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.
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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: