Category Archives: Tools for Mental Wellness

Seasonal Affected Bipolar Disorder 2

Learning to manage any aspect of bipolar disorder on the individual level is going to be by trial and error. Some people find what works quickly, like when their Psychiatrist prescribes a medication that works without side effects right away. These people are quite rare. For most of us learning manage our bipolar is a struggle of trying this or that until we find what works. What I encourage in myself and I also encourage in others is to embrace that struggle. Enjoy learning how your bipolar disorder affects you and how overcoming this illness makes you a better, stronger person. What works for me and helps me manage my bipolar may not work for you. However, what works for me may give you a starting point.

On the subject of seasonally affected bipolar disorder management, this was for me a many year journey. Even today I am tweaking my management system of what I need to do to ward off the winter blues. As I write this I have my sunglasses on and am bathed by the light of my Litebook Edge therapy light. This light was added a year ago when winter set in really early and what usually worked quit working or didn’t have time to work.  Another pitfall of bipolar management is sometimes our management system quits working and we have to develop a new one.

Today my management system for the fall/winter part of the seasonally affected bipolar disorder is very simple. I take 2000 IU of Vitamin D and 50 mg B6 + B12 starting in early August. I introduce 15 minutes of light therapy in early October.  I keep this routine up until the middle of May. Which is about when spring begins to come about where I live.

I want to point out why I take both Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 as well as B6. It has been scientifically proven that if you are low on Vitamin D you are more than likely low on Vitamin B12 as well. I take Vitamin B6 because of its scientifically proven link to cognitive function.

When spring has sprung this requires a whole new management system. The first requirement of this portion of the management system is compete honesty with myself. Why? Because no one ever complains about mania. Mania is great, we get stuff done. We are usually happy and excited about life.  I have had a handle on quelling the summer mania for a lot longer than I have the winter depression. For me, when the first urge to buy every garden tool in the Johnny’s seed catalog strikes that is my sign to have a talk with the doctor to decide this year’s course of action. Most years it has meant an increase in meds for a period of time. Some years it has only meant increased diligence on my part to do the tips set out later. This is when I need constant monitoring by my professional and non- professional network. This is my program for managing seasonal affected bipolar disorder. It works for me.

Bipolar is as individual as the people who suffer from it. The treatment of this illness in every aspect, be it medication or seasonal affected bipolar disorder, has to be individual as well. We each have to develop our own ways to manage our particular bipolar disorder.

Last week I promised some tips and techniques for dealing seasonal affected bipolar disorder. The first tip I want to offer is:

  1. build the best professional and non-professional support team you possibly can.
  2. build the best professional and non-professional support team you possibly can.

I can not stress this point enough. We are not rocks, and we cannot fight this illness alone, despite popular belief. If you have bipolar you inwardly believe you are alone.

We are the ones that have to do the work, but we need the best team we can put together to cheer us on and give us advice when we need it.

Tips for dealing with depression when your meds don’t seem to be. This happened to me last winter until the light therapy started to work.

  1. Take the initiative against depression. Get up and keep moving even though you feel like one of those deep-sea divers in the big suits walking through molasses. Force yourself to eat and wash the dishes. Make a gratitude list of 5 things you are grateful for every evening, try to do 5 different ones every night.
  2. Learn what triggers your depression besides the change of seasons. As a lifetime sufferer of seasonally affected bipolar, when I started to learn to manage seasonal depression I found other triggers that elevated that depression. Anything that I perceived to negatively affect me compounded my depression. When my management system was working if something negative happened I still became depressed. This is what I touched on last week.
  3. Make a commitment and keep on keeping it. I found this one very helpful. I hang out with a bunch of people every Sunday morning for breakfast. No matter how low I am I force myself to attend. Actually, if I am not there they come looking for me.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up for how you feel. This one is hard to get over. I practiced self-encouragement for a long time before I was able to use it effectively when I was deeply depressed.
  5. Do not let your mind convince you that you have to do some great thing or be perfect to beat your depression. It is by doing the simple things, some of them badly, that we overcome depression. Sticking to an already set routine does wonders for beating depression. This is similar to #3 but different. This has to do with a commitment to yourself the first thing that used to go when depression struck was my morning routine of daily reading of inspirational material. Now it doesn’t matter, I go through the motions of coffee and books no matter what. I may not comprehend what I am reading all the time, but I am there in body every day and I do it.
  6. Don’t let your mind create catastrophes that do not exist and thoughts of self-harm. These thoughts of loss, disaster and self-harm are the true dangers of depression. This is when we absolutely have to reach out to others. I also know that when these thoughts happen we most want to isolate. We can, with help, learn to defeat these thoughts but it takes time and effort. What we must quickly learn is to reach out whenever these thoughts appear.

Tips for dealing with Mania.

  1. Learn what triggers your mania. As I said earlier one of mine is wanting to spend.
  2. Monitor your thinking. Our feelings of self-importance start to grow when manic. Our thoughts begin to race. We are bombarded with one idea after the other. We become more mentally creative. These are all signs of mania. Learn yours.
  3. Watch your behaviors. Mania causes us to engage in risky behaviors and behaviors that will threaten our lives and relationships more easily.
  4. Keep your regular sleep/eat schedule. This is not easy. I don’t sleep, and I don’t eat when manic. Forcing your self to bed and to eat can reign in a manic episode.

Unfortunately for most of us, medication is the only way to effectively deal with mania.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook facebook/365daysofbipolar.com. Follow us on twitter @365daysofbipol2.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Hillary Jacobs Hendel.

https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/single-post/2017/09/26/Beyond-Life%E2%80%99s-Disappointments

 

Some Tips for Managing Your Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is as individual as the people who suffer from it. There are common factors, if there weren’t we could never be diagnosed. In being properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder the biggest issue is to learn how our bipolar disorder affects us as individuals. It is by studying our bipolar disorder and its effect on our lives that we learn to manage our bipolar disorder and in turn our lives. If we fail to study how bipolar disorder affects us personally, our bipolar disorder will always rule our lives.

In my own story, I was misdiagnosed with OCD for over 40 years. For me, to be finally properly diagnosed with BP1 made studying the symptoms of bipolar disorder and how they affected my life paramount as in my mind I didn’t seem to have much life left and didn’t want to waste any more of it having bipolar disorder as the ruler my life. I wanted to be the ruler of what time I had left.

What I learned in studying how bipolar affects my life and ways to mange this illness is:

Learn your triggers: Triggers are the things that bring on your bipolar disorder symptoms. Triggers are interesting because they are as individual as our shared illness. What triggers you may or may not affect me. Yet what triggers me may just make you smile. My biggest personal triggers are stress, change in routine and loss of any kind.

Chart your moods daily:  Mood charting is incredibly important as a way to quickly spot triggers that may come into your life without your knowledge. Mood charting today is incredibly easy. There are several great apps for smart phones and even mood charting books that you can buy. One of the draw backs I found with apps or pre-printed charts over designing your own mood chart is that, at least in my case, if your stable state is slightly elevated or slightly depressed over time you may not see yourself as normal. Remember, you must learn what is normal for you, not someone else’s normal.

Keep a journal: Journaling is one of the best habits we can learn in the management of our bipolar. I combined my mood chart and journal into one page and many of the apps and pre-printed books do as well. One of the benefits of journaling is to use it to look at our thinking. Bipolar is not only a mood disorder but a thinking disorder as our thoughts create our emotions. What happens in many cases is an external event (a trigger) causes an automatic emotional and behavioural response. Journaling helps us learn that our responses do not have to be automatic. Personally, I use my journal more as a thinking exercise book to see on paper my crooked thinking, which is based mostly on beliefs that are untrue. I have unearthed many irrational beliefs in this way and stopped many adverse reactions before they happened.

Monitor and change your self-talk:  What and how we say things to ourselves both in our minds and out loud can be one of our biggest triggers for our bipolar disorder symptoms. The fact that we can trigger ourselves seemed strange at first to me but this turned out to be true. Changing how we respond internally to external situations is one of the greatest skills we can lean. Over the past half decade, I have learned to practice love and encouragement to myself. Replacing the constant negative, berating voice in my head with a kind, compassionate one. Eventually coming to a place of no voice in my head at all.

Learn your emotions:   Moods, as in describing bipolar as a mood disorder, are nothing more that emotions controlling your life. Usually these are negative emotions. Even in mania we never find the one emotion that leads to a full life, that emotion is peace. Inner peace radiates other emotions that are totally foreign to the bipolar sufferer such as serenity, contentment and trusting of others.

