The central point of everything I bitch and harp about in regards to mood disorder management is education. The afflicted and their closest loved ones need to understand every facet of the mood disorder if they want to effectively counter it. It’s a simple matter of understanding the enemy to engage and win the battle. Understanding the way a mood disorder warps and twists a person’s perception gives them much greater leverage in not jumping on the unwell thought process and rocketing into insanity.
Near that central point is a choice; an often simple choice that we make incorrectly because our brains are fucked up at the moment. A choice we normally would have never made if our brains were in balance. We can prevent a lot of chaos and misery for us and our loved ones by changing the way we make our decisions while unwell. But first, we have to understand when we are unwell!
1. Work on developing your understanding of your triggers and the way you feel while you are unwell. You likely have symptoms while manic or depressive that you have at no other time. In my case, I have pressured speech, racing thoughts, hypersexuality, arrogance, and I can’t sleep more than 4 hours at a time but am never tired. Depression is easy to spot in my own apathy, general annoyance at everything slightly inconvenient, and a desire to sleep too much. I only have these qualities when I’m unwell- never any other time.
2. Utilize loved ones to help identify your unwellness. If you have kids, relatives, or a spouse that gives a shit they can help you identify when you’re getting unwell. You can tell younger kids “just tell me if I start acting really weird”. They don’t need to be inundated in details but they know when mom or dad is being irrational or volatile. I feel it’s a good idea to help older kids understand what’s going on so they don’t learn to fear and resent mental illness.
3. Make better choices before taking action. Are you manic? Does the sound of laughing children piss you off? Can you just not stand the sound of your spouse’s voice? Are you depressed? Can you not see any hope for tomorrow? Is every day going to be shit for the rest of your existence?
Those questions are the kind of warped thoughts we all struggle with. It is your choice on how you respond to those children, your spouse, and the hopelessness. Every fiber of your being may be urging you to scream, yell, or worse; but you have to fight that urge. You have to remember that you have a mood disorder and will have disproportionate responses to about everything while you are unwell. And you have to choose to look forward to tomorrow or remove yourself from your manic stressors.
It is not the world’s responsibility to give two shits about managing your triggers. A lot of people don’t understand and don’t want to understand. That means YOU have to be the one to manage YOURSELF.
That’s not an impossible goal even though it may seem like it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “Easier said than done”. Well, no shit. Everything is easier said than done. But you fucking do it anyways because it’s your family, your life, your well being, and your future. And you CAN do it.
Yes, you will inevitably make stupid mistakes. We all do. It gets much easier the more you do it and when you start finding meds that reduce the impact of the unwell swings.
Making better choices can be as simple as removing yourself from a situation that is threatening to spin you out or asking for input from someone you trust. I do both regularly if I don’t trust the defective pile of shit my brain can sometimes be.
You must understand that you are not your Disorder. You may be a terrible person while you are unwell but that does not mean you would make those same choices if you were well. Therefore, you want to get back to making the kinds of decisions you would make while you were well. A mood disorder is just one part of you that can be overwhelming and dominating if untreated, but you do not have to give in to what it will make you think and feel. You can fight it and fight for wellness.
That is a choice.
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