Low mood takes me away from light and love. It makes me love the dark side of life. It makes me love distress and anxiety.
‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates
Back in the days before I was diagnosed, I can recall periods of low mood where I would withdraw from social situations. I didn’t pick up on these early warning signs. Young people can also feel low and withdrawn, and they often miss out on the problem. Our powers of reflection can help us. Developed through journal writing, mindfulness, and honest conversations with friends, reflection gives us wisdom to detect a mental health breakdown. My identical twin, for example, has not developed bipolar which is arguably as a result of his reflective skills.
During my periods of low mood, there can be a creeping tendency to ruminate. It is a never-ending cycle of negative thinking that only leads to more problems. While on a trip abroad, I was in a bad head space. I was on my own and worrying about putting on weight. This thought filled my mind and took me away from living in the present moment. I came across a quote from the Dalai Lama: ‘If something can be done, there’s no need to worry. If it cannot be done, there’s no use worrying. Finished’. So simple and so true! Once I identified that I could go for runs and eat healthily, I started to stop worrying. Moreover, I started to let go of what could not be done in my life, which led to the realisation that most of my days were filled with the same unhelpful thoughts after the same unhelpful thoughts. And I eventually stopped the cycle! Continue reading
Social stressors and losses are commonly cited as a precipitating factor of mood instability (BPS, 2010). With regard social stressors, I can be extremely sensitive to minor disturbances in my relationship with others, which can lead to mental health problems. A disagreement, an uncomfortable silence, or a raw tension can tip me over the edge towards insomnia, anxiety, and extreme moods. My family have commented that I find it hard to live with others, but it would be more accurate to say that I am overly attached to maintaining peace, peace at all costs. I often find it most difficult when peace is disturbed. Although I am a peacemaker, I need to accept the reality of interpersonal frustrations. I need to accept that not everyone likes me. I need to smile like the Buddha. Continue reading
Hypomania takes you from off the ground! The British Psychological Society defines it as “elation and overactivity”, and this experience is common in our society (BPS, 2010). Hypomania can be particularly problematic for my life with bipolar. And, I argue, it can be troublesome for the general public too.
I met some people at an event one night and I felt attracted to a particular lady. I happened to feel quite low, a sadness closely related to depression. But when I spoke to this lady, I bounced from sadness to highness, all in a matter of seconds. And this bouncing can occur quite frequently in social situations. With a friend, my eyes can bounce to the right with one idea and bounce to the left with another, thereby not maintaining eye contact and not connecting. Behind my bouncing, there is a fear of intimacy: I often find it uncomfortable to be up close and personal with people. Intimacy is both my greatest wish and my greatest fear. Instead of trying to escape, I would do well to maintain eye contact with the person next to me. Continue reading