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How to develop resilience to cope with adversity

So stressed out — Image by
Yummymummyclub.ca

Note: Really sorry. But I’m told that some others are also experiencing problems being able to ‘like’ and comment on posts. It’s so damn frustrating and please, trust me, I have been reading all your lovely blogs — I’m only able to comment or ‘like’ on 1% of them. Please bear with me; don’t leave me 😦

What is resilience?

Beau Taplin

“It’s your ability to withstand adversity and bounce back and grow despite life’s downturns,” says Amit Sood, MD, executive director of the Global Center for Resiliency.

However, resilience is not a trampoline, where you’re down one moment and up the next, wrote Katie Hurley, LCSW, 2019. She suggested it’s more like climbing a mountain without a trail map. It takes time, strength, and help from people around you, and you’ll likely experience setbacks along the way. But eventually you reach the top and look back at how far you’ve come.

Why we need resilience

We need resilience because we experience all kinds of adversity in life; personal upsets such as bullying and abuse, financial changes, redundancy or work-related stress, mental or physical illness, and loss of a loved one, to name just a few.

We also have the shared tragic events in the news, such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters like recent floods in the UK, the earthquake in Croatia and the anxiety-provoking worldwide COVID-19 virus. We need resilience; we have to learn to cope with and work through some very challenging life experiences. So, in essence, resilience helps you handle stress more positively.

We’ve all heard the saying — kids are resilient. But, are they and are all kids resilient? McDonald (1) would argue “Resilience is not a trait that children and adults either have or don’t have. It involves thoughts, behaviors and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”

How we develop resilience

Receiving Divorce Papers — Image
by Rawpixel.com

We develop resilience by drawing on our past learning or similar difficulties, to remember what we already know. What was it precisely that helped you to get through previous challenges i.e. being made redundant from work, a separation, receiving divorce papers, a period of physical or mental illness? Think about it for a moment and maybe make some notes — this will remind you of your past resilience.

Resilience relies on different skills and draws on various sources of help, including physical and mental health, rational thinking skills and your relationships with those around you. It’s not always about overcoming massive challenges; we all face lots of small challenges each day and we each need to draw on our reserves of resilience.

The diverse approaches and strategies we use to handle adversity have been learned and shaped by culture, society, and the family systems that we grew up in and are part of. While we all process trauma and adversity in different ways, there are certain protective factors that help boost resilience by improving coping skills and adaptability.

Common protective factors that will build resilience

Taking care of yourself — financially, healthy and balanced diet, exercise, physically, emotionally and mentally. Doctors, nurses and other health care professional are often the worst offenders in not taking care of themselves; often thinking that the rules don’t apply to them, but they do.

Taking care of others physically, mentally or emotionally jobs that involve caring for others are known to build resilience. Well developed communication (read here) and conflict resolution skills, social confidence and assertiveness are essential qualities needed to care for others — in both personal and professionally capacities.

Self-confidence and self-awareness — having a positive self-image and knowing yourself — noticing what’s going on inside your head and around you. Believing in yourself, remembering your past experiences, knowledge and skills and recognising your own strengths are crucial for confronting and managing the fears or anxieties in your life.

Being tactful — and choosing the right techniques and approaches to use in difficult circumstances. Don’t be that bull in a china shop, take your time and think about what you might say or do and how it might come across to or affect others.

Gibbs Reflective Cycle model 1988 — Image
by Oxford Brookes University

Self-reflection — enables you to process and make meaning of the good, the bad, the ugly or even the great (and not so great) learning experiences you’ve had. It allows you to explore your experiences, leading to new and better understanding and appreciation of them — what you learnt from them. See Gibbs Reflective Cycle model, which was in use when I was studying mental health nursing and can be used as a guideline for your own self reflection. Why not give it a go? And make notes.

Flexibility — a key component of resilience that requires you to be flexible in your thinking and actions, such as being willing to learn or try new things, see things differently and try other approaches — there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Thinking clearly and in an organised manner — being able to interpret any events/demand that crop up in a calm and rational way. When faced with increasing demands, one extremely effective and simple way to build resilience is to organise your thoughts. Take some time before you start on your workload to organise, list your thoughts and tasks, prioritising them as necessary.

