Riding the Waves

moodsurfingMoodSurfing is about the idea that the ups and downs of mood are normal (we aren’t trying to achieve some elusive “stability”).  But dealing with moods requires focus, discipline and some common sense. You can’t go to Maverick on your first day surfing and not get hurt (see photo to the right).

The first step for many people is to get “in control.” If you have been feeling battered by the waves of your moods, nearly drowning in them, you need to re-establish a sense of security. For many people this is where medications come in. Tom Wootton has written about this process of going from crisis to stability in his books (see below).

There are other strategies that can be helpful.

For controlling the excitement and high energy (or irritability) of a hypomanic or manic mood –

  • You can do things that increase your sleep (medications may be helpful). Sleep is your brain’s natural restorative – it is when the brain and the body rebuild and recharge. If you are just a bit energized, strengthening your natural biorhythms may be enough to help you get the extra sleep you need.
  • Mindfulness practice is one of the best (and hardest) things to do to help get a bit more control of energized states. The good news is that when you are energized even a few minutes of mindfulness practice can make a difference. Good news because a few minutes may be all that you can do.
  • Increase your connection to nature – much of what drives us to unnaturally high energy these days is technology based. We have lights that allow us to stay awake all night. The internet allows us to jump from idea to idea practically forever. Living in cities means there are people to meet and stuff to do all the time. Advertising is a constant invitation to do and want more. So, turn off the technology, go for a walk (slowly) in the evening and practice mindful walking.

For controlling the powerful waves of depression (low, slow but irresistible) –

  • Focus on getting up earlier and getting plenty of bright light. Morning bright light is for many people the fastest anti-depressant we know of. Read more under the Morning Ritual.
  • Try to get some exercise outdoors.
  • Read more tips in Depression 101.

Once you are feeling a bit more confident, you may want to try tricks to surf the waves more confidently. There are advantages to mood variation, moods allow us to access different possibilities in ourselves and others.

  • Manic energy allows us to create and achieve and change the world.
  • Depressive energy can allow us to connect more deeply to others, to see and not be overwhelmed by the pain that we all share.

We will write some more about this idea of using mood energy in future blogs.

Bipolar In Order: Looking at Depression, Mania, Hallucination, and Delusion From The Other Side

Break the Bipolar Cycle: A Day-by-Day Guide to Living with Bipolar Disorder

Why Am I Still Depressed? Recognizing and Managing the Ups and Downs of Bipolar II and Soft Bipolar Disorder

The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide