I cover my week being cooped up in the house, and ask you about yours!
Show me some love!
Hello, hello! Welcome to The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check in: Ice Edition!
How are you? Is it snowing where you are? Have you been stuck in the house? How cold is the weather? What about your self-care routine–have you been sticking to it? Let me know in the comments; I genuinely want to know!
My week has been utterly depressing.
I am used to a certain routine of preschool on Mondays and Wednesdays (where I meet with a friend from my writing group to write and clean the house, respectively), and toddler group on Tuesdays, which I attend with my kiddo as a co-op preschool.
Then the snowpocalypse hit. There’s still ice on the roads in our neighborhood. As I’m a anxious driver who has crashed in icy conditions before, I am very reluctant to drive.
School has been canceled for both my kids pretty much all week and we’ve been cooped up in the house. We all are suffering from cabin fever.
We normally go to a park or an indoor playground every day, even after toddler group on Tuesdays. I am ill-tempered due to nature’s inconsideration of my need for routine. My toddler has watched all sorts of random Netflix shows this week.
But it’s not all bad; we could be dealing with a power outage, like we did last year.
Luckily we live within walking distance of a grocery store, so my husband has been hoofing it there to pick up milk and bread. I am thankful that he was able to work from home.
So that’s been my week. How’s yours been? Have you, too, been cooped up in the house? Let me know in the comments!
Depression can make even the smallest of projects feel overwhelming and not worth doing. When you’re depressed, your natural inclination is to crawl into bed and stay there. You want to neglect what you need to do, from cleaning your home, feeding yourself, and taking care of pets or children.
But what if you could break those overwhelming tasks into smaller, bite-sized pieces? Then you could tackle them one at a time and truly make some progress, incremental as it might be.
1. Examine the Task. Is it a Task or a Project?
The first thing you need to do to break tasks into bite-sized pieces is to examine the task. Is it really a task, or is it a project? A task is something you can do in one sitting, in less than an hour. Whereas a project is a series of smaller tasks leading to one accomplishment. It’s important to make a clear distinction between the two.
Projects aren’t just for work or school. Anything we want to do can be classified as a project.
If you have a task that you want to break down into tasks, continue reading the next section. But if your task is actually a project, then skip to the third.
2. Break Tasks Down into Steps
You might think of something as simple as “load the dishwasher” as a task, and you’d be right. It’s easy to get done in one sitting. When we’re stable, doing the dishes is automatic, and we don’t generally balk at the amount of work the task takes. But there are a series of steps to loading the dishwasher. If you’re suffering from depression, breaking down any task into smaller action steps can be helpful.
To load the dishwasher, you need to:
Gather dishes from around the house.
Set dishes down on the counter, not the sink.
Clear the sink.
Fill the sink with hot, soapy water to aid in soaking stubborn grime off of dirty dishes.
Place dishes that need soaked in the sink.
Open the dishwasher.
Pull out the bottom rack.
Load the large items, like pots.
Load the plates.
Load the bowls.
Load the silverware.
Take the dishes that were soaking out of the sink, which fit on the bottom rack, out.
Put the bottom rack back.
Pull out the top rack.
Load the cups.
Load the serving utensils.
Load Tupperware lids.
Take the dishes that were soaking in the sink, which fit on the top rack, out.
Put away the top rack.
Fill the soap holder with soap.
Close the dishwasher.
Set the cycle.
Turn on the dishwasher.
Drain the sink.
Wipe out the sink.
Wow, 27 steps for one task! Seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? And if you have depression, your inclination is to stop at any one of those steps. So often we don’t even start on a task because it just seems like we’ll never get it done.
But don’t think of the task as “27 steps” or a big picture, “load the dishwasher.” Rather, think of the task as the next step on the list.
So if you’re just starting out, gather the dishes. Then set them on the counter. Then…. Surprisingly, if you’re moving quickly (which is hard to do with depression, I know), loading the dishwasher takes 5-6 minutes, tops.
Try breaking down another task, like clearing the nightstand or making your bed. Making your bed is a simple task to break down:
Pull up sheets.
Pull up blankets.
That’s it. There’s only three steps to making a bed, which is why the task takes roughly thirty seconds.
Next time you’re facing a task, try writing down every step you can think of. Then put them in the order that you need to accomplish. Then tackle the task, one step at a time.
But what about projects?
3. Break Projects Down into a Series of Tasks
Rather than looking at a project as the entire enchilada, like “plan John’s birthday party,” look at the project as a series of tasks, which you can then break down into single action steps.
In the party planning example, the tasks can be sorted into different categories, such as food, invitations, or beverages. A task under the invitations category would be to get stamps; another would be to gather all addresses in the same place.
When cleaning your house, you can break projects down into different parts. Your bedroom is one part. The kitchen is another. And so on.
When starting a blog, you can break that project down into different phases. For example, you’ll write posts, edit them, and finally publish them.
These three ways to break projects down can help you see in what order you need to carry out the tasks in the project.
You don’t have anything to lose by taking a hard look at your project list. If you can put off some projects until you’re feeling better, then do so. Managing depression is a project all in its own.
But for those you can’t put off, try brainstorming which tasks need done for that project, and then break them down further into single action steps after sorting those tasks into categories, phases, or parts.
This is no small feat when you’re depressed, I know. But just try it.
I wish you well in your journey.
What projects are on your to-do list? Let me know in the comments!
Hello! Welcome to the Bipolar Parent’s Saturday morning mental health check in.
How has your week been? Have you been spending time on your self-care or has that fallen by the wayside? How have you been sleeping? Hopefully well! Have you been able to adjust back to your daily routines from the holidays, or has that just been a mess? Let me know in the comments!
I’ve been facing some depression and exhaustion this week.
I missed my meds on Tuesday morning, which is my Wellbutrin, an antidepressant. I took half a dose in the afternoon, but because it shares a pathway in my brain with caffeine, it kept me awake at night. Unable to sleep on Tuesday, I took a sleep aid, which left me groggy and tired all day Wednesday, even after a nap when my toddler was at preschool.
But mostly, I’ve been having a hard time adjusting from Phoenix’s sun to Washington’s overcast skies, cold weather, and 100% humidity.
I just haven’t been able to get myself going this week. We arrived home last Saturday and I didn’t unpack until Friday night. My multivitamin, vitamin D, and iron supplements that I normally take every day were stuck in my suitcase for a week, which I’m sure has been affecting my mood.
All of this has left me worn out and down this week. I’m hoping next week will be better. I’ve unpacked, so that’s a start. But here’s hoping that I’ll adjust to my daily routines again–and soon.
The new year brings new beginnings and a sense of starting fresh. Everything is fresh and full of potential. What better time than the new year to start looking after your mental health?
January is Mental Wellness Month in the U.S. It’s part of a public health and awareness campaign set up by the International Association of Insurance Professionals (IAIP), an educational organization created for insurance professionals. Mental wellness focuses on prevention of further mental health issues rather than the treatment of what’s already there.
What You Can Do to Celebrate Mental Wellness Month
Taking a proactive approach to your mental health can help you nip problems in the bud. There are many things you can do to celebrate Mental Wellness Month, the foremost of which is looking after yourself. But you can also raise awareness of mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Here are some other things you can do during Mental Wellness Month:
Get a mental check up from your psychiatrist and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Set up an appointment with your psychiatrist today for a mental-health check in. If you don’t have a psychiatrist, ask for a referral from your primary care physician.
Plan out goals for the new year. Setting goals is a great way to challenge yourself. If you set a mental health goal like, “I will do self-care three times a week for eight weeks,” then you can look forward to taking better care of yourself.
Start a gratitude journal. Listing what you’re thankful for on a daily basis elevates serotonin, a feel good chemical. Start a gratitude journal to try to remind yourself of what you actually have, and don’t focus on what you don’t.
If you have bipolar disorder, you can start tracking your moods. Charting your moods when you have bipolar disorder is a helpful bellwether. If you track what you feel for a few weeks, your doctor will be able to read the data and make a better plan to treat you. You can also figure out your triggers for mood episodes. For a post on how to get started tracking your moods and why, click here.
Destress from the holidays. Prioritizing self-care during the holidays is difficult, which can make your mental health go down the toilet quickly. Getting back on track and making sure that you destress from the holidays is so important. Try meditation, a bubble bath, or eating a one-ounce square of dark chocolate.
Attend a therapy session to discuss your hopes and dreams and current struggles. Therapy is crucial for most people’s mental health. If you have a therapist, try to attend at least one session in the month of January to celebrate Mental Wellness Month.
Post about mental health issues on social media to raise awareness of mental wellness issues. Most of the time, I advocate for leaving social media behind, and not engaging more than you really need to. But, if you are going to browse social media and don’t want to give it up, then you can post about Mental Wellness Month and other mental health issues to raise awareness.
Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. Communicating with our friends and loved ones gives them a chance to help us, or manage their expectations of us. You don’t want to ask them to manage your emotions, but help cleaning the kitchen or taking the kids for an afternoon so you can get a nap in is a perfectly fine idea.
Make a commitment to eat better. Our diets affect our moods. I’ve written before about how plant-based, whole foods diets and Mediterranean diets can help alleviate symptoms of depression. Make a commitment to eat better for a month, and see how you feel at the end of it.
Celebrating Mental Wellness Month doesn’t have to be difficult. You can celebrate as little or as much as you want, publicly or privately. If you prioritize taking care of yourself during the month of January, that’s all the celebration you need.
Happy Mental Wellness Month!
What will you do to celebrate Mental Wellness Month? Leave me a note in the comments!
How are you? How was your New Year’s eve? Did you go to a party? Stay at home? Did fireworks keep you up? Let me know in the comments, or email me! I promise to reply.
My week was lovely. My immediate family (husband and two great kids) just arrived home from a two-week trip to Arizona, where my mother-in-law lives. I adore her, so the trip was a great one.
We also spent time with my husband’s father and his wife, and my husband’s brothers. A great deal of my side of the family live in Arizona as well, so my husband and kids were able to visit them also.
But it’s good to be home. I missed my bed. I mentioned previously that I was having trouble sleeping without a sleep aid. I am pleased to announce that I successfully slept each night of the two-week trip without taking anything except my usual Risperidone. That was surprisingly difficult to do!
If you’re on meds, have they helped you? Thanks for listening!
What do you want to accomplish in the next week? The next month? The next year?
A vision statement is usually reserved for businesses. It’s a purpose-driven overview of what the business owner wants to accomplish with their company. It should leave nothing to interpretation. You want to set this goal and contribute to the end result of the vision statement with little steps you can take during everyday life.
Most vision statements are an overarching goal of the company. For example, Disney’s is “make people happy.” There’s no reason you can’t write a personal, mental-health oriented vision statement. And yours doesn’t have to be nearly as ambitious, and you may want to center it on improving your own station rather than making other people happy, sometimes an impossible feat.
So how do you write a mental-health oriented vision statement to ring in the new year?
Basic Guidelines for Vision Statements
Here are the basic guidelines for vision statements. Keep in mind that you don’t have to follow all of these guidelines, but they’re good starting points.
A vision statement should be short. A vision statement is a brief outline of your goals. It should be one-to-two sentences, max.
A vision statement should be specific. What are you hoping to accomplish with your goal? Try to be as specific as possible. Disney’s vision statement, “make people happy,” is too general and too other-people focused for the vision statement you want to make.
A vision statement should be simple. Everyone who hears or reads your vision statement should be able to understand it. The less complex you make your end goal, the more likely it is that you are to follow it.
A vision statement should be ambitious, but achievable. When setting goals for yourself, you want to challenge yourself to accomplish great things. If you’re suffering from depression, such a challenge seems impossible to complete. That’s okay. You can adjust the level of ambition based on how you’re feeling. Like, “I will take a shower, feed myself, and make my bed everyday for six months.” These lofty goals are challenging for a depressed person, right? But definitely achievable.
Following these guidelines will help you write a compelling vision statement.
Vision Statement Examples
Using the above guidelines, set a goal for yourself which is mental-health oriented. Try to make the vision statement short, simple, specific, and ambitious but achievable.
“I will focus on self-care three days a week for eight weeks, which should improve my mood.”
“I will find a competent therapist and attend therapy as often as I can afford, but preferably once a month, for the next year.”
Try to stay true to yourself, and focus on the types of goals that you can achieve.
If you can, do some thinking about what kinds of overarching, mental-health oriented vision statements you want to set for the next six months to a year. Setting yourself an ambitious but achievable goal may encourage you to meet it, and hopefully take care of yourself in the new year.
Happy New Year!
What vision statement do you think you’ll set for yourself this year? Let me know in the comments!
How are you? If you celebrate Christmas, how was it? Did you get to spend some time alone? How are you doing on your self-care routines? Let me know in the comments!
My week has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, I spent time with family and had a great time playing games like Hearts and Hand and Foot.
On the other hand, I suffered from gastrointestinal issues for five days, including Christmas, where I had to lie down for several hours. We’re all a little sick over here, with various ailments. I was thinking that my nausea was a side effect of my doubled dose of Wellbutrin, but that remains to be seen.
But the illnesses didn’t take away from the magic of the holidays for me. I’m so glad I get to spend time with family who loves me, and we love each other.
Right now we’re driving up a snowy road to visit my side of the family. I’m so excited!
After the birth of my son eleven years ago, I suffered a postpartum psychotic breakdown and committed myself to a mental hospital. I later wrote a book detailing the experience, and how I reacted at the time. I learned many things during my five-day stay, and I’d like to share some of them with you today. Here are 9 things I learned at the psych ward:
Anger is common. The most surprising lesson I learned during my stay at the mental hospital was that anger is shockingly common for patients at first. While there, the doctors seem to be your enemies who want to keep you there. It’s not true. Your doctors want to help you exit the facility successfully. Couple the us vs. them mentality with emotional and mental distress, and it’s not suprising that patients tend to respond with anger. But the heightened emotion tends to dissipate over the length of the stay, as the medication starts working.
Inpatient treatment is a stopgap. A stay in a mental hospital is similar to a stay in the physical hospital for surgery: you don’t fully recover while you’re there. A mental break or depressive episode can’t be solved in a day, no matter how good the meds are.
The patients are human. One of my main mistakes during my stay in the mental hospital in the mental hospital was dismissing the other patients as “crazy.” But the patients in a mental hospital are human, with all of humanity’s weaknesses and strengths. Everyone has a story. Everyone is suffering more than you know. I learned that I shouldn’t dehumanize or dismiss people because they’re suffering from mental illnesses–including myself.
The staff is human, too. Learning that the patients were human was hard, but what was even harder was recognizing that the staff were human, too. At first, I believed the doctors and nurses were out to get me. But the staff are all individuals, and human. Some of them are kind and compassionate, while others are just working a shift. I learned to accept the flaws and foibles of all the nurses and psychiatrists, and that made the stay more bearable.
Boredom reigns supreme. After my anger diminished, I was bored out of my skull. I was manic and depressed–suffering from a mixed episode–and restless. The only distractions available were coloring sheets, an ancient, derelict computer, reading old issues of Reader’s Digest, and (gasp!) talking to the other patients. I was far too revved up to engage in coloring or sloooow web surfing or reading, so I talked the ears off of my roommate.
Even while psychotic, I was aware of how people treated me. Even during my psychotic break, I was able to pick up on other people’s moods. I don’t know if that’s just a “me thing,” or if everyone psychotic is that in tune with others, but I knew when people were mistreating me. Be careful when dealing with psychotic people, and treat them with respect.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. During my stay in the mental hospital, I grew close to my roommate. Too close. I struggled to separate myself from her, even feeling shocked and betrayed that she would vote for a different presidential candidate than I would. I genuinely believed we shared the same thoughts. Learning boundaries was extremely difficult for me, but everyone benefited.
The nurses draw your blood after every meal. The other patients and I were required to sit in a garish, orange chair after every meal and “donate” blood. The nurses drew our blood thrice daily, and it wasn’t until the middle of my stay that I realized they were checking to see if the medication was up to acceptable levels.
If you commit yourself, the doctors cannot legally hold you. Missing the first few weeks of my infant’s life was devastating. I was desperate to go home and take care of him. It wasn’t until my fifth day that I learned, through a slip of the tongue from a nurse, that, since I committed myself, I was able to go home anytime. I left against medical advice the day after that–potentially a mistake, as my recovery time from my mixed episode was probably longer than it would have been because I didn’t allow the doctors to do their jobs. Thankfully, God was with me and I did, eventually, recover (see lesson #2).
My stay in the mental hospital was literally life-saving. I learned more about myself there in six days than I learned in a year’s worth of therapy prior to that. I learned how to manage myself, other people, and my expectations of those people. I managed my surprising anger. I learned that dehumanizing others is easy and a bad habit to slip into. I learned that mental hospitals sound like scary places, but they’re actually really boring. Above all, I learned that I can handle anything life throws at me.
If you’ve dealt with a stay in a mental hospital, what have you learned?
Hello! Welcome to The Bipolar Parent’s Saturday Morning Mental Health Check In: Holiday Travel Edition!
Are you going anywhere for the holidays? Do you want to go where you’re going? If you’re not traveling anywhere, and you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Would you take your kids with you, or would you like a vacation all by yourself? Let me know in the comments!
My week has been… productive. My husband took our toddler across the country by himself to visit his mother, so I’ve been left with our older son, who has school until Friday. We’ll be joining my husband this afternoon, so by the time you read this, I’m probably on a plane, haha.
I used the time I had this week to deep clean the house, write several blog posts, sleep, and make Christmas gifts for my extended family. My “Prep for [State] trip” had 60+ items on it, and I checked off 98% of them.
I’ve been taking the sleep aid almost every night, which made getting up at 6:30am to send my son to school very difficult. I’m worried that I might be a bit dependent on the sleep aid, which is not where I want to be. I’ve packed the pills in my carry-on luggage, but I’m going to try to get to sleep without medication tonight.
Christmas shopping. Some people love it. Most people hate it. Whatever your feelings on the subject, picking the perfect gifts for everyone on your list can be stressful. And it’s pretty late in the game to be shopping for gifts.
So, are you looking for last-minute, frugal gift ideas for those loved ones in your life who suffer from depression? Then look no further, because here is The Bipolar Parent’s Last-Minute, Frugal Gift Guide for People Suffering from Depression!
I’d like to preface this gift guide by saying that whomever you’re giving gifts to, keep in mind whether the recipient will actually be able to use the gift. People who suffer from depression are easily overwhelmed. You want to offer them a present which won’t overwhelm them, and you definitely don’t want to have expectations that they will use the gift.
Presents don’t have to be expensive, but if they’re thoughtful, your loved one will appreciate them. If you can, do some research to figure out what your loved one likes and is into. Look into their social media posts and find out what he or she is posting about. That can give you a clue as to what your friend or loved one enjoys.
If you are a frugal person buying for a frugal person, the best gifts you can give are practical ones. Most frugal people are content with what they have, and don’t want to fill their houses with stuff they won’t use. So the best gifts you can give, aside from time, are consumables, like food, journals, or gift certificates to places they like.
With that in mind, here is the ultimate last-minute, frugal gift guide for people suffering from depression:
One of the proven ways to help alleviate symptoms of depression is writing a gratitude journal. My son recommended I try keeping one this Sunday, in fact. A beautiful journal to help your loved one record his or her thoughts is a thoughtful and usually welcome gift.
Bonus: If you have the time, before giving the journal, write an affirmation about the person that you believe–and that you hope he or she believes, too–or a positive quote on the bottom of each page. This is the gift that I’m giving my mother-in-law this year.
A planner may be a tricky gift to give, because your loved one might think that you’re making a comment on him or her being unorganized. But if you know the person well and know he or she won’t be offended by your gifting them a planner, then your loved one will enjoy having a place to keep all their appointments together. Most people like calendars to ring in the new year. My brother-in-law gets his mother a pig calendar every year, and a planner is just a step up from that.
My friend, Sophie, at WellandWealthy.org has a planner specifically tailored towards people suffering from depression. There are self-care tips, space for to-do lists, and pages with prompts to reflect on the week. You have to print the Do It With a Smile Planner yourself, but it’s a great resource.
3. Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are excellent for people who suffer from anxiety or depression. When the world feels overwhelming, slipping under the weighted blanket can help soothe you–or your gift recipient. Occupational therapists have noticed that the deep pressure of a weighted blanket placed on the patients’ bodies calmed them. Give the gift of calmness and peace. To find a highly-recommended weighted blanket on Amazon, click here.
4. Fine Chocolate
If your loved one has a sweet tooth, then a fine chocolate is a highly-recommended gift. Try to pick out a strange chocolate that your recipient may not have tried, like a sweet hot pepper variety.
5. Coffee Mug with a Hot Chocolate Mix
Similar to the fine chocolate suggestion above, a coffee mug with a hot chocolate mix is a gift that will give pleasure to your loved one with a sweet tooth. If you can make your own hot chocolate mix (recipe here), even better.
6. Gift Certificate to a Massage
Often, people with depression don’t tend to take time for themselves for self-care. If you can offer them a gift certificate for a massage–provided they don’t mind being touched by a professional massage therapist–then they will appreciate such a thoughtful gift. Try to go local to your loved one’s area, or give a gift certificate to a national chain like Massage Envy.
7. A USB Stick with Family Photos
This gift might take a little bit of your time, but decently-sized USB memory sticks are fairly cheap nowadays. These are great gifts on their own, but if you can fill them with a curated set of family photos centered on the depressed person, you’ll be able to give a touching gift.
8. A Box of Crayons and an Adult Coloring Book
Adult coloring books can be a wonderful form of stress relief. These aren’t your kid’s coloring books: they’re more complex and feature beautiful pictures to color ranging from animals to flowers to mandalas. They’re fairly inexpensive, too, if you get the right one.
9. A Box of Tea
If you have tea drinkers in your life, they probably have a preference as to how they like their tea. Green, black, herbal–there are many types of tea out there. If you can, try to get one your loved one hasn’t tried. Harvey and Sons is a good brand, and I highly recommend their Hot Spice Cinnamon Tea. It has orange peel and warm spices, and while I’m allergic to oranges, I’ve never had a reaction to the tea.
10. A Book You’ve Read Recently and Loved
If you’re a reader and so is your loved one, buy him or her a copy of a book you’ve read recently and loved. Tell your gift recipient that you will make time to have a lunch date with him or her to discuss the book, but also let him or her know that there’s no pressure, and you’re not expecting that he or she finishes the book right away.
11. Your Time
The best present you can give anyone you love (and who loves you) is your time. Schedule a dinner date with him or her where you bring over dinner, a movie night where you bring the popcorn and the rented movie, or offer to help clean his or her kitchen, if you know he or she will accept your help. Show up intending to spend some time with your loved one, and you’ll be giving an attentive and caring gift.
People who suffer from depression need to know that you care. One of the best ways to show them that you love them and are rooting for them is to offer them your presence. Gift giving is about the people involved, not necessarily the present itself.
It also doesn’t matter how much you spend on the gift. What matters is the thought and care you put into your selection. If you can personalize the gift or make it more meaningful by adding a handwritten note wishing them a happy holiday season, then all the better.
It just takes love.
What gifts are you getting for your loved ones this year? Let me know in the comments!