Sense of humour — and being able to use humour appropriately — the ability to laugh at yourself and to laugh in the face of adversity. You’ll find that most doctors and nurses understand each others dark sense of humour, needed to relieve themselves of the burden and stresses of their jobs.

Reaching out — it’s important to be able to call on others to help you meet any challenges you face, because resilience is also about knowing when to ask for help.

How you can develop more resilience

 

Image by Megan Hine

There are several ways that you can develop more resilience in difficult or stressful events within your life, some of which are listed below.

Make a few lifestyle changes — practice being more assertive and up-front with others. If you think people are making unreasonable demands upon you, tell them how you feel and say no (remember – you don’t have to give a reason for saying no). The moment you um and ah, or say “I can’t because………” they’ll see the chink in your armour and push to get what they want. Use any form of relaxation, taking time to do things that help to calm you, whether it’s reading, exercising, going for a walk, taking a bath or listening to your favourite music.

Assess the sense of balance in your life and if one thing i.e. work, is taking up all your time, make some space for other things. Learn new hobbies and consider new interests, and make time for them. Make time to spend with family and friends, and make use of your support network.

Look after your physical health — work on your sleep hygiene, try to get into a routine to develop a better sleep pattern. Try to exercise regularly; be as physically active as you can, even if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. Eat a healthy and balanced diet — check out the stores for the cheaper wonky fruit and vegetables. Try to lower your salt, fat and sugar intake.

Don’t be so hard on yourself —make time each day to pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments and reward yourself for what you’ve achieved. Love yourself unconditionally and have some self-compassion – if you’ve made errors or you didn’t achieve what you wanted, stop punishing yourself and remember — nobody’s perfect.

Don’t fall into one of the major thinking traps which include using phrases like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘should’ and ‘must’ i.e “I’m p’d off because you never take the bin out” because I’m sure that at some point they have, and they’ll throw back at you “Yes I do. I took it out on Monday.” then the argument goes onto “No you didn’t,” and “Yes I did, and I did it the week before,” rather than what angered/upset you in the first place.

Try to resolve old or existing conflicts — not always easy, but settling arguments, or finding a new way to move forward with a loved one or a friend will assist you in feeling better and finding a sense of peace.

While I’ve managed to sort out some major technical issues I’m having with my own site — by following some of my own advice, like taking time out to relax by finishing a novel I’ve been reading forever — I’m still unable to like or comment on lots of other blogs. I’ve been going round in circles the last two days and nights, so I’ve taken a break to write this post and to apologise for my apparent lack of communication with you all. I will get back onto it!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on building resilience. How have you been coping in the face of adversity; all the lockdowns around the world? Is there anything I’ve missed on resilience and do you have any other handy tips?

You might also find the following posts useful

  • How to improve your verbal communication skills here
  • How to improve effective listening skills here
  • When and how do I say sorry  here
  • Never miss important social cues again here

 

References:

McDonald et al., 2012, Positive Psychology, The Crisis Kit https://positivepsychology.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Crisis-Kit.pdf

It’s Fibbing Friday

Why ‘Fibbing Friday’?

Frustrated —Image by Stephen Shattock

I’ve been having so many issues with my site over the last week and I’m unable to comment or ‘like’ other peoples blogs. I’m so frustrated and it’s really getting me down as I love to put my tuppence worth in 😉 I’m still waiting for support from WordPress — aarrgghh!

Hence this post, Fibbing Friday, which I grabbed from my blogging pal Liz at My wellbeing and learning journey here. I loved her fun answers so, in an effort to cheer myself up, I thought I’d give it a go.

It’s Fibbing Friday. How to play and where these questions came from today: https://pensitivity101.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/fibbing-friday-27th-march-2020/

Old fashioned t.v. — Image by Pixabay.com

Here’s the questions and my answers:

1. What was the significance of the little white dot on the TV screen at 11 pm? It was used to hypnotise you into going to bed every night at the same time, so no one would have any excuse for turning up late to school or work i.e. “I slept in”
2. Who were the Woodentops? They were UK’s largest Kitchen Fitters.
3. What is meant by the Gravy Train? It carries Bisto to all the major stores.
4. Who sang about flowers in the rain? The Stone Roses with Sheena Easton.
5. What do the initials MP stand for? Miserable Pillock.
6. What was Jiminy Cricket’s job? This one had me ‘stumped’ for a moment but then I remembered, he served tea at the Oval.
7. Why are diamonds measured in carats? Because they were originally found in vegetable patches.
8. What do Kimball and Hammond have in common? Both are names of organs – heart and lungs 😉
9. What is a swizzle stick? A twisted lollie on a stick.
10. What are chick peas? Green eggs.

Clipart-library.com

Looking forward to you joining in and reading your answers. All other comments appreciated too — Do you like, love or hate this kind of post?

Treating depression with Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

What is ECT

A patient receives electric shock
therapy in the UK in 2013
(BBC/Newsnight)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an invasive type of brain stimulation that’s sometimes recommended for severe depression if all other treatment options have failed, or when the situation is thought to be life threatening, (NHS).

ECT, given to depressed patients under anaesthesia, sends electrical pulses to the brain through electrodes applied to the head. The electrical stimulation triggers a seizure, which seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental health conditions. Repeated a few times a week for a short period, ECT eliminates depressive symptoms for an extended time in many patients, Brainwise, 2018.

“ECT is the most effective treatment available for severe and treatment-resistant depression, but it requires anaesthesia and can cause side effects like memory loss,” says Irving Michael Reti, M.B.B.S., M.D., director of the Brain Stimulation Program.

Who invented ECT

ECT causes change in the brain —
Medical Brain Health

There’s much written about the invention of ECT but I love and have used excerpts from this article written by Robyn Wilson for the Independent, 2017 — Once upon a time in April 1938, a team of Italian medical researchers got ready to do one of the most controversial things that medicine had ever seen. They’d attempt to heal a mentally ill patient by applying a jolt of electricity through his brain. They didn’t know if he’d live or die but it was a risk they were willing to take.

Leading the team was 61-year-old Ugo Cerletti, and his assistant, Lucio Bini who, together had been working on the intriguing new medical machine they were soon to put to use.

In a large, secluded room they shaved the patient’s head and stretched him out on a bed. They attached two electrodes to his temples, placed a rubber tube in his mouth as a bite-bloc and flicked the switch of Cerletti and Bini’s device.

The team braced themselves as the electrical current coursed through the man’s head. He let out a small spasm and then bizarrely burst into animated song. Interesting, amusing certainly, but it wasn’t a seizure.

They tried again, increasing the voltage, until finally the patient went into what was a rather dramatic convulsion; face purple, mouth clenched, fists balled, heart racing. The medical staff all nervously watched on, fearing his death. Until suddenly the man slumped back, still. His breathing was steady, regular.

Right then, they knew they had completed what they had set out to do. After two years of research, they had proven that an electrical current could be used to induce a seizure without it resulting in the patient’s death; a seizure that, as they had hoped, would go on to relieve the patient’s symptoms.

They had just given birth to electroshock therapy and psychiatric medicine would never be the same again.

Modern day ECT

Going from Mental Health Ward to a general hospital — Pixabay.com

Today’s ECT involves going to a general hospital, where the patient is given short-acting anaesthesia (including a muscle relaxant) before ECT is administered. The targeted (and very low-level) electric jolts, it’s said, stimulate the brain to address everything from depression to dementia-related outbursts of anger (something I haven’t seen it used for).

In my first post as a mental health nurse I’d developed a good therapeutic relationship with a lady who had bipolar disorder and during the depression phase she felt hopeless and suicidal — it was pitiful to see. Over the years she had been treated with several courses of ECT and this time, she requested more. When it was agreed she could have ECT she asked if I, as her nurse, would accompany her.

Jack Nicholson’s character Randle McMurphy received electroconvulsive therapy in the 1975 film ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ (Fantasy Films)
Independent 2017

I’d only ever seen Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest — and I cried watching that — so I wasn’t looking forward to observing Lyn having ECT. Oh my word, I thought I was going to have a panic attack as they pressed the button and she went into a seizure which lasted around 80 seconds. The ECT nurse must have noticed as she gave me a comforting shoulder rub and a smile that said she understood.

I waited for Lyn to come round in the recovery room with another nurse who took regular observations (obs) i.e. blood pressure, temperature and pulse to ensure Lyn wasn’t experiencing any unusual side effects. When she woke from the mild anaesthesia Lyn was drowsy but able to get into a waiting wheelchair with support from me and the other nurse.

