First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on December 14th, 2021 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/is-connection-on-your-have-a-good-day-checklist
The connections I make and how family and friends relate to me are what is lifting my spirits as I recover.
Antonio Neves, speaker and author of Stop Living on Autopilot, has a checklist of five things he needs to do every day to have a good day. One of those things is connection.
Connection is my most important way to turn a bad day into a great one. Making plans with friends is for love and mental health.
On a beautiful early December day, my friend from the hospital and I walked along the seawall. Seagulls called, sun shone through the clouds, and the wind whipped our hair. Before our walk we had a brunch. We related to each other’s frustrations, wins, and hopes and dreams over eggs Benny.
I’m blessed to have a pen pal Treasa in Dublin who sends me letters and frequent email messages. Two years ago, she read an article about my journey with bipolar disorder and faith online.
Recently she sent me a birthday gift in the mail: a package of makeup, a Miraculous Medal, and a beautiful emerald rosary. It boosted my mood, as I was feeling desolated that day because I can’t do many things right now. I’m trying to be patient and take it easy.
I’m not supposed to put too much pressure on producing anything.
Treasa happens to be the same age as me and very kind and thoughtful. We exchange cards in the mail and almost daily messages. We share our daily goings-on and our prayer intentions.
When I was sick in the hospital, she told me she was visiting her church. She prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament for me to get better. It helped me feel like I would be okay.
The connections I have made from being vulnerable and sharing my story have improved my life. I have made many new friends who can relate and are inspiring, resilient individuals.
Human connection can heal a broken heart or a struggling mind. I am blessed with many deep and meaningful friendships. Some are more like family than friends.
Living in a small town, I have been feeling isolated yet connected at the same time. Thanks to coffee dates, email, and social media I am close to the relationships that mean the most to me. Our stories continue to weave in and out of each other’s lives.
My life’s tapestry is multi-faceted and it’s a creative pursuit of love. When I am snug by the fireplace reading a food memoir, I am content knowing I am loved. My Saviour, family, and friends show me that I am the beloved.
Without love, I would wither away and not be able to recover as I am doing now. When I get anxious as I am about to fall asleep, I give all my worries to Jesus. The anxiety fills my head, and I have difficulty breathing. Asking Jesus to take care of everything helps as I breathe deeply. I remember that all shall be well. I imagine the Lord holding me in his arms, and this seems to help.
I wait it out for all the uncomfortable symptoms to pass. I’m most connected to Jesus at Mass in the Eucharist or talking to him in my heart. I am nourished by his body and feel his presence more.
Treasa and I may be long-distance friends, but she sees me and checks in with me. It warms my heart.
I left the residential short-term emergency stay in the middle of October. And I have stayed in contact with two women who were companions for me there. Our 6 a.m. breakfast club and lunch and dinnertime chats were my favourite. We would talk about what we were going to do when we were released.
We also had rooms side by side. This came in handy when we were self-isolating due to a COVID outbreak. We all tested negative but had to stay in our small bedrooms for five days. We would message each other songs and encouraging messages, and I would sing for them. They could hear the worship and love songs through their walls and said, “Keep it up!”
Connection to my friends helps fill the ache inside for love and belonging. Only God can truly fill this big ache. His gifts of relationship with his Son and the relationships we have lift us up and strengthen us. When we see his gifts of connection, we can hold on to hope.
May you find loving connection and hope this Advent and Christmas.
Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.
I’m working on a children’s book called Moody Mel. I would appreciate your support for the cost of the illustrations. Thank you for being a part of my self-publishing journey! https://gofund.me/5d8f7994