This weeks MAPS session was focused on preventing relapse. This is a topic very close to my heart right now as I have been stable for almost four and a half months. This is a huge accomplishment for me and I would really like to keep the good times rolling. So I played extra close attention to the topics we covered; communication, problem-solving and thought restructuring. The idea behind all of these areas helping to prevent relapse is that they help to combat stress, one of the biggest predictors of Bipolar episodes. Therefore my employing these techniques we can reduce stress in our daily lives and thereby reduce the likelihood of Bipolar episodes occurring.
The emphasis on communication was really valuable to me. When I am either depressed or manic I am terrible at communicating my needs. When manic, I am extremely aggressive and when depressed, I am extremely passive. Thereby, being assertive when I am level-headed or pre-episodic can be very useful in communicating my needs and what assistance I want from my loved ones when I am unwell. Another important facet of communication is preventing conflict. Conflict with loved ones is a major trigger for my episodes so learning communication styles that can de-escalate disagreements will prove very useful for me in future.
The problem-solving section of the day reminded me of ethical decision-making models we have been taught to use in my university studies. We went through a strategic model for making tough decisions. I think what I got out of this most is that ‘doing nothing’ is also an option when making any difficult decision. Also that it is important to list options that you would never usually consider as to find out where your values sit and what limits you are willing to go to.
Thought restructuring was something I hadn’t really played with since my eating disorder days. I could however find some recent experiences to draw upon where my thoughts were out of alignment with reality. So I think it will be a useful strategy for me when I am stable like I am not to pull up any thoughts that could otherwise drag me down or lift me up.
I’m happy with how the program is going and look forward to the next five weeks. I think I’ve already learnt so much about myself and my condition. I’m really excited for what the future holds.