Now, there is only so much my brain can do to think my mind into believing things are better than they feel (because, you know I get my own special brand of funky symptoms) but there are three things in my “Fake it ’til you make it” toolkit I thought I’d share for folks who are down in the dumps and maybe need some ideas for getting through it:
Number one, for me at least, is figuring out what I can control and start making changes, however small, toward getting out of the darkness. Controlling what I can, and in my case that starts with my environment. If the window shades are closed, I will get up and open them, even if it’s raining. Something to remind me that there is a world beyond my little four walls. If the house is silent I will put on music. If there is a pet around I’ll try to find it and snuggle. I’ll pick up a few books and keep reading until I find one that offers a positive message (note to self: do not read Nietzsche when trying to be positive). I will force myself to smile.
BTW, Did you know that smiling itself can help you feel happier? It’s true. So yes, if need be I will force a grin. I might look a little odd but hey, I’m 40, mom of four kiddos (imagine keeping your sanity through that) and bipolar, I’ve reached the point where I don’t care how odd I look if it works.
Anyway, number two for me is to make a pros and cons list. However, at the point where I need this list I’m already well aware of the cons and writing them down doesn’t usually help. Most of the time. Anyway, I’ll list out at least three good things that have happened lately. Even if it’s that I managed to make the coffee. Or that I remembered to mail that birthday card that is two weeks two late (a serious problem for me). Sometimes that’s all I’ve got to offer, and that’s okay. Every now and then I’ll write down the cons but only to put them in perspective. Like, is it really all that bad that I forgot to start the roast and now we’re eating breakfast for dinner again? Or that I’ve managed to leave the laundry sitting in the washer for three days out of complete and utter apathy and now I have to run it not once but twice, just to get that smell out? And if it’s really lucky it’ll make it to the dryer and then we’ll celebrate when it actually gets folded and put away – this is a true cause for excitement in my house! Anyway, my point is that perspective is key and although it’s sometimes really hard to find (like hiding in a hidden corner enveloped in fog kind of hard) it’s really worth the effort.
Finally, number three for me is forgiveness. It’s the hardest one. It’s the step where I struggle with self-worth and the reality of my actions (or inaction) and have to hold myself accountable. This is when I have to practice being gentle with myself. Work on being understanding. I try to talk to myself the way I would a good friend going through a similar situation. Reminding myself that even with bipolar disorder I am worthy of forgiveness and I have just as much value as anyone else, exactly I am.
Even if I do sometimes forget the occasional birthday card 😉