Backyard Feeder

Backyard Feeder
photo taken through porch screen

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mantras for BPSOs

Someone just wrote that one of the lines in a post ought to be her mantra for dealing with the stuff that is going on in her life and it occurred to me that we all go through periods when a little saying or truism that sticks in our minds would really be useful.

If you haven't learned them already, try out some of these lines from a bipolar significant other support list.

I didn't cause it; I can't control it; and I can't cure it.
The truth about mental illness is that it just happens. When you take responsibility for something that you have no power over, you end up feeling guilty and frustrated because you are trying to fix something when it isn't even possible.

Have a great life anyways!
Part of life is the circumstances we live in, but the greater part is in our response to those circumstances. This is the equivalent to the New Testament exhortation to "Rejoice evermore."

I'm not losing my mind, I'm having a perfectly normal response to a totally abnormal situation.
Ok, sometimes you just catch yourself saying or doing something that seems totally off the wall. You've been pushed to your limits and you're pushing back in ways that make you cringe. When dealing with mental illness, you often find yourself in situations that seem a bit surreal: arguments that go in circles, checking up on someone you should be able to trust, struggling to help someone who doesn't seem to want help. Instead of thinking about how ridiculous your behavior has become, consider the cause and you may come to the conclusion that your ridiculous behavior is perfectly normal in that context.

Put on your own oxygen mask before you try to help anyone else.
When you get on an airplane, this line is part of the safety speech before take-off. The natural thing for a parent to do when the oxygen masks come down is to make sure their children are wearing theirs first, but if the parent passes out from lack of oxygen, both parent and child can be lost. Even if the child does pass out while the parent is struggling with the equipment, he will often be resuscitated as soon as the oxygen gets into his lungs. This concept extends to the rest of life when caring for other people. If you allow yourself to get so run down that you can't function, if you don't put your own health and safety first, you may not have the strength to help others.

It's not about you!
When someone tells you that life would be perfect if only you would ______ (fill in the blank), it is easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that all of the trouble in your life is your own fault. While we all want to believe that we have the power to control what happens to us, we have to accept that our power is limited. You may have some self-defeating behaviors, but much of life just isn't about you. There are other factors and other people at work in the world, and in your life, and you may have little or no power to change the situation. If you can see that doing something differently might help, go for it. But if what you are being told to do doesn't make sense or if you really are doing the best you can already--cut yourself some slack. It's not about you.

1 comment:

Pamela Galli said...

Love these, Bonnie!