On the Scott Inside Out – Natural Mental wellness facebook page last week, I asked what tips people would like to learn about in terms of bipolar disorder. And also what would give them the most value. Someone responded by wanting to know how “to get going when you know you are in a low but the mud feels so thick you can’t seem to drag yourself out”. This person was also curious in learning how to “stop the slide” when you know that you’re going downhill. I really appreciated these questions since anyone with bipolar disorder or depression will deal with both of these at some point or another. Stopping the slide will be covered in a future blog post.
Once you are in a low period and/or depressed it can be extremely difficult to do anything. When I’ve been in depressed periods in the past, getting out of bed was difficult and even basic daily grooming was at times a challenge – brushing my teeth, shaving, etc… To someone reading this who has never experienced depression it might sound totally nuts! However, most people with bipolar disorder in a low period or depression can relate.
In my experience, what has helped me drag myself out of the mud is having an action plan and habits that have been put in place before this happens. That way I am much better prepared if and when I “get stuck in the mud”. Here are some suggestions that have worked for me (in no particular order):
1. Have a Bad Day file on your computer and/or in physical form. I have saved emails in which people have said fantastic things about me, and they are all saved in a “Bad Day” folder in my email. Looking at these emails really lifts me! I also have a manila file folder with various written items that people have said about me.
2. Help someone. This could be through volunteering in person or even cooking for someone else. As soon as I take the focus off me, I feel better. If you totally cannot handle seeing anyone in your present state, donate to a cause online that you’re passionate about. I personally lend money to various microfinance organizations (Zidisha, Vittana and Kiva). Zidisha allows you to do loans for any amount…I’ve seen many people lend out $1.
3. Write in a gratitude journal and/or watch a gratitude video. There is SO much to be grateful for, even when in a depressed state. It could be as simple as “I am grateful that I woke up today”.
4. Have a pre-loaded playlist on your iPod and/or laptop with your favourite songs. We all have music that we love and gets us in a better mood.
5. Get outside for a very easy walk. As aforementioned, just getting out of bed when depressed can be very challenging. Tell yourself that you can walk around the block. Ideally, do this WHILE LISTENING to your playlist above. Getting moving does wonders.
6. Listen to a guided meditation. There are many sources for these, and it really depends on your religious and personal beliefs. I really like ones done by Louise Hay.
7. Forgive yourself. Acknowledge that things are not ideal and forgive yourself for it being that way.
8. For a formal system for how to prepare for and handle low periods and/or depression, check out Julie Fast’s bipolar treatment system. I have used it and doing so assisted me in truly getting ready for the rough times in life…
The above are what has worked for me. Share your experiences/thoughts with these suggestions. What has worked for you?