For the most part, bipolar sufferers become afraid of their emotions as emotions control their lives, we are either sad, mad or scared or one of the emotions that radiate out from these.

We need to be able to name our emotions and learn the emotions we need to cultivate to become a whole person again.

 

To practice these skills, learning your triggers, charting your moods, keeping a journal, monitoring and changing your self talk, learning your emotions takes time. The time invested in these skills is not a waste of time, it is an investment towards a better managed bipolar life.

 

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Johnna Mediana M.A.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

 

 

 

 

Therapy and Self-Talk

 

 

I believe that to manage bipolar disorder effectively therapy is essential. I also believe that when we decide we no longer want our bipolar disorder to rule our lives we become two distinct people. The person who wants to get mentally well and the person we were who resists change.  To over come that resistance we need a third person objective opinion to help us change. That person is a trained therapist. A therapist is needed to help us change our thinking and challenge our beliefs to bring us back to reality.  I owe a lot to the therapists that have helped me.

When it comes to sharing about therapy, I can only share my experiences and what I have learned in the hopes it helps you. I am not a therapist or councillor.

I was miss diagnosed with OCD for many years. Thus, my experience with therapists prior to my proper diagnosis was never good as we were all working on false assumptions. Kind of like trying to fix the tires on a car when it was the engine that was the problem and wondering why it wouldn’t go. Once I received my proper diagnosis of BP1 my experience with therapists changed dramatically.

In therapy, the first lesson I learned was that my self talk fueled my bipolar. What I said to myself fueled both my manias and my depressions. I knew that my self talk fueled my manias before I ever met a therapist. I had described the highs I had (mania) as “being driven by ideas, good or bad” for years prior to being properly diagnosed. The lesson for me was how my self talk pushed me deeper and deeper into depression.

“What I learned in therapy was that myself talk fueled my bipolar, both the manias and depressions”

The second lesson that I learned was that myself talk was based on my irrational beliefs about myself, others and the world around me.

“You will find it difficult, if not impossible to manage your emotions and life while holding irrational beliefs and using irrational self-talk statements.” Lynn Clark Ph.D. From the book “SOS – Help for Emotions.”

Although that is not exactly what my therapist said to me, it is close. This is when my therapy experience turned into beneficial work. My therapist and I had to find out what my irrational beliefs were and how they affected my self talk.

“What I learned in therapy was that my self-talk was based on my irrational beliefs about myself, others and the world around me.”

The third lesson I learned in therapy took a long time to believe could happen. but was talked about in the same session where we discussed how my irrational beliefs drove my self-talk was discussed.  My therapist told me I can remove and replace my irrational beliefs with rational beliefs. More importantly, I can change my self-talk from the negative way I spoke to myself and others to an encouraging, positive way of speaking to myself and others.

“What I learned in therapy was I could change.”

The fourth lesson I learned in therapy was to listen to myself. My therapist had been doing something since that first session that I did not know about until we reached this point. He had been listening for my most often repeated negative words and then counting how many times I used these words in a one-hour session. As this session ended he handed me the page from his legal pad.

It read:

Stupid – 10 times
Dumb – 5 times
Useless – 2 times
Hate – 25 times

In a one-hour session, I had used the word “Hate” 25 times. No wonder I was angry. I also showed what I thought of myself at that moment in time. I was stupid, dumb and useless. Today I know that none of those words were ever true, back then or now.

Then he said, “If this is what you are saying out loud, I can only imagine what you are saying in your head.”

From that day forward I tried to listen to myself. First by listening to what I said out loud and after time to what I was telling myself inside my head. It was only by doing this could I hear and then change the negative words that I used.

“What I learned in therapy was to listen to myself, what I said out loud and in my head.”

I attended regular weekly therapy for two years. In that time, I learned many things about myself. The main thing I learned is that when serious issues come up even today I need that third person objective opinion to help me change. The objective opinion of a trained therapist.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching the link to their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Angela Ayles

http://www.activebeat.co/your-health/13-symptoms-of-bipolar-disorder-are-you-bipolar/

 

 

Therapy, Bipolar and Grief

 

 

 

I believe that therapy is an essential part of overcoming our bipolar disorder. One area where therapy is essential to bipolar sufferers is in grief and grieving.

