Knowing the Difference Between Feelings and Mood: Being Afraid to Feel Too Much

Knowing the Difference Between Feelings and Mood: Being Afraid to Feel Too Much

Knowing the difference between what I am feeling verses my mood has been extremely important for my recovery.

Everyone has moods and feelings. Yes, everyone!  Even including your loved one who has no diagnosis.

It’s not that we should not have moods or feelings, but for those of us with bipolar disorder or depression (anxiety too) it is because of our brain malfunctioning that without recovery our moods can swing too drastically or get stuck and interrupt our daily living.

Early on in recovery, I was afraid to feel. It’s was as though I feared becoming too happy or too sad or too this or too that. But, to feel is human.  Life is filled with feelings and unresolved feelings can affect our mood.  So, knowing how to express my feelings, feel them and work through them was key to managing my mood.

In a word picture here’s what I believe is the difference between feelings and mood: your mood is like the regional climate and your feelings are the daily weather.  Let’s say you live in Southern Florida.  The climate is tropical.  No freezing weather in the winter right?  Wrong. I lived there one year and we had freezing rain and it was a mess!  But, that didn’t change the climate of Florida.

Feelings are going to come and go. And when we handle them properly and work through them they do not have to alter our mood so drastically that they cause a total interruption to our lives. Something sad can happen on Monday and I might be sad about it for a time.  But, that does not necessarily mean is one of depression. However, even as I am feeling sad, I do keep my “eye” on it lest it cause a drastic mood shift.  Make sense?

How do see the difference? Are you afraid to feel?

 

 

Want more? Check out our Fresh Hope podcast at FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a non-profit ministry funded solely by individual contributions.  We hope if you have benefited from our resources that you will consider giving a donation to help us continue our work.

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Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

The other day I answered the phone and was greeted with, “This is a phone call like you have never heard before. My name is Jim and I can tell you how to make the cash roll in!”

I hung up.

Get rich schemes abound.

Manipulative people take advantage of you for their gain.

Are you being conned by the master manipulator, depression?

Depression twists your thinking, convincing you of lies that cause shame. Shame takes your life and feeds your depression.

Shame is a set of beliefs that you are defective, worthless, that you deserve misery. Some of these thoughts may ruminate in both our conscious and unconscious mind. 

These thoughts may include:  I’m stupid. I’m unattractive. I’m a failure. I’m a bad person.I’m selfish. I just don’t have what it takes. I hate myself.I don’t matter. I’m defective. I shouldn’t have been born. I’m unlovable.

These automatic thoughts steal from you and feed depression, worsening its hold on our lives. Depressive illness may bring on these thoughts. We can then be manipulated making depression worse.

How can we manage these thoughts of shame? The acrostic SHAME can be a pattern for breaking this downward shame cycle.

S—Support groups. You are not alone in dealing with these thoughts. Finding a group of safe people where you can hear others tell their story and where you can share yours. Talking helps identify manipulative thoughts, discover maladaptive behavior, and ways to disarm shame.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

H—Honest thinking. You have been manipulated by the lies of depression. Shame thoughts are lies that need to be exchanged for truth. Identifying these thoughts and replacing them can change your feelings and behaviors. Therapy for this is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  It is highly effective at creating positive behavior.

“Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2 Message

A—Appreciate life, even in the smallest details. It is impossible to deeply grateful and feeling shamed simultaneously. Gratitude resets your mind, changing your focus to the positive from the negative. Intentionally keeping a gratitude journal is a tool that many have used.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”Col 3:16

M—Marvelously Made. You have been made in the image of God. Yes, the image is tarnished but you are still marked in your Creator’s image. He sees you as a Masterpiece of His handiwork. The Good News of Jesus is that God loves us. Period. Nothing you do can make God love you more. Nothing you do can make God love you less.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalms 139:13-14

E—Empathy. Depression bullies you with its lies. Learn to be compassionate to yourself. Imagine one of your children confided in you they were having shame creating thoughts. What would you say to give confidence and encouragement? Say these things to yourself. Step out of yourself for a moment and empathize with your inner child that is hurting. Having compassion for yourself changes your inner world.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Mph 4:32 NIV

You can use the SHAME model to defeat thoughts and feelings of shame that depression causes.

