Bipolar and Adaptation

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From today through about August 18th I need to be able to be my best self. That means I will have to be super vigilant and sensitive towards my Bipolar Disorder symptoms. Theoretically, that’s how I’m supposed to be all the time, but right now it’s really evident that I have to pay attention. The stress of looking for a house has rolled over to moving and that will roll over into flying out to Florida to meet my daughter and driving across the country with her two cats to bring her home.

I must prepare myself physically, mentally for what’s next. I tend to react to situations and my moods swing without my even being aware of what’s happening, that is, until I’m done reacting.

This is going to be a good experience for me to practice adapting myself quickly to changing situations and emergencies without losing my temper like I’ve done in the past. My usual reactions are an abrupt swinging of mood, or panic and then the mood swing.

This skill, the skill of flexibility and adaptability, is an important skill to have while coping with our mental illness. Each new skill I learn builds upon the base of my positive mental attitude, my chief definite aim, or my passion in life. (I tend to think of the three things as different ways of saying the same thing.)

Having a flexible disposition means I must be able to quickly adapt to my environment. When I say “environment” I mean not only the physical situation, but also dealing with the people involved in the situation. It means that I can harmonize with my environment in a flexible way.

I’m not suggesting that I ignore my principles or altering my goals. I’m simply suggesting that I recognize my mental attitude towards the situation and determine if the situation is a disaster or a windfall. If it is a disaster I have the opportunity to change things and make them better. Because I use positive mental attitude, I have an even better opportunity to change the disaster into a boon.

I think that part of being adaptable means that in every situation with every person I try to understand their needs and demands. An example would be my Mother calling me a couple times a day and telling me something else I need to do to prepare to move. Yesterday it was that I should go to the Loews and Home Depot on Meridian to purchase boxes, start packing, have the kids (my son, 21 and youngest daughter, 19) come over and help me go through things, and to get rid of the piano. Being sensitive to her and to protective of myself I suggested that she make a list. We’ll see if she can do it. I eventually did go to those stores and bought boxes, but not the ones on Meridian. I hate driving on that street. It’s too busy and too long and too slow.

My plan includes to getting up at the same time every day, feed the animals and take my meds, eat healthy foods, exercise (I walk down the highway with Bailey), give my brain a break by reading or watching TV or listening to an audio book while walking, planning and making lists, keeping appointments or doing errands, spending time learning about how to be successful, spend time doing reactional activities, and so on. I need to keep things fairly structured. When I just watch TV all day it usually takes me another day or more to get back on track.

I’m going choosing to daily be flexible, adaptable, and let me just add: I’m going to be kind to others. (Ellen DeGeneres)

Bipolar – Anticipating Stress

We finally found a house to buy! I’m so excited! Also, I’m filled with potential trepidation. I mean look, I’m an emotional swing set trying to balance way up at the top of the arch.

I’ve gotten comfortable living out here in rural Washington. No neighbors really bother me, there aren’t many of them anyway. The people down the road drive a bit too fast for Bailey and I while we’re out walking, but that’s about it.

I don’t watch scary movies or TV shows because I feel like they violate my delicate soul, my sometimes suffering soul. So recently I chose to shake myself up a bit and I’ve started watching Penny Dreadful on Showtime. If you’ve seen it, you know it has all the things I’ve tried to stay away from. Things that might leave fear in me that the night might feed upon.

I’m watching an episode from season three right now and they said something interesting that is germane to my whole life. It’s something I write about often and think about more often. One of the characters is in a straight-jacket and a man is feeding her.

Her: God has forgotten me. He can’t find me here

Him: That’s not true

Her: I’m not Vanessa Ives here, I’m no one. I have no name. No purpose.

Him: Do you want a purpose?

Her: Don’t you?

Him: I’m doing it.

She doesn’t know what to say to that. The idea that him caring for her and feeding her in this horrible place is his purpose completely baffled her.

I mentioned this because I was so surprised to hear anything about one’s purpose in Penny Dreadful.

I want a purpose. I have a purpose.

We can find purpose in the strangest places.

Do you have a purpose? What is your purpose?

What a strange place to be reminded of purpose.

In the next month, as I prepare to move, I’m going to make an effort to remember consistently that everyday my purpose is the same and I need to work towards it. I can’t abandon my passion just because I get really busy and have a lot on my mind. So, I’ve got things to do now towards that end. Time to stop obsessing about how to keep the kitty litter from ruining the hardwood floors. Time to keep working on making my dreams reality.

This isn’t going to be easy.

(Thank you Showtime for the brief dialogue quotation.)

Cross posted

Bipolar – Loosing Inspiration

Some days I don’t have a problem getting up… those days are rare. I’m so tired in the morning I feel like I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night and told I can’t go back to bed. I can’t sleep past 10 because my dog would explode. She likes to go out at 9. Sometimes I can’t even get her off the sofa to get her to go outside. I wonder if I affect her sometimes. She’s supposed to be my therapy dog. I’m not supposed to be her downer human.

I’ve done allot of things that have distracted me from my goals this last week or so (I’ve been watching a lot of TV). I feel like I need a nudge, a shot in the butt to get going. I wonder if my goals are really worth fighting for and if I can even reach them. I feel the hand of doubt around my heart.

It’s time to reset myself. I need to get my passion back.

What was it I was striving for? What was the mission of my life? What was the passion that urged me on every moment? I need to pause for a moment and consider things. Is my passion big enough to keep me in motion and motivated to work for it every day?

Today I’m working without enthusiasm. I’m going about my work with words supported by unshakable faith in their message, but without my heart slamming in my chest demanding that I drive forward with great energy.

I’m searching back in my mind. I’m realizing I should have made the Enthusiasm notebook I had thought about making. I think I’ll do that next time I’m really enthusiastic. I’ll make a notebook with my definite purpose (my passion and goal) and the things that really make me enthusiastic. That way the next time I’m feeling like this, I can reference it and not be stuck mired in the place I’m in today… in neutral with no forward inertia.

Remember.

Remember what I’ve been fighting for.

Having goals and ambitions and having an illness like Bipolar Disorder makes my days hard. The illness whispers to me to blink a few times and let my guard down, to let the illness have its way with me. But I don’t want to do that.

I won’t do that.

(Previously published in The Etiquette of Madness)