5 Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Change

EDUCATION_2

 

In spite of change being the only constant in life it is very common that people seek out stability, predictability and the need for things to stay the same.

When things don’t stay the same, we panic, we’re overwhelmed, we’re anxious, we have episodes of depression, mania…etc.  Trying to stay the same leads to being crazy, nuts and mentally ill.

There is humor in our need for constant stability and predictability in a constantly changing world, but its very hard to laugh at ourselves when we’re overwhelmed by the terror of change.

Anytime we get upset with someone over anything, we are resisting change.

Here are ideas to overcome our fear of change:

Step 1: Notice Ways You Resist Change.

I am upset about _____________.

I am defending and protecting myself from ______________.

I don’t want to change _______________.

I’m scared of ______________.
I refuse to see ______________.

I don’t want to see it because if I were to see it then I’d have to do _________.

I really don’t want to do __________ because then I’d have more ___________.

I don’t want more __________ because having more __________ says about me that I’m ____________.

If I’m ___________ then I feel ____________.

If  I feel ____________ then _____________ will happen to me.

 

Step 2:  Acceptance of the Outcome of Resistance.

 

The world does not come to an end if I feel ______________.

Nothing changes if I fail at _______________.

If I have more ________________ I’ll be just fine.

The consequences of not changing are __________________.

 

Step 3: Humor About Resistance

 

It’s pretty funny that I’ve resisted ______________ for so long.

I made _____________ so scary when its really only ______________.

I don’t like ______________ because then I have to do ________________ and feel ____________.

The reality is feeling ______________ and doing _______________ is actually good.

 

Step 4: Finding Joy in Change

I’m looking forward to _______________.

What I see for myself is a better quality of life with ________________.

My relationships will be more ___________________.

My work will be more ____________________.

My fun/relaxing time will be more ________________.

I’ll get to be/do _________________.

 

Step 5: Putting Change Into Action

 

The next best step in creating this change is ________________.

I will do this step by this time TODAY _________________.

Other steps I will take towards this change are ____________ ____________ ___________.

I will do them by this time _______________.

 

It is so important to both find your joy and commit to when you will take action steps toward the change you are actively participating in your life.  By finding your joy and taking action, you overcome fear.

 

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Developing Self-Assurance & Confidence…while living with Bipolar Disorder

About Me BEST

I didn’t have self-assurance and confidence until I had no choice.

 

I’ve been asked often to share about building self-assurance and confidence while having bipolar disorder as a constant threat in my life.

 

I used to talk about self-assurance and confidence in a therapisty way because I hadn’t built the self-assurance yet.

 

Self-assurance didn’t come from going to UC Berkeley or getting a Masters Degree. When I graduated from all of my institutions I still didn’t believe I could stand on my own two feet.

 

When I finally earned my license as a therapist and began working in my field and earning a decent income…I still did not have self-assurance. I had confidence that I could earn a living and keep my job, but I didn’t have self-assurance (faith in my own abilities and character). I was still living with my parents and had a safety net. I was very comfortable in their nest even though I could afford to go out on my own. So in spite of helping everyone else…I still wasn’t there yet…I still didn’t believe in myself and my own abilities because I always had the fear of bipolar disorder.

 

The fear of bipolar disorder is the fear that everything I’ve worked so hard for could be lost very easily by an episode.

 

The fear of bipolar disorder is the fear that kept me from trusting myself and believing in my own ability to be independent.

 

The fear of bipolar disorder has been my crutch since I was 16 years old. I did not know how to not be afraid of it. I gave that fear the power to destroy me. I’ve spent most of my life fearing bipolar disorder on a core level.

 

That crutch got knocked out from under me when leukemia came into my family’s life. Within a moment the safety net that I relied on…that my parents had created for me…was gone. The security was gone, instantly.

 

Nothing changed in my family. We didn’t lose our home. My dad didn’t die. Everything stayed the same…but my entire belief system of security and safety crumbled.

 

It was similar to the destruction that I experienced after my first full-blown manic and depressive episode that destroyed everything I knew about myself…BUT, THERE WAS A KEY DIFFERENCE.

 

When my dad got sick and the imaginary safety net of always having my parents crumbled…what arose from within me was my own character and my own faith in my ability.

