Why You Should Start Practicing Mood Hygiene

We practice personal hygiene, dental hygiene, etc. But have you ever thought to practice mood or mental health hygiene?

The word hygiene was derived from the Greek goddess of health, Hygiea. Hygiene is defined as the science of the establishment and maintenance of health. Mood hygiene is when you practice and build habits that will promote good control of your mood symptoms. For those who have a mental illness this helps take preventive measures to improve the symptoms over time.

Living with mental illness, I never thought to add mood hygiene into my routine. The more I learned about it made me realize how beneficial it can be. Practicing mood hygiene doesn’t have to be just for those who have mental illness; it can be for everyone to practice. There are a few ways to practice mood hygiene and incorporate it into your daily life.

  1. Stress and conflict management

When you find yourself in stressful situations, it can sometimes trigger symptoms of your illness like a depressive episode or anxiety attack. There are several ways that you can take to help and prevent stress in your life such as exercising regularly or meditating.

I’ve learned that when I find myself in stressful situations is when my depressive episodes start to surface again. It’s why I’ve added exercise and meditation into my routine because it does help eliminate the stress and lifts that weight off of your shoulders.

  1. Lifestyle regularity

Having structure in your day-to-day life is extremely important. By establishing and sticking to a schedule will help build that structure in your life. For example, I wake up at the same time everyday and have a morning routine that I stick to everyday. I start my mornings by journaling and listing out a few things that I am grateful for each morning. By practicing that gratitude also helps get me in a positive mindset for the day. I then get my workout in before I start my workday.

By having a schedule you stick to on a regular basis builds the structure in your life that will help you feel in control of your life.

  1. Track your moods

By keeping track of your moods will help you determine if there is a certain pattern or cycle in your moods. I started tracking my moods a couple months ago in my journal and it has helped me become more self-aware. It’s helped me notice a pattern in my moods and it allows me to get my moods more under control. It allows me to prepare for the month so I can be strategic with my commitments and make sure I don’t over extend myself.

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These are just a few ways on how you can practice mood hygiene and start implementing them into your own daily life. Practicing mood hygiene on a regular basis will help immensely in the mental health recovery process. It allows you to have a new sense of control in your life and can be empowering for the individual.

Courtney’s Interview Feature

This a feature I wrote on Courtney. You can find all feature interviews here.

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Courtney’s Interview Feature: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a unique mental illness diagnosis. It comes with uncontrollable mood swings that can happen every minute of every other day. The unpredictability of Borderline Personality Disorder can make any day the worst ever.

“They range from anger to sadness to even happiness,” Courtney explains. “But the feelings I have are mostly negative.”

morgan-basham-364865.jpg

Courtney from Waterford, Michigan, is living every way with the realities of BPD. Two and half years ago Courtney found solace. It would come in the form of a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. But like many of us in the mental illness community, the journey to the right diagnosis was a rough one for Courtney.

“Before my diagnosis with BPD, I had different diagnosis’s ranging from depression alone to Bipolar. My life was a complete disaster. There was no such thing as a “normal” day.”

In her early years, Courtney would deal with constant mood swings. The mood swings made family life impossible at times. Verbal arguments were common, and it leads to instability in her family life. It was not uncommon for Courtney to try to commit suicide. On more than one occasion she had to live through the reality of suicide attempts that seemed to come out of nowhere.

“My moods would flip as easy as it was to toss a coin,” Courtney recalls. “There was no telling how my day would start, or how they would end. It was scary.”

Courtney will admit she doesn’t have the best memory. She often has a tough time reliving the past, or even remember it. “I wouldn’t wish what I endured those years before my diagnosis on anyone.”

It’s not all negative in Courtney’s life. Courtney surrounds herself with people that support who she is. This support system includes her husband, mother, and Courtney’s therapist. The positive part in her BPD comes from the right medications and a good psychiatrist.

“The medication prescribed to me that I take every day,” Courtney explains. “I believe it plays a big positive part in my BPD.”

