Thursday, February 21, 2008

Depression Management

Getting DEPRESSED for no reason at all is part of being Bipolar.

I used to stay home and get paranoid, paralyzed by fear of sounds outside my house, accomplishing nothing at all. These episodes could take at least 3 days to 3 months. Life became one living hell for me. What I lost along the way has left deep scars inside me. But those scars have healed and here I am now, living life differently.

I am going through a minor depression now.

I feel tired, with unexplainable body pains all over. I get scared inside every time I hear sounds out side my house. To top it all, I don't feel like doing anything at all. Staring at the ceiling seems to be the best thing to do, with curtians drawn down to block the sunlight out.

This time though I have changed directions.

I see to it I get at least 8 hours of sleep and rest. Meaning I don't do anything at all, except close my eyes. I my mind starts to wander, I go into meditation mode - I count my breathing cycles, and focus my mind on the flow of air in and out my lungs.

Every time my mind wanders off, I bring it back to counting my breathe. Before long, I realize I am fully awake and had been asleep. When I wake up, I check how long I have been in bed. If my stay in bed is less than 8 hours, I keep my self in bed by going back to meditation mode.

When it is time to wake up, I "force" myself through the routine I have established.

  • yoga stretching and exercise
  • room cleaning
  • cooking my meal and enjoying it
  • bathing and personal care
  • then work

I see to it I eat 3 times every 24 hour period. It is important to realize a BIPOLAR persons daily cycle is much different from the normal persons cycle. For BIPOLARs Day and Night only means the availability of light and darkness. The energy to work and interact with other persons is not governed by the usual day and night concept of normal people.

Getting work done in a DEPRESSED Mode can be herculean. What I do is to cut down my work into small part, then I spread these parts into several time periods. Sometimes simple tasks would take me days to do. A clear example is doing a report that is at least 10 pages long.

This will take me a week to finish, with a lot of cramming in the last day with out management. I can finish this now in 3 days at most. The first day, I do my research and initial outline. Then on the second day I do a preliminary draft - half of it within the first 3 hours of starting, and the last half, towards the end of my day. I take a 3 to 4 hour rest in between. On the 4th day I review and evaluate what I had done. Sometimes I get this funny feeling my work is sloppy. I just let it be.

I actually feel it's better to have something than have nothing at all.

There are time when I need to get out of the house to attend client meetings, which usually take up 5 to 8 hours.

I prepare for these meetings the day before. I write down what I have to say and try to anticipate what will happen during the meeting. During the meeting, when things turn out different from what I have anticipated, I keep quiet and keep notes. When things turn out the way I foresee things, I join the discussions based on the script I have prepared.

This is so awkward I know. But when one is depressed, we either say something totally wrong or end up combative and so negative about what is being discussed.

So keeping notes and keeping track of what everyone is saying - using pen & paper - keeps me in the loop.

And part of Depression management is taking medication. I'll discuss depression medication in a later post.

Another aspect that needs full awareness during a DEPRESSION Episode is MONEY. Spending has this magical effect of lifting ones mood, achieving this seemingly artificial sense of happiness.

So when depression sets in, keep your money and ATM and Credit Cards away from you.

This is all for now.

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