 

It was there all along (or at least for a really long time) and I didn’t know it because I had always been leaning on the crutch of safety…I was afraid to trust. I was the bird that had perfectly good wings, yet was afraid to fly in case I fell.

 

When my dad got sick…instantaneously, from the core within me I immediately flew. I just took off flying…I don’t know how I did it. My suspicion is that it was all the years I invested into myself.

 

I went through a bit of mania (multiple times controlled by medication), I went through plenty of depression (that I had to deal with daily)…yet I was still flying. In spite of episodes I still went to work each day and I immediately moved out of my parents home. I left the nest because I had to…from deep down in my core, I had to leave the nest even though at times it would have been beneficial if I stayed. (Don’t worry, I still helped out plenty.)

 

This is when self-assurance began to really build for me. I faced the episodes I feared would destroy me…and they didn’t…I kept moving forward. As long as I continued to move forward (even though they made it harder and slowed me down at times) I did just fine on my own two feet.

 

Self-assurance became my rock when I began sailing my boat…we’ve all heard about that in my prior story.

 

The key message I want you share is that I didn’t have self-assurance as a person living with bipolar disorder until there was no choice for me to hold onto the crutch anymore. I couldn’t fly and hold onto the crutch.

 

Episodes happened and are going to continue to happen in my life and as long as I take really good care of myself by sailing and working towards my goals and being responsible with my medication…and continuing to do it all in spite of how I feel…I do really well.

 

I really hope this is useful and I encourage you to share your stories.  To learn how, go to: https://www.facebook.com/teamTHRIVE and find out about joining a private community that is being built.

 

If this is useful, let me know. Thanks in advance. 🙂

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Overcoming Fear of Failure in Life

This is my own story of overcoming fear of failure in life…the boat is simply a metaphor.

 

Solo Sail FB copy

I was four years old when I made the decision with promise that I was going to live on a boat. That decision was as constant as the northern star (everything rotated around it and it never changed position.)

So my whole life I’ve turned everything away that got in the way of me living on a boat.

The one really KEY thing I didn’t turn towards was learning how to sail…how to be Captain.

I was my dad’s #1 first-mate, but I was scared shitless of being Captain. I just expected that by the time I bought my boat, I’d be married and he’d be captain.

When I became a licensed psychotherapist and began earning a decent income…most of my money was saved for the boat that I didn’t intend to buy until I was married. But I never told people I was waiting for the married part and that I was so incredibly scared of being Captain.

No one knew how scared I was to be a Captain. No one knew to what extent I did not believe in myself and my abilities…even after 34 years as first-mate…I had NO confidence whatsoever that I would ever be Captain. It was my little BIG secret. I think the only person I would’ve told was my husband. I expected that as we were dating he’d be the one to truly learn how to sail and I’d be his first-mate.

Life doesn’t happen as planned. This time last year, my dad was living at Cedar Sinai Hospital being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia AND he was DETERMINED AND PERSISTENT that it was time for me to buy my boat.

He had no clue how scared I was AND no part of me was ready to be Captain. I wanted him to be Captain (since I wasn’t married). But Leukemia took that dream away too. Even though no part of me was ready to buy a boat, I bought a beautiful boat.

The whole process made me a little more manic than usual. When it sunk in that my dad was really sick, way too sick to be Captain…that I might lose my dad, he might die…I sunk into a depression for several months…yet I was joyous at the same time because I was living my dream of living on a boat. I was manic-ly depressed.

From the moment I bought my boat I lived on her. But I didn’t take her out of the slip. She became the best condo ever. We weren’t going to go anywhere. I had no clue as to what I was doing whatsoever AND I had no intention of changing that.

I was afraid of EVERYTHING. I was afraid of messing up everything and breaking stuff. I was afraid of sinking my home, damaging my home. I had no faith in myself…no confidence whatsoever that I was capable of being a Captain of my boat…or the Captain of my life (that fear was caused by Bipolar Disorder).

Whenever I thought about sailing, I said to myself, “Hell no! I’m not sailing my boat. That’s stupid! That’s a horrible idea! That’s just asking to lose everything I’ve worked so hard for. I’ll wait until I find “the guy” or even “a guy”.”

I resisted sailing with everything I had in me. I had every excuse in the book. I told myself and everyone else that I was perfectly content with my life tied to the dock. I went out to sea on other people’s boats and got overwhelmed easily anytime anyone tried to teach me anything on my boat.