There are daily struggles that Courtney must face. The emotional instability that comes with Courtney and her BPD can make life hard. It can be hard to maintain a relationship, even with the ones that Courtney loves. Anxiety and depression often make themselves companions next to her BPD. On any given day she will feel lazy and depressed.

xavier-sotomayor-192007.jpg

It is not uncommon for Courtney to want to do her entire to-do-list for the year in one day. It can be exhausting, but she always finds a way. Support is her most prominent ally.

“My mental illness affects my life every day. Little things that shouldn’t bother me, bother the hell out of me,” she explains about how BPD affects her life. “I get irritable over the little things, and sometimes I have no control over my anger.”

Courtney by nature isn’t a violent person, but at times she is on the edge of exploding at any moment. Three things contribute to this feeling. One part Anxiety. One part Depression. One part Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be a disastrous combination.

“It affects my relationship with my husband, my kids, family, and even friends.”

We all have a goal when writing our blog, something we want to share with the mental illness community. For Courtney, her message is one of education.

“I want people to become educated and aware of mental illnesses,” she explains. “There is a stigma that surrounds people like us, and it needs to die. That’s why the title of my blog is “kill the stigma.” I want people to open up about their struggles, to not be afraid of backlash, or to receive support. I want people to be able to talk about mental illness as easy as they talk about a cold.”

tania-soares-379713.jpg

For Courtney, writing a blog has done wonders for her life. It is her way to cope and at the same time receive affirmation. It’s not about the comments or the followers from Courtney’s perspective. It’s about people viewing and reading what she is presenting to the blogging world.

What Courtney is doing with her blog is educating and finding a way to make a difference. She writes to teach on topics like depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

“I have already done that on a small scale. It also helps me to know I am not alone. I have had several people close to me and distant have reached out. What they are saying is how they have dealt with their own illnesses and wish they had a voice like me.”

My favorite question that I ask in these interview features is what in their life makes life worth living? Courtney’s answer is why I love to ask this question.

Courtney finds peace in the little things in life that make living worth it. She mentions her husband, mother, children, and her belief in God. “I remember how much they love me, and how much I love them. It helps to feel wanted and needed, and I’ve never felt either of those things as much as I do currently.”

edwin-andrade-162696.jpg

There is also the personal things in her life that Courtney wants to work on. She recognizes that she is not the best person in the world. Courtney works each day to strive to be a better person despite BPD.

Courtney recognizes one crucial thing that makes life worth living. It is this knowledge that those of us in the mental illness community should live by.

“If I were to kill myself today, I wouldn’t be able to be a better person. I would go to hell, according to my beliefs. I don’t want either of those things, so the hope that I have now makes life worth living.”

The alternative to the negative thinking that Courtney displays is positive. Its roots are in her past experiences with suicide.

Within the confines of her journey, Courtney has often had suicidal idealizations. For a good part of her life and journey, this was a regular thing. Courtney believed that it was normal to think about all the ways that you wanted to die.

“As a teenager, I didn’t know any different,” she remembers. ” I have had suicidal thoughts ever since I can remember. I would think about cutting my slitting my wrists, about driving my car into a poll at 100 mph, or swallowing pills. I even thought about putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger.”

In the present time, Courtney struggles with these thoughts less and less. It helps to have the right system in place. For Courtney, she relies on the right medication, therapy, support, and coping skills. It is within this system that helps her combat these thoughts.

It doesn’t mean that Courtney hasn’t gone down the road of trying to take her life. “I have attempted suicide three times, and the first time I flatlined. It took Narcan to revive me. I thought it would never make me want to commit suicide again.”

This thought was great for Courtney, but was temporary and only for a time. She would go on to attempt to take her life two more times. It was through these trials and getting the right support that keeps her steady. Its enough for Courtney to stay off the suicide path.

“It takes time. There is no instant cure and that’s what I wanted. I was expecting it for so long, I wasn’t patient enough.”

Courtney wants to share through this feature article many vital pieces of wisdom. The first is that mental illness can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and it can affect anyone.

“I am glad that I’m winning,” Courtney explains. “I am so glad I am winning.  I finally feel like I have my mental illness under control after more than a decade. And you know what? It was so worth the wait and effort.

austin-schmid-37423.jpg

Courtney is at a level that we all hope to get to, a place where you are good with your diagnosis. Her words of wisdom speak truthfully. In my own experiences, all I have been through got me to a right place with my own diagnosis. It is the most fantastic feeling in the world, but the battles are what made us stronger. It has made Courtney stronger.

