365daysofbipolar.com

Where We Learn To Connect With Our Authentic Selves.

Month: February 2020

Cognitive Distortions (Possible Trigger Warning.)

If you are visiting through the website, please click on the post’s title to open this post in a separate window for a better experience and to comment.

Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, I am not a doctor or therapist, I am just a fellow bipolar sufferer sharing my experiences in the hope they may help you. Please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). At the end of each post, I will be recommending through links the books and other products I personally use to connect with my authentic self.

Please read my full disclaimer and privacy policy here:

What is Cognitive Distortion?

“A cognitive distortion is an exaggerated or irrational thought pattern involved in the onset and perpetuation of psychopathological states, especially those more influenced by psychosocial factors, such as depression and anxiety.”  Wikipedia

The Wikipedia definition does not specifically list bipolar disorder as a psychopathological disorder, but it is clearly stated in this article, https://www.verywellmind.com/a-list-of-psychological-disorders-2794776

Cognitive distortion, in its many forms, plagued me when bipolar disorder ruled my life. Especially when I fueled my bipolar with alcohol, drugs, stress or anxiety.

Science has identified at least 50 different cognitive distortions. Some are minor mental blocks, while others can be quite scary.

When cognitive distortion takes over, your brain is lying to you. It is causing you to interpret situations in your life falsely.

It is through cognitive distortion that we form the deeply seated false beliefs we come to hold.

Under the influence of cognitive distortion, we become almost unreachable.

To remove cognitive distortions and the deep-seated beliefs that we form in our distorted thinking, therapy is required. I am not a therapist and this blog is not about how to heal from cognitive distortion. I can only define cognitive distortion and discuss the most common forms I experienced in my bipolar life.

Bipolar Disorders Star Cognitive Distortion:

Delusions:  Delusions are defined as a firm or fixed belief not based on fact, or open to rational argument, or behavior that is out of character for the sufferer. Wikipedia.

Delusional thinking is a symptom of bipolar disorder and I have chosen to cover this distortion separately.

As a sufferer of bipolar 1 disorder delusions were a major part of my active illness. As such, I have a lot to say about them

The Types of Delusions:

  1. Jealous – believes that his or her spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful. What they do not add in most definitions of this delusion is, “without proof.” If you have proof, it is not a delusion. This was me, always jealous and it took a lot of therapy to convince me this was a delusion. To describe this delusion, it is where jealousy is more than an emotion and becomes an all-consuming thought. Today I know the difference. Yes, I get jealous when some guy is paying my girlfriend to much attention. That is a normal emotion, so my therapist says.  I do not automatically, and always, think my girlfriend is cheating on me.
  2. Persecutory – you believe that you (or someone close to you) are being mistreated, or that someone is spying on you or planning to harm you. This delusion only happened to me under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Mostly it was someone spying on me or trying to harm me. I have suffered from the milder form of this delusion, everyone is against me, not that long ago. Writing this, I can easily recall the feeling of terror this delusion, that both the mild version or the extreme version, generated.
  3. Grandiose – an over-inflated sense of worth, power, knowledge, identity or invincibility. At the extreme, a person might believe he or she has a great talent or has made an important discovery. Have you ever been manic? This is mania. Write a 300,000-word novel in a week thinking it is the greatest thing ever written. In the light of reality, you find it is mostly gibberish. I still have that pile of paper to remind me. Yes, I have had that delusion of grandiosity.
  4. Erotomanic – believing that another person, often someone important or famous, is in love with you.  The extreme is stalking and trying to contact the person may happen. I have never had this delusion directed at a famous person, but I have unfortunately had this delusion, Even thinking about it makes me sad. I don’t think I ever stalked or tried to contact the person, but I was obsessed.
  5. Mixed – when two or more of the types of delusions listed above are held at the same time. Grandiosity and jealousy were never far from each other in my bipolar world. The weirdest was when I held the Erotomanic delusion, Grandiosity, and Jealousy all at the same time. Picture this scenario, I am a great writer in love with a woman and believe she loves me. I believe she is cheating on me.  I had only seen the woman briefly on a bus, once. That was it.  A great plot for a romance novel, but in real life not so much. So yes, I have experienced mixed state delusions.
  6. Somatic – believing you have a physical defect or medical problem. This is a delusion that I have never held. Maybe because of my invincibility belief.

