11/10/2019

Balancing Bipolar

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:21 am by The Water Bearer

Getting diagnosed with Bipolar can be a bittersweet experience. Part of you is relieved to finally have a reason for the strange cycles in your mood and behaviour that causes instability in your life, while another part feels broken, ashamed, angry and even helpless.

But having a mood disorder is a pretty common occurrence in today’s age, and it’s no wonder really. Our lifestyle is highly stimulated and reactive, self-regulation has decreased since the idea of indulgence became humanities priority, our culture’s lean away from family stability, and the impact of spiritual influences increases as time winds up. I’m surprised any of us are actually sane!

There are some simple things we can all do to manage our mood swings and balance out our behaviour. So let’s ditch the stigma and face the situation with hope and these helpful tips.

1. Get Informed

Your moods, your behaviour and your diagnoses are your responsibility, they are not the responsibility of your parents, or your Doctor, or your spouse or your friends. We can gain support from these sources but ultimately any issue that comes up in our lives is an opportunity for growth in our understanding. So educate yourself. We live in the Information Age, and if you’re suffering from any condition and haven’t armed yourself with knowledge about it, then you aren’t really participating in life, are you? You’ve checked out, feeling sorry for yourself, denying the struggles of life in the hope they will just magically disappear. That my friend is a recipe destined for Hell on Earth!

2. Seek Truth

There is a LOT of bullshit information out there, and lots of amazing genuine stuff too. Its your job to be realistic about this when gathering research about your conditions. If one article says to sleep more during a depressed episode, look for any articles that promote exercise during depression. Or if one article says you must take prescription medications, look for ones that explain the side-effects and offer natural options, and always use some good old fashioned common sense before doing anything radical. Opposing views aren’t the enemy, they are the way to see the whole picture of your condition without someone’s biased agenda misleading you and wasting your time. Get honest with yourself too, about how your condition impacts your life and the lives of your loved ones. Rather than getting overwhelmed by ALL the issues you’re facing, just pick the most important one to you, and focus on that until you feel you have a good grasp of what you’re dealing with before expanding to a new topic.

3. Self Care

Some simple daily practices can settle your focus and level out the reactivity of your moods. Having a routine filled with self care is vital if you want to take back control of your life and not be at the mercy of whatever ‘wobbly’ your condition throws your way. Things like a morning ritual of stretching, meditation, journaling, and prayer are wonderful ways to start the day inspired and balanced. Peaceful time out away from screens, errands, chores and work is imperitive to reset and restore your body and mind. A few hours on a blanket in the sun, a long slow walk, a massage, or an art project can bring a sense of control back to our minds. Preparing and eating healthy non-processed foods will make a huge difference to the spikes of sugar levels, while avoiding caffeine and alcohol will calm the nervous system and rejuvenate your natural motivation. Of course no self care practice would be complete without a regular sleep cycle. Going to bed and rising early every day has an amazing impact on our neurotransmitters (brain chemistry). If you struggle to fall asleep, use a screen filter on your phone to remove the blue light after 7pm, avoid screens all together 30 mins before sleep, and a simple cup of chamomile tea never goes astray.

4. Choose your influencers

Influencers are all the rage on social media, and what we read, listen to and engage with has a massive effect on our own patterns of mood and behaviour. If you pay close attention to what you’re feeding your soul with and who you spend your time with, you may realise where you need to trim back on what influences your life. Not just what you follow on social media or watch on Netflix, but also your friends, family and co-workers. Learning to set up some boundaries to protect yourself from impulsive, irresponsible or toxic influences can bring a whole new level of peace to your life than you ever thought possible!

5. Acceptance 

Pretending you don’t have Bipolar or any other condition is not going to help you achieve peace and victory in life, and neither is resisting it. Life would be dull and boring-as-bat-shit if we didn’t have struggles and challenges to test our resilience and strengthen our character. So its time to get over the self-pity and recognise that EVERYONE has their cross to bear, their battle to face, this just happens to be yours. There are plenty of things to be grateful for, at least you’re living in a time of compassion and understanding around these issues and not being burned at the stake for being weird. Acceptance and gratitude play a big part in how well you manage your condition, and that’s not to say you’ll never have a breakdown or a blow out pity-party from time to time, but your attitude of acceptance can be an anchor to come back to whenever the wheels do come off.