Grief, bereavement of a loss, is normal. No matter if that loss is a loved one (spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, grandparent), a job, a boss, material possessions, a pet, aspects of our lives lost due to this illness, abuse or trauma. No matter the loss we need to recognize it and we need to grieve that loss or losses.

There are three things that bipolar disorder affects regarding grief, firstly this illness hides or twists the things that we need to grieve, like the aspects of our lives we have lost due to this illness along with any abuse and trauma we may have suffered.  We need to grieve the loss of jobs, friends, relationships. We also need to grieve the things our bipolar disorder has taken away, like our ability to think, remember and focus. Secondly, because of severe loss, the loss of loved one, pet or career, even the loss of who we once were, bipolar sufferers are more likely to fall into abnormal grief than most others. Our illness causes us to revisit, or even live directly in, the past. Thirdly, that many symptoms of grief can be compounded by our bipolar symptoms.

Normal grief is a process of reconciling ourselves to the loss we have suffered.

Abnormal Grief according to the DSM 5, “Lasts longer than 6 months, the person must yearn the loss on a daily basis or to a disabling degree. At least five of the following symptoms must be present; Emotional confusion about one’s role in life, Difficulty accepting the loss, Avoidance of anything to do with the loss. Inability to trust others since the loss, Bitterness or anger related to the loss, difficulty moving on with life, Numbness since the loss, feeling that life is meaningless now, feeling stunned or dazed at the loss

I suffered from abnormal grief for over 25 years and coupled with my bipolar disorder it destroyed my life. The trigger for change was the death of my 22-year-old cat, it proved to be one loss too many. I sought help with a qualified grief counselor.

The losses I suffered haunted my mind, most daily, the rest regularly enough to make me unable to function.

One of the main things that my therapist needed to do was to explain and help me separate the symptoms of bipolar disorder and the symptoms of the grieving process and to see how my bipolar contributed to my abnormal grief.

Bitterness and anger are part of the grieving process, however that bitterness and anger is meant to pass. This is a normal grief symptom but if that feeling lasts longer than a few months it is abnormal. One of the symptoms of bipolar and a major part of my disorder is a long-simmering irritability and rage—angry outbursts lasting over several days, during both manic episodes and agitated states of depression.

Numbness, feeling that life is meaningless, feeling stunned or dazed are also symptoms of bipolar and of grief.

It took two years of almost weekly sessions and a lot of work on my part to grieve these losses in a healthy way and put them in their proper place, the losses in the past and me in the present. During those two years, many losses were found that also needed grieving, these are the losses that my bipolar brain told me were of no importance or had twisted into complete fabrications that had nothing to do with reality. They turned out to be very important and I ignored acknowledging and grieving them at my peril.

Today I am living in the present, not in the past and I am no longer haunted by the what’s, if’s and whys, the blame and shame, of the losses that I have suffered. I acknowledge that they happened but I no longer live there.

Look for your losses that keep you in the past and learn to grieve them, in this area we usually need help so talk to your therapist and if necessary find a specialized grief counselor.

What we need to separate is our bipolar disorder and that fact we need to grieve our losses.

As a bipolar sufferer, we have symptoms and an illness that are not going away.

As a griever, you are not broken and do not need to be fixed. You need to learn that grieving is a natural part of living, but it is not a permanent state. Yes, loss happens and we need to grieve, but the real grieving process ends in recovering from the loss and living again.  Grieving is meant to be a short process not a way of life.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Gabriel Nathan

Book Review: An Urgent, Bold Voice Emerges from the “Manic Kingdom”

 

Things to Meditate On

I feel that I am the luckiest bipolar sufferer in the world for several reasons. The most important, besides finally getting a proper diagnosis and finding medications that work for me, is the instantly accessible team of professional support I have. This is something few bipolar sufferers have access to and I am always grateful that I have this.

The other reason I feel I am so lucky is I have been allowed to learn, through unobtrusive means, certain ideas that have helped me in my growth towards mental wellness. The unobtrusive means are very large statements that have been placed on the walls of my work place that I can meditate on at my leisure as I work. I want to share these statements with you so you can meditate, on them as well.

