The moment I felt slightly more energized, I began removing a Boston ivy vine from a stucco wall of my husband's art studio. Outdoor wellness activities usually make me feel better. I think it's the combination of being outside, physically working, and doing a repetitive task, which puts me into a Zen-like rhythm.
While none of the photos I'm showing are mine (they are courtesy of HGTV), the one above is exactly what the vine looked like. And the photo on the right of Paul James, master gardener, shows the way I was dressed, although my face looked more like the one in The Scream by Edvard Munch.
When I'm feeling well, I like doing manual labor. During this depression I didn't enjoy myself at all, although it beat the alternative, which was moping around indoors. So, every day for two months, I worked on this project. What the pictures don't show are the terrible roots that were underneath the soil.
And removing the roots actually was somewhat pleasurable (a relative term). Of course, Horticultural therapy is a well-known healing method, unlike Home Improvement Therapy, which is something I may have invented.
The most tedious, and the best healing task of all because it required so much concentration, was removing all the little adhesive disks at the end of the tendrils, which aren't easy to see in the photograph.
I had to use an electric drill with a wire brush attachment and a Spackle knife because they're so difficult to scrape off. And this took about three weeks since the vine had also grown under the eves of the roof in the front of the studio. Finally, I had to Spackle the stucco, and paint it as well as the wood.
The reason I tell you this is twofold: 1) It was truly an enormous accomplishment for me, since I was otherwise unable to feel like I was getting anything done. During a depression, my brain cells die by the thousands, and there's so much I can't do. So, I look for projects I can do.
2) The very act of awakening each day and knowing I have a tangible goal is part of my healing process. There are other wellness activities I do when I'm well, and I'll continue to write about them. But the key for me is to figure out what I can do when I'm depressed in order to feel productive.
Over time, I have learned that even completing the smallest task can provide hope when I feel so sick I can barely function. While I'm no Helen Keller, she certainly was an inspiration.
"I thank God for my handicaps for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God."
If that means I was meant to be a manual laborer, so be it!