Bi-polar disorder is like a personalized roller coaster. Some people are up more than down, others are down more than up.
Up People vs. Down People
The down people, or type I, tend to change slower, and tend to manifest the up bits more hyperactively. The up people, or type II – like me – tend to “cycle” quickly, multiple times a day in some (my) cases. My up shows up as hostility, quick anger, and making impulsive, and usually bad, choices. We are up most of the time, but when that changes, it changes quickly for little bursts. I’m not going to talk about the up times.
Today, I am going to talk about the downtimes. I’m in a downtime now, and I don’t know what else to do, other than write what I’m feeling.
Downtime for Bi-Polars
For me, and remember this disorder is very personal and different for everyone, downtime is uncommon but noticeable. Some people can go their whole lives not realizing that their moods change so quickly, which is why it is often misdiagnosed. Heck, I KNEW I had a problem, and it still took 40 years for that problem to have a name.
My downtime starts in my head and looks like restlessness on the outside. I don’t know what to do with myself. I know there are things that I should do, I may need to do something, but I have no idea what those things are.
I get up to do something and forget what it was by the time I get there. I can’t form complete sentences and get sidetracked when asked a question. I forget words, even more than normal. And THAT is saying something!
In general, downtime for bi-polars looks like up time because of the restlessness, but the racing down thoughts lead it back to downtime. In my case, I think of things that need to be done and that REALLY gets me down because I don’t think that I’m capable of doing any of it, not well anyway. I needed to find a way to cope with the uncontrollable thoughts, to-do’s that are piling up, and the stuck-ness that I find myself in.
Coping Mechanism the first: I find that making to-do lists a little differently can be a big help. I have a list in my planner that is broken down into time commitments. I have a list for 15, 30, & 60 minutes. This way, when I find myself in downtime, I have somewhere to look for help. I figure out how much time I can commit to a task, and I pick something from my list.
This method does 2 things to help the situation. First, it gives me something to focus on besides the failures in my head. This is important because the more focused I am on something good, the quicker I get OUT of the downtime.
Second, it helps me to pick something that is doable in the amount of time that I have. This is HUGE because if I pick an unreachable goal, it will make me even more down, more depressed, and basically worse off than I was before. When I pick a task that I can do & actually do it, it gives me a little “high” that helps me paddle out of the muck that I’m in.
Coping Mechanism the second: I have no-brainer things that I go to when I am stuck and feel like I’m unable to accomplish even a small, useful goal. I play online bingo, I get lost in Pinterest, I play in my planner, I color in my Big Girl coloring book (when I can find something to color with), I listen to a podcast while doing dishes.
I have a list (this one’s in my head) of things that I go to when I can’t do anything else. I have pretty much run off all my friends, I have lost interest in TV, I have even lost interest in writing! You have no idea how hard THIS POST has been!
This whole Bi-polar thing is new to me. Sort of. I mean I have always had the symptoms to deal with, but the name is new. I now have a way to search out what others do when they are dealing with the same issues as I am. It’s fascinating to see what works for people, what doesn’t work for people, and what the “experts” say.
Downtime for bi-polars is persnickity, at the very least.