Dreamer (620 words)

During a discussion with a friend I remembered this post that I wrote in 2006 and updated in 2009. I believe it is just as true today.

Dreamer

You got to have a dream, If you don’t have a dream, How you gonna have a dream come true?” – South Pacific

We have all dreamt while asleep and some of us will have woken up and thought, “That’s a good idea, I must follow that through”. Mainly though the visionary plans we call dreams come to us when awake, often forming and becoming clearer little by little over many days or even years. Those of us lucky enough to have such dreams have the chance to do all we can to realise them.

Everybody builds a dream in their lifetime. You’re either going to build your dream, or somebody else’s. So build your own!” – Christopher LaBrec

There are more dreams in the world than people and (in a memetic way) each dream is vying for our time and energy. Many dreams never get off the ground. What in the pub or in the bath seems like a great idea will the next morning at work or at the shops give way to humdrum everyday life. Each of the small activities, filling so much of our day, is just part of someone else’s dream. If you are not doing your dream job the likelihood is you are working for someone else who once had a great dream. If you work for the Virgin group you are part of Richard Branson’s dream. When you buy Kentucky Fried Chicken are you not living Colonel Sander’s dream?

We would have to live on a desert island to avoid become part of other people’s dreams!

I have had many great ideas, a few I have focused on and created something tangible. The majority have been crowded out, never really seeing the light of day.

In business I wanted my own successful training business. The reality I have realised is that joining in with other trainers and sharing each other’s dreams makes perfect sense. This troubled me at first. I worried about losing my own dream. It has taken a while to appreciate this sharing of other people’s dreams is giving the greatest boost to my dreams.

“Any dream will do” – Joseph, The Musical

If you have a dream that you really care about and feel one day it will come to fruition, no matter what that dream might be please do not lose it. Even if you find yourself doing other people’s stuff 99% of the time save 1% for your special dream. Also do not limit yourself to one great idea. Have as many dreams as you want. If your first dream isn’t working out or you cannot find anyone to share it with, then you will have dream 2, dream 3, dream 4…… to turn to.

What has this to do with bipolar recovery? I think that so often when we get labelled with a mental illness we can be expected (by others and perhaps by ourselves) to forget the dreams we had before or not to follow new dreams in case they turn out to be too grandiose. However, recovery requires us to have longer term plans than just getting through each day. Yes, at first it is likely to be about getting through each day – or even getting through each 5 minutes. One day, we need to consider ourselves recovered enough to dream of things being better and then letting ourselves have the energy to make a fresh start towards making dreams come true.

What do you hope to do? If you haven’t done so for a while, you might like to take a moment now to write down a few things you hope to achieve.

Dare I ask: Is there anything I could help you with?

© 2009 Roger Smith www.stoppaddling.com Bipolar Recovery Bite-size©

Bipolar IN Order? How well does Tom Wootton’s approach work?

If you believe you have bipolar disorder or any kind of disorder that seems or sounds a bit like bipolar then it is worth knowing about Tom Wootton’s Bipolar IN Order.

https://www.bipolaradvantage.com/lp/building-your-team-lp/

This may not be for everyone, just that if you don’t give it a go you will never know.

Best wishes

Roger

Fasting responsibly to improve mood in longer term

I’m not recommending the Master Fast System – just that this article and the 12 minute embedded video is making me think how, it seems, we have all been programmed to believe we cannot go for more than a few hours without eating.

Recently, I’ve been eating later in evening again and earlier in morning again and gut-pain, poor-sleep and troublesome-moods have returned. So, I’m going back to no food after 6pm and no food before 10am = 16 hours not eating and 8 hours eating. In recent times that is when I felt and functioned best.

Article and embedded video: http://www.corespirit.com/happened-body-didnt-eat-21-days/

If little time and prepared to hear the most gruesome bit then listen from 5m 30s… on to where Alanna Ketler says, “a foot and half long”.

This does highlight many of the benefits for those who have the willpower to fast for longer periods.

Best wishes

Roger

Bipolar Driving Analogy #Wootton

Yesterday, in ‘Psychology Today’, my good friend, Tom Wootton posted a useful short article called, “Bipolar Treatment Is More Than Just Tools To Lower Intensity

Here are a few words from it; “I see too many people who have never learned yet convince themselves that they know how to drive. When their mania gets stronger than they can handle they don’t even have the good sense to put on the brakes. And then, when someone else puts on the brakes for them, they go back to imagining that they know how to drive. Their repeated failure to actually learn the necessary steps is just reinforcing the false notion among everyone around them that it cannot be done.

