When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I thought it meant I was doomed to live with moodiness and irritability for life. Fortunately, I found that balancing my mood is not only possible but essential for achieving peace of mind.
What Motivates Our Moodiness?
Over time, I’ve learned that my moodiness has more to do with my thoughts than with my emotions. Nothing drives a bad mood but our own negative thinking. And oftentimes we keep our brains busy by thinking negatively, without even realizing that this is what is motivating our downswings and irritability.
Luckily, we are living in a time of mindfulness, self-awareness, and personal development; with this positivity movement, we have access to tools and information that weren’t even heard of practically 20 years ago, back when I was diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety.
I believe with the right attention to our personal care and our emotional needs, living with the anxiety and depression associated with bipolar doesn’t have to be the life sentence of doom that it once was. (As was the case for me back then.)
I also believe that all of us who are living with mental illness can take steps and create strategies to proactively manage ourselves and our symptoms, so our mental health challenges don’t get in the way of our quality of life, social interactions, or happiness.
Irritability’s Negative Effects on Our Happiness
Moodiness is definitely going to get in the way of our happiness, and it certainly affects our social interactions. Addressing an unstable temperament only helps in life—in my experience, with my relationships and my happiness. Countering it takes a huge amount of self-awareness. What I found is that when we have clarity on how our own thoughts or actions are not serving us or are getting in our own way, it actually makes it easier to recognize them and stop them in the moment. And this post is about really bringing your awareness to your own moodiness so you can create ways to manage it instead of maintaining it and letting it negatively affect your experience.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
It does take a conscious effort, commitment, and determination to implement change in our ways of being. And when it comes to managing our moods, I’ve discovered that if you don’t pursue change to the point of success, it will end up being a waste of your time, with no real change accomplished. The goal is, through self-awareness, to minimize bouts of moodiness and bad moods. In my opinion, moodiness usually stems from some underlying factor that is creating some type of upset or unhappiness, and perhaps we get stuck in it, ruminate, or overthink. When we don’t address the source of the problem and instead stay in negative thoughts, we allow the negative thinking to steer us into a bad mood or a state of persistent moodiness.
Tip 1: Awareness
So, the first tip for managing moodiness is bringing your awareness to when you find yourself starting to feel unsettled, so you can take responsibility for your thoughts and emotions and practice balancing or neutralizing them until you are in a good mood and out of the funk. This takes awareness, repetition, and consistency. Once you make it a practice, like I have, you are able to be on top of and control any moodiness before it develops to the point of interfering with your life.
We can train ourselves to think about or strategize our dreams, goals, or wants—instead of sticking with negative thought loops. And I use this often to change my thinking when I find myself in a state of negative thinking. When you find yourself in a rough mood, it is helpful to turn your attention to a topic that is helpful, productive, positive, and beneficial. Even by force. Yes, it could literally take you forcing your mind to think of a new, positive topic other than the negative thoughts. But this actually helps you because you are practicing how to gain control of your thought patterns, too. The great thing about the positivity movement is it gives guidance on how to learn new thoughts. In my experience, learning to think positively keeps you out of unhelpful mindsets, and it helps you to maintain healthy levels of serotonin too. Win, win.
Tip 2: Meditation
Another tool that helps with moodiness is meditation (which also helps us get the upper hand on our patterns of thinking and helps us to attain peace of mind, in my opinion). The meditation I speak to is specifically silencing the chatter; that is, stopping all thoughts and quieting the mind. So, there’s no visualization, no guided meditation, no thinking, just silencing the mind. This is a good skill to have, because it can also help to silence your thoughts when you are feeling moody. Silencing the mind helps us to be present and out of our heads, back into our bodies and the physical world—and that helps with moodiness, too.
Tip 3: Problem-Solving
This last tip is a bit more challenging, but it has to do with resolving issues favorably. This is a worthwhile effort because it is also part of meeting your emotional needs. Having thoughts driving a mood can be from unresolved resentments, anger, or upset. A lot of the time, we can brew or stew over a problem without taking steps to meet our emotional needs by solving the problem.
Moodiness, a form of emotional upset, can be passive aggressive, can linger, and can deepen. It’s really easy to end up in a bad mood or even a foul mood. And it’s easy to sabotage a good time with your emotional upset. Another way to manage your mood is by cultivating ways to maintain your emotional needs with problem-solving skills. When you have fewer problems, when you can create solutions for yourself, this helps to maintain your happiness—and happiness is also a way to keep yourself out of moodiness.
Tip 4: Choosing Optimism
Last, feeling energized, being optimistic, and purposely maintaining a good mood is also a strategic way to offset irritability. Our behaviors and ways of being are all learned. Ways that don’t serve us can be unlearned, and new ways that help us in our happiness can be learned. There’s a ton of information out there, so with whatever problem we end up facing, I’m sure we can all find solutions. That’s why the moodiness of bipolar disorder doesn’t have to mean a life sentence of doom for anyone. And why happiness is an option for us all.
Debbie Jacobs is an advocate, writer, and healing specialist living in Alexandria, Virginia. She lived most of her adult life with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, and then was diagnosed with bipolar. She speaks out on how self-improvement is life improvement and believes we all can live happy lives by making positive changes to ourselves. Her influences are Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Les Brown, and Tony Robbins. She does positivity life coaching and is in the process of writing her first book on her healing process of accomplishing positive thinking, positive effective coping skills, and healthy self-esteem—what she calls “freedom and happiness.” She shares her work to motivate, inspire, and help others make positive changes to themselves for their freedom and happiness, too.
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