|Love this image: Mood Swings :)|
I think that mood swings are one of the more frustrating symptoms. I can't even express how much I long to experience some consistency in mood. I'm not even talking about having a couple of days in a row of consistency. I'd love to experience some consistency over the course of a single day. Perhaps I should keep a mood journal to see if I notice a pattern in anything (conversations, situations, foods) that may trigger a change in mood. Perhaps being mindful of it will help me discover something that can be of help -- because right now, it feels as if I am on a roller coaster, and I am at the mercy of it. I can be feeling fine for an hour or two, and then BOOM. Can you relate? How do you handle it?
Today, before I went to work, I decided that I would 'fake it 'til I made it' and be positive and upbeat even though I have been feeling under the weather. Do you ever set this intention and then take it overboard to where you think others may see that you are obviously 'faking it'?
Of course I am not a mind-reader, and I really have no idea what other people are thinking unless I ask them (and even then, there is no guarantee of getting an honest response - and besides, it's often not appropriate to ask for this kind of feedback...i.e.: boss gives you a weird look after you behave in a very hyper way when the day before you looked like a banana slug struggling to truck along..."Boss, what are you thinking? Are you judging me? Do you think I am bi-polar or something? Do you know I have mental health issues?") Could you imagine? I have to laugh at myself sometimes.
Because it's clear to me that I won't solve this tonight, I decided to do some 'self-soothing' skills, which we are taught in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).
According to the handouts in my DBT binder, the way to self sooth is to think of ways to make yourself feel better, in the moment, though one or more of your senses. Here are some of the many examples given (this page is labeled "by Marsha Linehan, (c) 1993 The Guilford Press, Skills Training Manual):
"Vision: Buy one beautiful flower. Make one space in a room pretty. Light a candle and watch the flame.
Hearing: Listen to beautiful or soothing music (I've been doing this tonight...finding that the Beatles are doing the trick. My imagination ran a bit wild while listening to the songs on YouTube. The advantage to this is that they also show footage from that time period, so I imagine what it must have been like to be young in that era. Fun!). Pay attention to sounds of nature.
Smell: Use your favorite perfume or lotions, or try them on in a store. Light a scented candle. Boil cinnamon.
Taste: Have a good meal. Treat yourself to a dessert. Chew your favorite gum.
Touch: Take a bubble bath. Put clean sheets on the bed. Pet your dog or cat (I did this - actually danced around with him to Oladi Oblada. :) )
Even if our moods are not consistent, we can find ways to brighten periods of our day by focusing on creating soothing experiences for our senses. I hope you find yours, and please feel free to share!
The author of this letter has since RECOVERED from Borderline Personality Disorder and no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. There is HOPE for you and your loved one. Recovery happened through a commitment to DBT. Debbie now teaches the DBT skills that helped change her life over at DBT Path (http://www.emotionallysensitive.com) where you can take online Dialectical Behavior Therapy Classes from anywhere in the world. You *can* overcome this disorder! Visit DBT Path to learn more.