Commitments, Intentions, and the Bipolar Guilt Dance

Commitments, Intentions, and the Bipolar Guilt Dance

First, I need to thank everyone who is still following this barren blog. So many times I intended to recover from this 6 month hiatus. That desire manifested into way too many thoughts questioning what I could actually handle.

Those thoughts led to guilt for ignoring this site for so long. Then I became overwhelmed. So I avoided logging in altogether. Which made me more overwhelmed. Then I became angry with myself for the avoidance.

The 3 year anniversary of Nectar Madness came and went. I renewed my domain but decided I wasn’t ready to continue on with this commitment. And all of this is so silly because I really do enjoy being here! I’ve always felt connected to others in the blogging, as well as the mental health, communities.

I just feel like I have let down my regular readers. (Who might not be regulars anymore.) I feel bad for ignoring all of the notifications I received these past 6 months from readers with questions or looking for guidance on important matters.

Today
What I’ve Been Consumed With

What have I been doing? I don’t know if it actually matters since I’m rejuvenating the flow of this blog for present day, but here’s a synopsis.

June-August: Manic! Manic! Manic! Wonderful, addicting, dangerous bipolar mania. Things evened out & I continued treatment. I’m also still employed at my job. My biggest accomplishment this summer was cracking down on my writing, specifically poetry & fiction. It’s kept me very busy.

September: My baby boy started the toddler Montessori program. I’ve been a busy mom.

November: My second airplane ride ever. (Side note: my first was in 2009 from Michigan to California and it set me off into the most manic, anxious, erratic episode imaginable.) I was nervous, especially since I’d have to keep composure for my toddler, whose 1st flight this was. Obsessive organization is all I’ll say. And actually I will put together a bipolar travel post.

December: Seasonal depression. Yay. It helps that I’m a seasonal worker and get to stay home with my son for four months before returning in April.

Despite whatever reasons I had for not doing what I love on here, I am back. Today is the day! Now here’s a little bit about the thinking processes of people with bipolar.

Bipolar Thinking: The Shoulds, The Obsessions, The Remorse

Those who live with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, and other psychiatric disorders experience thought processes differently than folks who are not suffering from a mental illness. Of course everybody experiences guilt, obsessive thoughts or worry, and remorse. It’s part of the human condition. A person with a mental illness might develop a thought based on something somebody said to them. Whether positive or negative, the thought will play over and over and over and over again until it has infested its way into every other thought that person has.

Here’s an example:
Tammy mentions to Paul that Aunt Beverly said he never calls her. Paul automatically feels guilty for not keeping in touch with Aunt Beverly. He goes home & can’t get it out of his head. Especially the fact that Aunt Beverly said something to Tammy. Paul now thinks he should call Aunt Beverly. But then she would think he is only calling her because Tammy told him to, not because he genuinely wants to. His anxiety is rising. Paul has now let this go on for three days. Each day he feels more and more guilty for not picking up the phone. He actively avoids making time for a phone call and makes excuses of why it’s not a good time to call.

From a bipolar standpoint, a few different things could happen here:

Depression: The stress and guilt Paul is feeling could trigger him into a depression. If this is the case, he might sleep or isolate to avoid the developing symptoms. He may never call Aunt Beverly, or speak to Tammy either.

Mania/Hypomania: The anxiety and escalating obsessions could trigger mania or hypomania in Paul. He could be restless and experiencing insomnia from the symptoms that have developed. He could either continue to avoid Aunt Beverly, or present her with a grand gesture, such as buying her an extravagant gift.

Of course this isn’t a real situation, but bipolar thoughts are real. Thinking obsessively can really wear a person down. In that moment, there is no escape. Feelings of guilt tend to snowball once they start. Depending on where someone is in their illness, whether they are depressed or manic, or rapid-cycling, for instance, plays a major role in the receptiveness of any toxic thinking.

What You Can Do

It is tough, but there are ways to alleviate these thoughts. As always, I stress that keeping in contact with your doctor is imperative. Please take your medication! I know- I have been there. And every single time I am med non-compliant, I become a hot mess. Another great tool is practicing meditation. It forces you to clear your mind. Try relaxation music and deep breathing. Select a mantra to focus on, such as a key phrase or positive affirmation. Continuous mantra meditation will slow the obsessive thoughts down and begin to eliminate how often they pop into your mind.  Staying busy helps you forget the feelings of guilt or remorse. Spending time with people who are positive and make you feel good helps as well. Lastly, I will quote my mother, “Do the thing you dread the most and have a better day.” Basically, stop the excuses and call Aunt Beverly. Just do it.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Commitments, Intentions, and the Bipolar Guilt Dance

  1. Awesome to see you, and really good post! I hope your mood has evened out a little too.

    I love the example you used, that can cause such stress, is something that would seem so tiny to a lot of people…I know my family & friends really struggle to understand that such little things can honestly cause me enough stress to trigger a full blown episode. I will be sharing this post with a lot of people 🙂

    I hear that I “just need to go to my psych appt” a lot. Because it’s easy for them to do things, it’s hard to make my family understand that there aren’t many things that cause me more anxiety than appts. I know they think they’re being helpful by telling me to “just do it”, but it doesn’t help…not only do I turn into a wreck for several days before and after the appt, but there’s an incredibly high chance it will push me into a manic or depressive episode too, which adds to my fear.

    Every time we have an appt and the Dr lacks empathy or respect, it makes me far less willing to ask for help again. I’ve avoided appts for the last 6+ months now because I am terrified of them.

    • Great to see you on here, Scarlybobs 🙂 Thank you for checking in & reading. And I hear ya about psych appt anxiety. While my doc is pretty good, I get that anxiety anyway. Always afraid of what he’s going to think or say over new symptoms or not take my med suggestions seriously. Plus it’s a very vulnerable feeling to put your illness on center stage. Well, I hope you find a way to alleviate the stress you’re experiencing. Avoiding going can potentially bring on worse problems, which I’m sure you know. I wonder if you could do some meditation or calming exercises prior to going to an appt. I don’t know. I will keep you in my thoughts & do my best to make an appearance on here 🙂

      • Yeah, even when I had a good GP I used to get anxious before appointments…but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it is now. I’m eeking my way back into appointments at the moment, new symptoms developed and I hit rock bottom again, but being so afraid just makes getting help tough. I’m lucky that my partner is amazingly supportive, I have him to cling to and help answer questions at appts 😀 Thank you, you always word things so well!

  2. I think accepting what you can do, without guilt is ok. I don’t blog about my ups and downs because I could easily just write ditto most of the time. Plus I dislike focusing on my down times. I have been pretty stable since the summer when I stopped using Rogine on my scrap nightly that caused severe depression. I make lists of things I need to do and feel happy when the projects get marked off. Small but meaningful accomplishments. Be kind to yourself and pat yourself on the back for all that you do big and small. Life is not a race but a journey.

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