James Allen wrote, “Mediation is the intense dwelling, in thought, on an idea or theme, with the object of thoroughly comprehending it, and what so ever you constantly meditate upon not only will you come to understand, but you will grow more and more into its likeness, for it will become incorporated into your very being, it will become your very self.”

“What you say and the things you choose to do are 100% your responsibility.”

 

 “To live the life, you want action is required.

You can think and dream about what you want for your life,

But unless you actually do something to make change

things will stay the same”

 

“You can’t change another’s behavior but you can change your response to it.”

 

“Happy people are constantly evaluating themselves. Unhappy people are constantly evaluating others.”

 

“Your body is the only place you have to live.”

 

“Attitudes are contagious, are yours worth catching.”

As I have meditated on these statements over the past few years I have found that I have changed. My hope is that these statements may help you change as well

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Natasha Tracy

The Effects of Lack of Sleep on Bipolar Disorder

 

 

Four Facts That May Help You on Your Journey Towards Mental Wellness.

Image result for mental health begins with me

 

 

These are four facts that may help you on your journey towards mental wellness.

The first fact is that our bipolar disorder is inside us. That looking outside of ourselves for something that will fix everything is a fantasy. Our illness tells us if I had, or was, something different (a different life, a different job, a different relationship, whatever) life would be great.  We falsely believe that if these external things would change so would our lives. Whatever we envision as the external thing that will save our lives we must come to realize it is a fantasy. We must stop thinking that way. It is delusional insanity.  If your computer crashes you do not go reformat your neighbor’s computer. That would be insane, right? Well it is just as insane to think what you are experiencing in this illness is anywhere but inside of yourself and the mental wellness you seek can only be found there as well.

Yes, we need outside help, medications and a good support system, but it is only a help towards fixing ourselves. The outside assistance is only that, assistance. It is not the fix.

The second fact we must embrace is that our thoughts and feelings are separate from ourselves. That the mind is not you, you are separate from all the things in your mind.

Your thoughts are the substance of what you have been told, what has been modeled to you and what you have experienced. In our illness our experiences, are our greatest enemy as so many of the things we think we have experienced may, or may not, have been as we thought in the light of reality.  I am not discounting anyone’s abuse, trauma, loss or any other bad experiences, they are real and did happen.

It has also been proven that bipolar disorder can in some cases blow some events out of proportion compared to the reality of those events.  Conversely, some events are downplayed to avoid the pain they caused. Our mind can and does enlarge or diminish, events of its own accord in our illness to protect us. If there is an “us” to protect then that “us” must be separate from the mind. Grasping the fact that you and your mind are separate is essential.

The third fact is, you can train your mind to think, feel and respond differently. Those thoughts, feelings and reactions are changeable because they are not you.  You can change your thoughts to positive thoughts. You can change that angry tyrannical voice in your head to a loving, encouraging voice. You can gain control of your feelings and expand them to include many more feelings of joy and happiness. You can change your automatic reactions to controlled responses. You can do all of this because your mind is not you.

There is a fourth fact, your mind will rebel like an angry child at the first hint that you are trying to grow and change how you are doing things. Those first steps towards mental wellness are met with real resistance. Your mind will throw everything at you to make you stop, every bad thing, every traumatic thing that has happened will haunt you. Your mind will shout “You Can’t” and give a thousand reasons why. Your mind may engage your body in this resistance and make you feel physically ill. I have had all the above happen to me as I moved towards my goal of mental wellness. Do not give up because like training any fierce beast, once you show that you are boss the mind will begin to respond in a more mannerly fashion.

It takes time and effort to retrain your mind. Today there are many resources on the internet that can aid in this process I have attached two links to PDF’s that I found helpful.

http://www.wisdompubs.org/sites/default/files/preview/Seven-Steps-Preview.pdf

http://vitalcoaching.com/files/a2/positive_thinking.pdf

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another authors work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Hillary Jacobs Hendel :

https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/single-post/2017/05/15/How-To-Tell-if-Youre-Normal

 

 

 

 

Tolstoy Was Right

Count Leonov Nikolayevich (Leo) Tolstoy (1828 -1910), in his book “What I Believe,” set out five principals of earthly happiness which no one can deny. Although in his book Tolstoy uses how rising in the Russian upper class cuts you off from these five principals. I will show how our shared illness of bipolar disorder cuts us off from these principals just as deeply and how finding and embracing these five principals we can finally live and find the happiness that has eluded us for so long.

“The first condition essentially necessary for happiness has always been admitted by all men to a life in the link between him and nature is not destroyed – that is life in the open air, in the sunshine, in communion with nature, plants and animals.”

Today study after study are proving the benefits of connecting with nature for mental health. Google: “how nature helps mental health” and see what I mean. The key is connecting. Bipolar disorder shuts us in and shuts us off. In Mania, we are too busy to notice and in depression we are too down to care. However, if we truly make the effort to connect with nature, be it in local park or our own garden or at some great place like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, we will find that that this connection soothes us and slowly brings us back to happiness.

“The second indubitable condition for happiness is labor – congenial, free labor, physical labor, which gives a man a good appetite and sound invigorating sleep.”

Today, I must admit there is little work that can be said to be congenial, free or physical. Having gainful employment is helpful to mental health, but being stuck in a job you hate is just as bad for your mental health. I think my activities last weekend portray more what Tolstoy was getting at and in 1870 when this was written there were more of this type of activity available. I spent last weekend helping friends restore an old garden at the house they just purchased. It was once a beautiful garden, but had been neglected for many years. Each day was spent raking, pulling, cutting and hauling. You were thirsty, hungry and at the end of the day too exhausted to care. It was fun to share this work with good friends and the work made us happy both in the doing and seeing the result. This kind of work does lead to happiness, because it makes us feel useful and productive. To feel useful and productive as a bipolar sufferer is one road to happiness.

“The third condition essentially necessary for happiness is family life.”

Bipolar disorder destroys family life. Bipolar makes the sufferer selfish and self-centered. Bipolar makes the family members unsure of what is going on, what is right or wrong and ultimately angry.  Yet if the sufferer can overcome their illness the joy they find in their families after mending the hurts can not be over stated. Families can provide the greatest happiness.

“A fourth condition essentially necessary for happiness is a free, friendly communication with all men.”

Bipolar disorder causes isolation. When manic most of us are the life of the party and we collect a bunch of fair weather friends. When the crash happens, and it always does, our friends are no where to be found and we are alone with our pain.

In stability, we can find happiness through our friendships and our circle can grow and grow.

“The fifth and last condition essentially necessary for happiness is health and a painless death.”

Bipolar causes the sufferer to be mentally, physically and spiritually unhealthy. We suffer from all sorts of secondary issues that are used to kill our emotional pain. But we can be restored to health. With a proper diagnosis and proper medication, we can become stable allowing us to fix our physical and spiritual maladies. Allowing us to live a good healthy life and pass on to the next without regret.

All in all, Tolstoy was right, if we can embrace even a few of these five principals for happiness, we will find that happiness that has eluded us. I know I have.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. I hope you enjoy this weeks Blog:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/02/20/experiences-beyond-the-classic-5-stages-of-grief/

Strong Mind, Strong Body. Where’s the Soul

 

Image result for strong mind quotes

 

This is the second part of strong mind, strong body. Where’s the spirit? Or how to become a whole person even with bipolar. We are still talking about developing mental toughness. On this topic, I can only share what I have done and experienced, in the order I have done it. It is meant to as a guide, not an order. We always need to remember that bipolar is as individual as the people who suffer from it. Therefore, what works for me and my recovery, may be detrimental to you and your recovery. But there are generalities that work for everyone without them we couldn’t be diagnosed. What I have highlighted are the generalities. These are areas that everyone should look at.

The first principal of mental toughness I practiced was Asking for Help. The hardest part of this was getting over my pride. In asking for help I realized it was not a sign of weakness but a sign I wanted to change. I was confident I could not do any of this myself. I also needed a mirror through which to see improvement. The kind of help I am talking about here is not someone who charges a hundred and twenty dollars an hour, but someone who will listen to you without judgement and be supportive.

What asking for help taught me is I don’t have to go it on my own and I can build a nonprofessional support group. I did build this support group and all have become friends. I also learned that the isolationist attitude I held was part of my illness, not a function of reality. The reality is we all need help and support. We need to learn to ask for help when we need it. It is through asking for help that I learned to properly ask for what I needed in other areas without fear.

The second principal of mental toughness I practiced was Gratitude. We all have things we take for granted that we should really be grateful for. That is where I started, I worked at becoming grateful I was alive, because if my mind had its way that is not what I would be.

