Posted by: Jack Hope | Tuesday January 8, 2013

Building a Plan

In my recent 100th post, in which I celebrated both that minor accomplishment and reviewed my previous year, I said that now it was time for me to start looking forward towards 2013 and to what it can bring me.

Now that I’m a week into 2013 and have had a chance to think, to review to determine what it is I want to do, I’m now ready to start putting it all together.

I first had to decide though what it is I want out of 2013.

I have my overall goal of going ‘beyond depression’ which I’ve outlined in the past, but what does that mean for this year? What are the things that I want to do in 2013 to take me beyond my Depressive Disorder?

Where am I going?

It’s not enough for me to just list the things that I want to do. Without a reasonable plan to achieve them, it’s just another round of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve made probably thousands of those over the years and the overwhelming majority of them have gone by the wayside, uncompleted and forgotten.

More than that, I can’t just ring up a list of goals and complete them like I’m checking off a checklist. These goals need to add up to something, and what they need to add up to is progress on the overall goal.

So I have to decide how far towards my overall goal do I think I can get this year and then choose the goal posts that are most likely to connect me to my destination.

What I really need, is a road map.

How to measure it?

The problem though, is how do I measure movement towards this overall goal? What constitutes moving beyond depression? How do I quantify an emotional and mental state and its impact on my life?

It’s not just a road map that I need, it’s a picture of the destination.

A Management Plan for my Life

Any plan that I put together isn’t just about managing my Depressive Disorder, it’s about managing my life. I have to consider all the facets of my life.

I am not my disorder but my disorder touches every element of my life.

And since it touches every element of my life, a comprehensive plan has to touch on all those impacted elements. I’ve broken those things down into four major areas that I need to be addressed. These form the basic building blocks of my plan:

The Basic Building Blocks

The Basic Building Blocks

These are the four things that I’ve decided to use as the basis for my plan. As an aside, these are four items that I’ve thought up myself and don’t reflect someone else’s blueprints for managing depression. I’m not opposed to using someone else’s management strategies and some that I will use are pretty common, but by and large these are my own ideas and reflect what I think is best for me.

Exercise & Nutrition obviously refers to those elements of my physical health that are under my most direct control. Running is a big part of this building block.

Support refers to my friends and family as well as the medical support I receive from Doctor Z and other healthcare infrastructure. I’ve included medical under this category because these relationships are all relatively “close.” Support can also be divided between virtual and corporeal networks.

Community refers to the broader body of human beings that I do not have direct relationships with. This can also be divided between virtual and corporeal components.

Mind refers to pursuing mental growth and enlightenment to help me understand myself, my disorder and the broader world. Mind encapsulates educational growth, development of new habits or learning to manage my own thought processes to cope with the symptoms of Clinical Depression.

But looking at these key blocks, it looks like these are separate and isolated items but the reality is that many of these items will overlap.

So really, my basic building blocks are going to look more like this:

The Basic Building Circles

The Basic Building Circles

Despite that it is still useful to think about these as distinct categories as I put together this plan. Figuring out where things overlap helps me to understand how all these things impact my overall life.

Finding a balance of goal posts between these four things will help me to identify the road that I need to be on.

Where to next?

Like a lot of travelers on difficult roads, I have my own sherpa, in the form of Doctor Z, my psychiatrist. My next major step is going to be to talk to him about where I go from here and what my next steps are.

The goals that I would like to achieve are now coalescing and I will be sharing them soon, but first I need to ensure that they will assist me in reaching my overall goals.

I also have some major questions that need to be cleared up to, beyond just what I need to do to manage my disorder. One of the biggest questions that I have is whether or not there is a bipolar component to my disorder. My recent episode of social withdrawal has me asking this question again (and I’ve asked before) and I think now more than ever, this needs to be considered.

The answers to these questions will determine how this plan unfolds and what the shape of my life in 2013 will be.

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