A good friend of mine saw right through me. He said to me, “You’re afraid of fucking up.”…”We’re taking your boat sailing. You are going to be at the helm the entire time and running all of your systems. And you don’t get to leave the helm until you know how to do EVERYTHING. I’ll coach you, but you’re doing ALL of the work.”

I had no choice but to go along with it.

I hated every moment of it. It was hell. It was scary. Nothing was fun about it at all…but I did it anyways.

I did discover that by being forced to do things, I actually did know how to do them. I just wanted someone else to be doing them.

Certain things came intuitively and things like docking scared the crap out of me and I never thought I would be able to do it.

Docking Perfectly FB copy

That’s me docking my boat…my dad on the right on the dock.

But I learned that even when I failed, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. When I failed at docking, I didn’t sink my boat or do damage to anyone. I eventually got the boat tied up in the slip.

BUT I still did NOT want to be Captain. I wanted to go dance on my bow (the front of the boat instead). I didn’t want the responsibility.

After a few sails, my friend saw my resistance and stopped sailing with me. He gave up on me. I felt like a failure. I failed. I was a failure. I stopped sailing.

The first week of September, a family friend died who was in the hospital when my dad was in the hospital. This friend said to me, “Honey Hush” every time I gave him an excuse for not sailing.

After his funeral, I took my boat out sailing.

I made a ton of mistakes and I broke things. I faced every basic human fear out there on the water. And I did it. Everything was and is just fine.

So I kept sailing her over and over again. I single-hand sail her every week.

I now am the Captain of my boat, “Living My Dream”. Becoming her Captain one sail at a time empowered me to become Captain of my life (in spite of Bipolar Disorder.)

I make mistakes all the time. Things break or breakdown. I don’t know how to fix them. But people help and there always is a fix (eventually)…and more things will break and I’ll mess up, and its okay as long as I’m being safe and paying attention. I have the confidence to know that no matter what happens things will be just fine.

In a nutshell, that’s the story of how I overcame my fear of failure became Captain of “Living My Dream”.

 

Captain of LMD FB copy

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Simplifying Mental Illness: strategies to better control thoughts

About Team

Mental illness confuses and distorts our ability to think, feel and respond to present circumstances.

Thinking is distorted and confused through the process of ruminating thoughts, intense thoughts, rapid thoughts and thoughts getting jumbled or lost.

Distorted and confused thoughts often and easily lead to feelings and responses that are impulsive, irrational and unpredictable.

So the question I am often asked is, “Where do you intervene?”

Once you’ve already responded to confused and distorted thoughts, you’re in the zone of clean-up work.  Often times, you’re cleaning up the mess you’ve made with your actions.  So this is not the most efficient time to intervene, but it is often where people do their intervention work either on their own or in therapy.

I believe the best place to intervene is with the thought and feeling.  In fact, I try to intervene in the space that exists between having the thought and responding to it with more thoughts.

By no means is it easy to do.  Its achievable a small percentage for people on their own.  It is much more doable with the support of a coach and community.

 

team THRIVE

Here’s a common example that people go through on a daily basis:

“Does __insert person’s name __ like what I just said?”

Instantly our mind goes to work to answer this question.  If it does not have an immediate answer based on a person’s response, our minds create an entire world of assumptions.

The process of trying to figure out something without having enough information can go on for days or longer.

The key to saving ourselves from this stress is to immediately answer the original question with an answer that does not allow our imaginations to run wild with assumptions.

My favorite answer to this question is, “I don’t know.”

The words “I don’t know.” immediately stop the imagination in its tracks and prevent assumptions from being made.  My mind can’t run wild when I use these three words.  Instead I pause.  I don’t have a strong emotional response.  I don’t have feelings of judgment or rejection or fear or joy.  I am in a state of peace and quiet within myself when I use these three words.

From the state of peace, I am then able to ask myself:

1.) How important is it to me and our relationship to know?

If it is truly important then I will simply ask the person or people involved in order to get clarity.

2.) If I’m uncomfortable asking someone straightforwardly, I ask myself: “What evidence supports my need being met?”

This actually gives me the opportunity to explore what my need is and all the ways my need was met, versus feeding into my fears.

3.) “With what I know, how do I choose to respond?”

This question empowers me.  I get to choose to stay the course or go in a completely new direction.

 

The words “I don’t know.” are a pause that lasts long enough to prevent myself from having confused or distorted thoughts.  It lets me pause long enough to not have an immediate emotional response.  I get to pause before I make assumptions.

In my opinion, this is the most effective way to intervene when living with mental illness.

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The roles and goals of fear & intuition. How problems with fear and intuition affect bipolar disorder.

 

On team THRIVE, we began a conversation to explore the differences between fear and intuition.

 

Here are some of my ideas.  They are simply ideas.  They are NOT “the truth” or right or wrong. They are simply ideas to try on and see if they fit and make sense.

 

 

 

The role and goals of FEAR

 

 

Survival. Fear exists to ensure our survival.

 

 

The challenge is that with intelligence as human beings we make so much meaning of the fear that it may cause things like anxiety, depression, mania, panic etc.

 

 

Warning Sign. A red flag that says, “This is dangerous to me. It could hurt me.”

 

 

Role in Memory. We remember things that we have a strong emotional response to (good and bad emotional responses).

 

When we have an experience with a strong negative emotional response the fear centers in our brain create a strong memory. Therefore, when a similar experience happens in our lives we know to be cautious or to avoid or escape from the experience that may be dangerous to us.

 

 

 

The Big Problem With Fear

 

 

Our fear remembers things from our imagination that cause us to have a strong emotional response.

 

Therefore, fear will respond to our imagination as though an experience is real…even though it is not something that we have experienced. This causes multiple forms of anxiety disorders and causes us to become fearful in ways that have a strong negative impact in our lives.

The role and goals of INTUITION

 

 

Determine our next best response or action.

The role of intuition is to take our beliefs about life — our hope, faith, spirituality and natural instincts — and everything we have learned through experience and knowledge throughout life and apply them to make the best decisions we can possibly make without having the gifts of hindsight.

 

Intuition will not always be correct, but it is the best we can do with the resources and knowledge we have to make a decision about what is best for us.

 

Help us to determine what is right or best for us.

Intuition often kicks in simply to let us know that something “just feels right”.  Intuition lets us know, “This feels safe or good to me.”

 

 

Problems with Intuition

 

 

I someone is raised in an unhealthy environment — an environment of abuse or neglect — they grow to feel comfortable with abuse and neglect to the point that even intuition says, “This is comfortable for me.” “This is best for me.”  “This is safe for me.”

This causes environments and relationships that are NOT abusive and neglectful to feel uncomfortable, not good and unsafe.

So many people living with bipolar disorder struggle with the way fear and intuition function in their daily lives.

Awareness is a step towards developing fear and intuition in ways that work best for you.

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Purpose in Struggle: The story of the helpful man and a butterfly (An educational story to help people thrive with bipolar disorder)

A man was walking through a forest when he came upon a butterfly freeing itself from it’s cocoon.

The man watched the butterfly struggle and fight to get it’s entire body through a small hole in the cocoon.


The butterfly struggled and struggled, the man watched in fascination.

Then the butterfly stopped struggling.

The man grew concerned. After waiting awhile with no movement from the butterfly, the man got out his pocket knife and cut the hole in the cocoon making it bigger.

The butterfly slid out of the cocoon onto the ground.

What the man didn’t know is….

In order for a butterfly to have strong wings and a solid body it needs to struggle and fight it’s way out of the cocoon.

It needs to slowly and gradually squeeze through the small hole in the cocoon because that process TRANSFORMS it’s body.

Squeezing through the hole in the cocoon squeezes all the fluids from the body into the wings making them solid and strong and creates a strong body.

But something wasn’t right with the butterfly. It’s wings were limp and it’s body was mushy and weak.

The butterfly spent the rest of it’s life crawling. It never was able to fly.

When I or anyone fights someone’s struggle for them, thinking we are helping them…we may actually cripple them.

Out of concern, we may keep people from flying.

My goal and hope is to not do this to anyone.

My goal is to help people develop their own tools so that they can use them to struggle and fight their way out of the cocoon.

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How to take baby-steps in order to thrive with bipolar disorder.


Using this analogy…

“There was a sidewalk that had a hole in it. As I walked by it I fell into the hole. The next day as I walked by I walked around the hole. The following day I crossed the street when I saw the hole. Finally, I chose a different street. It’s small goals, one day at a time”

 

I will break down baby steps.

Step 0

 

If we can’t see or feel where we are we are and that there is a place to stand…we can’t stand, period.


If we CANNOT see that we are having an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

…this is where we are.

 

0.25 If we can see where we are, but don’t have a place to stand…at least we know that standing is possible.

If we CAN see that we are having an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

…this is where we are.

 

0.50 If we know standing is possible, yet we do not have the strength to stand for long…we can practice standing for a little bit at a time, then rest.

We stand here when we see that it is possible to prevent

an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

but we do not know how.

 

0.75 If we can get ourselves standing we can begin to build balance and practice standing with balance.

We stand here when we see that it is possible to prevent

an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

but we do not know how…but we are learning and trying to see what works for us.

Step 1

 

We stand with balance and take our first step forward by channeling our strength:

a.) we have to free up a foot so it can move…this is the same as freeing up our thoughts in order to think differently.

b.) we have to plant our other foot and leg with strength in the ground and keep balance as we use it to propel ourselves forward…this is the same as taking what has worked in the past to help us and using it in the present.

We stand here when we see that it is possible to prevent

an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively

AND we have figured out what works for us…we just have to develop our ability to implement it.

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BECAUSE WE ARE NEW TO WALKING…WE WILL FALL IN HOLES AND TRIP ON CRACKS.

And even when we are great walkers, there will be times when we trip and will either have to catch our balance really quickly or fall down and get back up again.

THE KEY IS TO NOT FORGET THAT WE KNOW HOW TO WALK.

This is true for episodes, emotional roller-coasters, emotional outbursts and impulsive behavior.

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Step 2

 

We have to learn to recognize what holes and cracks look like….this is the same as recognizing what triggers episodes, emotional roller-coasters and outbursts and impulsivity.

We won’t see every episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or responding impulsively that are out there…we will still fall from time to time, but we will get better at recognizing them.

 

Step 3

 

We have to be able to see where our FOOT ends and where the hole or crack begins so we don’t put our foot in it…

 

This is the same as learning with time what makes who you are different from an episode, an emotional roller-coaster, an emotional outburst or an impulsive response.

DOING THIS COMES WITH TIME AND A LOT OF PRACTICE.

Step 4

Once we know that we are NOT the hole or crack…when we know that we are affected by the hole and crack…then we have power to respond to the hole and crack differently.

 

WE HAVE POWER TO RESPOND TO EPISODES, EMOTIONAL ROLLER-COASTERS, EMOTIONAL OUTBURSTS, AND IMPULSIVE RESPONSES DIFFERENTLY…when we catch that we are having them.

Step 5

NOW we have OPTIONS…

 

We can start by seeing the hole or crack and pointing at it and saying, “There’s that damn hole / crack/ episode, emotional roller-coaster etc that made me fall down. I hate it!”

 

 

 

5.25. Next we can make up our minds that, “I am going to do my best to not step on this hole / crack / episode / emotional roller-coaster / impulse etc because I am going to pay attention to where the cracks and holes are in my life.”

 

 

5.50. We can make a decision, “I will choose how I respond to this hole/ crack / EMOTION I am feeling.”

JUST BECAUSE WE HAVE AN EMOTION DOES NOT BELIEVE IT IS TRUE.

We can choose how to respond if we take time to breathe and think before we automatically respond to the emotion.

5.75. Then, I will make it harder for the hole/crack/etc to trip me and make me fall down by not even getting close to it…I will cross the street.

 

Emotionally that would be NOT responding right away to every feeling we have. It would be noticing the feeling and letting it pass.

 

Step 6

 

“I will take a different street that does not have as many holes and cracks on it.”

 

What this means is choosing HOW WE THINK AND CHOOSE TO RESPOND in ways that are supportive of who we are and making choices that reflect what we want for ourselves.


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FANTASY: How the conflict between fantasy and reality can lead to episodes of bipolar disorder and any mental illness & cause difficulty in relationships

 

When we are in our teens or younger, we pick a career path and study for it for years…then eventually, if we persist, we become that profession and take on that identity.   We commit to doing that path and being that identity for the next 30-50+ years of life.  We make this decision solely based on our fantasy for the job.

 

FANTASY in this context is defined as using our imaginations to set goals for possibilities in our lives.   Fantasy is what we believe “should” happen for our lives.

 

We often don’t spend time envisioning a good enough partner or quality of life…instead we fantasize about our IDEAL SELF (our concept of perfect) and want to find those qualities in a partner or career.

 

When we are dating, we are basically figuring out if this person we meet fits into our fantasy for ourselves and our lives.  If they fit, meaning that they have a similar fantasy for themselves, we continue dating them.  If not, we find someone else to date with the hopes that eventually we will find someone with a compatible fantasy to our own and hope that the reality of being with them fits the fantasy we both have.

 

When we get married, we commit to spend the rest of our lives with our partners based on who we fantasize they will be and who we fantasize we will be.   We create a fantasy for the family we will have.  The home we will make together…our dogs.  We fantasize about vacations and travels together.  Everything we plan with our partners is the journey of two people creating one fantasy.

 

When relationships end or we change our minds and lives in big ways…it is often because we have discovered that our fantasy and reality don’t fit each other and we either accept the reality (and stay on course in our relationship and/or field of work) OR we decide that the reality is not what we truly want for ourselves and we create a new fantasy to pursue.

 

 

 

Fantasy Causes Difficulty In Relationships

 

We often fail in commitments because relationships don’t live up to the fantasies we have for them.  When we are in love, it is so hard to see all the giant red flags waving in our faces…they look like rainbows.

 

We convince ourselves to believe that if only we love our partner enough, we can mold them into our ideal partner (which is really our ideal self that we are not even able to be).

 

If we don’t let go of this fantasy and accept our partners and our relationship for who and what it is…we will be miserable.

 

The reality will never be the fantasy AND reality will not be “good enough” until we let go of the fantasy.

 

Letting go of our own personal fantasy and creating a fantasy with our partner is how we build and sustain our relationship so that it has a future.

 

 

 

 

Why do we base our lives on FANTASY?

 

BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN.

 

Everything in our lives beyond the present moment is UNKNOWN. How else could we handle the sheer terror of NOT KNOWING ANYTHING, if we did not keep a picture in our minds of what “should” “could” or “would” be IDEAL?

 

As human beings, we build a future based on what we fantasize today and we hope and pray that all of our efforts will give us just a small percentage of our fantasy…but when we don’t know any better, we hope for 100% of it and may not be willing to settle for less.  This is one reason why so many people are so unhappy about their lives.  As we get more life experience 50% of our fantasy is AWESOME!

 

In order to cope with NOT KNOWING ANYTHING, we create in our minds the “SHOULDs” and “SUPPOSED TOs” of life…this gives us our structure of how to make sense of the world…and so much of it is based on fantasy, the rest is based on what we know from past experience.

 

THIS IS HOW WE SURVIVE.  We inherit from our families our beliefs and values and choose our own set of beliefs as individuals that will structure our lives and we hope and pray that it works.

 

 

 

 

How Fantasy Becomes A Problem

FANTASY BECOMES A PROBLEM WHEN IT IS IN CONFLICT WITH REALITY.

This causes major STRESS.

Because we so often build the structure for our lives based on what we truly hope and believe “should” and “will” happen…when what we believe SHOULD happen is not happening, it causes tremendous CONFLICT. It causes us to question everything we believe in ways that cause incredible pain, fear, anxiety and depression.

The conflict between fantasy and reality causes us to doubt our beliefs and ourselves.  It can cause us to experience an “existential crisis” where we question why we are alive and what is our purpose in life.  We do anything we possibly can to make meaning when our fantasies don’t come true.

When we are able to make meanings for our fantasies not coming true that soothe pain, reduce anxiety and allow us to function…we are successfully coping in life.

However, when the meanings we make for our fantasy not coming true create pain, increase anxiety and depression…this can develop into mental illness.

Mania and depression can be triggered when this conflict between fantasy and reality occurs because the conflict causes STRESS in the forms of incredible fear, overwhelm, urgency, pain, loss and possibly trauma.

When we refuse to acknowledge reality and live as if the fantasy is real, this is psychosis.

How we respond to what happens…how we respond to not having our fantasy…determines our quality of life and our mental health.

 

 

The GIFT of Fantasy

FANTASY allows us to bring out the best in ourselves.

It is all about our potential as human beings. Fantasy motivates and inspires us. Fantasy gives us something to have faith in and hope for. Fantasy gets us through the toughest times in our lives.

We need our fantasy. We need our fantasy to get us through life. Without fantasy, all we would have is not knowing what will be and fear.

Without fantasy, we could not build a future.

We don’t just create fantasies for ourselves…we create fantasies for our children…we create fantasies for our friends…we create fantasies for everyone we come in contact with based on how we would like them to respond and how we want to be treated.

So much of who we are as human beings is based on the fantasies that we have been building throughout our entire lives.

As human beings we use fantasy as a primary coping skill in order to survive.

Through FANTASY

We learn

We grow

We plan our lives

We build our lives with others

We have families and raise children to be good people

We put faith in our community and trust that people will follow our societal structure

Fantasy is a key ingredient that makes up part of the foundation and our abilities for survival as human beings.

IDEAS FOR COPING WHEN FANTASY DOES NOT COME TRUE

  • FOCUS ON GRATITUDE. Notice what you do have in your life that is what you want it to be.  This is accepting reality as it is and seeing all the goodness you do have in your life.

 

  • CHANGE THE FANTASY. Change your fantasy to better fit reality by setting realistic goals for yourself.  Focus on what IS possible instead of investing so much of yourself into what you believe SHOULD be possible.

 

  • FORGIVENESS. Forgive yourself and others for life not being what you hoped it would be.  Stay away from blame, shame and guilt…they will not help you.  Know that you and others did the very best you could with the resources and abilities that you had at the time and you simply were not able to create what you hoped for yourself.
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Mania & Depression disrupt our CIRCADIAN RHYTHM – How to get our RHYTHM OF LIFE back.

What is our CIRCADIAN RHYTHM?

 

Our circadian rhythm is our RHYTHM IN LIFE.

It guides the structure and flow of all our bodily systems and our brains:

  • SLEEP
    • It tells our body and mind that we are tired.
    • When to sleep.
    • How long to sleep.
    • When to wake.
    • Our sleep cycle being out of whack can cause stress on our bodies which has the ability to trigger mania or depression.

 

  • HUNGER & DIGESTION
    • It tells our body when we are hungry
    • What to eat…what we crave
    • How much to eat / when we are full
    • What and how much acid etc our body needs to break down food etc.

 

  • HORMONE CYCLE
    • When our hormones are disrupted it has a huge affect on our mood, emotion and all  human drives
    • Affects our reproductive cycle, stress, mania and depression can significantly alter the reproductive cycle.
    • This plays a huge role in our social drives toward connection with others as well as need for  autonomy.
    • This plays a huge role in all bodily functions.
    • Our hormone system being out of whack can cause stress on our bodies which has the ability to trigger mania or depression.

 

  • IMMUNE SYSTEM FUNCTIONING
    • During times of stress – including: lack of sleep, mania and depression our immune systems can become over-active or under-active
    • Some people get sick just after the stressor passes, other people get sick when they experience stress
    • Our immune system being out of whack can cause stress on our bodies which has the ability to trigger mania or depression.

 

  • OUR CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
    • Our blood pressure and heart rate are affected by all of the other systems in our bodies.
    • When our rhythm is messed up by stressors (lack of sleep, mania, depression etc), our heart rate and blood pressure can increase or decrease.
    • This can be unsafe and should be examined by medical doctors if you experience significant changes in your circulatory system.

 

  • MUSCULAR SYSTEM & PHYSICAL ENERGY & STRENGTH
    • When we are affected by stressors (including mania and depression) our physical energy and strength are heightened or impaired.
    • Mania causes and increase in physical energy and strength
    • Depression causes a decrease in physical energy and strength
    • Depression can cause psychomotor retardation, which is the inability or have difficulty moving.

 

  • ALL OF OUR ORGANS  necessary for our survival ARE AFFECTED BY THESE CHANGES

 

  • EMOTION
    • Emotion is a physical release of energy.  It is “Energy in Motion”.
    • When emotion is unpredictable it may be because our circadian rhythm is out of balance AND we have an abundance of energy produced and we must release it or a lack of energy and are unable to release anything.

 

  • THE BRAIN & MOOD
    • We do not know what comes first…does the brain get out of whack causing a chemical imbalance that leads to a disturbance in our circadian rhythm OR does the circadian rhythm become out of whack and cause chemical imbalance in our brain?
    • EITHER WAY, it truly affects our MOOD and the result is mania and depression.

