Daily Archives: August 22, 2013
Lately, my therapist and I have been discussing tools that will help me be successful in college. One of the things we did was come up with a list of activities for me to do when my moods feel too extreme or if I have upsetting thoughts. We came up with a detailed list, but when the bad moods struck, I wasn’t able to assemble the things I needed for the activity. Instead, I stayed in bed and felt worse.
Tonight I decided to gather the necessary items for my “Bad Mood Box.” I actually call it my “Bipolar Box,” but I think it can help anyone who’s having a rough time. All of the items are inexpensive, and you probably have many lying around your house. All you need is a shoe box to get started! I recommend a larger box, like one for work boots, but you can tailor the size of your box to fit your needs. Feel free to decorate your box with contact paper or pictures that make you happy. Then, keep it somewhere that it can be easily accessed so that you’re more likely to use it when things get tough!
Here’s what’s in my Bad Mood Box:
a) Something visually stimulating. This can be a picture book, a magazine, a map, or graphic novel/comic book. I chose The Art of My Neighbor Totoro because the pictures keep me engrossed for long periods of time.
b) Notebook or journal, lined or unlined. Mine is unlined because I like to doodle while I write.
c) Inspiration. I have an entire book of ideas, but you can just google “writing prompts” and print off a page or two.
d) A stress ball. Mine is actually a little brain from Marbles.
e) Movies. I recommend having at least five. I have eight different Studio Ghibli movies in my box! Watch movies that make you smile, even if you’ve seen them a hundred times.
f) Cuddly friend. Pooh to the rescue!
g) Playdoh or putty. If you’re short on space, you can settle on a tub or two, but I had the extra room so I took all four. It’s great to play with when you’re feeling frustrated.
h) Something special from a collection. I collect acorns, and my friend Addie bought me this wooden acorn at the Renaissance Festival. Looking at it simply makes me happy.
i) Calming scent. This scent is called Bliss, and it is made from lavender, lemon, and patchouli. I like to spray it a couple of times before I lie down.
j) Another calming scent. For times when I don’t want to bother my roommate with my spray, I have this little bag of lavender. Smelling it is relaxing, and it makes the box smell great!
k) Coloring book and crayons. You are never too old to color! My therapist recommended that I try coloring to curb my mood swings, and I’ve found it very helpful. They sell a variety of coloring books at the dollar store, or you can find some more upscale versions at your local craft store.
l) Puzzle books. Chris bought me these while I was in the hospital, and they helped me pass the time. They can be the perfect distraction! The key is to move on to another puzzle if you find yourself getting frustrated.
m) Pencils. These pencils say “I’m the best,” “I love me,” “I’m awesome,” “I’m good looking,””I’m perfect,” and “I smell good.” You can get your own set here.
n) Photos. A couple of photos can remind you of happier times. I’ll probably put a few more in here.
I hope this was a helpful tutorial!
What would you keep in your Bad Mood Box?
Let me know in the comments 🙂
One of my favorite websites is Psych Central. They always have a wealth of information and every day I find a useful article. One of my favorite blogs they offer is “Mindfulness and Psychotherapy” by Elisha Goldstein Ph.D.
Death has been on my mind lately. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about being suicidal. There just happens to be a lot of death going on around me. Both friends and acquaintances moving on. I spent some time with one friend while he was dying and the one takeaway from our time together was the enormous amount of regret that he suffered. It was very sad and I found it impossible to move him past that. On Tuesday when I read Dr. Goldstein’s blog, I knew I had to repost it. I think there’s something in the article that everyone can relate to. I hope you find it helps you.
Top 5 Regrets of the Dying
By Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
I’ve always been interested in the wisdom of our elders and often do a practice with students and clients when they’ve seemed to veer off the path of what truly matters in their lives. I ask them to project themselves forward many years from now looking back onto this very moment right now, what do they wish they would’ve done? Bronnie Ware is an Australian Nurse who spent many years working in palliative care caring for those who were dying. She eventually published a book called the The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Regrets can be seen as something that’s good if they give us insight into what we can change today for the better. Here are the Top 5. Use them as north star to help guide your actions in the days that follow toward an even more fulfilling life. Although we can veer off the path, when we notice the star, we can always come back to it.
