Author: Lauren Meredith
When I first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I found it difficult to identify how I felt a lot of the time. Giving my emotions, especially ones that I encounter more often than others, a nickname has helped me to identify my emotions in the present time. It has helped me to see my fluctuations in my mood, behavior, and actions. My biggest emotion I worry about is my anger. Anger is what I like to call: Big Red. Big Red appears out of nowhere on certain days, I tick people off, and then I have to reap the consequences. It is hard on other people but, more so on me. I genuinely feel bad for things I’ve said or things I have done. 99% of the time I do not mean to be rude or upset, it just happens. I am learning I need to control how I behave and what I do in order to keep Big Red under my control. I know deep down there is no reason why Big Red should have me under its spell.
I am still learning about my emotions over nine years after my diagnosis. I have learned I can’t control how I feel when I feel something but, I can control what I do with it. Take Big Red, for example, I have learned it comes on fast and out of nowhere. In order to manage it, I need to “check-in” on how I feel in the moment throughout the day. If I feel Big Red, I try to stay in my own space, meditate, and stay away from people. Realistically, that is not always possible and, in those circumstances, I tend to get quiet and stay in my own corner. My fear is I don’t want to cause any harm or trouble. When I have my own space, I tend to do better and Big Red tends to go away faster, goal accomplished.
Another example is when I feel blue. I call that: Ocean (fill in the level of sadness) Light (mild), Wave (medium), or Deep (high). I find that sadness is typically represented as blue and my most favorite thing that is blue is the ocean so I came up with this system (The reason I did not do different levels with Big Red is because I tend to get angry fast and don’t experience much of the lower or middle ground. I am trying to get to that point of not getting so upset but, it’s a work in progress and when I get there, I may make up some nicknames at that time). This system has allowed me to navigate my thoughts in a more organized manner and to not be so scatter-brained. It allows me to think clearly, be more precise on how I feel, and therefore, know what I need in terms of treatment and everyday needs. It may sound silly at first but, I guarantee if you have problems with identifying your emotions, this is a great start.
Ultimately, Big Red and Ocean and other emotions are a big part of who I am and what I do. Whatever I can do to grasp a hold on it and control my behavior allows me to be a better person. It allows me to control my disease of bipolar disorder. I refuse to let bipolar disorder take over my feelings. Nevertheless, in controlling my disease, it is a daily work-in-progress.