The first thing I do each day is to feed my cat, Abby. Then, in the stillness of the early morning, I begin my prayer ritual and writing routine. It lasts about an hour. I pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Lourdes, and to St. Anthony and St. Jude, among other saints. I also read a passage from the Daily Word, a Christian publication. Abby brushes up against my legs as light slowly filters through the living room windows. I have a conversation with God in which I voice my petitions but also thank Him for His many blessings. I feel peaceful and serene.
I also keep a Gratitude journal in which I write down the things I am grateful for. At the top of the list are my family (including Abby), my friends, my co-workers, and supporters. I am grateful for big and small things. I am grateful for each day and for good health and happiness.
I record my thoughts and feelings in a separate, bound journal. I write about what is going on in my life now and make plans for the future. I have been keeping journals since 1979 (with the exception of a few years). My closets and storage area are filled with boxes of journals.
My morning routine has helped me recover from bi-polar disorder, which has spanned forty years. I use my journals to write about my struggles, hopes and dreams, and joys. I am calmer when I pray and write and better able to face the world.
Bi-polar illness is characterized by extreme mood swings which can be debilitating at times. It can zap my energy and make me immobile. Over the years, I’ve had 22 hospitalizations. But, my faith is central to my recovery. God heals all wounds. I pray continuously throughout the day. Being in recovery is a prerequisite for my human service position.
In 2000, I began work as a peer support assistant for Chrysalis Center, located in Hartford. A stable work environment allowed me to, not only grow, but to thrive. I have been working there for the past 17 years. My prayer ritual and writing routine have proved to be invaluable. I am calmer at work and I handle stress better. I work in a busy unit. My spiritual director calls me the “face of Christ,” though, because I listen to the clients’ stories and serve as a role model for them. In this way, my work is also a form of prayer.
By: Debra Deptula