The importance of having fun

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February 15, 2013 by Kara Nichols

For the last 4 times or so when I’ve met with my psychiatrist, he’s asked me: “What are you doing for fun?” Not, where are you working, or have you been taking your medications, or anything of the sort. Just, “What are you doing for fun?”

You’d think by now that I’d have a pat answer for him but it continues to take me off-guard. Yesterday I saw him, and he asked me again about fun. I told him about decorating my apartment, but I couldn’t think of much else which really disappointed me. I’m always a little flustered and absent-minded around him. We have 15 minutes together to cover a month or two of my reporting what’s going on and checking my medications and if we need to change anything, if I need refills, all of that tacks on a bit of time and I worry I will forget something.

Yesterday I was driving home and wondering to myself why my psychiatrist checks on whether or not I’m having fun. If I think of it, I will ask him the next time I see him. Which is in two months. He must ask all of his patients this question, and he has singled it out from the many others he could ask. I do usually come into his office in a whirlwind, trying to share pertinent information like how I’ve recently lost 12 pounds, I haven’t had any signs of depression or mania in 3-4 months, I am in a safe and happy environment. All things he wants to know, I’m sure, but he also wants to know about fun. I kind of feel like Bob in the film What About Bob? when his psychiatrist Dr. Marvin gives him a doctor’s note that said Take a Vacation from My Problems. And then he is cured. One of my main issues with fun is that I don’t have a lot of spending money. And what I do have goes to pay bills and tithe and decorate my apartment. But I’m kind of sick of decorating my apartment so that frees up a little cash.
Another issue is that I don’t have a lot of friends here in Lynchburg. No one I could really call up last minute to get coffee. Well, maybe I could, I haven’t really tried. Since breaking up with Doug I don’t have a movie buddy either. I am sad that Jamie moved back to San Diego because I miss her friendship dearly but I’m happy that she is happy there. I guess I could try to have fun with my family. They all live within three hours of me but I see them maybe once every other month and it’s usually for a big gathering like Christmas or Easter. I might have to make new friends, which I loathe doing. The people at the church I’ve been attending lately seem really nice but I haven’t met anyone there yet. There’s only about 70 in the congregation so eventually I’m bound to meet someone.
So far there’s the money issue – I have a small “Fun” budget. And there’s a lack of local people with whom to have fun with. Don’t get me wrong I have a few friends here, but mostly they are busy and right now I have time to kill. Another issue with fun is that it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like having fun. At times I’ve been too depressed and anxious to take a shower let alone go out and try to smile, or God forbid LAUGH. But that time has passed, so it’s no longer an excuse. I want to smile and laugh. I want to have fun.I want to have fun! 
That seems like a step in the right direction. But now it’s time to follow through. Maybe a road trip is in order to visit my brother and his family up north. Or I could go to DC for the cherry blossom festival next month. I’d love to see the ocean, of course. Perhaps I will reach out to local friends (I don’t know why I make that so difficult sometimes) and go to a movie or out to coffee. I am thinking about planting a small garden, so that could be fun. And it helps that my fun months are coming up: spring, summer, and fall are my favorite seasons. Maybe I will join book club. Or a writing club. Perhaps I’ll take up golf! Maybe I will learn how to cook and bake new dishes – I think that’s fun. I almost want to say that exercise is fun, and with Zumba it’s really close, but not quite in the fun category.

I feel better now, knowing of a few ideas for fun the next few months. My doctor will be proud when I rattle off my list of fun things I did. And really it’s been so long since I’ve felt up to trying to have fun, that I don’t think I can fail at this experiment. Don’t let me mislead you, I’ve had fun lately. But not really on purpose. Not like this. I am going out of my way to have a great time. I’ll be ready the next time my doctor asks me, “What have you been doing for fun?”



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February 2013
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