that, you should definitely write a book! Love your blog.

Grace Quantock, Healing Boxes said...

thanks for the explanation. Love the adventure bowl, will try it and get back to you. Wishing you joy, Grace xxx

Rebecca Flys said...

I read your blog. It really helped me wake up at a time when I needed to wake up.
When a friend invited me to Belly Dancing Classes...I went.
I tell my kids, "Life is about what you experience, and experience is what life is about"
But somewhere in my own sadness I forgot that. Thanks for the kick in the Adventure Jar!

Diana said...

Your blog is amazing... I came over from BlogHer and I really love it. Keep doing what you're doing, I find it so inspirational!

Sharon said...

I'm one of the ones who came over from BlogHer, love your blog, - it''s really, really funny and there's such a deep honesty that I really miss from other things I read. I'm probably one of the ones you see reading for 2 hours at a time!

CYL said...

Hi, I am a guy who has been in bed for 100 days or more depending on who you ask. I wanted to say that your stories do cross the gender boundaries and that reading your posts has been enlightening. It is nice to know that just because you have been depressed for a long time doesn't mean you are a loser, and that I am not the only one languishing in bed for days on end.

People truly do not understand why it is that we do things like not leave the house, or turn down offers to go out in order to lay in bed. "Snap out of it!" has been hurled at me more than once, it is allot harder to "snap out of it" then others may realize. Perhaps this blog can shed some light on the process, and make people understand what it really means to be depressed. Thanx.

adventure grrl said...

Dear CYL,

Your comment popped up in my email and I wanted to reach out and let you know I am thinking about you. It sucks being depressed. When I was at my darkest times, I did make a deal with myself:
1) Take a shower every day
2) Get some sunshine every day with a five minute walk
3) Write in your journal - which can just be a notebook, just get your feelings out in some way.

I was surprised I started to at least feel a crack of light once I did these things. Other things that might help...
1) Do you have job benefits? If you do, therapy is the best!
2) Is there one friend you can check in with a few times a week, even just for a laugh? Isolating is the worst.
3) I joined an online support group when I was feeling especially alone. It really helped.

You sound as disillusioned as I did but there is the same spirit in you that I had, the desire to get better. Let me know if I can help in any way.