Living Better with Depression, Bipolar Disorder and/or Anxiety: strategies, tactics & tools for the short, medium & long-term. Based on my long journeys back from the Dark Side & and falls from high places, past, present & continuing....



The Importance of Strategy

NB: for brevity, group reference to BiPolar Disorder, Depression and Anxiety Related Disorders is written as BpDA
 Honest, non-emotional self-reflection is fundamental to building and maintaining the framework of a healthy life.    Just as a business benefits from an overall strategy, so does your conscious journey into living well with Bipolar, Depression & Anxiety Disorders.  If you have a clear strategy, it will guide you when selecting effective tactics.  Strategy is your long-term, overall  specific outcome, and its approach should reflect your ideal values and nature.  Strategy is not an inspirational poster (that's a tactic), it is your guiding light that keeps your destination illuminated. When you lose your way, you need only to make sure your decisions are in keeping with your strategy whilst you narrow down how to more specifically proceed.

You can evolve your strategy as you go, there aren't any rules (there are, however, some undeniable, sometimes irritating truths), and it can be pretty simple. Your strategy needs to include certain information; it needs an aim, an outcome and a timeline.  Don't get scared! It doesn't have to be a huge deal.  Keep it simple. My first conscious strategy was to make it alive to the end of the year, and arrive there with the desire to want to live another. No big deal, right? (!) Right, that's why it took me months (no shit, many months) of thinking and writing, writing and thinking (in between wigouts, heheh) to arrive at. But it was a clear aim, with a clearly defined outcome, and a timeline to complete it in. To my surprise, I also learned important stuff about myself in the process, without really meaning to (bonus!).

Truthfully, it was a big deal, but only after I had come up with it. (And I'm nearly at the end of that first year!)

  Invest some time and reflect on yourself. The You inside (not the You facing the world out there). Not weeks of insular deep thought (we all know where that can lead), just set up a couple of reminders that work for you, and tell yourself you need to check in and observe every so often. I'll post a list (when I work out how to do it) of prompts, to kick off with, but you know yourself best, so take it slow and once you get the hang of it, start shining a li'l light on some of those inner dark corners (but gently, gently, you're not chasing outlaws!). Make your own list, so you always have ready the next thing to think about.

Now the problem with thinking about big-picture stuff is being overwhelmed, and the resultant paralysis and damaging headspace it can bring on.  Being overcome is a common block in the way of progress and will leave one awash, head bobbing in the Great Sea of Everything-ness with no sight of a horizon. I'll post separately another time in more detail about ways I've tried to deal with this, but for now just pick one thing to ponder and only ponder upon it when you feel like you will do it without getting too attached.  Remember, you are setting up new LifeHabits, one breath at a time, and in this one small act you are also sneakily setting up other new LifeHabits without drawing attention to that fact (more about 'tricking yourself' another time as well').  Inherent in taking this action is the belief there is a better way for you to Live, and the belief that it's worth you having a go. Inherent in this action are the seeds of nutritious thinking, processes that feed you rather than feed on you, as our destructive thoughts do.  Already there are three additional tools you are setting in place, and you haven't even tried yet!

Think about it.  You are Here, Now.  You've gotten this far, by whatever means, and you have not thrown in the towel yet.  This means you have some hope somewhere, even if it's sooooo deep down inside and hiding from you that you think it's gone for good.  Deny it all you like, but you've just proven to yourself that it's still there, just by being here now.  You don't have to go chasing your hidey Hope down, it might be shy and not want you to look at it.  Just know it is there and send it a little mental thumbs up, then be on your inner way. 

Getting to know yourself deeply and honestly can feel scary! It can be confronting, downright paralysing holding a mirror up to ourselves in the bright light. Without always being wholly aware of it, we assign a value to any personality trait/habit, and if we see signs of 'low-value' traits within ourselves it can set off any number of individual triggers.  I find it is (still) ESSENTIAL to preface my periods of self-reflection with a reminder to myself that I am 'just looking;' that I've had enough practise at freaking out about myself and this time is just for observing and recording.  Once you've gone for a wander in it a few times, your brain will start percolating away while you're not looking, and it will often surprise you by randomly tossing out a pertinent insight when you're not expecting it. (Weird, but true!)

There is a significant amount of breaking down old (non-productive) beliefs & assumptions necessary to live BpDA with self-respect & some sense of power, but that fact needn't be added to our mental list of "Things To Get Overwhelmed about" (we've all got one!). My personal trigger to remind myself to stop getting so wiggy is to give a little shake of my head while I roll my eyes and say "silly Zebby," just like I am an old nanna fondly admonishing her favourite grandchild.  It's taken most of this year, but it's becoming more of an automatic kick-in the longer I stick with it.

And I do stick with it,  because there is a more than significant amount of return on my ongoing investment.  And that is something to put on your list of Affirmations (or whatever you use to remind you of smart stuff).  It's not always a good time to think deeply.  Don't force yourself.  Remember you don't have to progress every time to be progressing overall.  Don't be afraid to 'fail', expect it and have a li'l roll-your-eyes laugh when it does. It's just a fun thought experiment, and if it accidentally does something good, you can take the credit for being wise and subtle.. 

 For doing this small action,
I receive a MORE THAN SIGNIFICANT return on my ongoing investment
(I tell myself this ALL the time, sometimes over and over. Even when I don't believe it I know it's true) 

We are the Mind Mechanics.  We may not have the Manual but we have the Tools...