Do you experience recurring episodes of overwhelming worry and panic?
What about intense frustration over knowing how you should feel, but your body isn’t cooperating?
Between the low-low’s and the high-high’s, and the panic attacks inbetween, I’ve had to lean on quotes and affirmations to pull me through until the next stable moment where I can see my life in the light of reality. Here is a list of some of my most helpful truths that refer to common symptoms of the mental health conditions I have; Bipolar & ADHD… my hope and prayer is that these truths can be as helpful to you as they have been for me as regular – almost daily reminders:
In The Bipolar Workbook I learned about setting an anchor when I stumble into temptation to harm myself. My anchor are my nieces & nephews. I have written down, and I keep physical reminders with me as a visual [positive] trigger, a reminder circuit to refocus and remind me to not ‘go all the way’. The reminder is:
“What example would I be giving them about feeling hopeless in life? I can choose to live for them so they know that it is possible, even if everything feels hopeless, that you can survive this life. Even if survival means taking it one day at a time.”
Please also know that there is always someone available to talk to if you’re experiencing feelings of not wanting to live, please call the Suicide Hotline. These people want to hear what’s on your mind, their job is devoted to waiting by the phone for you to call. 800-273-8255 . You can also text ‘HOME’ to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor if you’re feeling like texting would be easier than talking on the phone.
I get impulsive when I am feeling extremely high, and in the past I had a habit of creating lot’s of big plans, pulling all-nighters, deleting blogs and creating new blogs, piling up responsibilities because I felt like I had all the energy and ability to do everything GOOD for people I love. “I can do it!” “I’ll do this for you”, etc… so now I set limits of time:
- Will I still want to do this in two weeks?
- Can I give myself 24 hours to think about this?
- I will focus on only ONE of these good ideas today.
- What commitments and projects am I already doing? Can I write down this good idea to consider in the future?
- “Let me think about this, can I let you know tomorrow?”
I mindfully try to always keep in mind what I already have in action. I don’t deny myself the possibilities, nor do I immediately decline invitations to be of service or get together for visits – but I try to space things out, knowing that after I get ‘high’ in mania, I always come back down and if I have to break commitments or reduce the load on my daily tasks, I want to help myself out by not having a major crash of disappointment or embarrassment because of the inability to follow-through.
If I hit the threshold of my stress levels, I can easily break into an episode of paranoia, or even full on psychosis where I pull completely away from reality. One preventative measure I try to use to keep my mind in a reasonable area of thinking when I worry what others may be thinking or feeling about me is to remind myself of logic:
You’re not that popular that people have the time and resources to dedicate to sitting around talking about you! They’re more worried about what others are thinking of them!
- Why am I disappointed?
- What is my agenda?
- What am I trying to prove?
- Why do I care so much – am I insecure? Why?
If I so badly want to avoid ‘the disease to please’, have the freedom to say “no”, disagree, and be and feel confident in being different – knowing I am still loved, safe, and loving towards others – why am I disappointed? What am I trying to prove, and can I let it go?
I then take a moment to [mindfully] ‘look in the mirror’:
Can I let others be their own person just as I wish to feel like my own person without pressure to be, do, believe, and feel the same?
When I get upset I am mirroring the same behavior I am trying to avoid from others.
I am not responsible for others feelings. They choose, like I choose, how to respond. Boundaries can help manage expectations.
“We cannot live a brave life without disappointing some people. However, the people who are rooting for our rise will not be disappointed. The only people who are disappointed are the ones who have their own agenda.”– Oprah Winfrey
I naturally worry about locks and if appliances that heat up are turned off/ unplugged after I’m done, so I know I normally check at least twice already immediately after I finish. When I go back to check again I slowly hold on to a pointed part of the plug or handle and count to three. As a rule, I only get that one last check and I let go as I remind myself of these affirmations:
- I am safe.
- My angels are actively helping me.
- I am giving this worry to God and trust that I have done enough.
Use all five senses to ground yourself:
- Start by listing five things you hear
- Four things you see
- Three things you can touch from where you’re sitting
- Two things you can smell
- One thing you can taste
ANTs (automatic negative thinking):
- Is it absolutely true with 100% certainty?
- How do I feel when I believe this thought?
- How do I treat myself with this thought? How do I treat others?
- How would I feel if I couldn’t have this thought?
- Is there a good reason for me to hold onto this thought?
I become overwhelmed with panic and worry when I feel unsafe. Feeling unsafe usually leads to a complete meltdown / panic attack. One way I have found to successfully prevent panic attacks is by implementing healthy boundaries in my relationships with others, so I can gently build and nurture a positive expectation of how I can show up for them, and how I can feel [emotionally] safe and confident.
“Personal boundaries are how we teach people who we are and how we would like to be handled in relationships. Boundaries help you to say, “This is who I am.” Setting healthy boundaries allows you to connect with yourself, your emotions and your needs. It allows you to feel safe, to relax and to feel empowered to care for yourself.”– Keeping Good Boundaries & Getting Your Needs Met – PsychCentral
Boundaries = Healthy Love
Healthy Love = Giving & receiving gestures of love free of feelings of resentment.
You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say “no”.
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
My greatest weakness, especially when under a cloud of depression, is insecurity. I tend to worry quite a bit how others feel about me, and the consequences from this sometimes debilitating fear is a slow outcome of my life goals. It’s not that I have given up on those goals, it just takes me longer to warm up to being brave to face possible rejection. RSD (rejection sensitive dysphoria) causes a very real, extreme, emotional pain tied to feelings of rejection. Thoughts that I have often begin with “what if…” and “why did they…”.
What if I take this leap of faith and <insert tragic outcome>.
What if I disappoint others?
Why did they unfollow / unlike / leave ? Was it something I said?
Practicing affirmations and visualization of The Best Possible Outcome has helped ease the [very real] emotional pain from RSD:
I attract only those who need my light, and I embrace them with love. Others who walk away are in need of a different light, and I send only love to them on their journey.
True confidence and joy wasn’t rooted in how others viewed me, but in finding happiness and value in being unique and different than others. I was OK being ME – ‘flaws and all’!
If you think of yourself as just an ‘ordinary person’ who doesn’t make much of a difference in this life, so has every great person in history felt the same way.
You know that feeling you have when you feel like you forgot something? You left the house, you start the car, and wonder… “what am I forgetting?”… that’s probably the most simple way to illustrate what it feels like to live life daily with ADHD. People with executive dysfunction due to ADHD commonly lack the ability to handle BIG emotions, like frustration. They start tasks – but often get distracted and leave tasks and projects unfinished. Following multi-step directions is overwhelming, and it’s a big struggle to stay on track. Their ability to monitor / manage themselves is abnormally challenging. The front-area of the brain (PFC, prefrontal cortex) literally can’t function like in a ‘normal’ brain. Parts of it are “turned off” when they are called on to take action!
This results in feeling like a failure in every aspect of life because for people with ‘normal brains’ executive function is a non-issue. They are given a request or instructions and they get right to it without hesitation. But people who have ADHD, and executive function is an issue, they understand they have been instructed to do something – but they often don’t understand how to get started – their mind goes blank, or they completely ‘space out’ and honestly forget.
When I get overwhelmed with feelings of failing in life because it has taken me so long to be brave or to finish what I’ve told many people that I would do, I remind myself of these truths regarding “failure”:
Failure = Feedback.
The struggle is the work.
The trial is the plan.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be,
doing what I am supposed to do,
to learn what I need to learn,
to go where I need to go.
No effort goes unrewarded. Every time you try again, you’re lifting yourself up a little higher, with a little more wisdom to carry you closer to the ultimate goal, and ultimate promise of relief.
Sensory overload is common for people who have ADHD or Autism. While ADHD isn’t officially on the autism spectrum – they do share a lot in common. ADHD isn’t a chemical imbalance like depression / anxiety, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder.
When I get overwhelmed with my senses, mostly environmental (i.e. too many people around me), sound and touch, I refer to my reminders above regarding panic attacks and anxiety. I also know that noise-cancelling headphones + music , and weighted blankets will help remind me of these truths:
- I am safe.
- My angels are actively helping me.
- This is only temporary.
I hope these truths will help you discover a foothold to hold on to, breathe, and encourage you to take life one step at a time… and sometimes just one moment at a time. If you feel this article can help someone else you know, please feel free to share! 💚