Delusional thinking can be banished from our lives. With the help of a good therapist and by learning and practicing the specific questions we need to ask ourselves to ward off the delusion we can free ourselves.

To Be Continued ………….

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives.

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

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

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

Related Products:

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the subscription box to the right of this post. In that way, you will be notified of all the new posts and happenings in 2020. Please comment below as I am very interested in your opinion.

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 BP Magazine.

A LETTER TO A FRIEND

If you are visiting through the website, please click on the post’s title to open this post in a separate window for a better experience and to comment.

Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, I am not a doctor nor a therapist, I am just a fellow bipolar sufferer sharing my experience in the hope it may help you. Please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).  At the end of each post, I will be recommending through links the books and other products I personally use to connect with my authentic self.

Please read my full disclosure and privacy policy here: https://365daysofbipolar.com/privacy-policy/

Most Sunday mornings I get together with a group of people for breakfast and to share our experience, strength and hope.

A few weeks ago, a person who is a relative newcomer to our group asked me a question. Being a writer and unable to explain fully at the gathering I wrote that person a letter. A letter I want to share with all of you.

The Question:

Last week you asked me how I seemed to always be happy?

The Answer:

The short answer is, I changed “ME” a lot.

The long answer is, I needed to see something that would shock me into changing my thinking and challenge my beliefs. I am a visual learner and I need to see something to understand it. Also, to change my ways I need something that shocks me into realizing I am on the wrong path. The thing that I could both see and shocked me turned out to be a quote, a quote that drew a line from the present to the future. This quote has been attributed to Margret Thatcher, but a further study shows the author is unknown or possibly Loa Tzu of the Toa Te Ching fame.

The Life-Changing Quote Reads:

“Be careful of your thoughts, they become your words.

Be careful of your words, they become your actions.

Be careful of your actions, they become your habits.

Be careful of your habits, they become your character.

Be careful of your character, it becomes your destiny.”

What The Quote Made Me Realize:

The moment I looked at this quote it struck me that,

I continually thought over and over, “life is not worth living.”

 I repeatedly used words that meant or actually said, “life is not worth living.”

My actions pointed out, “life is not worth living.”

My habits reinforced, “life is not worth living.”

My character showed, “life is not worth living.”

This meant that in that moment I had the destiny of an insane person (the hospital stays, lost jobs, lost relationships) and that destiny would continue to its inevitable end.

In that moment I realized deep down I wanted something else, I really wanted “a life worth living” and did not know how to get it. That simple quote showed me it was possible to change my destiny

The Quote Answered The Question Of How To Change My Destiny!

The first line of the quote, “be careful of your thoughts they become your words” tells everything. My thoughts are what always took me down.  Be they manic thoughts or depressed thoughts or in between thoughts. It was my bipolar thinking that was fueling this current destiny. I needed to change my thinking.

I Set About Finding The Thing That Would Change My Thoughts:

It took a while, but I eventually found the one thing that over time would change my thinking, my actions, my habits, and my character, ultimately giving me a different destiny.

Science has confirmed, “If you change your words you can change “you” right down to your genetic level.”

 In their book “Words Can Change Your Brain,” Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman write: “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

Another great book on this topic is Andrea Gardner’s, “Change Your Words, Change Your World.” Which is basically her story and provides some great tools to help with incorporating positive words into your inner and outer speech.

That one thing I needed to change was my words. By changing my words from negative to positive the science says you begin to change “YOU.”

You begin to see things differently, problems become solvable issues rather than unclimbable mountains.

Positive words do not negate the issues that arise in life. That is not reality. Positive words and the attitude they generate within you allows you to see things as they really are.

The other aspect of implementing this change of words is to place a guard at the gate of your mind. It is one thing to become conscious of what is going in and out of your mind through your words, but it is equally important to become conscious of what is going into your subconscious from other sources. To put it bluntly, if everyone and everything you are listening to, doing, reading and seeing reinforce the negative and false beliefs you hold then you will make little progress.

This is a multi-faceted subject, but if you start with what you have total control over, the words you think, say and write, changing them from negative to positive you will find that things will change.

That is the “how” of changing your destiny and if you begin to practice changing the words you say, you think and you write, you will begin to change and so will your destiny.

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, our minds and our lives.

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

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

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

Related Products:

Words Can Change Your Brain

https://amzn.to/2V2RPHm

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the subscription box to the right of this post. In that way, you will be notified of all the new posts and happenings in 2020. Please comment below as I am very interested in your opinion.

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.salon.com/2018/07/22/what-toxic-stress-does-to-a-childs-brain-and-how-to-heal-it

JOURNALING, THE GREATEST TOOL FOR MENTAL WELLNESS

If you are visiting through the website, please click on the post’s title to open this post in a separate window for a better experience and to comment.

Please read my full disclosure and privacy policy here:

________________________________________________________________________

There are many benefits to journaling, be it pen to paper in a book or on an App. In the battle for mental wellness, journaling can play a big part in winning the battle. I am the first to admit that developing journaling as a habit takes works, but remember our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives. Journaling is one way to develop that self-discipline and begin to take control.

Ten Benefits of Journaling:

  1. Calming and clearing your mind
  2. Releasing pent up feelings
  3. Reduces stress
  4. Improves self-awareness and shows triggers
  5. Used for mood tracking.
  6. Shifts your perspective.
  7. Gets those repeating thoughts out of your head and on paper.
  8. Allows you to see other options.
  9. Cultivates gratitude.
  10. Allows you to track successes and promotes change.

Pointing out the benefits of journaling is all fine and well, but how do I journal?

For most people starting out, journaling is best done at night before bed to reduce racing thoughts.

The basic elements in journaling for mental health are medication and mood tracking, a gratitude list, finding something positive in your day and tracking your thinking.

Medication tracking – entails keeping track of the medications you are on and how they are making you feel. This is critical at the beginning of our journey towards mental wellness. I have often shared how I trialed fifty-two meds or combinations of meds in two years before I found the med that worked for me. By keeping track of each med or combination of meds and how they made me feel gave me the ability to go to my Pdoc with indisputable evidence. It also made it easier to see what was tried and never to repeat the prescriptions. We never had the, “I will prescribe this” not realizing that was prescribed months ago conversation.

Mood Tracking – entails keeping track of your moods. Mood tracking can highlight exposure to triggers that you may not even know you have.

By mood tracking, I found out I fell into a funk every Wednesday. The reason was on Wednesdays I had to deal with a really negative person for the entire afternoon. I had to quit that assignment.  

By mood tracking, we figured out I had seasonally affected bipolar disorder.

Mood tracking gives us clues and then we can act on them.

Gratitude: list three things you are grateful for

Positivity: list three things that were positive today, like I made my bed, went out for coffee, did the dishes.

Thought Tracking :

Worry Tracking – entails writing about the people, places, situations or other external things that we are worried about and make us anxious. Then writing a conclusion – can we do something about this right now? Yes or No. If yes, what can we do right now? If No, why are we worrying about this?

Believe it or not, this one exercise caused me to stop worrying about a lot of things and put my life into perspective.

Racing Thoughts – reduction entails writing down everything you are thinking about. Putting them on paper makes it possible to see these thoughts in the light of day and judge if any of these thoughts are important. The truth is that when you go to write down all of those thoughts in your head a lot of them just disappear.

For me, journaling took what was once an all-day, every day, constant head pounding to an almost quiet mind.

Recently, I went through a period of racing thoughts as I implemented the changes to this blog. Too many ideas and tasks running in my mind proving that, yes, I still have bipolar. My constant journaling kept this episode short and it did not take over my life.

