How do you react when you have a deadline to meet? Does it energize you, perhaps push you into a bit of hypomania, and get your creative juices flowing? Or does it make you worry and get down on yourself, fearing that you won’t be able to come through? One of the biggest challenges in my life has been to figure out the difference between good pressure and bad.
One time I can remember as particularly bad was when I took on a freelance writing assignment that dealt with the topic of pet food. That’s right, pet food, as in doggy and cat chow. This assignment was so not me, yet I took it on because I was unemployed at the time and needed the money. Once I’d accepted the advance the company paid me, I was obligated to do the project. But the more research I did, the more depressed I got.
I finally managed to pull something together, but I was so ashamed of its quality that I couldn’t even bring myself to deliver it personally. At this point I can’t remember whether they paid me for the balance due or not, but that’s how traumatic it was for me—I have blocked this memory from my mind.
What added to my depression were feelings of guilt and inadequacy. How could I have bungled the assignment so badly? Why couldn’t I have forced myself to do a better job? Those kinds of thoughts, of course, just pulled me deeper into the depression.
While the pressure of writing the pet food project was very bad for me, other pressures are good. As an artist, I get energized when a client asks me to paint a commission for them. As a writer, the goal I had to write a memoir five years ago motivated me to keep a journal for three years and then spend two more rewriting until it was finished.
What I’ve found through years of experience is that the right kind of pressure is good for me, but the wrong kind is dangerous.
How do you deal with pressure? Tell us in the message boards.
Learn more about bipolar disorder.
Published On: July 05, 2006
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