Although I have blogged infrequently over the last nine months, looking back through the posts I can see what I already know — it’s been an up-and-down all-out battle. After months of ECT and hospitalizations and stays in the crisis residence and many med changes to count, I am extremely relieved to say that I have found some peace lately.
Middle ground has always been the most sought-after state for me, and lots of people with bipolar disorder. Moving from paralyzingly depressed to euphoric highs to muddled mixed states and back and forth, again and again, does take it’s toll. When some middle ground is experienced, and I mean middle ground lasting more than two days, then it is time to celebrate. For me it is, at any rate.
It has been over a year since I have had an extended spell of relatively stable mood. Well over a year, in fact. At this point, I can truly say that I feel pleased with how my life is going. I am starting to figure out who I am again, or, who the “well” Rosa is. It seems like every time I reach this point, I redefine myself and this time is no different.
I have been back in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) groups for the past six months or so, and, just as anytime I have participated before, they have done me a world of good. My relationships are better, I put up with less crap from people and also (I think) give out less crap. I have finally started getting into some things that interest me again, and I work really hard on Building Mastery and Building Structure because those are the two skills that seem to help me really *get it.*
Building Mastery is basically doing and learning to do things that make you feel competent. It can be anything, from getting on top of daily tasks regularly to learning how to ice skate. I have recently been doing a lot of cooking and domestic-type-things that help me to exercise this skill. I made a pumpkin pie tonight for the very first time ever — never would I have thought that I could have a greater sense of satisfaction than going through all the steps (find recipe, buy ingredients, put together, bake, present) by myself and having the end product turn out so well.
The DBT skill of Building Structure is just what it sounds like — adding tasks and routines and making one’s life FULL of meaning, with a healthy balance of sleep and recreation and work (work not necessarily meaning paid employment). I practice Building Structure by using a day-planner and scheduling out all of the appointments that I am responsible for, and then adding a few tasks or goals to each day.
I find that the more I get up and do in the course of a day, the better I feel, and the more motivated I am to do more things, and eventually conquer tasks and items that during the past nine months have been next to impossible. I realize I make this sound very easy, but in fact it is very difficult and, to be honest, it took almost five months of me dragging my feet in DBT group this go-around to make much progress.
But once a little bit of progress has been made, at least for me, it snowballs and things get even bigger and better than they were before. I am doing things now that I haven’t done in months, and for some years. Some people might think, “Oh big deal, she’s showering regularly and wearing clean clothes.” Well, HELL YES it is a big deal! We all have things we struggle with, some things are the same and some are totally our own, but it is up to everyone to tackle the part of life that works for them best.
So yes, thank the moon and the heavens and the stars above for DBT — for once again pulling this extremely anxious and depressed and moody and mercurial Bipolar Rosa out of the fire, or at least for this episode. The fairly-stable Rosa remembers that, sometimes, these patches are stability are somewhat fleeting — best to enjoy while one can, and celebrate that sanity which is all too fleeting.