Once back on the mental health ward I was to observe Lyn throughout my shift, taking hourly obs and asking her how she felt; documenting everything in her notes and on charts. She remained drowsy and confused for a few hours and her memory lapsed, she was unable to concentrate and complained of a headache, for which she was given paracetamol.

Shock and horror

ECT for treatment resistant depression — Image from
Youwillbearwitness.com

I was about 15 and terrified when my mum went into hospital — well, an asylum actually. I later learned she’d been suffering with clinical depression which was treatment resistant. When I became a mental health nurse, I was telling mum about ECT when she confessed that she’d been in an asylum once before, when I was about 4-5, and on both occasions, she’d had ECT.

I’m glad I had more awareness and insight into ECT when mum told me because I would have thought, like most people, it barbaric, inhumane. She said she didn’t remember too much about it all — long-term memory loss? Or perhaps she just shut it out for all those years? Still, it had relieved the depression and her mood had improved.

My conclusion on ECT

I’d accompanied Lyn on six more occasions and my anxiety lessened each time as I saw how much her mood improved — and I realised that ECT is actually more civilized than I’d been led to believe.

I’m not sure it would be my choice of treatment but then again, I’ve been lucky that medication and talking therapies were, and still are, beneficial to me — they’ve helped me out of a massive black hole — on more than one occasion.

Would you be able to explain what ECT is to other people now? What do you think of ECT? Is there anything I missed? I am happy to answer your questions. In the meantime, you might like to read more about depression here.

This article was first posted on the Blogger Community here – thanks to Saumya and Niki; authors on this blog. Why not drop in and say hi to some fellow-bloggers.

MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD

mystery blog award
Mystery Blogger Award

Wow! How lovely. Debby over at Debby SEO nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award and I love it — thank you Debby.

Debby SEO offer budget search engine optimization services and free SEO tools so you can increase your organic rankings. They say “We are the Unicorn among a sea of donkey SEOs.” They’ve been providing resources for actionable SEO and content marketing since 1998. So if you’re in need of SEO expertise help, why don’t you pop on over for a chat

Here are the rules:

  • Put the award logo / image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and put a link to their blog – Carol at https://mentalhealthfromtheotherside.com/
  • Mention the creator of the award
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Answer the questions provided by whoever nominated you
  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with 1 weird or funny question
  • Share a link to your best post

This award was created by Okoto Enigma

Three things about me

Transverse Myelitis — Image by
Spinal Cord Injury Page
  1. I was a Human Resource Manager for many years prior to having a lengthy psychotic depression. During my recovery I first trained in massage then studied full-time to become a mental health nurse, followed by further studies because I always felt like I didn’t know enough. However, I went on to have a successful and very rewarding career in mental health nursing before becoming a Ward Manager which, to me, was the best job in the world. Never a dull moment and very humbling, working with some amazing patients and fantastic colleagues.
  2. I was a single parent to two amazing grown up sons who also loved to study and are both doing well in their medical careers. Proud mummy moment 🙂
  3. In 2011, I was struck down with a rare neurological disorder (Transverse Myelitis), which meant medical retirement from the job I loved. Of course, I’m mad at having the disorder, along with mental ill health but hey, what can you do? As my sons say “Mama, life – is – life!

You can read more here, if you wish. And if you want to know more about my blog and why I started it, you can read it here.

Now we turn to the questions set by Debby

1) Have you ever smiled at a stranger and then wished you hadn’t? Why or why not? Oh, I’ve smiled massively at many a stranger, believing I knew them — then realising I didn’t — they must have thought “Who is that mad woman, grinning at me like a Cheshire cat?”

2) What is your favorite SEO plugin for WordPress? Do you fully understand SEO’s and their functions or benefits? My plan doesn’t allow for plugins 😦 And nope, I don’t understand fully SEO’s and their functions or benefits.

3) If you could shop for free at any store, which store would you choose and why? It would have to be Selfridges for me because they sell almost anything and everything I need or want — from the franchises that sell clothes to the furniture department. I could shop there all day!