When you hear the lies of depression, hang up the phone.

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Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Five Keys to Successfully Navigating Change in Spite of a Mental Health Challenge

Five Keys to Successfully Navigating Change in Spite of a Mental Health Challenge

As they say, “The only thing that never changes is change.” Life is full of changes. Some changes that we make, others make, or life makes for us. Some changes we like; others we do not. Change is unavoidable.

Several years ago, I learned a lot about how to navigate significant changes in my life while keeping my bipolar disorder in order.  That season in my life brought a whole list of changes: some of my own doing, some brought on by others, and others that life itself brought about.

Unaware of all of the big changes that were coming our way, my wife and I decided to jamie-street-331990start finishing our basement prior to all of the changes. In November of that year, we began the project that we’ve been waiting nearly ten years to do. We secured the finances and the contractor in early November, not prepared for the massive changes coming our way in our jobs (we both are on the staff of the church that I pastor). Not only did our job descriptions change (positive changes), but we had physical remodeling of office spaces that also needed to happen before the end of that year. The leaders of our church were also rewriting the by-laws of our congregation during this time. Our work days were consumed with planning and preparing for all the Christmas activities and services. Plus, we were getting ready for hosting Christmas at home for not only our children and their families but also my entire extended family.

Needless to say, I learned a few important keys to navigating a lot of change, while maintaining my emotional health. So I thought I would share with you a few of insights that were critical to navigating the changes successfully (this is by no means an exhaustive list).

  1. When experiencing a lot of change, keep your world as small as possible. In other words, limit your activities as much as possible. For example, I postponed some things on my calendar that could wait and delegated weekly activities such as my facilitating a Fresh Hope group. I took a 2-month break and had someone else facilitate for me. I knew that if I had too many activities, I would risk losing my wellness. I needed to keep my schedule as simple as possible.
  1. Know which changes you can reject and which you will have to accept. Sometimes changes come our way that we have no control over, i.e., the loss of a job, death of a spouse, or moving to another city or town. When a change happens that you can’t control, you have to come to terms with it and accept it as out of your control. If the change or changes are things you can control, then you need to do what you can do. And it’s important to know the difference between the two. (From the Serenity Prayer, “the things I can change and the things I cannot change…and the wisdom to know the difference.”)
  2. All changes, whether negative or positive – including the changes we desire – bring with them some grief.  Working through the grief is important. One of the monumental tasks I had to do regarding building changes in our offices was to empty out a “junk room” (which the staff lovingly referred to as my “hoarders room”). This room had all of the junk and boxes of the first years following my very manic episode, forced resignation, and my attempts to “find myself” through hobbies. A lot of “memories of pain” were stored up in that room. I dreaded having to clean it out. Some of the boxes had not been opened in nearly 20 years. I thought about having someone just toss it all out! But I knew there were things worth keeping, so I needed to go through them. With the great help of a close friend, the room was emptied with minimal emotional pain. But I still needed to grieve just a bit.
  3. Stick to your schedule.It was imperative during this time of significant changes that I stuck with a routine, especially my sleep routine. I made sure that I didn’t mess with my sleep schedule even though it was tempting to rise early in the morning and stay up late to get as much done as possible. Doing that would have most certainly led me either into a manic phase or hypomanic phase.
  4. Routinely take quiet time – get in touch with what and how you are feeling emotionally, and measure the clarity of your thinking.Each day I knew I had to pay close attention to how I was feeling. I’d ask myself, “Are you feeling a little too wound up? Are your thoughts clear? Are your thoughts racing? Is your thinking foggy?” I’d ask myself a couple of times a day, “How are you doing? What are you feeling? How is your thinking?” I found myself at times becoming overwhelmed and “shutting down”. At those times I would take a few steps back and do some breathing techniques that I’ve learned over the years. And if that didn’t’ work, I’d take a walk, or just do something that required no thinking, until the feelings of being overwhelmed had passed. With all of the changes going on, taking quiet time to pay attention to what was going on within me was imperative!

It’s was a crazy few months, but the changes have now been made, and I’ve adjusted to a new focus on my daily tasks at work. Overall, the changes have been good. But even these positive changes had to be navigated, felt, and worked through emotionally. For the most part, I fared pretty well through the changes. I did have some mornings where I was waking up much earlier than usual, which for me is that is a sign of an elevated mood. So, on those days, I paid even closer attention to what was going on with my thinking and emotions. I always attempted to make sure to get to the gym on those days.