In the work I have been doing I have found car and driving analogies to be really useful. It fits with the picture millions of people have of recovery, or even everything about life being a journey.

Most people reading this will have passed a driving test after many hours of instruction from a tutor with a great deal of experience. How many of us have done such intensive training for managing our moods and our long-term well-being?

The Daily Philosophy of an Ex-Mental Patient – Laura Delano

Although taking time off from all things bipolar to support Becky and her new baby, when a good friend sent me a link to this article I decided it well worth sharing even more widely: the-daily-philosophy-of-an-ex-mental-patient

Here is an excerpt: “Challenge the stories you’re telling yourself about how worthless, broken, and unacceptable you are—those are stories taught to you by forces profiting off of keeping you dis-empowered, silent, passive, and dependent.

Let me know if you are finding such ideas useful.

Ups and Downs – Video – Alice Hicks and Roger Smith #bipolar

Alice and I made this film at Rethink’s London  HQ on the Thames just before the 2012 Olympics.

Ups and Downs video on Utube

 

Still acting as if… #bipolarwellness

More than a year ago I wrote about ‘acting as if’. It is a way of staying well, feeling well and achieving more. When we act as if we are well we will most likely appear well and most likely feel well. The opposite would be to act unwell, to appear unwell and feel unwell. There are reasons to act unwell but it is not a great way to live in the long-term.

Acting well, does not require any great effort. For most of us it is a habit. It is the habit that causes us to say, “ I’m fine” when someone casually asks how we are, and a moment later we think, ‘well, really I’m feeling a bit rough this morning’.

I act as if well almost all the time. The main exceptions are when I am at home. At home I tend to share my aches, pains, anxieties…

By putting all my unwellness into my time at home – largely into the hours of darkness, allows me to carry on acting well all day when out and about. Recently I have met several people I have not seen for years, who have exclaimed, “Wow, you’re looking well”. People are easily fooled by a bit of weight loss, tidy hair, neat clothes and a smile. They are not aware unless I say anything of how little I have been sleeping or that the weight loss seems to be related to serious health issues.

However, there are ‘downsides’ to always acting as if well when you know you are not well. It is reasonable to do this for a while, but if you know things are getting worse…. If you feel you are becoming more ill then at some point the acting has to stop. This is not about having a breakdown in front of the boss (Done this! It is rarely a good idea!). It is more about finding someone you trust and sharing your concerns. Ideally this person you trust will also understand that feeling bad and feeling anxious about feeling bad are natural and not a sign of weakness.

For me, I have reached a point where I cannot carry on doing everything I have been doing. I am fortunate that my only kind of regular employment is with a mental health charity, who understand anxiety is normal and anxiety can from time to time be disabling. I have not forgotten though what it is like to be unsure how your employer will react to admissions of emotional weakness. It could be that you will never feel able to act anything other than well when at work… even so, everyone needs sooner or later to find someone they can share their anxieties with… we all need a time when we can behave just according to our feelings, and for a while forget about the clever idea that our feelings usually follow the way we act.

I would love to hear your views on this article.

– – –

Training ourselves to be less bipolar #KitJohnson

I’m plenty old enough to remember Bob Geldof and the Boom Town Rats in their prime and so was especially attracted to this article from Kit Johnson. His explanation of how brains work… it seems very believable to me. And besides, does it matter if his theory cannot be proved. The fact that what he says works makes it well worth repeating. Have a read…

http://kit-johnson.com/silicon-chip-inside-her-head-is-switched-to-overload/?goback=%2Egde_164693_member_162336619

If you are wondering where the idea of ‘the silicon chip inside her head is switched to overload‘ comes from – here is a link to wiki…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Like_Mondays

UK Number One single 28 July 1979 – 24 August 1979

Food colours and moods #azodyes #hyperactivity #dangerousfoodcolors

Do colorants added to our food and drink affect our mood?

The simple answer is that a lot of people never notice any effect from additives such as ‘sunset yellow (E110)’ and ‘ponceau 4R (E124)’.