London Underground – Image by
Cambridge News

4) If you could make one thing illegal, what would it be? Walking on the wrong side. Aaarrgghhhhh! In the UK, we always used to keep to the left but now, particularly in London, people just bombard you on the stairs down in the tube stations. What happened to good old fashioned manners and stick to walking on the left? It’s not difficult!

5) Have you ever had SEO work done, and if so were you happy with the results? If you did the work yourself how did you do? Nope, never. I wouldn’t know where to start.

Okay, now for my questions

  1. Have you or anyone you know experienced psychosis? If so, would you tell us a little bit about it please? If not, what is your understanding of psychosis?
  2. What do you think you would do if you suddenly started to hear voices that no one else hears or see things that no one else can see?
  3. What would you say or do if your best friend told you he/she felt suicidal?
  4. Is there anything you need/want to know about mental illness or recovery?
  5. What would you do if you thought you’d never get caught?

My nominations for the Mystery Blogger Award

  1. Greg Dennison at Don’t Let The Days Go By
  2. Ann Hedonia at Heavy Mental
  3. Lily at Better Than Yesterday
  4. Casey at This Bipolar Brat
  5. Willow at Back again

My best post to date

My journey through psychotic depression, which is part of a series and you can read Part IV here.

Thanks again for reading this post ’til the end, I love you guys, if you are reading this and haven’t subscribed yet make sure to press the “follow”. This way you don’t miss out on new posts. In the meantime, I’m happy to read any comments and answer your questions.

Note: Is anyone else having problems with WordPress lately? I’m unable to ‘like’ or comment on lots of blogs.

Best wishes and stay safe,

Caz

WELCOME TO MY NEW BLOG NAME

My new blog name

I want to say a huge thank you to all who commented, made suggestions and helped me to choose my new blog name. You were super helpful and really kind, taking time to read my post, checking out my ideas and coming up with lots of your own.

My initial favourite blog name was Mental Health from all sides and some of you agreed, so I’m going to use that as part of my tagline.

However, when Sadagopan at Pointless & Prosaic came up with Mental Health 360°, it made sense to me, with several of you in agreement. So there we have it.

Now all I need, and I’m going to be really cheeky here, is to ask if you would help spread the news through any of the social media channels you use? I’d really appreciate you helping me promote my new blog name in any way possible.

Thank you also for your thoughtful comments about my content and for now, I will continue along the same lines. However, along the way, I’m happy to have any more suggestions about what you’d like to read on my blog.

My last few posts have been about Communication skills in various forms, something you might find helpful in any situation:

7 things you need to know about Bipolar

Each year World Bipolar Day takes place on 30th March and this year members of the public across the globe are being encouraged to use social media to help disseminate information and get the event’s hashtags trending on social media.

World Bipolar Day is designed to raise awareness worldwide of bipolar conditions and to work to eliminate social stigma whilst providing information to educate and help people understand the condition. Hence this post.

1. What is Bipolar

Recognising the signs of Bipolar
Disorder — Apa.org/helpcenter

It’s normal to experience a wide range of feelings and moods. At some point we might feel incredibly excited or happy, then another time we feel low, anxious, tearful or downright flipping miserable.

Bipolar disorder (known previously as manic depression) is a mental health condition where people experience extreme highs, called mania, and intense periods of sadness or depression. These phases of mania and depression are called episodes, and can shift rapidly.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness and can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, mood, energy, behaviour and overall functioning but it can be treated.

There are three types of Bipolar Disorder

  • Bipolar I — a person will experience at least one episode of mania lasting longer than a week. They might also have experienced depressive episodes, although not everyone does.
  • Bipolar II — a person would experience both episodes of severe depression and symptoms of hypomania.
  • Cyclothymia is where a person who has experienced both hypomanic and depressive mood states over the course of two years or more and their symptoms aren’t severe enough to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Bipolar I or Bipolar II.

2. What is hypomania and mania

Recognising the symptoms of Bipolar
Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/shutterstock
  • Hypomania is a milder version of mania that lasts for a short period (usually a few days)
  • Mania — overactive and excited behaviour — is a more severe form that lasts for a longer period (a week or more)

Someone might have hypomania and/or mania on their own or as part of another mental health problem –including bipolar disorder, postpartum psychosis (after childbirth) seasonal affective disorder (where mood is affected, most commonly in winter), or schizoaffective disorder.

3. Symptoms during manic phases of Bipolar

The symptoms of mania typically include several of the following:

  • Racing thoughts — are typically one of the first symptoms during a manic phase. Racing thoughts may be the inability to concentrate and include rapidly changing ideas.
  • Feeling overly exhilarated — an overly euphoric or elevated mood is one of the most common bipolar mania symptoms. However, in some cases, instead of an exhilarated mood, individuals experiencing mania might be extremely agitated.
  • Higher energy — increases to abnormal levels. For example, someone with mania moves quickly from one activity to the next, not finishing them but have lots of amazing fanciful ideas
  • Sleep difficulties — People with mania generally feel that they need less sleep and it wouldn’t be uncommon for someone with mania to stay awake for more than one night, cooking or cleaning, or only sleep a couple hours a night, but report they’ve slept well.
  • Pressured speech — the tendency to talk quickly and loudly and often accompanies racing thoughts. They rarely stop to let anyone else talk. The person might want to share their whimsical ideas urgently, without making sense and saying inappropriate things.
  • Inflated self-esteem — is more than just being self-assured and overly confident. Rather, it’s an unrealistic and exaggerated sense of being superior or of self-importance. Someone might think that they have supernatural abilities or can achieve impossible things, such as writing Michael Jackson’s hits.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors — behaving impulsively, spending money they can’t afford or take part in dangerous or risky behaviours like misusing alcohol or drugs, reckless driving or having unprotected sex.

Some people find their mania entertaining, pleasurable and engage in risky sexual relationships or behaviours. Or they might find them distressing, unpleasant or uncomfortable and some dread the onset, perhaps knowing what’s coming next.

4. Professional experience of Bipolar Disorder

Shopping spree — image by
Standard.co.uk

In my job, as Mental Health Nurse and Ward Manager, I only ever met one female patient who didn’t enjoy the mania. At the Day Hospital (DH) we had a group of women who’d all had many episodes of mania over the years. They got together regularly, regaling everyone with their tales of shopping sprees on credit cards they wouldn’t have to pay.

They loved including me in their “Nutter’s Group” because of my previous mental illness and they’d curl up in hysterics with each new adventure; like Sharon who spoke very well and would apply for all sorts of high flying jobs — and get them, when she was manic. Words just flowed effortlessly for her and she’d often be out shopping in Kensington (a posh part of London), collecting store cards along the way, and arrive back at the DH laden with bags of goodies, only to give them all away.

The one lady who dreaded any impending mania was terrified she’d go back and stalk a married man that she’d worked with, but was dismissed because of her behaviours. Whenever she became manic she stalked him; persistently phoning, emailing, and writing to his family, believing that he loved her, not his wife. It was quite a big case in the media some years ago — the last straw was after she’s sent him and his wife a package holding a used sanitary towel as proof of his love for her.

5. Mood swings in Bipolar Disorder

Mania might sound exciting and moreish but what follows is soul destroying and heartbreaking to watch. Take a look at the chart below and see the midline — that’s classed as normal mood and the short squiggly line shows that, like in most of us, moods go slightly up and down, depending on the circumstances i.e. we get excited when we’re going to a wedding or we feel down if we’re going to a funeral perhaps.

Schematic mood swings in Bipolar – Researchgate.net

But in Bipolar, the person’s moods swing violently – see how high the squiggle goes — then how low it drops — possibly way down beyond anything most people might experience in their lifetime.

Unfortunately, during my fifteen years, several patients made attempts to die by suicide because they couldn’t bear the devastating drop in mood. The lady who stalked her colleague was always devastated and so embarrassed by her behaviour during the manic phase, she would feel suicidal as her mood dropped.

6. Symptoms during a depressive phase of Bipolar

During the depression phase of bipolar disorder, someone might:

Sad and tearful — Image
by Leandro De
Carvalho from Pixabay 
  • Feel empty, sad, worried
  • Have trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Have a hard time making even minor decisions
  • Have little to no energy to do normal things
  • Feel like you don’t enjoy anything, even things they used to enjoy
  • Eat too little or too much
  • Sleep too little or too much
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed
  • Think about suicide or death

A person could have all of these symptoms or some of them. Someone with bipolar disorder can sometimes feel very sad but also full of energy. The surest sign of a phase of depression is that you feel down for a long time — usually at least for 2 weeks. You might have these episodes rarely or several times a year, Webmd.com.