The worst part of experiencing all these changes was that I allowed myself to fall off the “healthy-food-wagon”, and now I’m working hard to get back on it. I had done so well with healthy eating for the six months before the Christmas prior to all of the changes, having lost over sixty pounds (with another fifty to go). And as many as you know, detoxing from sugar and the craving of carbs due to medicine can be so difficult to do!

So, how about you? What are important keys for you in navigating change? What keys for successfully navigating change would you add to this list?

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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The Importance Of Getting Help For Your Fears And Anxieties

The Importance Of Getting Help For Your Fears And Anxieties

By: Stan Popovich

Getting professional help for dealing with your persistent fears and anxieties is the single most important step in your recovery. Many people are reluctant to get the help they need for various reasons. Making excuses of not getting the treatment for your anxiety problems will not solve the problem.

Here are a few reasons on why getting help for your mental health is important…

1.Getting professional help can lead to additional insights and suggestions to your stress and anxiety problems. A professional counselor can give you many ideas on how you can manage your fears and anxieties. This is important in getting better.

 

2. Most counselors and psychologists know how to get rid of your fears. They can recommend certain treatments that will make you feel a lot better. The only way you will get access to these treatments is if you talk to a counselor. Ask your primary care physician if he or she knows anyone that can help you.

 

3. You can not manage your fears all by yourself. Your anxieties and fears can be extremely difficult to manage and more than likely you will need some help. Remember when your boss showed you how to do your job when you first got hired. You needed help from someone to learn the ins and outs of doing your current job. This concept applies to managing your fears. Do not feel ashamed that you are getting help. We all learn new things from others on a regular basis.

 

4. You can improve. As you work with a professional, you will improve on your skill sets in managing your stresses. You will become better able to manage your anxieties over time which will benefit you later on in your life.

 

5. You will get better quickly. Getting help from a counselor will save you a lot of suffering in the long run. You will get the answers you are looking for which will help manage your fears and anxieties. You will get better a lot faster by talking to a mental health professional.

 

6. You will not be alone. You will have a person in your corner who will be able to help you overcome your mental health issues. You won’t feel as alone when attempting to get rid of your fears. It is best to have somebody help you with your fears and anxieties instead of doing it by yourself.

 

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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“How Joyful People Think: 8 Ways of Thinking That Lead to a Better Life”: Pastor Jamie Rasmussen

“How Joyful People Think: 8 Ways of Thinking That Lead to a Better Life”: Pastor Jamie Rasmussen

On this episode of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad Hoefs talks with Author and Senior Pastor of Scottsdale Bible Church, Jamie Rasmussen about his book; “How Joyful People Think: 8 Ways of Thinking That Lead to a Better Life.” Why is it important that we change our thinking? How does the Bible tell us to think? Is it possible to have joy when your depressed?

To listen to the podcast click here!

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We encourage you to share this podcast with your friends via your social media connections.

After listening to this podcast, we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.

If you are listening to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site:  www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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7 Tools for Overcoming Bipolar Impulsivity

7 Tools for Overcoming Bipolar Impulsivity

By: Brad Hoefs 

While I have had no major mood swings or episodes in the last 12 years, I have and continue to have to self-monitor my impulse control. While I don’t struggle with the extreme impulses as I did prior to diagnosis, today the struggle is more like someone with ADD trying to stay on task without getting sidetracked by other “shiny” and seemingly more interesting things.

There’s a connection between having bipolar disorder and controlling one’s impulses.

The lack of impulse control may not only be an indicator of bipolar disorder, but explains a number of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Eric Johnson, a licensed mental health provider, writes:

“Bipolar mania, and the less intense hypomania, is associated with increased risk-taking behaviors like drug use, promiscuous sex, over-spending money, and other poor decisions. To compound the problem, mania brings increased energy, increased distractibility, less need for sleep, and elevated moods, which make the risky behaviors happen with increased frequency.

 “The risk-taking behaviors generally fall into a larger category of impulsivity. Like a child with ADHD, impulsivity is a failure to consider consequences of a behavior before you act. Unlike a child with ADHD, impulsivity fueled by bipolar disorder is more dangerous. The potential outcomes include jail, serious debt, sexually transmitted diseases, physical injury and even death.”

In preparing for this post, I ran across a video of CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta explaining bipolar disorder. In a very simple way Dr. Gupta explains why so many of us who have bipolar disorder (especially those of us with bipolar disorder 1) struggle with impulse control. Click here to watch the video.

Plus, there might be some who not only have bipolar disorder and the difficulties that come with control one’s impulses, but they also might have an impulse disorder (a type of co-occurring diagnosis).

Last December I really struggled for a period of about three weeks with staying on task with the important things I needed to be about doing with my work. Instead of staying on task, I seemingly could not control the impulse to find a certain kind of gobo light that would be just “perfect” for projecting an angel on the roof of the church that I pastor. After hours and hours of looking for many days I could find nothing. And even then, I had a hard time stopping the search. I had to work extremely hard to keep myself from continuing to search. (If you ask my staff, they’d probably tell you I wasn’t all that successful!)

Now, granted, this struggle with my impulse control last December was nothing like I used to experience prior to being diagnosed. Pre-diagnosis, I had all of the classical descriptions of those with bipolar I disorder as Eric Johnson described above. Prior to treatment, I struggled with anger, raging, and compulsive spending, as well as risky behaviors. I knew that something was very wrong. It was as though I was trying to control a monster that was pressing from within. Now I have come to understand that a lot of this had to do with the impulse center of my brain that was not functioning correctly. I always thought that I just had a “quick temper”.

For example, if something irritated me or made me mad, I could not hold my tongue. The words that could not be taken back would begin to fly. Many of my relationships would be strained and or ruined due to this. Others “wrote it off” due to me having a creative temperament. Little did everyone know that it was bipolar irritability accompanied by the lack of impulse control. During those times of mania, behaviors that were strange and unexplainable would exhibit themselves; many of which I would not even recall when not in mania.

After initially being diagnosed and discovering the issues with impulse control, I found these  seven“tools”(choices to be made) for overcoming the impulse control issues:

  1. I chose to practice more self-discipline – as opposed to doing things only when I felt like doing them or when I had the impulse to do them. Even though I still struggle with procrastination, I find the more I discipline myself to complete the tasks on my “to do” list daily, I do better emotionally and physically, and I sleep better.
  1. I had to choose to be mindful at all times about what was happening around me, what I was feeling, and also identify the important things to be doing on my “to do” list.
  1. I also began to know my triggers. When triggered I would easily become more impulsive. So it was important for me to pay attention to those things that would trigger me so I could stop the flood of emotions that most likely would burst forth.
  1. I chose to take control of my tongue. Instead of lashing out with my words when angry, I found that it was easier to wait to express myself after the flood of emotions had passed. Truth is, our words easily hurt others. It’s impossible to take your words back.
  1. I chose to be accountable to others in regards to my impulse control; especially when they were seeing behaviors that would indicate that I was having difficulties controlling them.
  1. I chose to never use bipolar disorder as an excuse. Yes, there were times and still are when bipolar disorder is the reason for some of my thinking or behaviors or even mood. However, I refuse to ever use that as an excuse.
  1. I chose to believe that I could do the first six things as opposed to saying, “Gosh, I’m bipolar, that’s just the way I am. Like it or leave it.”

Today, with medicine and self-discipline, for the most part the issue of impulse control is under control. How about you? Did you or do you still experience the connection between your bipolar disorder and impulse control? If so, what are you doing about it?

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

 

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Children and Mental Health from a Doctor’s Perspective

Children and Mental Health from a Doctor’s Perspective

Do you have a child whose behavior(s) are causing you concern? Have you ever felt like a failure as a parent? Possibly you feel like you have a child who becomes a very angry “Incredible-Hulk” periodically? If so, then this is a podcast you won’t want to miss!

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad Hoefs interviews Dr. Brian Lubberstedt who is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. They discuss how potential mental health issues manifest in a child’s life, parenting children who have mental health issues and much more.

This podcast is 45 minutes long. After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast. If you are listening to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

To listen to this podcast click on the icon below and it will take you to the podcast:FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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