Many times it feels as if the bipolar is in control of me. I have learned in order to get ahead of the bipolar, I must get a better handle on myself: I must accept that I have a mental illness; admit my lack of knowledge about the illness; embrace my worth; and address my behavior. I have discovered there are four factors involved in building a strong sense of self that are important.
I must be self-aware of triggers that cause me to spiral into a depression or kick-start a manic episode. This means I need to take inventory of what affects my moods. For instance, I know a few of my triggers are people, traffic and waiting in line at the grocery store. When I am late getting to the grocery, the store is more crowded. This causes me to be more anxious and overwhelmed. When that happens, I want to immediately leave my full shopping cart in the middle of an aisle somewhere in the store and walk out. To keep heads from rolling in the produce aisle (and I do not mean lettuce), I go to the grocery early Saturday mornings.
It is important to know my triggers. This awareness of myself can lead to a strong sense of self and can prevent a plunge into depression or a skyrocket flight into mania. It has helped me handle work issues, relationship issues and family issues to name a few
I am responsible for educating ME! Decisions need to be made on which psychiatrist or therapist to go to, on what medications to take and how to manage the bipolar. I have done much research on the internet from reputable sites such as:
I have also purchased several books from bookstores that have been very helpful in my quest to gain more knowledge about bipolar. I mentioned DBSA as a reputable source on the Internet to go to. They also have local chapters that meet in support groups. I try to attend the meetings every week. That is also another source of good information. I have learned so much from my peers at the DBSA support group in my city’s chapter. By hearing from their experiences, I learn that I am not alone. By educating myself through my own research will help to build a strong sense of self.
Bipolar can really eat away at your self-esteem. Thoughts run through my mind — “you’re inadequate to do this job”, “you’re so stupid” or “you’re worthless.” We all have had our battles with negative self-talk. We can seem powerless against them. But that is a negative thought, too! I use the coping strategy, C.O.T.T. I have shared this coping strategy before last year on this same blog. Here is a refresher course on C.O.T.T. which will help build a strong sense of self.
Captive – I took my thoughts captive as we are instructed in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to do. I needed to arrest the poisonous babble before it took control of my day and ruined it.
Obedient – After the thoughts were taken captive, I gave them over to Christ and made them obedient to Him. There were no longer thoughts running amuck in my head, Jesus now had control over them.
Think – Next, I changed my thinking. We are encouraged in Philippians 4 to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Is making my mind a hot bed for negative thoughts true, admirable or praiseworthy? No! Thinking about joyful things is the way to go.
Thankful – Lastly, I offered a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings in my life. In 1 Corinthians 5:18, Paul directs us to give thanks in all circumstances. This is what I would consider the icing on the cake. Having an attitude of gratitude about the blessings in my life changes my frame of mind which changes my attitude. I no longer focus on me. The situation around me disappears and I focus on God.
I have been tempted to be impulsive and reckless. It takes everything I have to not act on those impulses. I have utilized another coping strategy I have shared on this blog called S.T.O.P. to help me make the right decisions. When I am able to tune out the impulsive and reckless voices of bipolar, then I am able to build a strong sense of self.
S – silence – I get to a place where I can silence my brain, my environment, my phone, the people around me, etc. This way, I will be at a better place to hear from God. Psalm 46:10
T – talk – I talk to God. It does not have to be a formal prayer. It can be “Lord, help me!” I go to Him and tell Him what is on my heart. Psalm 4:1
O – observe – I observe the great holiness of God by praising Him for who He is. Nothing is too hard for Him to handle. Jeremiah 32:27
P – ponder – I ponder on scripture that will help me through my difficult time. Matthew 4:1-11
Assessing who I am and what I know, as well as being grateful for my value as a unique individual and practicing some self-restraint, is a way to build a strong sense of self.
Propst, Stephen – “A proper sense of self”. bp. Fall 2015. pg. 15