Gaining insight into your triggers and treatment strategies to manage mood swings takes patience and dedication, but it can payoff by helping you achieve stability.
There is a term that is used in the mental health world called “insight.” In the dictionary, insight is defined as, “the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.”
For those living with bipolar disorder, insight is usually something that is discovered over a period of time. For me, it took several years to get a handle on my illness; how it affected my life and what I needed to do to treat it.
Sticking with a Difficult Process
At first, this can be a really frustrating experience. The ability to know one’s triggers and symptoms can be both overwhelming and confusing at the same time. Often, we have to go through many painful situations before we learn how to act or respond to the issue at hand.
For instance, I had to learn the hard way, after a number of years, the importance of maintaining my medication regimen. I also had to learn that it wasn’t just the meds that would help me remain stable. I found that exercise greatly helped me to sleep better and that caffeine later in the day was a “no, no”. And of course there were illicit drugs and alcohol. They were one of the primary things that kept me in the revolving door cycle of hospitalizations.
Truly Getting to Know Yourself
If you’ve read any of my posts before, you’ll know that I’ve been living with bipolar for a long time. A real long time. But with this time comes the knowledge of knowing “what makes me tick.” Sometimes it’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse. Despite this self-knowledge, I can still fall prey to behaviors that test my recovery. When I would choose to shut myself off from others, my mood inevitably suffers. It’s kind of funny.
For a period of time, Sunday afternoons were tough for me. I don’t really know why. My wife, Suzy, used to call it “Sundayitis.” It sounds strange, I know, but on those days all I wanted to do was to crawl into bed and take a nap. Fortunately, I don’t deal with Sundayitis much anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I will never experience it again. I just need to be aware of how I’m feeling and take the appropriate steps to not fall into that state of inertia.
Putting Your Insight to Use
So, how can you gain insight into your condition? Well, therapy can certainly help with this. I’ve spent countless hours over the course of my years living with bipolar speaking with therapists and psychiatrists. Believe it or not, I’ve had a relationship with my current therapist for almost 25 years. I guess you could say she knows me pretty well (haha). That said, having such a deep connection with someone on a therapeutic level can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to learning about oneself. One of the concepts behind therapy is to “hold a mirror up to oneself.” By doing so, we can see ourselves as we truly are, “warts and all”.
I actually believe everyone, whether they have a diagnosable condition or not, should have therapy at least once in their life. The value of having someone who is objective and non-judgmental and who is willing to listen can be liberating. Mind you, not everyone has such a fulfilling experience when they enter therapy. And some therapists are better than others. But it is also important to recognize that you are the one in charge. It is your recovery, after all. And if you are not getting what you need from your counselor, then it is certainly your prerogative to seek out someone else.
As I stated previously, it can take time to develop the insight necessary to get to the place you feel you need to be, but it is important to practice patience. Gaining insight is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight (but it is possible to have an “aha” moment). Once you can figure out what works in your recovery or what your triggers may be, then you’re on your way!
I’m an expert in bipolar management, yet I still have frequent mood swings and deal with symptoms regularly. Shouldn’t I have “solved” this by now? Shouldn’t I have “recovered”? Bipolar Disorder, Expertise, & Mood Management I’ve been writing books about bipolar disorder management since 1998, and my webpage started in 2002. How is it possible...
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