This is one of the rare occasions that I wish I could be an anonymous blogger. If that was the case, then I’d write in detail about what recently happened to me. Since I can’t reveal specifics, I’ll stick with the basic facts….
Ever since I became stable on my meds in the fall of 2013, I knew that eventually I’d be challenged with an awful situation, such as illness or the death of a loved one. I was hoping that challenge would come later (much later) rather than sooner, of course!
A couple weeks ago I was hit with a completely unexpected situation which sent me reeling.
The incident had nothing to do with me, which felt like a novelty, to tell you the truth, since I was used to being the one who “screwed up” because of my bipolar disorder.
I received the bad news with my girls in the same room. I held myself together with all my might so as not to alarm them.
At first I considered my ability to contain my emotions in front of my children to be HUGE progress! I was wrong about that.
Ever since my diagnosis with postpartum onset bipolar disorder in 2007, whenever I became very upset, my typical pattern was to rage whether or not my children were in the room. Everyone who has bipolar one disorder behaves in a unique way, of course, and what manifested for me was that I became a frequent rageaholic.
I’ll regret the times when I lost it in front of my little ones until the day I die.
After I received the upsetting news, my attempt to keep my rage under wraps was obviously a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem. My anger needed to be released, and when my daughters were gone for the day, I erupted. I didn’t hurt anyone, including myself, but I “went there”.
I raged and raged, becoming a monster version of myself. It took me a couple days for my emotional hangover to dissipate. I was absolutely mortified with myself. I thought I was doing so much better, dammit! Over the last year, my psychiatrist has told me how well he thinks I’m doing. He’s not one to say things like that for no reason. My therapist has made the same type of comment during our sessions over the last six months.
Despite this positive feedback from my therapy team, deep down inside I knew it was only a matter of time until I’d be tested and I didn’t know how I’d do. When that test arrived, I wanted to score a frickin’ A+. Not an F-.
After my setback occurred and I calmed down, I didn’t email my psychiatrist for advice because this wasn’t a crisis per se. I felt that meeting with my therapist would be most helpful. Our standing appointment was coming up in a few days. I could have called my therapist for an emergency phone session, but I decided to wait because I felt confident that I wouldn’t “go there” again so soon. She uses cognitive behavioral therapy among other techniques, and I knew she’d help me process what happened so that I’d react in a healthier way the next time my rage is triggered. We have only just begun to work on this, so I’ll share more details about working with her in a future post.
Aside from therapy, I want to share with you what else (both small and bigger things) has helped me over the past few weeks in the hopes that when you face your own challenge, you might utilize one or more of these options.
1) I connected with an understanding friend, and our exchange helped me a great deal.
2) I worked out on my elliptical each day for an hour, even on the setback day, and I sweated up a storm. I believe that activating endorphins may have prevented me from spiraling into depression. You don’t have to work out nearly as long as I do to benefit. I’m a former A.C.E.-certified personal trainer and 10K runner, and I love working out for long amounts of time! 😉
3) I hung out with my puppy Lucy and I hugged her a lot. (She seems to like hugs!)
4) I read your blogs every day – oh, how I did (and do) love reading your blogs. Thank God for them! Even when the subject matter is dark, I’m inspired.
5) I read memoirs (Current books: British actor Terence Stamp’s “Stamp Album” and athlete Gabrielle Reece’s “My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper”). I don’t care if I’m reading non-intellectual material – I simply welcome getting lost in the minutiae of another person’s fascinating life
6) I eat some high-quality, snobbylicious chocolate.
7) I use essential oils. You can use any high-quality essential oil brand that contains lavender and/or citrus (these are calming and mood elevating essential oils, respectively) and they truly are helpful. I used to work at the College of the Botanical Healing Arts, an essential oil practitioner college and I studied the efficacy of essential oils for mood. (For information about using essential oils for anxiety, consider joining my friend/anxiety coach Meagan Barnes’ Facebook group “Essential Oils and Mental Health” at the link below.)
8) Music. Any music that soothes you, play it…immerse yourself in it. The best place for me to listen to my music is in my car, but I’m sure you have your favorite spot.
9) Connecting with my girls and husband. Sharing hugs. Hanging out. Listening to them. Being present with them.
10) Using my Sunbox bright light in the morning.
I feel like I’m forgetting something else obvious, so if/when it comes to me, I’ll include it in a future post.
In the meantime, I hope you all have a good week, I’ll see you next Monday, and I can’t believe I’m already typing this, but…
Please endorse me for the WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show” Blog Award!
I was nominated by the bestselling author/bipolar advocate
Wendy K. Williamson. It takes just a few seconds to endorse me at: