MAPS Session 3

This week we had some interesting discussions concerning motivation to get better. As a group we weighed up pros and cons of treatment. In the case of Bipolar, there is an argument to be made for not seeking treatment. The highs we experience can be exceptionally enticing and make us feel more productive and more creative. For many people in the room, this had made them reluctant to treatment in the past. For me personally, my highs are generally accompanied by aggression and paranoia so I don’t experience the same conflict. What I do struggle with is the loss of my autonomy and independence I experience as a result of treatment. As a young person, having to make significant changes to my lifestyle habits such as sleeping, exercise and alcohol consumption can make me feel like I have no control over my life. Even taking medication daily can sometimes make me feel powerless. This is where I am going through a process of re-conceptualising how I feel about treatment. Making these choices, that can feel like concessions, is actually empowering because it is making taking thee initiative to manage my mental illness.

Relating to this discussion we went on to talk about how our Bipolar doesn’t define us. It was a really nice moment amongst the group because  we all feel very connected and like we know each other really well. But up until this point we only really knew about each other’s Bipolar experiences. Whilst this had bonded us quickly and we have all admitted to feeling very comfortable with each other, we really have no idea who each other is. So we spent some time sharing our interests, our goals, things we are proud of and favourite places we have been and places we would like to go. It was great to realise that even though we all have this one thing in common that binds us, we are all exceptionally unique and diverse people. This was a positive experience for me as I have for a long time struggled with where I end and my Bipolar begins. So I’ll hold onto that feeling forever.

We also took a quick look at Smart goal-setting (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Frame). I’m already very familiar with this system due to my sport psychology studies and work as a personal trainer. But I had never thought to apply it to my mental health of Bipolar management. I’ve set the goal to make sure I write everyday for at least 30 minutes until the end of the program. I chose this as my goal because I know writing is something that really helps me manage my mental health but I don’t always make time for it. So hopefully this goal-setting system can help with that.

We ended the afternoon with a look at some different tracking symptoms we can use for our moods and symptoms. I’ve fallen in love with this app called emoods which is specifically designed for managing Bipolar. What I love most is that it is fully customisable. Whilst it has general daily ratings such as depression, sleep, elevated mood, anxiety, irritability you can add your own symptoms. So I added specific things to track for me such as stress levels, self-care, paranoia and creativity. I’m really looking forward to using it and getting a  visual representation of my moods. Whilst I have mood tracked in the past I haven’t done it in such a methodical way so it will be interesting to see how it develops over the coming months.

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