Many people know they are affected. They only need to consume the tiniest amount of any of the colours known as AZO-DYES to have dramatic changes in energy level. When these changes in energy lead to sleepless nights or nightmares or hallucinations the disruption to a person’s life can be huge.

As well as those who know they are affected and those who seem to be unaffected, there are millions of do not realise that these additives are affecting their moods. They put poor sleep down to other things. They may simply accept changes in sleep, energy levels and their ability to concentrate to be ‘random’.

Avoiding these colours is not easy. Sometimes governments help, such as the USA government banning ponceau 4R, whereas in the European Union it is simply labelled as E124 and allowed to be added to a range of foods.

Maybe your own moods are not affected. Maybe you have never lived with a child who has destructive-hyperactivity fueled by these additives? Even so, think about this… The American government believes ‘ponceau 4R E124’ is so dangerous that any food that contains it is seized and destroyed. Are they over-reacting? I think not. The UK Food Standards Agency has been wanting six of these dyes to be banned since a 2007 study indicated these chemicals are bad for us.

Here is a recent update from the Food Standards agency http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2012/july/burger-king-coca-cola

Separating mental health from physical health isn’t working #crisishouses #NHS #rethinkmentalillness

MENTAL ILLNESS SERVICE?

In the UK the National Health Service has a clear division between physical and mental health. It is crazy. It does not work.

Have you ever met someone with a significant physical health problem who was not anxious about it?

Just about as rare is to find someone with a long-term mental health diagnosis who does not have physical health problems.

My recent experiences with the NHS are of the two parts of the NHS passing patients between each other. Doctor’s who treat only physical health say, “It is all in the mind” and refer anxious patients to psychiatric services. Psychiatrists with more time to listen to their patients get to hear more about their physical health problems and realise that much of the emotional distress is coming from lack of treatment for physical health conditions.

The overall effect is that the NHS has developed a MENTAL ILLNESS SERVICE and not a service focused on well-being and recovery. Patients within this service are labelled as unwell and these labels (such as bipolar, schizophrenia and personality disorders) lead the overworked staff in the mainstream (physical health) part of the NHS to discriminate. This discrimination takes the form of directing the limited resources for diagnosis and treatment away from those considered as mentally ill.

Three weeks ago I asked a nurse why she did not ask a patient about an aspect of their physical health. She thought for a while then said, but she has a psychiatric disorder and would lie. The assumptions that go with psychiatric labels are staggering. The patient was in fact suffering from food allergies, exhaustion and dehydration but the psychiatric label was enough to stop any physical health intervention at all.

What can be changed?

Fortunately some changes are underway. One change that needs to be rolled out across the country is to replace most psychiatric wards from places where people are detained in distressing conditions with staff who have largely lost hope… with crisis houses, where people who are stressed out and need respite can go to have a few days away from the pressures of work, family and modern life. That is what psychiatric patients are telling me they needed to avoid long stays on what they see as mental illness wards.

Here is an initiative in north London that is already underway…

http://www.rethink.org/how_we_can_help/news_and_media/local_press_releases/event_marks_official.html

(link working on 20th July 2012)

Through our new social enterprise Rethinking Health we are keen to work with others towards developing services for all aspects of health and well-being.

Choose your mood

For more than a year I have asked training course participants if this statement is ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘maybe’…

“I choose my mood and am in the mood I want to be in most of the time”

I have been surprised that many nurses, social workers and similar participants say this is not true for them. They then say it is not true for the people they are paid to help.

Surely we should be able to choose our mood most of the time. If we find that our moods are almost entirely depend on our circumstances there is a huge risk that we could become increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied.

If we are going to help others recover from mood disorders and help others with choosing their moods we first need to practice choosing our own moods.

We can help clients, friends and family better when we are able to choose our own moods.

See: What is emotion?

Crises change lives

After winning an Olympic swimming medal, Steve Parry was asked how he came to be so good at swimming. He said that at age six he could not swim when he fell off a canal boat and had to cling to the boat for ages to avoid drowning. He agreed that if this had not happened his parents would not have taken him for swimming lessons and he would have been unlikely to have made the Olympics.

Millions of people have been through a crisis and the experience has put them on a new path. Having a mental health crisis is often taken as a sign that it is time to change something in our lives.

Steve’s parents could have just noticed that he had a tendency to fall off boats and decided not to take him on any more boats. Our doctor’s may notice that stressful events cause us to have mood swings. They may recommend we avoid certain situations or give us medication. Neither of these options seem like the swimming lessons opportunity to me. Medication might be more like a life jacket – well worth having at times but not ideal to wear every minute of every day for the rest of our lives.

After psychiatric admissions in 1997, 98 and 99 my ‘swimming lessons’ for me was a Wellness Recovery Action Planning course, since which time I have stayed out of hospital and consistently needed less medication.

Wellness Recovery Action Planning – Leicester 6th Sept and 8th November 2011

Taking a break

bipolar balance

knowing our limits

A long time ago when I was very anxious I was given a drug to calm me down. I calmed down too much and I was given a drug to pick me up. I picked up too much and was given a mood stabilizer. With this came a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. These days, some might say that this was ‘Bipolar 4’ – The type induced by taking inappropriate medication.

For my quest to make it easier for people to be ‘undiagnosed when they never had bipolar disorder’ or ‘when the risks of becoming unwell again have receded’ it is paramount that I stay well.  If there are doubts about my health there will be a lot of people not wanting to listen to the ideas I put forward about recovery after bipolar diagnosis.

I have been busy for a few weeks with submission of the manuscript for our book on bipolar diagnosis for nurses.  This is now with the publishers with the publication date set for 12th December 2011. Now, I feel I can pick up the blogging again.

Doubters might say, “That proves he has a mood disorder. He blogs every few days then has to stop for a month – clearly he can’t cope.”

More realistically we all juggle the projects we are involved with, stopping and starting. Recognising how much we can realistically achieve and what can be stopped and restarted is a sign of healthy thinking. If I am at fault, it is in my feeling that I need to apologize for not blogging… This is driven by anxiety not by bipolar disorder.

Act as if #choosingyourmood

mood-act-as-if

sad inside – ‘putting on a face’

With the training I do, I have found that people who suffer from mood disorders and perhaps surprisingly those who care for them have low expectations of being able to choose a mood and then be in their chosen mood.

People who are making good recoveries from mood disorder and people who I see as doing very well in life have far stronger beliefs in their ability to choose their mood.

I have previous written about how people choose their moods by first choosing an attitude. Put simply this is a matter of ‘act as if’.

If you were to change your breathing to be rapid and shallow, like a person having a panic attack, you will almost certainly start to feel anxious. Please do not try this if you are prone to panic attacks. In fact there is no need to do this at all, as you already know it is true.

mood success

Good behaviours can create good moods

If you, now, change your breathing to be both slower and deeper, like a person doing yoga, you will almost certainly start to feel calmer. If you are not familiar with this technique for lessening anxiety, now is the time to meet with an expert who can teach you more about breathing, as it can be the simplest and least expensive way to take more control of your mood.

This is what ‘act as if’ is about. If you act like an anxious person, you will become slightly more anxious. If you act like a depressed person you will become slightly more depressed.

If you act like a calm person you will become a little calmer.

It works!

When it comes to mood we all already do some acting.

  • Can you think where sometimes acting can get us into trouble?

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Aiming to be calm

Do you remember learning to drive?

It was long time ago for me. More recently I have taught family members basic driving skills. Driving can have some similarities to the blue tree exercise. If the instructor says, “Don’t drive on the white lines” the pupil starts looking at the white lines and sure enough they either drive on the lines more or they lose focus on other aspects of their driving. To get better at driving, or anything else, a target to aim for is better than one to avoid.

dark mood road

“Looking ahead”

It has taken me decades to realise that a focus on avoiding anxiety, depression and over-activity is rarely as effective as when we focus on being calmer.

If you are thinking, “Don’t some people get a bit too calm and isn’t that a problem too?”

Yes, some people do get too calm, but in the busy world we live in, it is not so common and may never attract health professionals.

The health profession likes calm people. Remember calm = positive feelings with lower energy. When we are calm we feel good and so will rarely trouble our doctor. (Besides, people who are calm all the time probably have not read as far as this… if you are a calm all the time person and have read this far please send in some tips :-))

More seriously though, do you agree that bipolar tends to be seen in people who fail to be calm when in front of health professionals?

Photo: www.geraintsmith.com