Today is the World Suicide Prevention Day. I have been dealing with suicidal ideations for most of the past year. Besides taking my medication, the thing that has been the most helpful is communicating. It really seems to help when I talk or write about what’s going on with me. I remind myself that my life will continue to have ups and downs. I think that one good thing about having bipolar disorder is that I won’t feel depressed forever. Things will change, nothing is forever. Connect. Communicate. Care.
A wellness toolbox is a list of any and all of the tools that an individual has found to be helpful from their own personal life experience. Everyone’s wellness toolbox is different because they are based on personal experience. A wellness toolbox can be edited as you learn new helpful tools and/or cross of ones that no longer work for you. My wellness toolbox contains the following tools:
- Clean the house
- Talk to or meet up with a friend
- Cook (organize ingredients and make a whole meal)
- Listen to Jennifer’s Rabbit by Tom Paxton (a song from my childhood)
- Take the dog for a walk
- Call friends from support groups
- Organize anything I can find
- Play the piano
- Workout and eat healthy
- Go to therapy or a support group
- Watch old family videos
- Look through old photos
- Avoid caffeine
- Light candles that smell good
- Stay away from crowds
- Watch a funny video or movie
- Color in my adult coloring books
I have done several of the things in my wellness toolbox, so at least I know I’m on the right track. I’m also planning on cooking tonight, so that’s another thing I’m doing for myself. There are some things I’ve tried, but wasn’t able to do, such as coloring. I tried but couldn’t do it for some reason. I guess I’ll try it again a little later.
This is the reason I completed the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), to help me and my loved ones when I’m struggling with either mania or depression. I’ve already found it useful. I’ve even added something to my toolbox; the coloring is a new tool. I will keep my wellness toolbox handy so I can reference it whenever necessary.
I’m in it, inside the depression; it has taken my energy, my thoughts, and my will. I’m not myself, but I can’t even remember who I normally am. I can’t seem to get things done. It has been weeks since I’ve cleaned my house. Normally I clean the whole house once a week. I keep putting it on my to-do list, but I never seem to be able to get it done. Anything and everything is close to impossible. Every moment is a fight against myself, and it feels as if I’m losing.
I’ve done this many times before. It’s not my first depression, or my second, or third, and so on. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 14 years old. It’s been 17 years that I’ve been trying to manage my diagnosis. I just wish that I could find the peace and keep it just a little bit longer instead of going from one episode to another. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been depressed or manic. The most important part is that I get through it every time. No matter how deep the episode is, no matter how hopeless the depression gets, I’ve gotten through it before and I’ll get through it again.
I wish I could get through this quicker. I know this sounds weird, but a part of me wishes I was manic. Then I would at least have energy and be productive. I’m not thinking about the negative aspects of mania, I’m just thinking that I don’t want to feel the depression I’m in. Right now, I’m sleeping way to much (I keep falling asleep on the couch), I feel worthless, I feel empty, I’m overeating, I have a decreased interest in almost everything, and just about everything is irritating. I’m lucky that I haven’t started crying yet, hopefully it will stay that way; I hate it when I cry. When I say I want to be manic, it’s just because I don’t want to deal with this depression. I want what I currently don’t have. It would be best if I could just be even, not depressed or manic, but I don’t know if that’s reasonable.
I will get through today; I always do. I have a great support system. Everyone I know offers their help. My husband just asked me if he could do anything. I thanked him for offering, but there’s nothing he could do. I wish there was something that other people could do, but I can’t think of anything. Simply knowing that people close to me truly care is helpful. Just knowing that they are there to support me makes me feel a little better; right now, every little bit counts.
Reaching out is not something I’m good at. In fact, I have to write it down on my list of things to do so I remember to call a friend or family member. My husband encourages me to reach out to people. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t talk to anyone. It’s extremely important to reach out to friends and family, it’s a great way to take care of ourselves. Reaching out to others during every state of our bipolar disorder allows us to maintain friendships. Creating and maintaining relationships is vital to our health; we don’t have to do this alone.
We can reach out to our friends and family in many ways. Even just a simple text message to let others know that we’re thinking about them is helpful, it helps maintain the relationship. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m manic, I tend to reach out to others more often. The things I say are not always the most appropriate. Luckily, my friends and family are very understanding. One of the things I’m working on is reaching out to others during depressive episodes. It’s extremely difficult, but I want my loved ones to know that I care about them and that I’m not just reaching out when I’m manic.
When I’m depressed, I don’t always know what to say to others. I have a hard time talking to other people in general. I have realized that when I reach out to loved ones, I can simply say, ‘Just saying hello; I want you to know I’m thinking about you. How are you doing? What’s new?’ Saying something that simple to someone you love can make them feel loved. Our loved ones are usually the ones that do most of the reaching out. I’m working very hard to change that; I don’t want to be the person that never calls or sends a message. When I receive a phone call or text from someone I care about, it makes me feel really good. It makes me smile and feel loved. I want to give that good feeling to my friends and family as well.
In my opinion, I can’t expect others to always reach out to me if I never reach out to them. Relationships go both ways. I believe that I need to put more effort into my relationships. I have been doing this with a couple important relationships and it has made a huge difference. For example, I’ve been reaching out more to a family member; I email, call, and text her and she does the same to me. I’m going home tomorrow and I can’t wait to see her. Our relationship has grown in just a short amount of time and it has had a huge and wonderful impact on my life. Every person that I’ve reached out to has been a success; I’m building and rebuilding relationships slowly but surely.
I’ve been told many times that finding something I enjoy doing will make me feel better and help me enjoy life again. However, I could never think of something I liked doing. One day, someone had me go over my daily activities to see what my interests were. It was at that moment that I realized I was already doing the things I enjoyed; I just wasn’t doing them for me. I found out that I already liked gift giving, cooking, cleaning, playing the piano, and working out. All I had to do now was start doing these things for myself.
It’s not easy to do any of these tasks, but I try to work my way up by doing the least physical activity first, which is gift giving. Cooking is also great; plus, I’m pretty good at it. When others enjoy the food that I cook, that’s just a bonus. I stopped cooking for other people, and I started to cook because I wanted to. Cleaning requires a lot of physical activity. I don’t necessarily like the actual cleaning part, but I love the end result. It’s important that I clean because I want to, not because I have to. Playing the piano brings back a lot of memories, especially of my father. Playing is an activity that helps me remember how lucky I was and still am. I recently started doing Zumba videos at home. I find it to be fun and energetic; it’s hard to do when you’re depressed because it takes so much physical energy, which is why it’s important to workout on a regular basis.
These 5 activities are things I already do in my daily life that I just need to start doing on a regular basis. They are healthy activities that help me and others; I already like doing them and I’m even good at these things. It’s vital to find and do things that we enjoy to help fight our bipolar disorder. Other people had to point these things out to me, and I had to be open to hearing what they had to say. Once I started doing these things for me instead of for others, I began to feel better about myself and even enjoy some of the days. For me, that is a huge improvement.
My therapist keeps telling me I give too much of myself. That I need to learn to do things that I want to do. So these are the things that I came up with; however, if someone asks me to do something, I almost always say yes. My therapist wants me to start learning to say no to people; I really don’t think that’s something I can do. I told him that I will work on one thing at a time; that’s all I can handle. Right now, I’m working on doing these activities for myself. That should be enough.