After much faith, hope, and struggle, I’ve emerged from a deep period of reflection, back towards the happy and enthusiastic self I associate with my core personality. The reality is different, but I’ll cover that in a different post. At the moment, I am uber-happy. And for me, uber-happy is a place of caution. When I get too happy, I tend to make impulsive decisions: a. overspend; b. seek or maintain relationships that are not healthy; c. drive really really fast; d. talk excessively without pausing; e. run over other people (especially introverts).
Steps for Maintaining Mental Health During an UP Phase:
- Self-awareness and moderation
- Attention to what I’m eating
- Getting enough good quality sleep
- Slow down my conversations, decisions, relationships, enthusiasms
- Put myself in “caution mode” or “giving myself a yellow card”
By being aware of my hyper-joy I can take steps to slow my ascension and prevent overheating. I can apply some self-regulation tools: meditation, exercise, yoga, walks outside. By becoming mindful of my UP state I can ride the energy and joy for longer and longer periods of time. In these periods I’m usually very productive, very creative, and very connective with others. Again, this can freak some people out. My inner circle of friends and family, however, know the signs.
Yesterday, I was texting with my son about his graduation present. (He’s about to finish HS) And as we were chatting he mentioned getting some “late night texts.” I had been sending him Spotify links to songs that reminded me of him. “It’s okay,” I said, “I went to bed early.”
“Um,” he said, “I’m gonna call bullshit on that, dad. The first one came through at 11 pm.”
The cool part is, this exchange was rather routine. He was comfortable enough to mention or ask about my elevated state. And when I covered up, he was confident enough to call me out. This is a huge win for both of us. And in my system, this is part of recovery from depression or bi-polar depression. Your team is part of your regulation and support system. When someone of my “team” expresses concern, I no longer feel defensive. I simply thank them and give them a status on my current state of mind.
Managing Various States of Mind: Hypo-manic to Depressed
Managing emotional health has its challenges. When we are “happy” we don’t want to come down. We don’t want to “get real.” We’d really like for everyone to get out of our way and let us do the greatest work of our lives. In this mode I’m angry with the cars in front of me on the highway, they are preventing me from going even faster. When we are in a “sad” mode the frustration is the same, but the support and caring is different. My tools for dealing with a DOWN state are much less obvious.
When I am down, here’s what I do:
- Get enough sleep – BUT not too much sleep
- Eat well
- Get outside, even if you don’t feel like exercising
- Meet with friends
- Go to Al-anon meetings, to eliminate isolation
- Call people on my team, just to break my isolation
- Love myself even in this “unhappy” and uncomfortable state
What I learned recently, is how hard I can be on myself when I’m not in an UP state. I tend to think in binary terms, I’m either UP or I’m a complete failure. UP is my preferred natural state. UP is the “me” I identify with. DOWN is the enemy. And, one of the hardest parts of depression is dealing with our own shame and trauma around being depressed. We feel like we are hurting the people around us in a deep and profound way. This is where suicidal ideation comes from: we imagine how much pain we are causing the people we love, and we fantasize that things would be better for everyone if we could disappear.
I’m going to work on re-writing my definition to include “less-than-hyper” states as okay. I don’t have to be, and actually, can’t be, 100% UP. That’s not how creativity or energy works. That’s not how life works. All of us have cycles. Those of us on the “spectrum of bi-polar” tend to hit higher highs and lower lows. It is up to each of us, as humans and individuals, to manage our lives as best we can. We can build and rely on our support teams, BUT… Our recovery and health depend 100% on ourselves and our actions.
Actions are the way out of depression. Feelings are not necessarily accurate or “real.” Feelings just are. And feelings can be changed using lots of different methods. In this moment, what I know is, I’m elevated due to the potential of a relationship and connection with a woman in my life. I am in a “rising” state as well, which means, I know where I am (yellow card – 7.5 on a scale of 0 – 10) and I’m in the process of slowing my roll on all fronts.
Pushing Pause in an Exciting Relationship
What this looks like, in a relationship, is saying “Whoa!” to the woman in my sphere of influence and take some pauses to check-in with myself. I don’t want to over-rev, or race into a relationship that doesn’t have the fundamental qualities I’m looking to find. I’m in the hunt for a long-term relationship (LTR). I am not interested in dating, or having casual sex. So, in my current hot state, I am self-aware enough to keep my focus on me, and keep my dk in my pants for the near future. It’s different from the “going slow” I mentioned in a previous post because I am now activated and elevated in my mood and energy. This is a fragile and potentially dangerous state.
As I pause to take in more breaths, as I ask for patience and space. I am recentering my heart around my core values and not my emotional or sexual needs. I am okay with stopping for a timeout to reassess and recommit to my long-term goals.
How do you self-regulate when you are dating? When things start going REALLY WELL, how do you moderate yourself? If you’re a super-sensual person, is it harder for you to say “no” to the intoxicating high of sex and the love hormones? I’d love to learn more about your process and your experiences in the comments. Please join the conversation here or in our Facebook group.
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your post-divorce challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.