We had a week off from the MAPS program for the Grand Final weekend (because Australia stops for AFL). It was quite difficult to get back into the swing of things. I found myself a lot less motivated to go due to the loss of routine. Turns out I wasn’t the only one as we were missing two people. It’s interesting, in a room full of people with Bipolar disorder two people can’t just be away, you’re mind automatically jumps to the worst. So hopefully they are well and back with us next weekend.
Our focus in this session was on stress. Stress is extremely important in Bipolar Disorder. In the general population, stress can change and worsen the mood. For those of us with Bipolar, these changes are more extreme. In my own experience, stress as well as sleep are the two biggest predictors of my mood disturbances. So we went through as a group and discussed strategies we use to manage stress and what particular things cause us stress. One of the key events that emerged as a common stressor was conflict. Conflict in personal lives seemed to trigger mood episodes for all of us so we went through some specific strategies about managing conflict. This was especially useful for me as conflict triggers episodes but also characterises my manic episodes in which I am extremely irritable and aggressive. Having a variety of resources to draw upon to manage conflict is therefore very important to me in the overall management of my Bipolar. It also helps minimise the adverse impacts of my episodes on loved ones and others around me.
The rest of the day was quite a different tone. We has a visit from a researcher who filled us in on some of the cutting edge research surrounding the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. It was fascinating to hear about some of the studies that are yet to be published. It was also interesting to learn about how scientists are conceptualising Bipolar and what they think the important elements of the condition to explore are. The researcher in question also informed us about a study she is currently doing which looks at the use of the mangostine husk as a complimentary medication to be used during depression. I’m thinking of going into the study when I’m next in a depressive episode. I like that I can help contribute to research about new medications whilst still staying on my current medication.
Next week we begin our focus on preventing relapse which I am really excited for as I’ve been relatively stable for about four monthes and want to keep my good momentum going as long as I possibly can.