Posts Tagged ‘focus’

It is very important for someone with bipolar to have routines for daily living.  

Equally important are keeping stress levels down and getting enough sleep.  I’ve been doing very well in these areas but the past three days have been a reminder of how hard it is for parents, especially for parents with bipolar or another mental illness.
We had the privilege of babysitting our two grandsons in our home for three whole days.  They are very well behaved but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a challenge.  They are seven and nine years old and full of energy.  The challenge was keeping them entertained and answering the questions with which they peppered us.  We took them to a park, bike riding around our development, played a board game and gave them a contraption building set to use with the action figures they brought to play with.  They did have a few times where they entertained themselves with the building set and action figures but the noise and chatter never stopped.  And I’m not saying  it should have.  It’s just that I had forgotten what went on when we were raising our own three boys.  It didn’t seem quite so exhausting when we were young with children.  Now we’re older and out of practice.  They wore us out but it was worth it.  We love them and cherish our time with them.  And hopefully our bonds are stronger.
My routine was shot to pieces and the noise and constant activity all contributed to feeling stressed.  I was determined to not let it set off a mood swing.  I forced myself to stay focused on each moment through mindfulness.  And I reminded myself that the situation was not permanent and would end soon.  I would get my orderly life back.  When I would feel guilty for feeling that way during our grandsons’ stay with us, I would tell myself what I would tell someone else going through the same situation, “I have a mental illness that I control by keeping daily routines, planning for activities outside and inside the home, keeping the house clean and free of clutter and avoiding loud noise at home (it’s hard to do outside the home).  Maintaining these things is essential for my well being.  Disruption of these areas causes stress and anxiety which are triggers for mood swings.  I need to care for myself to stay mentally healthy and strong.”  But my coping skills were in place and I used them well.  There were no mood swings.  And I was able to enjoy the boys while we had them.  I wasn’t as outgoing as I would have liked to have been but I’m an introvert anyway.   


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One of the first coping skills I learned about after my bipolar diagnosis was that meditation is important to our well-being. It’s a time to quiet down our racing thoughts, emotions and negative thinking. It relaxes the mind and body. I’ve heard some people say they feel rejuvenated after spending awhile meditating.

Some people like to sit and use a particular scent that is pleasing and focus quietly on that. Others like to hold and feel a textured item that is pleasing to focus on. Some focus on something in their minds. Some people like to use prayer as meditation. While focusing on whatever one chooses, it is important to breathe deeply.

Although I pray often, that is not usually my form of meditation. Mine is to go to a special place in my mind. I wrote about it and I want to share it with you. See if you can picture yourself there.

River Peace

Stresses peel away while I listen
Dark, murky water
Lazily follows a ribbon pathway
Gurgling, lapping at the shoreline.
Trees shield the forest floor from afternoon sun
Grateful, I find rest in the cool shade.
Rustling leaves, quiet songs of nature,
Soothing, comforting,
Reassuring that all is right in my world
God is in control.

I sit here for the solitude
Yet life teems all around.
Spiders spin, ants gather food,
Birds chirrup in the green ceiling above me.
Dragonflies flit to and fro above the cool water
Prism wings of purple, green, red-violet.
I belong here, joining God’s creation
Celebrating life’s pure joy in being, simplicity.
I wait to hear His voice.

© Jeanette Chiapperino 9/21/2000

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It’s day 2 on the road and I sit now in a motel feeling a bit lonely.  Hubby and my dog are both asleep.  I am contemplating the idea that tomorrow we will arrive at our home in Florida.  New York is no longer home for us.  We are now Floridians by choice.  I can’t shake the feeling that we are just on another vacation.  We retired just days ago.  We’ve thrown out and packed up 36 years worth of stuff over the past few weeks preparing for this day.  Now its here and my mind just can’t take it in.

I’m looking forward to having the time to actually sort through boxes of pictures and putting them in some kind of order.  Creating scrapbook pages for special milestones in our family members lives, sewing curtains, placemats and decorative items for our home.  I also see myself getting involved with a new church when we finally find one to call our church home.  I’d like to find a cause that ignites passion in me and volunteer my time.

I hope to find a new purpose for my life in this chapter of my life.  I know my husband has similar feelings.  My psychiatrist (pdoc) gave me a homework assignment for when we arrived in our new home–read “The Purpose Driven Life”.  He told me, “You do have a purpose to fulfill now and you will find it.  Spend time in God’s word and in prayer.”  This is my intention so I will grow spiritually and do things that will matter for eternity, even if no one ever knows about my efforts.  It helps to stay unnoticed–there is less to interfere with one’s focus.

Right now, I need to focus on getting settled in.  I intend to enjoy this chapter of life full throttle.  I want to get past Social Phobia and truly enjoy people in any type of setting and not care about any criticism or whether or not they think I’m slightly odd.  I am who and what I am and I am learning to like myself with all my quirks.  I read a story once that a cracked pot can unintentionally water the ground surrounding it helping it’s portion of the Earth to grow beautiful flowers and green grass.  I want to be like that.  I have a medical issue that has changed me and I must constantly work hard to overcome it.  I could hate it but yet, because of it, I have learned life lessons that are invaluable.  So I embrace it as a blessing, hard won lessons that have permanently changed my outlook and me.  It has made me more sensitive to people facing serious physical and mental challenges in all areas of life.

I hope and pray that I can serve in some way to ease people’s fears and give them hope that they too can overcome their life challenges.  I want to inspire and motivate them to work at it because anything worthwhile requires an investment of time and energy–and each person IS worth it.  I want them to believe in themselves and in their abilities again.  And, if I can help them know God in the process, that would be the greatest gift of all

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I can’t believe I’ve been away from here for 5 months!  I was granted a transfer to another office in August.  What an answer to prayer!  There is seldom any stress and my supervisor is very organized.  I am actually getting a little antsy because I’m so used to a frantic pace that I feel I need more to do.  Not so, in reality.  I know the job is cyclical (like my moods, hah) and will start getting busy again very soon.  I love the job and enjoy the people.

A great deal has happened since June.  I’ve had major ups and downs and fought to stay focused on positive things; things for which I am grateful.  My spouse is very supportive, my kids and grandkids are healthy, we live in a beautiful part of the country, I’ve discovered who my real friends are and I’ve found a great job.

Even so, I took a nosedive into severe depression in September and I think it was triggered by 2 visits, a week apart, to a therapist recommended by my psychiatrist.  She started out wanting to get to know me by finding out about my past and how I felt about various events.  My psychiatrist specifically didn’t want me to go there, so the therapist’s line of questioning was a major, agonizing, trigger and I was just an impulse away from suicide.  Thankfully, the psychiatrist took over my therapy and after 2 months and prescribing a mood stabilizer (Lamictal) in addition to my antidepressant (Cymbalta), we have made major strides.  He added Seroquel to be taken at night to help me sleep because Ambien stopped working and I had to wean off of it.  Well, the Seroquel’s not working and by mid-day, I feel happy, sad, agitated, full of energy, and worried all at the same time.  Ugh!  I’ll see the psychiatrist next week.

In spite of it all, life is looking brighter.  I know my triggers, I catch my negative thinking and can usually turn it around, and I know God is always with me.  My hope is that I can use what I learn through all of this to help others with mood disorders and other mental illnesses.    That is one thought that keeps me working to move forward.

Wishing you sunny days, health and peace,


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Rev. Shane L. Bishop

Musings of Rev. Shane L. Bishop


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