Self-Help for Bipolar: Try NOT Going Back to Bed

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • I've been having kind of a rough time lately. Three weeks ago I threw my back out pulling weeds. (Yes, really. Well, they were big weeds that required me to stand and yank with both hands.)


    The pain was severe, but I didn't get treatment until 9 days later because I thought I'd just pulled a muscle. As a result, I've had three weeks of pain that has limited by mobility and sapped my strength. Not surprisingly, my mood went down as I watched my kitchen turn into a pit of filth, my beige carpets turn gray and splotchy from cat fur (plus the marks left by the cat who throws up a lot).


    Two days ago I had to get groceries but was unable to find anyone to help me. I came home in severe pain and couldn't even unload the grocery bags from the trunk of my car. It was extremely depressing.

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    Today, though, I woke feeling better, yet - I found it difficult to get started. There was less pain, but my mood, which had been drained by being unable to do much of anything, was now in "I don't want to do anything" mode. After I came back from my chiropractor, I sat at the computer playing solitaire, made some comments on Facebook, and tried to talk myself out of going back to bed - for four hours.


    But during that time I did make myself do at least 2 things to clean up each time I went downstairs. Maybe two minutes of work. After a while, two minutes became five. Five became ten. An important bill got paid and put in the mail. A couple of short pieces were written. When I got hungry, I made a decent lunch (instead of grabbing a snack) and worked on kitchen cleanup while it was cooking. Then I immediately did two computer tasks that had today's deadline - tasks I'd been putting off all day.


    If I had gone back to bed, most of that work wouldn't have been done - probably only the two tasks with the deadlines. I'd have slept away two or three hours and then still had to work through the doldrums before getting any energy or focus.


    In the end, I think the key was finding that tiny bit of discipline that made me do a couple of minutes of work - washing two dishes or putting a few things in the recycling - each time I wanted something to drink or one of the cats asked for food. I didn't time myself ... I just did a couple of things. And gradually I did more and more before coming back to the computer.


    Try it. Just a couple of things. My kitchen isn't clean yet my any means, but it's certainly improved.

Published On: August 29, 2011