With the limited amount of faith I have in myself (not much), I’m going to follow my therapist’s suggestion to restart my coping skills with curiosity about them and deciding as though from the beginning if they are working for me. I feel like I am doing Everything Possible to manage bipolar. And still functional depression is my baseline mood. I fluctuate from functional depression to regular depression regularly. In August or December or both, I may have a manic episode. Not every year, but with regularity enough to look out for signs of them. But depression is my regular existence.
I feel as though I have no control over my life. Bipolar moods dictate energy, mental ability, cognitive ability, and emotions. Medication has been able to stop the fluctuation among forms of depression, but never out of depression as the baseline. And I’ve had well over 50 med changes in the last 8 years since diagnosis. Medications have sent me spiraling into despair and soaring into mania, but stability has been elusive. I use coping skills and a healthy lifestyle because I am supposed to because they are “good for me,” yet I see no effect on my mood. Since I can’t influence my moods with skills and lifestyle, I don’t think I have control over my moods, and therefore my existence.
With the extremely little hope and faith that I can have an effect on my mood, tomorrow I will beg my new psychiatrist for help on the medication front. I will also follow my therapist’s advice to re-examine coping skills and restart them as though from the beginning. First, I need to list what those skills are. So many come naturally now that I hardly think of them. So a list to remind me.
These are the elements of a healthy lifestyle I practice:
- A regular bedtime, 8-9 hours of sleep and rising at the same time every day
- Healthy eating and regular mealtimes
- Exercise, 30+ minutes 4-5 days a week
- Social contact at least 2 times a week (could be better, but I have no friends in my current location yet)
These are the coping skills I regularly practice:
- A breathing meditation every day
- Deep breathing to manage flare-ups of anxiety and depression
- Examine recurring thoughts and feelings with curiosity and work to accept them as existing, no judgment
- Defuse from unhealthy recurring thoughts
- Ask myself if a course of action is in accord with my values, and take actions that are
- Distract from moods and anxiety with diversions such as reading, movies, tv and social interaction
- Distract from escalating emotions with grounding exercises such as paying keen attention to the moment, to sounds, to visual cues, with calming scents and with soothing things to touch
- Ride the wave of emotions
- Blog as journaling to help with introspection into what I’m thinking and feeling
- Spend time with my cat, petting, talking, playing
- Reach out for support or practical help from friends and family