If you would like to know more about Courtney and her journey you can find her writings on her blog.

When I was looking through her blog, this post stood out the most. You can find so many great pieces on Courtney’s journey with Borderline Personality Disorder on her blog.

Interviewee: Courtney

Author: James Edgar Skye

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js

Photo Credits:

unsplash-logoMike Wilson

unsplash-logoMorgan Basham

unsplash-logoXavier Sotomayor

unsplash-logoTânia Soares

unsplash-logoEdwin Andrade

unsplash-logoAustin Schmid

The Surging Ebb and Flow of my Mood Swings

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. – Edgar Allan Poe

The Extreme Ups and Downs of the Bipolar Writer

alan-tang-664138-unsplash.jpg

I have been thinking a lot about the ups and downs of my mood swings lately. It has been an obsession of sorts. I have been writing about it because it has been an up and down to the extreme cycling over the past month. One day I feel overly depressed and fail to get out of bed. The next day I am manic, and I can write the next great American novel. It has felt so much lately like balance is the furthest thing possible. I believe I will get there eventually. What is the cause of such things in this Bipolar life?

Is it in the Air?

One of the best things about living in central California is that it does not get too hot or too cold. The downside for someone living with mood swings is that it means the up and down weather, one day it is overcast and the next it is sunny. It can wreak havoc on my moods because the consistency of the weather is so essential to finding balance (among other things). As September moves along, it is getting to that point where the weather will really start to affect my mood. I am not looking forward to depression taking over again.

My Lack of Sleep…

jurien-huggins-531341-unsplash.jpg

I can trace so much of my cycling mood swings to the lack of consistency in my sleep lately. It is the endless struggle in my life. When I am manic (as I felt last night), and for the life of me sleep eluded me. I tried. I spent hours tossing and turning in bed. I spend so much time walking around my house in the dark restless in my thoughts.

The opposite happens when my depression takes over. I oversleep, and I lay in bed wasting away. That happened just two days ago. I know I promised myself that I would be kinder to myself, but as I sit here writing, I can feel the ebb and flow of my mood swings just waiting for the next cycle.

I am not at my best today, but I wanted to continue to explore my thoughts on my mood cycles as it relates to my Bipolar disorder. I want to really understand what is behind this recent issues and writing is the best way to figure it out for me. I am all over the map at the moment, and I hope that you will bear with me over the coming weeks.

It would be great to hear your thoughts and expereinces on cycling as it relates to Bipolar disorder. That is what this blog is all about in the end.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Randy Jacob

Alan Tang

Journey to a Diagnosis, Part I

“What’s wrong with me?” I often thought years ago, as I was beginning my journey with mental illness.  Only, I didn’t know I was on a journey and I didn’t know I had mental illness.  I just knew I didn’t feel like me, and I thought it was my own fault somehow.  I was only about 19 years old at the time, and just recently married.

My husband and I were both going to school full time and working.  Things were very busy, and stressful.  I was gone for most of the daytime at school and work, but home in the evenings.  My husband also had a full load of school but worked nights–cleaning, emptying the trash and pressuring washing at our city bus stops.  It seemed we had little spare time, which meant that there wasn’t much time to recoup and de-stress.  But I didn’t know anything about doing that at the time.  I always watched my mom go go go and thought that being busy was just how adult life is.

The emotional pain seemed to come on gradually, and then became a constant in my life.  There was a long period of time that I remember “faking it”–to everyone.  I plastered on a fake smile and did my best to feel like I normally would but it never worked.  My poor husband, just as new to this as I was, did his best to help me feel better, but we didn’t know what we were dealing with and so nothing really could change.