I wrote down that I was grateful to be alive every day for a month. That one sentence. Then I started to look for other things to be grateful for and kept building my list. I started this process in about 2013 and have never stopped looking for new things to be grateful for.

To start learning gratitude, write down just one thing you are grateful for each day before bed and meditate on that one thing as you fall asleep. Then expand your list and begin to constantly look for things to be grateful for. Soon you will develop an attitude of gratitude. What this attitude of gratitude gives you is the ability to appreciate the little things life has to offer you far more that you ever have in the past.

The third principal of mental toughness I started to practice was Boundaries. Learning to set boundaries was very difficult for me. I found this so difficult I finally found a class on setting boundaries and took it, twice. There is one universal truth that I want to share with you that is crucial in setting a boundary. “You Cannot Take the Other Persons Feelings into Account.” That is what we, as bipolar sufferers, always seem to do, allow the feelings of others to trump our own feelings, needs and wants. In that way, they always win. The real benefit of learning to set clear boundaries and reinforcing them is return our self-respect. The other benefit for me was I was finally able to say, “No” and not feel guilty.

The fourth principal of mental toughness that I started to practice was Accepting myself fully. It was during the second time through the boundaries class that I came across the quote that changed my life.

Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.” The Gospel of Thomas Verse 3 Lambdin translation.

It was that last line that struck me so forcefully, “if you do not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

I could not get that line out of my head, it rang around in there constantly. Until I admitted to myself that, “no I had no idea who I was” and I wanted to really change that and know who I was. I was tired of living in poverty and being an impoverished person, mentally, physically and most of all spiritually. I wanted to know my self and be known, but mostly understand me and how this illness affects me.

I had kind of begun the process, I was getting counseling. But this is where it all changed I went from following direction (doing as the counselor suggested) to actively seeking myself and my own direction and really applying it. I worked with Randy two more years after the change started. He kept me in line and out that of giddy mania we fall into when we have a eureka moment. He taught me to ask myself the right questions.

Out of all of this came this one fact, I did not like myself at that time, but I had hope. That was the ingredient that made accepting me as I was in this second possible. Hope I wouldn’t always feel like this. I have learned to accept myself fully as I am right now because I am constantly changing and growing, plus I have hope it will continue.

I have learned that self-acceptance is as important to self-growth as gratitude is to a good life. You must have acceptance before you can have growth. As one person said, “if you can’t accept being an acorn, you will never be an oak.”

What are the benefits of self-acceptance? I no longer blame others or compare myself to others. The big change is I don’t wish that I had what someone else has any longer. I can get my own, thanks. I no longer feel less than anyone else. Oh, there are better athletes and even a few better workers than I may be, but I strive each day to be the best me I can be. The only person that I am trying to be better than is the person I was yesterday.

Come back next week and we will continue to look at this issue of strong mind, strong body. Where’s the spirit?

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. I hope you enjoy this weeks Blog:

Teenage Suicide: Warning Signs and Prevention

 

Strong Mind, Strong Body. Where’s The Soul?

Image result for Whole person quotes

 

Recently I was reading an article entitled “Strong mind, strong body”, which lead me to ask this one question, “What about spirit?” The human spirit seems to a persona non-grata in our current culture and yet we are getting scientific study after scientific study that says cultivating a spiritual self along with strong mind and being in good physical condition makes you a whole person. These studies also indicate that gaining better physical condition and strengthening both your mind and spirit will enable you to better battle this condition called bipolar that we share.

For the next few weeks I am going to discuss these three areas one at a time and then show how tying them together makes us a whole person. Most of us seem to be either a third of a person or at most two thirds of a person when we suffer from bipolar. When I say a whole person of mind, body and spirit, I always mean a whole person who has bipolar disorder. Bipolar is for life, but it does not have to control our lives.

Strong Mind:

In my own case I have been studying the area of mental toughness and looking for, and incorporating, the ingredients that make up mental toughness for the last four or five years. Since I firmly believe that our battle is solely with our minds. I wanted to learn what was required to not have to fight that mind so much any more, to fortify it against the negative and rein it in from the exuberant. There are many lists on the internet that share the ingredients of mental toughness and I recommend that you do look up mental toughness on your favourite search engine.

