"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
November 8, 2013
WRAP Session
by Sarah Hancock

Day One

My feet stink.

I lie in bed smelling the air. Rolling over, I decide to verify my suspicion. After all, since I have an illness that teases all five of the senses, schizoaffective disorder (a combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder, in my case bipolar disorder), I’ve learned to “reality check” when things out of the ordinary crop up.

That way I can verify with someone else whether or not they, too, experience my reality.

I guess the term is supposed to be in reference to my ability to experience everyone else’s reality, but since there are times when my reality is just as real as someone else’s perception of reality, I prefer to verify their perception.

But I digress.

“Sweetheart, do you smell something?” I cringe, waiting for his reply, hoping I’m not experiencing an olfactory hallucination. I’ve experienced it the past. For example, I smelled bacon for a week. Which was fine for the first one or two hours, but a week?

“Uh, yeah.” His voice interrupts my thoughts. “Your feet stink.” He pauses, inhaling. “They stink bad.”

“That’s what I thought,” mentally celebrating that he smells it too. Not sick. Check. But my feet stink; celebrating stops. I look around the bedroom. It’s a mess. I roll over and go back to sleep.

Day Two

“Sarah?” My husband is sitting across the room at the computer, looking at me.

“Yeah?” I glance up from the television. I’ve been staring at it, but can’t tell you what I was watching. I’m still in my pajamas. It’s noon.

“Honey. Your feet stink.” He frowns. “I can smell them from here.”

“I can smell them from here, too.” I try joking, failing miserably.

“Maybe you have athlete’s foot?” he suggests.


“Doesn’t that hurt? Doesn’t it peel and look gross?” I feel confused. My feet don’t hurt and they aren’t gross, peely and red. My feet look normal, but they really stink — really.

“I think so. Google it.”

“No, it’s okay. I believe you.”

“Just go to the store and get some of that spray.” He shrugs, looking back at his computer. “That should do the trick.”

“Okay.” I make a mental note and turn my attention back to the TV. It is off. Have I been staring at a blank screen this whole time? Weird.

Day Three

“Hey mom. Thanks for calling.” Startled, I find myself staring at a blank TV screen. Again. “No, haven’t found a job yet.” I look at my pajamas. I should probably get dressed. I think I have a grocery list somewhere. I look around the growing mess. I really need to use the restroom. The bathroom is across the apartment. I’ll wait.

“Yeah. I’m looking for a job. My friends are looking on my behalf. My professors are looking on my behalf.” I stare at my toes. Do they look red? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s the light. I inhale. They still stink.

“Mom, he thinks I have athlete’s foot. They smell pretty bad, but they don’t look weird.” I turn on the light at the side of the couch, adjusting its glow onto my feet. “They aren’t red. They aren’t even pink.”

I listen for a moment. “Okay, I’ll go get that spray.” I make a mental note. “Yeah, He told me to do the same thing. Thanks Mom.”

I hang up the phone and turn off the light. I have to use the bathroom. Again, I realize the restroom is through the room and at the end of the hall. Sigh. I’ll do it later. I stare at the blank TV screen. To tell you I was lost in thought would be a lie. There are no thoughts.

Day Four

My husband wakes me up on his way to work, begging me to go buy foot spray. He kisses me on the cheek and leaves. I lean over, feeling for my phone. I have to call my nurse. I’m on so many pills, I don’t want an interaction with the foot spray. My nurse isn’t answering. I leave a message. My feet don’t smell that bad. I roll over and go back to sleep.


Somewhere from within my cave of sleep I hear the phone. I reach over to the bed stand and grab it. “Hello?” I inhale. Man! My feet really do stink.

“Hi. How are you?” It’s my nurse.

“Oh, pretty good. But, my feet stink. I think I might have athlete’s foot and my sweetheart wants me to get that foot spray. I’ve been putting baking soda in my shoes, but this is seriously bad.”

I shake my head in disbelief. I got athlete’s foot from the hospital once. My mom told me to get rid of my shoes. Since no one would want to get athlete’s foot from shoes they bought at the thrift store, in the trash they all went. I had some really cool shoes. This is bad.

“Sarah, did I wake you?” I sit up, alert.

“Technically speaking, yes.” I roll my eyes. I guess there isn’t a nontechnical way to wake up, unless it’s without an alarm ... except maybe with a live neighborhood band, a vase spontaneously combusting, the earth tilting off its axis causing things to fall off bookshelves and out of cupboards , birds crashing in midair, perhaps the nontechnical ways are endless. People woke up non-technically for eons before the alarm clock was invented. I catch myself, knowing my thought process makes no sense to anyone but me.

My nurse and I talk for about 10 minutes about my past week’s activities, or lack thereof. We decide that I need to look at my Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and put it in motion. A WRAP is a plan I created when I was well, to put into action when I wasn’t doing as well in an effort to become well again. I agree with her; follow the WRAP.

I hang up my phone, go to my purse and pull out a wallet-sized copy of my WRAP. Unfolding it, I take a good hard look at its contents. In creating my WRAP, the first thing I’d identify to do when I wasn’t feeling sharp was to take a shower.

I wade my way through the disarrayed belongings to my bathroom mirror. My hair is decidedly greasy. I make a mental review of the past several days. I don’t think I showered once. I decide to reverse the cycle of mental deterioration and hop in the shower. I pay special attention to those stinky toes, carefully washing each toe individually with my deodorizing soap; I scrub my toenails with a brush.

For the rest of the day, I go through my WRAP plan, carefully verifying that I was doing my part to return to wellness. I make a plan for my day, create a to-do list of things I’d decided to do when I originally created my Wellness Recovery Action Plan.

Day Five

I wake up to an alarm I’d set it for no other purpose than to get out of bed at a specific time. I inhale long, and slow. It is going to be a better day; I can tell already.

Fresh sheets? Check. Smelly feet? Sniff. Nope.

This is the first in a series on Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan. In this series, I will thoroughly explain the concept of WRAP, explain how to find help in creating your own, or helping a friend or family member do the same in an effort to move forward with on their psychiatric recovery.

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About Sarah Hancock

Sarah Price Hancock, a graduate of San Diego State University's rehabilitation counseling Masters of Science program with a certificate psychiatric rehabilitation.

Having embarked on her own journey with a mental health diagnosis, she is passionate about psychiatric recovery. She enjoys working as a lector for universities, training upcoming mental health professionals. Sarah also enjoys sharing insights with peers working to strengthen their "recovery toolbox." With proper support, Sarah knows psychiatric recovery isnít just possible ó itís probable.

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Sarah served a Spanish-speaking and ASL mission for the LDS Church in the Texas Dallas Mission. She was graduated from Ricks College and BYU. Sarah currently resides in San Diego and inherited four amazing children when she married the man of her dreams in 2011. She loves writing, public speaking, ceramics, jewelry-making and kite-flying ó not necessarily in that order.

NAMI San Diego's Fall Keynote Address: Living in Recovery with Schizoaffective Disorder

Having recently moved into a new ward, she currently serves as a visiting teacher.

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