In the Mood Mapping video, I cover Dr Liz Miller’s book Mood Mapping – Plot your way to emotional health and happiness (go for the online version, the paperback doesn’t seem to be in stock) as well as link to Tom Wootton’s excellent material from Bipolar Advantage. Tom is a big proponent of what he calls Bipolar in Order as opposed to Bipolar in Disorder. He has extensive videos, he gives a great overview here, plus you can sign up for his program on a monthly basis. I don’t get any kickback for that, I am just saying, he has done a lot for what we can do proactively, irrespective of medication, that can make a difference to how we handle and deal with mood.
In some ways this is like Dr Russ Harris’s Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approach. In some ways but not fully. Dr Russ didn’t start ACT but he has some excellent resources. I like the mindful approach of not getting sucked into our emotions or thoughts just because we happen to be thinking of them. ACT postulates, correctly in many ways, that we can’t control our thoughts or feelings. They just happen. So to get frustrated that we are feeling a certain thing or thinking a certain thing probably tends to escalate that experience if our expectation is that we shouldn’t be thinking or feeling a particular way. This will escalate or trigger our fight or flight or freeze reponse, likely cause us to forget to breathe well, and lower oxygen levels making us less smart, just when we need to be. (I will write a post How to Avoid Loop Thinking with the particular steps you can follow to help more with this. Remind me if I forget!).
So….stablize first if you have to, or better catch it early with awareness noticing what is happening for you rather than having to do something about it. Our higher noticing brain settles the fight or flight response in our middle emotional mammalian brain (this part is where the amygdala is) hence gives us more latitude or choice as to how we will cope, handle, deal with rather than control, manage, stop a feeling or thought. Basically we don’t want our head getting sucked into a bucket of emotion, we kind of want to lean back and observe what is happening rather than be the thing that is happening. Does that make sense?
How does that relate to mood mapping. Well, mood is like the great ocean under the boat. The tide may be out, the tide may be in. Our mood undergirds in some ways how the boat is floating. For those of us where our mood is not pristine, or is at a level that is not comfortable or desirable, we may want to be even more aware than ACT approaches, and tap into Dr Liz Miller’s and Tom Wootton’s more extensive, though similarly aligned, approaches to handling mood better. it may be this is where we go heh, where’s my intervention plan or checklist for wellbeing from The 12 Principles of Good Mental Health. Now, might be a good time to review what you need for today.
Awareness first. Avoid the fight or flight responses where possible, keep that settled. Breathe. And know that mood can be normal, and challenging yet copeable. It’s a tool that many people have said “Oh, I hadn’t though of it like that” and how useful it has been to indeed think of it that way.
Perhaps you may be interested to check out Can I get Better Without Medication. It is not a promise, it could even be unwise, and I am not suggesting taking that you take that literally, but non-medication strategies are part of the solution. They must be part of what we do even if we are still taking medication.