The main symptoms of this time were the emotional pain, feeling “off,” downward spirals occurring daily (especially at night), and major paranoia.  I was so clueless at the time–understandably.  I knew absolutely nothing about mental illness.  I just kept thinking that there was something wrong with me.  I kept thinking, If I just pray more or study my scriptures more, try harder, or do something differently that I would be able to feel better.  But no matter what I did, nothing improved.  I would take my scriptures to the university library and study them at lunch–praying that I would feel better.  But nothing changed.  At night, when my husband was gone working and I was home alone, I was consumed with fear that I would be killed while he was gone.  I prayed and sang hymns and did what I could to try and change how I felt, but nothing I did had any effect on what I was feeling.  I remember being afraid to take out the trash in broad daylight, because there might be a killer hiding there, waiting to kill me.  During these times, I would fall asleep in a state of fear every night.  I would be lying in my bed, running different scenarios in my head over and over, of how a killer might enter my room and then I’d plan out how I could possibly get away.  It was absolutely awful.

In my husband’s family, there is a person who has suffered from depression for many years.  I finally remember thinking, that maybe I should ask her what depression felt like, because maybe that is what I was dealing with.  I don’t really remember the conversation but I remember that I still didn’t know what I was dealing with afterward.  So I just kept going on as I was before.

Things changed a little when I became pregnant with my first child.  Postpartum, I found out I had hypothyroidism–severely so.  I thought to myself, “Finally!  Finally, I know what is wrong with me!”  I got on the appropriate medications for this condition and felt improvements, but my mental state didn’t change.  As I worked through the process of getting on the right dose for my thyroid, I was constantly calling my doctor in a state of anxiety that we needed to change the dose because I still didn’t feel right.  After a while of this occurring, my doctor called me in and told me that she thought I had depression and anxiety and gave me some samples of medication to start taking.  Having been raised with the idea that people who have depression or mental issues were “weak” or “crazy”, the whole idea of being thrown in with “that lot” made me freak out.  I remember telling the doctor, that I was stronger than this and that I would beat it.  I was very adamant.  However, I took the samples just in case.

I took the samples for a short while, but felt little difference, and ended up stopping them all together when I found out I was pregnant with my second child.  The pregnancy went well and I felt good, for the most part, until after my daughter was born.  Almost immediately afterward, I started having some very troubling and scary symptoms.  I felt “wrong.”  I can’t describe it but what I felt was so scary and so unlike me that I knew something needed to happen.  Still stuck on the role that my thyroid was playing in my mental health, I went off of my thyroid medication cold turkey.  For some reason that did help for a couple months, but then the worst began.

I began having severe mood swings.  One minute I would feel ok, then the next I would feel on top of the world and would think everything was funny and I was awesome.  I would also struggle through intense waves of anxiety. The scariest part of all was the depression.  It seemed to wipe a dark stain across my mind.  Thoughts and feelings of wanting to do myself harm overcame me.  If I looked in the mirror while depressed, my mind would see, in my reflection, an evil version of myself that wanted to hurt me.  I suppose that is a hallucination of sorts.  I also had these overpowering feelings that there were demons around me, that I couldn’t see, that wanted to do me harm.  It was frightening to put it mildly.

Thankfully, I had a friend who had just gone inpatient for postpartum depression.  She counseled me to go in and get evaluated.  I did.  They told me I was too high functioning for the intensity of their inpatient program and that I would probably be ok going to a doctor.  (I was very good at acting “natural”).  Late that same night, as thoughts of suicide started entering my head again, I knew I needed to go in and get help.  I was afraid that I might get to the point where I couldn’t choose not to act on it.  I was afraid of harming myself or my children.

And so, around midnight, I tearfully kissed my sleeping, 5 month old daughter goodbye and my 2 year old son, packed a bag for myself and headed out for the inpatient facility with my husband, while my wonderful mother in law cared for my children in my absence.

This is the beginning of my journey to a diagnosis.  Look for more in part II, coming soon.

Introduction

If you have ever ridden a roller coaster, you understand the excitement and fear that courses through your mind and body as you burst through the track. You experience such an intense jolt of so many emotions as your breath is stolen from falling and you only have enough time to take another breath as you ascend. In a lot of ways, bipolar disorder seems to share many similarities. It seems to change a person drastically in mere moments and can even span episodes for days at a time. You never know how you will feel when you wake up in the morning. You never know what will happen to send you spiraling into a depressive episode. I often like to call it a “Jekyll and Hyde” effect in my personal blog.

I am Shelton Fisher and recently I have been given the privilege to be a contributing writer for The Bipolar Writer. I am a 25 year old with a full time job, an amazing wife, and the two best dogs in the world. I used to be a decent musician and writing has become a passion of mine. Amid the wonderful things that life has provided for me, I have mental health issues that fight me tooth and nail on a regular basis. Anxiety has been a familiar part of my life since I was a child, but alcoholism and panic attacks made me realize that I needed to finally address these problem medically. In September of last year I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and began a regimen of serotonin inhibitors and recently I have began seeing a therapist. After several sessions addressing my childhood behaviors and my current behaviors, we have discussed that I may be bipolar and the symptoms honestly surprised me.

As I continue the journey into my mental health to confirm a diagnosis and discover how to live a better life, I want to include you through personal stories, free verse poetry, and the occasional informative post. I am not a professional by any means, but I am living proof that mental health is a war to be won. If you have ever been afraid to speak, afraid to make a move, lost motivation and hope, hurt yourself because you couldn’t find the right words or felt trapped inside your body, screamed at the top of your lungs with tears rolling down your boiling red cheeks, self medicated with alcohol or drugs, fallen into depression for no apparent reason, or just want to know how I am handling things, my posts are for you.

Courtney’s Interview Feature

This a feature I wrote on Courtney. You can find all feature interviews here.

Courtney’s Interview Feature: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a unique mental illness diagnosis. It comes with uncontrollable mood swings that can happen every minute of every other day. The unpredictability of Borderline Personality Disorder can make any day the worst ever.

“They range from anger to sadness to even happiness,” Courtney explains. “But the feelings I have are mostly negative.”

morgan-basham-364865.jpg

Courtney from Waterford, Michigan, is living every way with the realities of BPD. Two and half years ago Courtney found solace. It would come in the form of a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. But like many of us in the mental illness community, the journey to the right diagnosis was a rough one for Courtney.

“Before my diagnosis with BPD, I had different diagnosis’s ranging from depression alone to Bipolar. My life was a complete disaster. There was no such thing as a “normal” day.”

In her early years, Courtney would deal with constant mood swings. The mood swings made family life impossible at times. Verbal arguments were common, and it leads to instability in her family life. It was not uncommon for Courtney to try to commit suicide. On more than one occasion she had to live through the reality of suicide attempts that seemed to come out of nowhere.

“My moods would flip as easy as it was to toss a coin,” Courtney recalls. “There was no telling how my day would start, or how they would end. It was scary.”

Courtney will admit she doesn’t have the best memory. She often has a tough time reliving the past, or even remember it. “I wouldn’t wish what I endured those years before my diagnosis on anyone.”

It’s not all negative in Courtney’s life. Courtney surrounds herself with people that support who she is. This support system includes her husband, mother, and Courtney’s therapist. The positive part in her BPD comes from the right medications and a good psychiatrist.

“The medication prescribed to me that I take every day,” Courtney explains. “I believe it plays a big positive part in my BPD.”

There are daily struggles that Courtney must face. The emotional instability that comes with Courtney and her BPD can make life hard. It can be hard to maintain a relationship, even with the ones that Courtney loves. Anxiety and depression often make themselves companions next to her BPD. On any given day she will feel lazy and depressed.

xavier-sotomayor-192007.jpg

It is not uncommon for Courtney to want to do her entire to-do-list for the year in one day. It can be exhausting, but she always finds a way. Support is her most prominent ally.

“My mental illness affects my life every day. Little things that shouldn’t bother me, bother the hell out of me,” she explains about how BPD affects her life. “I get irritable over the little things, and sometimes I have no control over my anger.”

Courtney by nature isn’t a violent person, but at times she is on the edge of exploding at any moment. Three things contribute to this feeling. One part Anxiety. One part Depression. One part Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be a disastrous combination.

“It affects my relationship with my husband, my kids, family, and even friends.”

We all have a goal when writing our blog, something we want to share with the mental illness community. For Courtney, her message is one of education.

