When we do not feel like smiling

Sometimes we do not feel like smiling.

forcing a smile

Forcing a smile

Have you ever been too anxious or too depressed to be able to smile.

Forcing ourselves to smile several times a day reduces anxiety and depression.

Leaving a pen between your teeth is said to be more effective than antidepressants. It is a lot cheaper and no horrible side-effects!

Smiling can be the quickest way to feel better.

I used to believe that people become miserable then stop smiling. Now I mostly believe: People who stop smiling become miserable.  We all need to smile from time to time to feel good.

The mood we show and the mood we are

Consciously or unconsciously we sometimes show a different mood to the one we are experiencing.

Young children do not tend to do this. If a child is upset you usually know he/she is upset. We acquire the ability to show an alternative mood as we grow up. It can be a blessing, especially if you are a professional actor or have a job that requires not showing too much emotion. For example: If you are nervous when providing training, the ability to seem calm can help greatly as people like to learn from trainers who appear to be calm.

Judith’s comment, “I APPEARED to be calm, but later realized that I was NOT feeling calm at all”, highlights a problem for those at risk of a bipolar diagnosis.

Consistently looking calmer than we really are will delay help. When appearing calm our associates will believe we are coping. It is a common theme that people who are struggling with big moods fail to get early help because the extremes are not recognised early enough.

In recovery when we look and act calm, health professionals may believe:

1) we really are calm

2) our internal mood is not what we are displaying

3) we are pretending to be calm

How they help you will depend on this belief, so it is important they do what they can to be as sure as possible the calm displayed matches inner calmness.

This need to know more about the internal mood also applies for displayed levels of anxiety, depression and over-activity.

Would you agree that this is a skill that comes with experience?

And our target is…

To avoid, overcome or eliminate a disorder we have to be a bit cleverer than just looking at what we are trying to avoid.

Mood Map Miller

Calm moods instead of diagnosis?

On workshops I have given students cards with symptoms of bipolar disorder written on the cards.

I have asked the students to place the symptoms on a mood map according to which of the four main moods the symptoms seem to show.

At the end of the exercise the symptoms are spread out across the depressive, anxious and active sectors. It seems that the bipolar diagnosis picks up people who are exceptional at being in either two or three of these states. The people who get the diagnosis will have been seen being both depressed and anxious, or depressed and active or anxious and active. The third of these may come as a surprise, as surely you have to be seen to be depressed to be diagnosed as manic-depressive? We can come back to that another time.

With a set of say 40 typical bipolar symptoms it is rare that the students will place any of the symptoms in the fourth quadrant of the mood map. The calm quadrant remains pretty well empty. It is this quirk that only seems to be revealed by mood mapping that gives us our target and our big break in combating bipolar disorder diagnosis.

Rather than looking at one symptom after another and thinking, “I must avoid that”, “I must stop doing that”, now we can start with a mood to aim for rather than moods to avoid.

I am interested to hear from readers who have achieved a better life by being calmer.

I am interested to hear from readers who know why calmer is a great target, yet not the ‘be all and end all’/’ultimate aim’ if you want to avoid a bipolar diagnosis.

We need to have the right target

In the battle against bipolar disorder diagnosis we need to have a target… something to aim for. I started out by learning about self management of moods. The target was to stay well, however, I found it limiting as the target is a bit vague and did not seem to tackle the root causes of mood instability. When I learned about mental health recovery through studying WRAP I set up www.bipolarrecovery.org. I seemed to have taken a step in the right direction in looking towards recovery and not just managing the disorder.

However, I was still accepting that bipolar disorder was a real thing, like a real illness that had definable causes and in some way separable from other illnesses and disorders. After more than 10 years of study I can say that bipolar disorder is no more than a way for health professionals to quickly tell each other that you have various symptoms. It is controversial and for some shocking to hear this, but please stay with me.

There are a great many symptoms that go with a bipolar disorder diagnosis. The symptoms range widely including; not sleeping enough, spending more than you can afford, talking too fast, appearing to be over-ambitious… yet none of these are unique. People can experience these four symptoms and many of the other listed symptoms of bipolar disorder and not get the diagnosis. While others who only have a few of the symptoms can be given a bipolar II disorder diagnosis. This is a variety that has less extreme highs.

Avoiding any bipolar diagnosis, recovery after a diagnosis and eliminating the diagnosis all start with having some knowledge of bipolar disorder and this means having some knowledge of the symptoms the health professionals are noticing. If we are not careful this can be become a huge task as the symptoms are so various and most seem no more than extremes of what everyone does. Too much focus on symptoms can also be self-defeating.

It is like me saying, “Do not think of a blue tree.” If you did not think of a blue tree just then or have still managed not to think or imagine a blue tree in any way at all, then I would like to hear how you managed this. :0)

Thinking about symptoms can be like this. To avoid, overcome or eliminate a disorder we have to be a bit cleverer than just looking at what we are trying to avoid.

Rethinking Bipolar – Looking for change?

bipoler disorder

Bipolar: Is it just up & down?

Are you fed up with having a diagnosis of bipolar disorder?

Want to get rid of the disorder part?

Lots of people do and get their bipolar ‘in-order’.

Is it ever possible to get rid of the diagnosis part?

Now that is more of a challenge…

Skip to: Our target is

Photo: Geraint Smith

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