Most people who have a diagnosis of Bipolar will have been prescribed mood-stabilisers medication and, while it’s important to adhere to their medication regime throughout the various phases, they must also maintain contact with their Mental Health Team who will be able to monitor their moods and adapt their medication as appropriate.

7. Self-help strategies for bipolar disorder

Monitor your mood — Image by
Bohemimama.com
  • Monitor your mood — daily, including factors such as medication, sleep and anything that might be impacting on your mood. You may be able to download a chart or and app to help you do this.
  • Stick to routine — important in keeping your mood stable. In order to maintain stability, organise a schedule and try to stick to it regardless of your mood.
  • Build a good support network — friends, carers and family can be there if you’re struggling or just need someone to listen. They might also be able to offer another perspective on your mood and help you cope day-to-day.
  • Limit stress — where possible and try not to take on too many other commitments.
  • Sleep hygiene — disturbed sleep can have a negative impact on mood. Try to get into a sleep routine.
  • Take your time in making decisions — or ask a trusted friend to help you make decisions if you’re feeling impulsive and want to go on a shopping spree
  • Join a support group — it might be reassuring to hear from people who are experiencing similar symptoms or circumstances. Support groups can offer great advice and comfort.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise is helpful as a way to help manage mood and mental state.
  • Relaxation is effective in reducing stress.
  • Avoid or reduce alcohol and drug intake — which can make our mood worse. If you’re on medication, alcohol and drugs can be particularly dangerous. Talk to your psychiatrist, your Mental Health Team or GP.
  • Only take prescribed medication — and don’t make changes to medication without talking to your Doctor or psychiatrist.
  • Make a wellbeing plan — Perhaps you’ve made one of these with your care team and given a copy to close family or friends? You can record your plans for how you’ll manage your routine, how to manage any highs or lows, and contact details if you need help.
  • Ensure you have a suicide safety plan. Prepare how to manage low moods and suicidal thoughts. Keep your contact details list close to hand for emergencies.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the above symptoms, please contact your GP, Doctor, your local Mental Health Team immediately. You might like to read the useful Mental Health Contacts List here for various UK agencies and organisations who are able to offer advice and support.

In the meantime, look after yourselves and each other. As always, I’d be delighted to answer any questions and read your comments or suggestions. I certainly need something to keep my mind off the dreaded V word ‘cos although I know it’s important to keep up to date, I’m finding it all really worrying and quite depressing.

Acknowlegements:

HELP – CHANGING MY BLOG NAME

Why I’m changing my blog name

Mental health from the other side — Image by Free Logo Design

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I suppose, maybe like some of you, I was a bit hasty when I first started my blog and quickly named it Mental health from the other side.

I initially wanted to discuss mental health nursing from my own perspective so I thought my blog name covered it. However, my blog has evolved over the last five months and I’ve been discussing my own mental health, together with mental health and mental illness in general. So, in hindsight, while my current blog name says ‘from the other side’, I’ve been thinking, what ‘other’ side?

I wasn’t even sure that technically (i.e. it could be done on wordpress) I could change my blog name and I certainly didn’t know how to, but with some sage advice from my wonderful blogging pal Hugh at Hughs news and views, I’m going to try. However,

I need your help

I have a few new blog names in mind and I need your help in deciding which one ‘cos I want to get it right this time. You are the amazing peeps who read my blog and you might have a better idea of what to call ‘me’? It’s been on my mind a while now and I think I know which one I prefer and I do like the word ‘sides’ in it but I just can’t settle. Help?

  • Mental health from both sides
  • Mental health from all sides
  • Mental health from different sides
  • Mental Health from various sides
  • All things mental health

Another thing I might need to change is the tagline under my blog name? Do you think so?

While I’m asking for your help renaming my blog, I’d like to ask if there’s anything else you think I could be writing about? I have my diaries and lots more I could write about; I could write for England 😉 What would you like? Would more nursing tales be interesting? Is there something I’m missing or am I writing too much. How does my blog look to you?

It’s a big ask, but I’ve asked for it, so give it to me straight — even though I’m scared. However, constructive criticism and all comments will be appreciated.

Thank you, in anticipation.