Don’t Let People Push Your Buttons, by Dannie

It took a friend’s mental illness to grab my attention. The effects were traumatic for me to watch him go through this experience. Until that moment I wasn’t serious with my own health. I had to get past any denial I held. Now I realize what an emotional taffy-pulling contest my family goes through with me every time I do not stick to my own regimental series of treatment options.

When I am not well, symbolically, an elevator represents my bipolar spectrum. Occasionally the elevator becomes confining. The door seals shut. The air turns hot and stagnant. I feel trapped inside, restless, frantic and censored. My mood swings mimic both the euphoric penthouse suite on the top floor and the bottom basement. At the top the feelings are awesome; I am myself, fluid, unfettered and authentic. However, the opposite side is when I hit bottom and I’m in the basement with despair. To overcome this back and forth momentum, I “hit” many buttons. I also take on too many projects, which can be overwhelming. Thus the elevator gets stuck. I physically have to remind myself to hit the Emergency stop “red” button and/or pick up the phone to “Call for Help!” The door unseals itself and opens. Cool fresh air rushes in. I can breathe again.

Symptoms can be managed through wellness practices, i.e., healthy eating, exercise, and good sleep. Medications help and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy has taught me a few coping skills to overcome the extremes of this ailment. I believe repeat exposure to DBT will help continue identifying my personal triggers. “What is discussed in group stays in group.” Just by knowing them I can use the tips and techniques and my chances of success increase with each passing triumph.

When I am well, I can accomplish great things. One example is writing a grant to design and lead Spirit Doll Workshops. The focal point of these workshops is dedicated to the freedom of self-expression. I believe it’s needed to engage an individual’s opinions with an alternate positive view of themselves through art. I feel communications is a huge part of our Recovery Journey. Belief is a vital key to the Recovery concept: 1st by ourselves; 2nd by our families, and 3rd by our community. I’m tweaking the workshop here and there to accommodate various learning styles, scheduling conflicts, and networking with people.

To stay on task with all the different activities, I received a daily planner and a creative “Art Saves” book from a family member. A receipt keeper holds proof of spent funds which I turn into another agency. Hobbies are great way to combat stressors an individual may be dealing with within their lives. A fun environment to be around is when people utilize their own voices or power to express themselves creatively.

Resilience is adapting to our environment in the face of adversity, adjusting to random misfortune with flexibility, no one is truly alone, but together we help each other through life’s quick changes.