What I Look Like When I Am Well

By Joel Quass, a.k.a. Depression Is Not My Boss

“What do I look like when I am well?” I had never asked myself this question.

So, I waited for the group to share what they had written. I ended up copying many of their responses into my workbook. After all, I was with a group of my peers, all taking WRAP training from a certified teacher at On Our Own (OOO). They would know what they look like when they are well, and I must look like that when I am well.

It was last year, in July, that I began going to the Thursday WRAP meetings.

I revisited this approach by attending a 1.5-hour video meeting presented by the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery. The two presenters shared the highlights of the workbook I had used at OOO. At times, they asked for feedback on different sections of the workbook.

Having filled out the sections more than a year ago, I was able to contribute to the conversation.

But I found myself being selective in what I shared. Some of what I had written down last year did not feel right anymore. My frame of reference had changed since last year. I had many more tools at my disposal. This was helping me round out the picture of what I look like when I am well.

As we covered this point in our video meeting, our presenter mentioned she had used this concept to lose weight.

She had asked herself this same question about her own body. Making some changes had resulted in her shedding 20 pounds. And with her focus and attention, I am sure she will achieve her goal weight. It turned out losing weight was only one way she had used these WRAP tools to make significant changes in her life. These tools can be applied to focus our attention on any aspect of our lives.

Following her lead, I began to think about what I’m like when I am well.

Using what I had heard others say as a starting point, I have begun rewriting this section of my WRAP. Having spent 14 months using warm, fuzzy kinds of descriptions of what I look like when I am well, I have decided to go deeper.

Here is a chance to frame how I will live my life.

This is an opportunity to say, “This is what’s important to me. Here are the things you will see me doing when I am on my game. This is who I want to be, and this is how I want to live my life.” I am still working on this, and I know it involves giving back.

Despite living with depression for 43+ years, I feel I have been richly blessed.

Going down the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” trail is easy. But sloshing around in my own crapulence distracts me from working on what I can control. And that is almost always my attitude toward what is happening. For example, I cannot control Earth having a global pandemic. But I can very much control my attitude toward it. This gives me control over what I do, which is empowering.

I am going to use that feeling of empowerment to rethink what I look like when I am well.

Perhaps this is too ambitious for now, but I feel I can apply this to specific areas of my life. Two come to mind, and I have started a page for each one:

  • What I am like at work when I am well
  • What I am like as a husband when I am well

These are two areas I am focused on right now.

Being able to decide what I want these areas of my life to look like is exciting. It is also a little frightening, mostly because I have never given it much thought. While I have a strong moral compass, I have given little conscious thought to what I am like when I am well.

Looking at what I wrote down from my group sessions, I know I can refine these ideas.

Here is a chance for me to describe what my ideal life looks like. From there, I can begin building that life. What a gift. WRAP has given me a new way to look at my life. These new tools give me the power to say what I am like when I am well.

This gives me hope that my life can get better.

Taking personal responsibility for myself and advocating for myself is giving me the ability to learn what I need to build a better life. Defining what I look like when I’m well is a first step. And being able to refine the process to specific areas of my life has opened new doors. I’m like a kid in a candy shop, salivating over all the options.

Thank you, Mary Ellen Copeland, for your work and for sharing it with the world.

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