6. Keep the Faith

Despite the suckiness of your diagnoses, God is trustworthy, He can turn your trials into triumphs, and your tests into testimonies. But its important to remember that the spiritual realm has to be balanced too. So for all the curses you may be battling, there are blessings scattered amongst them, especially if you plant the seeds of faith during life’s storms. King David who wrote the Psalms, had some serious mood swings and behavioural disorders to contend with, and reading his stories can bring much comfort as he pours faith into each tumultuous circumstance. For all the good God can and will do in your life, the enemy is here to level the playing field, so keeping an eye on his schemes is vital to keep a clear perspective on what you deal with day-in and day-out, and where to channel your energy in fighting against him. If you want to read more on this, this blog is filled with heaps of ways to refocus your faith and defeat the enemy, victory is certain!

 

 

 

 

28/08/2018

How Healthy is Your Mind?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:16 pm by The Water Bearer

I often wonder why some people aren’t as concerned about their mental health as others. It seems to me in this current age of high stress and constant busyness, more of us would be vigilant at ensuring the healthy condition of our minds.

I’ve seen too many people out there wondering why they are trapped in an unhealthy and unhappy life, who avoid assessing their mental health for fear of the stigma attached. I was one of those myself until my car accident forced me to take a closer look at the way my mind works and why.

That old saying comes to mind “Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.” I actually believe the opposite is true. If we don’t ask ourselves questions we believe the first thing that comes to mind and stay the same without growth or reaching our potential.

Over the past decade or so I have noticed people tend to fall into one of the following three common categories when it comes to mind health. I wonder if you recognise these traits?

Group 1 – IGNORE their Mental Health

This category contains those who take no time to be curious about the motives of their hearts. They don’t ask “why did I do that or say that?” even if they are abusive and dysfunctional, because they seem to believe the first excuse that comes to mind. They choose not to investigate the condition of their emotional health. They never ask themselves “what is the universe or God trying to purge from the selfish core of my soul?” They ignore or deny the feedback they receive from the social cues of the world. Rather than wondering how they can change themselves to adapt to their world, they waste copious amounts of effort and emotion on fighting against it. I’ve come to notice the fear that controls this group. They are afraid of facing their flaws, everyone else is the problem, even God’s plan is wrong (in some way or another). They often hate silence and can’t stand to be still or alone. They are likely to fight against a sleepless night rather than accept the words of that still small voice within.

Category 2 – BLAME their Mental Health

This group are the ones who know that life is unfair and yet use it to their own reward. Having a diagnosis of mental health, physical pain or grief often becomes a label used to avoid getting healthy and happy. Its far easier to get sympathy and sidestep the difficult challenges and responsibility of getting back on track after each trial. This group self-sabotage, finding excuses to stay miserable, usually thriving on drama and stress and become addicted to contributing negativity to the world. Blaming the reality of life and God for their discontent comes naturally, rather than seeking to discover the hope, growth and fortitude that is born from trials. They may ask for help and yet follow none of the advice given. I’ve noticed the bitterness that drives this group. It is deep seated and poisonous to their souls and ours if we stay around them too long.

You may know someone who fits into one or both of the above categories, you may even be one yourself, I wouldn’t be surprised. I have been there too….. In fact they’re easy to waver in and out from time to time.

It takes wisdom to see that giving sympathy and attention as rewards is actually enabling these groups to stay miserable. Yet our culture has somehow forgotten how to voice the truth with tact and honesty, and so we choose not to say anything at all, while our loved ones stay trapped in their misery.

And yet let’s not lose all hope, for we still have the third group to go. These people are actually more common than we might think, they just don’t broadcast their self-care.

Category 3 – NURTURE their Mental Health

This group of people understand the difficulties of life, they take the hits, go through moments of weakness and low periods. Some have been diagnosed with a mental illness, some have not. The things they have in common are self-awareness, self-responsibility, and trust. They make no excuses for their mistakes and struggles, they focus on the lessons. They accept the dark times as opportunities to see the light again one day. Faith gives them hope and courage to push on. They direct their efforts to caring for and protecting their mental health by setting up certain guidelines to follow that won’t lead them into a pit of self-pity. They practice letting go of control and being grateful, they practice being still and appreciate silence. They aim for a good sleeping routine and have very few unhealthy indulgences. They choose wisely who they spend time with. They pay attention to their own emotional stability and listen to sound advice in order to arrange themselves in a way that steers their course closer to the person they hope to be. They are committed to learning the truth about themselves, and the impact they can have on those they come into contact with. They are humble enough to admit when they are wrong and assertive enough to stand up for their truth.

As I look out into the faces of Sanctuary Stretch clients I see these qualities being nurtured. Some have only just begun their journey and others are well and truly reaping the benefits after committing to the practice.

Perhaps like me, you realise you are ready to change groups? I did it, and you can too.

 

%d bloggers like this: