Spiraling back up from a downward spiral

Bipolar disorder doesn’t like change. It likes structure and set schedules.

I’m not trying to anthropomorphize bipolar disorder. When I say ‘it’ I do know it’s an illness, but it can sure seem like a human adversary. It’s tricky, sneaky and nasty. Those are not exactly good qualities! But just like with any human adversary, it is possible to minimize the damage.

When an event sends you spiraling down into depression,  it’s easy to think that everything in your life is spiraling down. That is what bipolar disorder does. It distorts your thinking so that one event becomes about your whole life. So when you have a problem – with a relationship for example, bipolar disorder symptoms will whisper that this means you have trouble with all of your relationships and that you will never have good relationships again.

It doesn’t matter that this is impossible. It feels very real and the spiraling downward continues. Here is what you can do:

1. Say to yourself over and over again- ‘My life is made up of many, many experiences. This one experience is important, but it doesn’t mean my entire life is about this experience.’

2. Remind yourself that even the worst pain in the world can eventually end. Bipolar disorder will lie and tell you it won’t, but it does.

3. And finally, there is a person in you that has zero to do with this illness. The illness is like a blanket- it affects the real you, but it’s not you. Remember that when it feels that the blanket has covered up all of your life.

The way to end a downward spiral is to do anything and every thing to go into an upward spiral. The three suggestions above are a good start.


PS: Can you tell that I need my own advice today!  It’s always important that I only listen to the real person- myself!

6 comments to Spiraling back up from a downward spiral

  • Andrea

    That third one is the hardest! I know it and believe it when I’m not depressed or manic, but when I am sick, the illness feels so enmeshed in me that it’s hard to know where the illness ends and I begin.

    I need this today too! I hope you are feeling better tomorrow. Your writing has helped me so much…thank you.

  • Was just writing about this in my journal. Thanks for the words of wisdom, definitely needing them right now.

  • Thanks Julie. Your words are so helpful, seriously. My mother recently died after a year of bad depression which was triggered by several years of oxygen depravation & having to give us several thousands of dollars to help us get out of debt (it barely made a dent). My wife took care of her several times a week, but my mother could not stand to see me.

    This has put a horrible strain on my marriage, and if I forget to take my anti-depression/mood medicines, I think that I must leave my wife. She’s like a saint to everyone, working full-time, helping our grown children, spending a lot of time w/her best friend, conversing w/her mother (who we now live with), but being scarce around me.

    I have not been a great bread winner for about 5 years (she has been for a few years now) because of my mental condition and being a great artist but a poor self-promoter & businessman. She & her mother are textbook passive-aggressive & codependent. My wife drinks a lot of tequila everyday to cope, makes sure I stay on my meds & refuses any mental/emotional meds.

    I feel great today, but it seems each dark day gets darker. I try everything I can to explain to her, but it just makes her avoid me more & more.

    There’s much more to the story & I’d like to tell you more & maybe get some advice.

  • Love the blanket analagy. I use the “when you have a cold, a cough is a symptom; these feelings are symptoms, not You” Now I have another tool for me to use and tell others who are having trouble.

  • Great post. Been trying to learn a different language online but not having a lot of success, have been considering going to a local course so this is helpful, thank you.

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