Top 5 Regrets of the Dying:
1.I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
From the time we’re born we’re looking to our parents to teach us the rules of this world and to guide our expectations about how we should or shouldn’t act. Looking to our culture or other people to guide how we should dress, speak, act, and even what kind of profession we should be in is common. What would it look like to get in touch with what seems right to you and live an authentic life?
2.I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
As the saying goes, no one ever kicked themselves on their deathbeds for missing a day of work. Sometimes we work too much out of routine, other times from other people’s expectations and sometimes as an addictive behavior to avoid discomfort. Are there things that may be more valuable to pay attention to where we can loosen up on working so hard and pay attention to things that nourish us more?
3.I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Whether it’s at work, in a friendship or a partnership we make the snap judgment to bite our tongue rather than being assertive. Standing in an authentic life means becoming aware of and expressing our feelings. This may be a missed opportunity to let others know we love them that can create deeper connections or maybe it’s a time when someone hurts us and we stay silent out of fear. Learning how to become more aware of our emotions and express them in a skillful way can help us feel more connected, self-reliant and happy.
4.I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
There’s no question. At the crux of feeling happy and fulfilled in life is having nurturing relationships. There are so many ways to stay connected nowadays through text, chat, email, social media, the phone and of course face to face. How might you make it a priority to make relationships an integral part of your day to day life?
5.I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Bronnie Ware said that many people didn’t notice until the end of life that happiness is a choice. With awareness we can make conscious choices about what nourishes us and what depletes us. What beliefs we want to invest in and which ones we don’t. We may get hooked into states of high stress, anxiety, depression and even trauma reactions, but at some point we get to choose how we want to relate to them and this may help us ride them with more grace. Maybe it’s time to play a little more, what makes you happy?
Take a moment to look back once again at these five regrets people have had and see where you can begin integrating these more into your life starting today.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
#5 is the only one that I find questionable. I know when I’m in a depressive state that I can’t force myself to have a sunny disposition. I guess the way I’ll look at it is that during those times that I am stable, that is when I need to live life to its fullest. They may be few and far between, and it may be hard to remember, but I’m going to do it the best I can.
This is why I try to keep my identity secret on here....
First Dr. Phil, Now NBC’s Brian Williams: Stigmatizing Mental Illness
by Pete Earley
I’ve been warned that fighting stigma is a bit like tilting at windmills, but I find it difficult to keep silent when I see blatant examples. Dr. Phil’s comments about how…
manicmedic has done a great job at gathering all of the "bad stigma actors" we've been talking about lately into one place. He's also reprinted the entry in the Associated Press (AP) Style Book, which is their internal guideline, on how to write about mental illness related topics. I didn't know there were such guidelines, but now that I do I'm even more horrified to see what's been allowed to get through the cracks. Granted, if they're quoting someone who's going off on "keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill," that's a quote and they would be violating Free Speech if they censored it. Or would they? What if (and this is a HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE and does NOT reflect my personal opinion in ANY way, just a really lurid example to bring this closer to the light of day: What if some ignorant public figure said we need more laws to keep guns "out of the hands of criminals and n*ggers"? Would they print that, citing Freedom of Expression? I very much doubt it. I bet they would censure the speaker for making racial slurs and not print what they said at all. That is my vision. I want slurs against the mentally ill to be seen as just as offensive as racial slurs. We can do it. Only recently there has been a campaign against using the word "retard" as a slur. It's taken hold, and is being reinforced and enforced in schools, on school buses, etc. So if kids can be taught that being developmentally disabled is not something to joke about or use as a slur, certainly supposedly educated television personalities can be taught that serious illness is not something to mock or sneer at? That one I'm not so sure about....that one might take one or two hefty lawsuits to resolve. It's the pockets, people, it's pain in the ol' wallet and bad publicity that talks to these idiots who think they're above common decency. Thanks, manicmedic, for a great job, well done!