I have been journaling since March 2021 about strides I am making in practicing yoga or walking on a regular basis. A week or two ago, I decided to include journaling about my anxiety in the same log. Once I started writing about my anxiety, it was as if I could not stop.
I called my anxiety a bully in that it instills pain wherever it goes. I called my anxiety cancerous in that the anxiety causes good health to go bad. I wrote and wrote and wrote about anxiety not being a friend but being a bully and how there was no room in my home for a bully. I do not allow bullying to occur in the neighborhood or at school, so why would I accept bullying at home?
I know I don’t always have control over my emotions and that is why I have a diagnosis of bipolar, but it is soooo helpful to be able to call out anxiety as a bully and think of it as something that is pervading my home rather than a feature of the bipolar I just have to accept. It is true I cannot control the anxiety when it occurs, I can only control how I respond to it when it does occur. But calling it a bully somehow helps me to think of the anxiety as “other than” and not me. I am not my anxiety. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my bipolar. My anxiety exists as a bully as part of my illness. I can call it out for what it is and I can tell it off and I can tell it it is not welcome in my person, in my home, or in my relationships with family and friends.
Does anybody else have coping mechanisms for anxiety that seem to help by differentiating the anxiety from the person experiencing it? Is it helpful to you too to think of anxiety as a bully to be kept at bay?
I remember being taught somewhere along my mental health career that thought precedes emotion, but it always struck me as being the other way around. I feel emotions first then from those emotions thoughts are formed. If the emotion is a delicate one, my thoughts might also be delicate. If the mood is a good one, the thoughts that follow are generally positive.
Honestly, I don’t believe the entire communication process is rational and therefore governed by thought. I believe that the emotions we experience lead us toward certain thoughts.
If it is true that thoughts precede emotions, all we have to do is change our thoughts. What resonates with me on the other hand is the need to improve how we feel in order to get the feel-good thoughts to occur and stick.
Anybody want to weigh in on this discussion? I honestly cannot remember what setting I was in where this idea was presented that thought generated everything including emotion. But still I feel it’s the other way around. What do you think?
The risk of having a child with or without bipolar illness was something I contemplated a great deal but did not necessarily pray about. With my first fiancé I was bound to the idea of adoption – that a diagnosis of bipolar and a diagnosis of clinical depression were too much to hand down to the next generation. My fiancé at the time did not agree with me and wanted to have a biological child(ren) rather than adopt.
When I met my soon-to-be husband some seven years later, he also was adamant about having a biological child. Instead of two clinical diagnoses of depression and/or mania, we each brought to the table a pre-existing condition; I brought the bipolar illness and he brought an alcohol dependency under remission at that time for about 15 years. Somehow in our first year together, my soon to be husband and I settled on the idea of a natural conception. We were blessed with early success in pregnancy within a couple of months of trying which at 39 (when we conceived without any assistance) is somewhat of a miracle in itself. My position at the time of carrying my child is that Nurture is a strong proponent in the Nature versus Nurture battle. If we can avoid a divorce event or something similar such as the abuse I suffered at an early age, perhaps my daughter’s child within will be upright and healthy and right in her relationship with God. Since my daughter’s birth, we have sought continually to provide for her spiritual development and her spiritual journey.
James and I are open with our daughter who is 16 about Dad’s alcoholism and about my bipolar illness. We talk about responsible behavior for our family as avoiding alcohol and for engaging in and not avoiding emotionally challenging events. We accept that to have a meltdown and cry is an important process for growing up and challenges Mom and Dad to listen. We also talk about the importance of mood recovery. Once we have cried and released the source of our anxiety or concern, we then try to move on and recover the mood and move onto the next event or challenge.
I am hoping to teach my daughter how to be more fluent in her emotions not just successful in her studies as I have been learning to be in the last several years. She already is exhibiting signs of emotional maturity that I did not have at that age. She is not obsessed with being the top student in her class. When she feels upset about something like a misunderstanding with a friend, she is largely able to talk about it and express her feelings. When she is emotionally or physically tired and ready for bed, she says so.
I feel that with God’s blessing we will move through whatever illness may come our way – this including the current testing for breast cancer. With God’s help we will manage through any abuse incidents that may have presented in my life so as to avoid the repetition in my daughter’s life as she continues to blossom and to bloom into a beautiful young woman.
A week or so ago, I played Monopoly with my 16 year old daughter. I was the banker and kept forgetting where I was keeping my money versus the bank’s money. My memory issues sometimes are a challenge. Based on this unwitting propensity of mine to “capitalize” on my role as the banker toward my own benefit, my daughter and I were laughing so much we were almost in tears.
I came away from the game feeling like somebody had just rebooted my computer (my emotions) and all the junk files and all the computer viruses (excess anxiety) had magically disappeared.
I don’t think it really matters for the most part what you laugh at particularly if you can laugh at yourself. For me, laughing at myself last week was some of the best medicine I have had in years.
What makes you laugh? I wish each of you a good laugh that does’t stop until you too are almost in tears.