 

 

 

How to get our RHYTHM OF LIFE back

TO HIT THE RE-SET BUTTON ON OUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

WE NEED to create CONSISTENCY, PREDICTABILITY & ROUTINE in:

  • When we go to sleep and wake up.
    • Our body is able to re-set because we can depend on sleep-time which is when the body repairs itself, generates memory, works through challenge etc.

 

  • When we eat AND what we eat.
    • Our body is able to re-set because we can depend on nutrition.

 

  • The use of our bodies (exercise).
    • Our body is able to re-set our energy and strength levels.

 

  • Routine activity throughout the day lets our bodies know how much energy we need for each task, creating predictability and stability.

STABILITY OF MOOD IS SUPPORTED BY

STABILITY IN OUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

 

 

 

 

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Advantageous Coping Skills: Ways to contain impulsive outbursts of emotion and rage. Strategies for thriving with bipolar disorder.

 

A VERY common problem we experience when living with bipolar disorder is the impulsive outburst of emotion and rage.

These impulsive outbursts can be very difficult to contain, especially once you are already riding an emotional roller coaster.

Here is a basic guide for how to prevent impulsive outbursts before you get on an emotional roller coaster:

 

1. We must have the awareness that impulsiveness in our emotion and/or temper is a problem.

We must be aware that we actually do lose control OR can lose control of our emotion.

 

2. Just like mania, our impulsive responses have triggers…we must learn how to identify when we FEEL TRIGGERED…then we can identify the trigger.

 

For example, I feel triggered when someone pokes one of my wounds…my family is really good at poking me in my wounds…as a result, at times I do lash out with anger and I am out of control.

When I am triggered for an emotional outburst of rage or emotion, the thoughts and feelings I get within me are similar to when I was a child.  I feel that no one is listening to me and that my needs are being ignored and will not be met.  I feel scared, whatever is taking place is a threat to me and it is beyond my control.

However, before I have the time to process this, I have already lashed out with anger or emotion.

This is why awareness of the triggers is NOT enough.

 

3. By having awareness of our triggers, we can identify the kind of environments and situations that make us most vulnerable.

 

I have learned that I am most vulnerable to emotional outbursts in environments  and with people where I feel very safe, such as home.

I am also highly likely to have emotional impulsiveness over text-messages because it is a contained form of communication.  Those text-messages are classified as books…I have written books by text messaging.

However, in my work I have learned that environments that cause people to be the most vulnerable are environments where there is NO EXIT or NO WAY TO ESCAPE from whatever is doing the triggering.

 

 

PLAN OF ACTION

 

 

When I am triggered, the best thing I can possibly do for myself is give myself time to PAUSE…for me pausing is often stopping my current action…walking away…getting alone time and nurturing myself to gain containment.

  • STOP the trigger…just PAUSE…stop talking…stop doing anything

  • REMOVE OURSELVES from what is burning or poking us causing us to lash out

  • TAKE ALONE TIME (this prevents us from doing harm)

  • SELF-NURTURE

    • Meditation
    • Yoga
    • Making Art
    • Journaling
    • Listening to Music


To nurture myself in the heat of emotion, I breathe deeply into my belly until those intense emotions stop churning and I physically contain myself either hugging myself…wrapping myself tightly in a blanket…or in my cocoon hammock chair (that I love and highly recommend)….then I pray and make art (from my Mandala coloring book)

 

What do you do if there is NO trigger, what if you just snap?

 

 


When we “just snap” that is because we have been building the emotion up for as long as we are able to tolerate and we simply are not able to tolerate it anymore.

This is a common problem with people living with bipolar disorder…we bottle things up and snap.
In order to THRIVE we are required to learn new coping skills that are more advantageous for living with bipolar disorder….we have to say goodbye to the bottle.

Bottling things up inside when we have bipolar disorder is setting us all up for disaster.


Learning how to vent will prevent build up in our emotional bottles AND by not holding things in that bother us, our emotions will not boil.

I encourage you to participate in the group I facilitate “team THRIVE” located at www.facebook.com/teamTHRIVE.


I highly recommend learning how to let emotion out of the bottle by participating in the “VENTING SPACE” daily section.

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