Learning to recognize the “real you” and the “depressed you” can help you avoid decisions when you’re depressed that can have negative life effects.
Depression always catches me by surprise. It’s such a nasty symptom of this condition. With mania, we at least like some of it, but who likes this rotten depression?
I ask if you’re ready for your next depression so that you won’t be caught up in the way it changes your thinking. I think I got hypomanic from a medication for a chest infection and after a week of calming down the mania, I went back to stability. Ah ha! I thought, I cheated bipolar!I had the mania only! Whew!
How silly is that thinking? I actually thought something different would happen than what I have experienced for 30 years. Hope springs eternal!
Mania without depression rarely happens for me as I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder. When I started crying while watching TV yesterday, just sobbing and sobbing over a story about a Russian Olympian ice skater who died young, I for a short moment had the thought, “What is wrong!? Why am I crying!?” Then I remembered that I had been manic for a week and bipolar is called bipolar for a reason.
We get manic and depressed. What goes up must come down and the down is here today.
Yes, there is a type of mania that is the up part of the illness only, but most of us experience depression more often than mania. And if we are not ready for it, we WILL make choices that affect our future negatively.
Depression is so obvious if you know what to look for. I’m depressed, but I have spent the past 20 years learning to recognize what is the real me and what is depression. All of this failure talk, worry and crying is not me. It is bipolar.
I am prepared for this depression. I don’t feel good. I feel sad and worried and have thoughts that I will stay this way forever, but this is not the truth. I prefer to look at hard data. All of my past depressions have ended and this one will as well.
When you are ready for depression, you will have a reasonable and well thought-out response to the unreasonable, unrealistic and bipolar disorder-created thoughts.
A Tip to Manage Future Depressions
I encourage you to write down what you think, say and do when you’re depressed. Memorize this list. (If you’re a loved one, make your own list about the person’s depression.) When the depression starts, it will be difficult as the feelings it creates are real feelings, but they are not the real you. If you can refer to your list and say, “Yep! That is what depression says to me every time,” you can move into management mode instead of overreacting mode.
Today, I must focus on getting out of this depression. All of my books and especially Get it Done When You’re Depressed share the same plan that I use daily. I know how to recognize and manage this depression and I hope you know that you can learn to do the same. Twenty years ago I might have ruined a few things in life by acting on depressive thoughts. Now, with a plan, I can simply let those thoughts flow until they are gone.
I believe you can do the same. Let me know what your depression sounds like and what it feels like when you’re depressed. Leave your questions below and I will return for the next week to answer any questions you have on the topic of bipolar depression.
Julie A. Fast is the author of "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder," "Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder," "Get it Done When You’re Depressed" and "The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder." She is a columnist and blogger for BP Magazine and won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lily Reintegration award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for the Dr.Oz and Oprah created site ShareCare. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists and general practitioners on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People Magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis and Depression." You can find more about her work at JulieFast.com and BipolarHappens.com.
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