I recently completed my second session of the Bipolar MAPS program. I will say that this session was a lot more emotionally fatiguing than the first. When I came home I basically collapsed on the couch and didn’t move until I went to bed. I think what exhausted me so much was the subject matter; mood tracking and triggers. These are very personal, challenging things to think about. And it was really the first time I had discussed these topics with other people so it was a touch confronting.
In term of mood tracking, this has been something I have been doing ever since diagnosed. I like to think I have pretty good insight into my own mood ebbs and flows. But I found through the program that I can be more methodical and specific with my mood tracking. For instance, I can track things like sleep, eating, self-care, exercise as an indication of mood and get a gauge on when I might be slipping into depression or mania before it has even happened. This was a bit of a game changer for me because I think I already take notice of these things on an intuitive level but I didn’t have the tools to track it formally. This was quite an empowering experience as it gives me the power to track my moods before they take over and try to intervene early through things like medication changes. This is such a special thing when you have Bipolar as often the mood state is well and truly in action before you can sometimes become aware of it. This is especially true with hypomanic or manic states which can feel really enjoyable and addictive before they become detrimental. So having the tools to interrupt that process in its tracks is really exciting.
Speaking with the group about triggers of episodes was really interesting. Obviously I can’t repeat any specifics that were said in the room but the overriding theme was stress and stressful life events. I know for me most of my major episodes have been triggered by something big happening in my life and me not feeling like I had the coping resources to overcome it. This demonstrated to me the importance of the program in equipping me with the ability to conquer life stress that plays such a huge role in my illness.
I’d just like to take a moment now to reflect on the cohesiveness of the group I am in. It has been amazing to have people from all walks of life come together to discuss the illness that affects all of our lives. You would think in a room full of, lets be honest, mentally unwell people, that their would be some clashes but it is such a great environment for us to share and grow together. I look forward to seeing them all each week and that is s powerful thing.