As my goal is to help others I want to share the process I am using to incorporate the principals of mental toughness into my life. I am becoming stronger mentally so these things are working. Is it perfect? No, it is a process, I really struggled last winter but I was never totally knocked out of the game like I always was in the past. I know things are improving.

Like anything else to become mentally strong is hard work. It requires consistent practice of certain principals, many of which can be started all at once. Other principals are like steps above the basic principals. Once you are practicing the basics with some proficiency it is easy to step up to incorporate these other principals. But practice we must, every day.

Next week I will share the principals of Mental Toughness as I see them and the order in which I incorporated them.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. I hope you enjoy this weeks Blog:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/21/3-ways-to-cultivate-gratitude/

 

 

 

 

It Is By Repetition

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To say I have struggled this past six or eight months would be a terrible understatement. Situations and issues kept showing up that would knock me down every time I felt that I was getting back up. No tool in my mental health tool box seemed to be able to help me. Then I ran into a situation in the real world that gave me the clue as to what I had to do to win my mental battle. In the hands-on situation, I had to install a plug into a water heater, but no wrench or socket I owned fit. The simple solution was to go to the local hardware store and by the proper socket for the job. But what did I do, I drove around the city and tried to borrow the proper socket from one of my friends. I did this on solid reasoning. I will probably only need this socket one time in my entire life once the plug was in, it should not have to be removed again. Typical bipolar thinking, why was the plug missing in the first place? Because someone lost it when they drained the water heater last fall so it would not freeze up over the winter. This fact alone should have told me that I would need that wrench again because I was now responsible for that water heater that needed to be drained. But I wasted and entire afternoon asking friends if they had a 15/16 inch socket. Which none of them owned. Then the next morning I went to the store spent the money and now own the socket.  I found out I will need that socket at least twice a year as the water heater is subject to scaling due the hardness of the water. I am glad I bought that socket because borrowing a tool from someone, even a couple of times a year, delays your work because of their availability.

I used the almost an identical process in learning to deal with the issues that kept knocking me down into depression. First, I tried to borrow tools from the mental health tool boxes of my friends and none seemed to help. I went to my group of professionals and although they could not direct me to the tool I needed, they did identify that all the issues that seemed to knock me into depression in the past few years had a common denominator and that this common denominator had come up a lot this winter. Truthfully, it was by a google search of events out of our control that came upon Maya Angelou’s quote. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to let them reduce you.”

In my last post, I went through the process that I used to make this quote meaningful to me, even more meaningful than when I first read it and said that is it, that is exactly what I am doing letting events out of my control reduce me to depression.

I knew that water heater needed a new plug when I turned on the water and it just ran out the bottom of the water heater. Now that I know events that I have no control over but affect me directly make me depressed I can bring out my new knowledge that I do not need to let these events reduce me to depression.

Here is where repetition comes in, I had seen enough water heaters in my life to know that they were meant to hold water, not let it drain out the bottom on to the floor unless they were malfunctioning. It was by seeing so many water heaters that I could quickly asses this water heater was not malfunctioning and simply needed a plug.

Now that I was aware that I did not need to let events, especially events I felt were out of my control, reduce me to depression I could change. This did not mean that I knew how to stop these types of situations from depressing me, it just meant that I knew others did not let themselves be depressed by these situations. This told me two things, that I still resided in the uniqueness of our illness and if others did not get depressed by situations out of their control, I could learn to not get depressed as well.

I had used a similar emotion regulating tool when I let go of anxiety and stress. In learning that others did not get stressed out and anxious in the same situations as I did, I could by practice and by repetition, not get anxious and stressed out either. This does not mean I do not get anxious or stressed out any more. It means I no longer get anxious and stressed out, except for those rare situations when everyone else is anxious and stressed out too.

I am using the same idea to overcome being depressed by events out of my control. I practice my new knowledge where ever I can and repeat that quote as my theme for the day over and over as an affirmation.

It is only by awareness that we can change. I am now on the repetition part to drive the new habit of not becoming depressed by situations to replace a lifetime of allowing these situations to depress me.   It’s hard work, implementing new knowledge and new habits. But it you read the last line of this blog you will understand why I stay on the hard path.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. I hope you enjoy this weeks Blog:

www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meditation-modern-life/201201/awareness-the-cornerstone-changing-our-behavior