Friday, June 18, 2010

Bipolar disorder and frustration

When a person has bipolar disorder, whether type I or type II, frustration is an emotion he would have to face repeatedly.  Life in general has its share of frustration for everyone.  In this post, I would attempt to point out some key reasons, why frustration can particularly affect a person with bipolar disorder.  Also, included with it is practical information on how to avoid and deal with frustration.

The making of plans and setting goals

We have to become more and more goal-oriented to get through one single day.  When one has plentiful energy, not only does one not mind setting goals, one feels a need to do so.  Otherwise there is a sense of emptiness.  One feels, direction and purpose are missing from life.  Plans and goals, are a feature in the processes of individuals to huge corporations.  It is required to avoid disorder and optimize results.

The reality of the situation is, we are all a part of this gigantic system around us.  Therefore, the system can interfere with our plans.  Confounding the problem further still is, if there is a physiological condition that affects a persons energy level, concentration, and over-all ability to perform.  So, there are factors, both external and internal that affect how everyone functions.

Often, the problem arises when we are competing with the performance or method of functioning of another.  What works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another.  For example: "some people feel more active during the morning, while others are more active during the evening."  Therefore, unless we first see how our mind and body works, it would lead to much frustration.  It sounds simpler than, it really is.

Depending on your personal rhythm of functioning - which includes patterns of mood swings - chart out a strategy to find time for work and relaxation.  How can you do that?  Make a mood-chart or keep a log, and study it over a period.  You will see patterns emerging, which co-relate to both external and internal factors like seasonal changes, social interaction etc.  Once you understand your patterns, you have a better chance of controlling how you function.  But remember, bipolar disorder will still not become your slave.  This is the nature of bipolar disorder...its unpredictability.

Accepting the unpredictable

This brings us to our next point.  Many of us accept on a mental level, that bipolar disorder is unpredictable, and for that matter, so is life; but refuse to accept on an emotional level.  We think it, as accepting defeat or giving up.  While I don't advocate absolute capitulation, I do advocate acting with discretion.  In simple words, ask yourself: "How intense is this episode of bipolar disorder?  Can I continue with my plans, or would postponing them be better?  Is there the option of, doing part of what I intended, and leaving the other part for a later time?"  Such simple questions will help you to focus on the reality, and see through unclear perceptions.  If the illness is affecting us, we need to counteract on various levels.

When setting plans it is good to remember priorities, options, and our situation.  So when unpredictable circumstances arise, you can choose what you want to do and what not to.  If for the time being, you wan to entirely give up on some plan, then just concentrate on maintaining a basic routine of daily self-care.  Don't condemn yourself for being ill.  That thinking empowers bipolar disorder.  Empower yourself through rest, sleep, and getting medical help if you see the need for it.

Expectations - yours and others'

While bipolar disorder is not just a matter of "something we harbor in the mind", what we think has a good or a bad effect on the course of the illness.  This is good news, because it gives us a tool for control.  Where a person gets so sick, he can no longer use this tool, it is in itself a sign that help from others is needed.

Mood fluctuates in bipolar disorder.  Along with it energy-level, motivation, concentration, irritability are also connected to the mood.  Mood in simple language is: "the mental, physical, and emotional condition of a person at a specified time as affected by the syndrome - in this case, bipolar disorder."

Can a person with bipolar disorder control his expectations?  The answer is not as simple to apply, as the question suggests.  Not knowing, how he/she would feel in the coming hours, days, weeks, or months it is nearly impossible to know what to expect.  Many times, we get so involved in analyzing what we can or cannot do, that we lose focus of what need to live our life.

Focus on your life and the tasks.  Focus on trying, and not the result that ought to be achieved.  I know, it sounds contrary to what most people would say, or how they operate.  But remember, we are not talking about others!  We are talking about you and me.  I would like to share an example.  Suppose you want to do your aerobic workout for a period of 30 minutes.  You expect to complete it, or maybe you have doubts.  How about, just putting on your shoes and getting ready.  Start, if you can.  Do a few minutes, and your body begins to warm up.  Soon, endorphins might start to kick-in.  You may realize, you are less focused on 30 minutes and more on the benefit of the workout.  Time will move at its own pace.....not slower, not faster.  You may not have the best workout, but you may realize, you did something.  It could be 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 5 minutes, or 40 minutes.  Trying is superior to results, because without trying, there would be no result.  If you 'tried to try' and then couldn't get the result, that is just the way it was that day.  Another day, another opportunity will come.

Dear friends, I will continue to write and hope to share encouragement with you.  Please, feel free to offer feedback.  Thank you, for the time you gave to read.  I hope, it would help you as it does me.

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