The whole #TheDress thing is a pretty awesome example of how a person’s perception shapes the way they look at the world around them. One’s initial perception may show it as white and gold, but if you look at it long enough, your brain corrects it to the blue and black dress it actually is. It’s the same sort of thing as magic eye puzzles where an image would jump out of the noise at you.
It is an apt demonstration of the way perceptions stained by mood disorder can function as well.
As an example:
I step around a corner and see my partner hugging some guy I don’t know.
Manic: Rage. I knew she was cheating on me. Confrontation, yelling, and general shittiness. (White and Gold Dress)
Depression: I knew it. I’m no good for her or anyone else. Of course she would want to throw me aside. I’m going to lose her. I’m going to lose everything I care about. Self-loathing, maybe self-harm or suicide attempts. (White and Gold Dress)
Truth: Blind accusations are damaging no matter what they are. Even if I don’t necessarily “trust” her; I ask who he is. Maybe he’s a friend from college I had previously met but entirely forgot about. Maybe he’s a cousin I haven’t met. The point is, a hug is no indicator of unfaithfulness. (Blue and Black Dress)
And that is why it is a good example. So many people are looking at this picture of #TheDress and see two different things. When it comes to being bipolar or depressed, we have something similar going on with our feelings and emotions. Except for us, it’s whatever unwell thinking our brain funnels us about our loved ones or today being the day to commit suicide.
The fact of the matter is – the truth is buried in there underneath the emotional instability and unwellness. That’s why I do not trust my emotions when I’m trying to interpret something that is going on in my life. I work to cut through how I feel and push towards the reality of the situation.
I always strive to react without anger or emotion clouding me so the hypomania or depression does not have a chance to creep in and fuck things up by seeding disastrous thoughts in my mind.
So the next time you are looking at a loved one with a mood disorder, wondering what the hell is going on in their head, try and remember that they are seeing the white and gold dress at the moment. Their emotions and perception is clouded by the unstable, often irrational thoughts. Counter their emotions by pointing out facts and adhering tightly to them.
And if you suffer from a mood disorder – be it Anxiety, Depression, or Bipolar Disorder – drastic emotion paves the way for instability. That does not mean you strive not to feel or numb everything. It does mean we should all strive to not respond or react out of emotion. Identify the facts about the situation and address it after you have had a little time to really look at what you’re faced with.
I find myself constantly reminding myself of facts and reality if I am pushing back against unwell thinking. You can envision it like two people arguing in my head. The unwell side is trying to introduce chaotic thoughts and feelings. The other side of my brain is shouting it down with the facts about the situation. I may even write out a list of all of the facts of the situation so when the unwell thoughts start creeping in, I can just go back and read the list I wrote for myself to KNOW what the reality is before my unwellness really starts to take hold.
Unwell cycles typically take a little time to fully get rolling. Not dwelling on the emotions and reminding ourselves that we are actually looking at a blue and black dress, instead of a white and gold dress, can go a long way towards minimizing the total impact of an unwell cycle.
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