coping skills

What has The Good Guy discovered today?

My Good Guy doesn’t take bipolar lying down. He is dedicated to researching and learning as much about my illness is as diligent as my own. I gain insight from his discoveries, and together we are developing coping strategies and skills to live cohesively amidst this madness.

Stress

Stress is what always brings on an episode now and I am pretty quick to figure out what is causing the stress in my life – bphope.com

He subscribes to the above site and sent me an article which I’ve found enlightening. One of the points addressed was the effect of stress as a trigger. Getting to know me, he’s noticed stress is my number one trigger. While I already know this, and may roll my eyes behind his back, what I didn’t realise was just how soaked in stress my daily life is. It can get confusing living within the confines of highs and lows, aggitation, mixed episodes, depression and panic attacks. Sometimes I can’t see the wood for the trees. But having an outsider’s objective perspective contributes to self-awareness and brings circumstances into a rational focus.

Self Love

I don’t fit into someone else’s mold of how a person should live. This is my life and I won’t apologize to anyone for living it the way I see fit. – http://www.bphope.com

I find it difficult to love and accept myself. Living within the ever changing and cycling moods of bipolar can be an ugly existance. But The Good Guy is trying to teach me to practice ‘self-love‘.  In fact he’s insisting on it.

Breathe

To start cultivating mind awareness and switch off “autopilot mode,” which can trigger symptoms, Marchand suggests a three-minute breathing exercise.

He is always telling me “Breathe, babe. Just breathe”. In the beginning I was ungratiously annoyed by what I presumed to be a frivolity, a cliché. Something they say but don’t understand the fruitlessness of their advice. Until one day, stressed out at work, I realised I was holding my breath. And so I breathed. And breathed some more. Great big, gulping balloons of air exhaled inhaled and slowly exhaled with considered care. My heart rate went from a gallop to a trot, followed by a calmer frame of mind. And I began to cope again. I gained a lesson that day – not to presume an outcome without actually trying it first. What I consider a cliché was a fact. A truth. So breathe. It really does help in a crisis

Wait ’til you hear this

Do certain noises bother you to the brink of destruction? It could be neurological and not only psychological.

The technical term for that noise-triggered irritation and rage is misophonia (“hatred of sound”)” – http://www.mentalfloss.com

There are certain sounds that drive me round the bend. They turn me into a deadly, slow-boiling pressure cooker. These particular noises drill a hole right through my head. All other sounds are secondary. It’s all I can hear. I can’t focus. Can’t concentrate. This sound hypersensitivity dials up the anger and my reaction is extreme and out of proportion. I want to scream, throw things, run, pull at my hair – stop, stop, stop, for the love of god just stopppppp!

It’s a precarious situation for me because I struggle with bipolar rage, and this seemingly innocent sound is edging me to the brink of madness. All manner of chaos could ensue. I feel like I’m losing my mind. But I’m not, this madness is very real.

If the sound of a co-worker repeatedly clicking his pen can send you into a flaming furor, take heart: You’re not being hypersensitive” – http://www.mentalfloss.com

Triggers break your sound barrier

The trigger sounds also provoked a clear stress response in people with misophonia” – http://www.mentalfloss.com

My work environment is not ideal. A small department with co-workers in close proximity. There is a constant stream of people, hustle, bustle, loud talking, angry shouting, laughing – one great big disturbance. Tinny music clanging from nearby earphones, sniffing, oh the sniffing…. sneazing, more loud voices, did I mention the loud voices, and the “hello’s” and “goodbye’s” as staff use our office as a common thoroughfare. My coping skill is music. Plug the earphones in and the outside irritants and overstimulation disappears. The tiniest of noises can drive me beserk, but music is always the best medicine.

Turn it around

Since my dismal annual increase my thoughts have been in a fear-based loop. So I decided to change my current direction of thought. Its one of my coping skills – turn it around. It brings a shift in perspective. So I made a decision to…

… stop being driven by fear and bemoaning what I don’t have, and celebrate what I DO have. To turn it around. And I’m so grateful for the things I do have. I may not eat out at fancy restaurants. I may not fly to Mauritius on holiday, I may not have a wardrobe full of clothes and shoes and a fridge full of fancy foods. But hat I do have are luxuries a large population of South Africans don’t have…..

While most live in real poverty, I have a home with a beautiful view….

….I have running water

….and I have a flushing toilet

I have a washing machine and don’t have to do washing by hand…..

…..I have electricity which gives me lights, a TV to watch, a laptop to write and blog, a fridge with basic, healthy foods like vegetables…..

….. and I have a job and I earn a salary and, because I have a salary, I have a cell phone that can take these photos. Perspective – I am so grateful for all I have. Its more than most.

 

Let me be me

Coping with bipolar at work is difficult. Rage, memory loss, fatigue and tears are my downfall in others’ eyes. Because I have a problem with rage I try to not talk at all. I’ve had many complaints and sat in the manager’s office far too often. So, if my mouth is closed maybe nothing will slip out. I won’t have the chance to offend or confuse. If I want to stay out of trouble, if I want to keep my job, I need to keep my mouth shut.

Keep your mouth shut

Keep your mouth shut

Keep your mouth shut

is my daily mantra to avoid exhibitions of rage.

Crying is seen as a ‘weakness’ so I cannot let the tears slip out. I cannot go to the bathroom and cry. The reaction to red eyes and nose would draw a collective eye-rolling and I’m ignored for the remainder of the day. So I lock the sorrow in my throat, where it seeps and brews until the drive home. I often wonder what other drivers must think of me, sobbing and snivelling in peak hour traffic.

Memory loss is humiliating and costly. I make big mistakes that result in financial loss. It could one day cost me my job. I have to keep a diary of my day to day, minute by minute work output, not only to cover my back, but to act as a reminder of what I have and haven’t done. I have a checklist taped to my desk, ticking off the tasks one by one. There is also a white board to one side. This white board is a graphic representation of my check list. I have to draw pictures, like a child, of the elements of my workload. And I have to tick off this check ‘list’ too. Despite all this, I still forget. Then I want to cry. But I can’t. Then I feel angry, but I can’t afford to.

I live in constant fear of losing my job, suppressing every emotion along the way. Constant restraint. It’s exhausting. Not a comfortable way to spend 8 hours daily. Its not healthy either. But I have bipolar and this is how I have to behave at work in order to keep my job to keep a roof over my head, a medical aid, medications, and a full tummy. I wish I could be myself. Just for a while. With no apologies. Just for a while.

-3 Doors Down (Let Me Be Myself)