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Posts Tagged ‘coping’

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I am balancing precariously on the brink of depression. We had one of our sons visiting for two days, which was a joy to me. Then, on Thanksgiving Day we all drove to our oldest son’s home and spent the day with him, my daughter-in-law, our two grandsons and their family friend. It was a wonderful day and exhausting. I had been up at 6:00 am to cook our contributions to the feast. Then we left at 9:30 am to travel to our son’s place. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and an exhausting one at the same time. We didn’t arrive back home until nearly 9:00 pm.

This morning I woke up emotionally exhausted which also leaves me feeling physically exhausted. I am experiencing a dip in mood treacherously balanced on the edge of falling into a depression. This, after being hypomania and depression free for two years and 3 months, feels like a fairly new experience again. I haven’t thought much about the pain and agony of depression for a long time. What I know is that if I dwell on what I am feeling for too long I give it fuel to grow into a full-blown episode. I remember enough that I know I don’t want to go there again.

Right now, my body is craving sleep and I slept eight hours last night. There is no reason for me to need more sleep. I also have fleeting thoughts of wanting to die which alerts me to the fact that if I’m not careful I’ll slip into a dangerous black hole of despair.

So what am I to do in response to what I am feeling? I’ll put on some Christmas music and push myself to get a few things done around the house. Then I’ll take out a few things that are comforting to do to pass the time like doing puzzles, coloring, making tangle patterns, crocheting or playing my guitar. By that time my husband should be back home and this morning, before he left, he suggested we go out for lunch or dinner. I don’t feel like it but I know once we are out that it will be a nice distraction. During the evening, I’ll either get lost in a book (if I can concentrate) or the TV.

I’m not as worried about it as I used to be. I know it will pass and I know what to do about it. I’ll use the time to glean what nuggets of wisdom I can from the experience and keep myself moving forward at whatever pace feels comfortable. What I will not do is burden myself with guilt or stress because of it.

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There are so many things I’d prefer not do. Yet when someone asks me to help at a function or do something that seems “the right thing to do” I fall head first into that pool of discomfort.

I can hear many people saying, “Yes, that’s me. She’s got me pegged.”

Why do we do this to ourselves?

I’m not pointing fingers, I suffer from this and I know others that ride in this boat with me.  We are people pleasers. We have learned since childhood that if we do the right thing we will be liked or rewarded, etc.

We are afraid to say no. We have learned from experience or since childhood that a negative response brings negative repercussions. They may be verbal, physical, a withholding of career related rewards, etc.  By not saying no, we sell ourselves out. We paste a target on our backs for the next scenario. We feel a mess, we’ve created a mess and we want out.

What are the consequences of NOT saying no?

Overcommitment, frazzled nerves, less personal time, less time for loved ones and strained relationships will all take their toll on us.

As a result, we end up becoming pressure cookers, very unhappy and discontent. It’s quite possible that our health could be negatively affected.   Putting myself through this could possibly trigger a mood cycle – most likely depression.  Every time we say yes and accept another task, we are cutting into the overall time we have to fulfill all of our responsibilities.   Doing something well usually requires our full attention. When we are strapped for time, it is easy to lose focus and we can miss the small details. The quality of our work and our relationships usually suffer and our goal to impress in some way backfires.

How do we stop?           

The only way to stop the constant cycle of being overwhelmed it to take a self-assessment and determine who and what we value most in life. Once we have determined that, we can measure everything we are asked to do against that backdrop.

For me, before I can commit to anything outside of my normal routine, I ask the following questions and perhaps they can act as a guideline for you: How much time will it take away from my family or loved ones and how will that impact the quality of our relationships. Will it impact the time I spend in doing my regular job and will the quality of my work suffer as a result? Will I be stressing over the deadline, the volume of work, the people I must deal with or any other issue relating to this task? If so, is it worth the possible impact on my health and my good nature? And, most important of all, is it in line with my beliefs, which for me is the Bible and for you may be something different? If I must answer negatively to any one of them then I already know how to answer whoever is requesting that I take on a task: “No.

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