Trigger Tracking –This is done in three parts. Part 1. Writing down the triggering event and what my response was. Part 2. Writing down how best to handle the trigger in the future – I will a. avoid this trigger or b. learn to cope with this trigger.  Part 3. If I choose to learn to cope with the triggering event, I then list all the resources, people, books, courses and other help I can use to learn these coping skills.

Since I started trigger tracking and deciding on how I will handle triggering events I have found that I am not triggered much anymore. But that took a number of years.

Journaling is one of the best tools there is for bipolar management. Journaling does not have to be detailed, just started. Everything I have outlined that a journal should contain is less than a page in my journal. There are many mental wellness journals and apps ready-made for you to start. I just encourage you to start and keep journaling. Your mental health will thank you.

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives.

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

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

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

Related Products:

Self Talk: How to Train Your Brain to Turn Negative Thinking into Positive Thinking & Practice Self Love (2nd Edition: Edited & Expanded) 

https://amzn.to/2RQXZaw

365 Days of Positive Self-Talk for Finding Your Purpose 

https://amzn.to/2U2lqAa

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the subscription box to the right of this post. In that way, you will be notified of all the new posts and happenings in 2020. Please comment below as I am very interested in your opinion.

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 Eva Grant originally featured in Bustle.

https://www.bustle.com/p/7-ways-to-tell-if-your-racing-thoughts-might-actually-be-a-mental-health-issue-9655043

HAPPY FIFTH BIRTHDAY

If you are visiting through the website, please click on the post’s title to open this post in a separate window for a better experience and to comment.

Please read my full disclosure and privacy policy here:

__________________________________________________________________________

365daysofbipolar.com is five years old. I started this blog in February 2015. I hope that this site has helped you as much as it has helped me, this is a personal blog after all. This blog has been my therapy, my teacher and my way of being useful and provide value to the mental health community. Hopefully, along the way, this blog has been providing some value to you, the reader. Because if I have been useful and provided value to you, I can ask nothing more.

I started this blog with the intent of sharing how we can live with and manage bipolar disorder so that life, even with bipolar, could be ducky. But always there was a deeper focus. That deeper focus was to help others learn that it was only by connecting with our authentic selves that this life could be accomplished. Even though I conceived this idea right from the beginning It has taken me five years to learn to make the message concise. Here is an excerpt from one of my first posts, February 2015.

“The subject of spirituality is a difficult one in the world today as spirituality is often confused with religion. Religion asks that you believe this or that doctrine or creed. Spirituality, at the least the spirituality I speak of, asks you to acknowledge that you are made up of body, mind and spirit. The spirituality I speak of is for you to align your ways with your personal spirit and to do things that build or strengthen that spirit within you. Just as exercise and proper diet help your body and working on affirmations help your mind, there are things that will help strengthen your spirit.

It is your spirit and there is no teacher, religious leader or anyone else that can heal and strengthen your spirit better than being true to your own nature. The problem is we have to be sane enough, mentally stable, to learn our true nature. We have to learn our real ideals, ideals that ring true in our spirit and therefore are our personal truth.”

Your true nature is your authentic self and 365daysofbipolar is dedicated to helping you connect to that authentic self. Here you will find tools and ideas that will help you:

  1. manage your bipolar disorder,
  2. heal your body through proper eating
  3. Connect with your authentic self.

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds and lives.

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

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

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

Related Products:

Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff M.D,

https://amzn.to/30TkEqA

The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being by Judith Orloff M. D.

https://amzn.to/3aK23C0

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the subscription box to the right of this post. In that way, you will be notified of all the new posts and happenings in 2020. Please comment below as I am very interested in your opinion.

Important Notice: Join me on 365daysofbipolar.com’s Facebook page February 17 to 21 as I share my first eBook, “365daysofbipolar.com’s Meditations For The Bipolar Mind” for comments and feedback. “Like” the page while you are there.

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 Kendra Syrdal originally featured in Thought Catalog