“I want people to become educated and aware of mental illnesses,” she explains. “There is a stigma that surrounds people like us, and it needs to die. That’s why the title of my blog is “kill the stigma.” I want people to open up about their struggles, to not be afraid of backlash, or to receive support. I want people to be able to talk about mental illness as easy as they talk about a cold.”

tania-soares-379713.jpg

For Courtney, writing a blog has done wonders for her life. It is her way to cope and at the same time receive affirmation. It’s not about the comments or the followers from Courtney’s perspective. It’s about people viewing and reading what she is presenting to the blogging world.

What Courtney is doing with her blog is educating and finding a way to make a difference. She writes to teach on topics like depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

“I have already done that on a small scale. It also helps me to know I am not alone. I have had several people close to me and distant have reached out. What they are saying is how they have dealt with their own illnesses and wish they had a voice like me.”

My favorite question that I ask in these interview features is what in their life makes life worth living? Courtney’s answer is why I love to ask this question.

Courtney finds peace in the little things in life that make living worth it. She mentions her husband, mother, children, and her belief in God. “I remember how much they love me, and how much I love them. It helps to feel wanted and needed, and I’ve never felt either of those things as much as I do currently.”

edwin-andrade-162696.jpg

There is also the personal things in her life that Courtney wants to work on. She recognizes that she is not the best person in the world. Courtney works each day to strive to be a better person despite BPD.

Courtney recognizes one crucial thing that makes life worth living. It is this knowledge that those of us in the mental illness community should live by.

“If I were to kill myself today, I wouldn’t be able to be a better person. I would go to hell, according to my beliefs. I don’t want either of those things, so the hope that I have now makes life worth living.”

The alternative to the negative thinking that Courtney displays is positive. Its roots are in her past experiences with suicide.

Within the confines of her journey, Courtney has often had suicidal idealizations. For a good part of her life and journey, this was a regular thing. Courtney believed that it was normal to think about all the ways that you wanted to die.

“As a teenager, I didn’t know any different,” she remembers. ” I have had suicidal thoughts ever since I can remember. I would think about cutting my slitting my wrists, about driving my car into a poll at 100 mph, or swallowing pills. I even thought about putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger.”

In the present time, Courtney struggles with these thoughts less and less. It helps to have the right system in place. For Courtney, she relies on the right medication, therapy, support, and coping skills. It is within this system that helps her combat these thoughts.

It doesn’t mean that Courtney hasn’t gone down the road of trying to take her life. “I have attempted suicide three times, and the first time I flatlined. It took Narcan to revive me. I thought it would never make me want to commit suicide again.”

This thought was great for Courtney, but was temporary and only for a time. She would go on to attempt to take her life two more times. It was through these trials and getting the right support that keeps her steady. Its enough for Courtney to stay off the suicide path.

“It takes time. There is no instant cure and that’s what I wanted. I was expecting it for so long, I wasn’t patient enough.”

Courtney wants to share through this feature article many vital pieces of wisdom. The first is that mental illness can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and it can affect anyone.

“I am glad that I’m winning,” Courtney explains. “I am so glad I am winning.  I finally feel like I have my mental illness under control after more than a decade. And you know what? It was so worth the wait and effort.

austin-schmid-37423.jpg

Courtney is at a level that we all hope to get to, a place where you are good with your diagnosis. Her words of wisdom speak truthfully. In my own experiences, all I have been through got me to a right place with my own diagnosis. It is the most fantastic feeling in the world, but the battles are what made us stronger. It has made Courtney stronger.

If you would like to know more about Courtney and her journey you can find her writings on her blog.

https://bpdatworstandbest.wordpress.com/

When I was looking through her blog, this post stood out the most. You can find so many great pieces on Courtney’s journey with Borderline Personality Disorder on her blog.

https://bpdatworstandbest.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/bpd-in-a-relationship-pt-1/

Interviewee: Courtney

Author: James Edgar Skye

Photo Credits:

unsplash-logoMike Wilson

unsplash-logoMorgan Basham

unsplash-logoXavier Sotomayor

unsplash-logoTânia Soares

unsplash-logoEdwin Andrade

unsplash-logoAustin Schmid