Quote is a Zen proverb – not something I was clever enough to come up with.
I went to my new therapist. I like her so far, which is more than I can say for any therapist previously. I told her I mostly want to work on my anxiety and stress right now because that impacts my life every day, no matter what my cycle is, while the mania and depression only effect me in those particular cycles. I told her I would like to get to where we can work on those too.
I explained that I’ve tried meditation and every trick in the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook and lots of other “think positive” nonsense all to no avail and that I had given up hope pretty much and just accepted that I’d be stuck this way. However, I would like not to be so much a mess for my son and also for me, so I’m giving it one last go. One last go on my anxiety and bipolar in talk therapy before I stick to pill only treatment.
She explained her approach which I explained back to my husband as a combination of being Zen and good old fashioned exposure (uggh) therapy. Exposure therapy is one I haven’t tried because, well, it sounds downright awful. The thought of purposely putting myself in scary situations is enough to make my heart start to race. However, the things I have gotten over I’ve gotten over by being forced into the situation, so maybe there’s some merit there. Also I watched the OCD Project and while I was horrified the whole time, they all seemed to get over their issues (mostly).
The Zen part is something I strive to accomplish and believe is the key to real happiness, but cannot manage to achieve. If she can teach me this, I think I could get through life okay. To accept that I’m anxious about a situation, breathe deeply, and carry on. To have the fear or stress but not let it overtake me. I think that’s more reasonable than expecting all stress and fear to go away. I think it’s also a way to deal with my brain’s ability to create new stress and phobias as I beat old ones.
She also thinks all my stress makes my cycles worse, which is possible. She thinks that by managing the stress and anxiety, we can manage the bipolar. What a double win that would be.
She said we would work on what I mentioned before – being able to better manage the depression and mania as it comes. She said if we work on managing it during normal periods it will become habit and I’ll be able to do it when in a swing. She likened it to still doing basic things when manic or depressed when getting up and brushing your teeth, although perhaps not always so much when depressed.
All in all, I’m pretty hopeful. We meet again Monday to start official treatment (Friday was our get to know you session) and then every two weeks after that.
She wants me to get back in the habit of mood tracking on my iPhone (which I’m so-so about doing) because I can email it to her. I think that’s a good idea although I’ll have to curse less and be a little less random in my notes to email it I think. I stopped tracking my meds completely, which was pretty stupid, but there’s a lot of them and it was time consuming.
That being said, goals for the week include tracking mood at least twice a day and actually recording meds taken.