Something I've learned as I grow into my adulthood is how important it is to do mental health check ins. If I go too long without one I can feel myself start to unravel, I'll work too hard and too often and suddenly find myself in piles on the floor, my edges frayed and tied into knots. This fall I worked on a show that required a lot of me (and everyone else), tight deadlines and a very fast pace. I rarely slept, and when I did my dreams were about the work I was doing. I'd wake up in a cold sweat wondering if I'd sent out that email or passed along the document for countersignature. My work haunted me but I craved the chaos so much that I didn't want to stop. That's how I get with my work.. I love it so much but I can feel it slowly pulling at me. Now and then, during my free hours while I was supposed to be sleeping or eating I started to find relaxation in the act of planning my future vacation. My mental health check in was saying "it's time to do something for you". So I did. I booked a 3 day staycation at the The Kimpton Solamar in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. And after my show ended I packed up my cute little pink carryon, my favorite books and a metric ton of bath bombs-- and made my way down to San Diego from LA.
Each day of my vacation I felt my pieces slowly join back together. From the outside it probably looked like I was doing a whole lot of nothing. In fact, I remember having a teary phone conversation about how useless I felt, staying in my hotel room all day taking baths and listening to podcasts. I tend to feel guilt when I don't have physical proof of my productivity or accomplishments. God knows mental health isn't really a tangible thing. And sometimes the sheer weight of all things I want to get done suffocates me, knocks me off my feet and stops me from getting anything done. Not only am I in pieces, but each piece is nailed to the floor. Suddenly it seems like nothing is possible. I want to write powerful words, I want to take beautiful photographs, I want to finish reading and/or writing a book. But I can't.
When those days come, when I'm so heavy with guilt about my own shortcomings, I try to focus on getting the smallest things done. The mere thought of getting out of bed and into a bath feels like the biggest victory. I feel my body moving as I push myself up and out, my feet feel heavy, like they're weighted down with bags of sand. I fall into the bath like a bag of rocks, and stay there with my eyes closed until I'm brand new. I watch the water spiral down the drain, taking all the bad out with it. Then slowly, as I stand on the bath mat, dripping wet and staring at myself in mirror I see her. Me. The one I've been trying to take care of all this time, and I smile. The bags of sand are gone, and though my pieces might not be perfect they are all there. Slowly tightening, growing back together.Read More