How do I keep from going to the extreme?

How do you keep from getting overly magnified or obsessed,with one particular thing-? with me being bipolar type I, I find its a hard thing for me to balance things that I want to give me all to, i tend to take things to to the extreme,in one area,then it tumbles over. I have had this illness for 11yrs,and normally I steer clear of things that I know will end up in a mess,but just wondered how you personally keep things on an even keel,when you want to do something without overdoing it so that things don’t end up haywire (if you have that issue too ?)

Ahh, monomania. Much like our illness, it’s a blessing and a curse. The trick is finding that delicate balance between “this is the best thing ever!” and “this was all like this when I got here”.

In college, I found myself hell-bent to teach myself quantum physics. I majored in criminal justice and psychology; how was I going to figure this out? I sat in my room for days on end, thinking. And thinking. And thinking. And then I’d get up and make a cup of tea, which would go ice cold while I thought some more. I began to ask friends; to diagram on their whiteboards while they slept. I didn’t need sleep, or food, especially when I had important science-y stuff to sort out! And, really, that forensics lab that I looked forward to for an entire year, I don’t need that when I have this cat and this atom. I disappeared into my own mind. I thought I could find the answer.

After 21 days of this nonsense, Campus Security arrived at my door with a giant orange bucket on wheels and told me I had to pack up and move out.

Since then I’ve been much more aware of the consequences that monomania can have. I’m still developing my coping technique, but the most important thing I use is something I learned a thousand years ago from Mr. Rogers. I stop. I know that’s a lot easier thought than done, but hum a few bars of “What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel” to yourself while you take stock of what you’re doing. Even if your brain says “no, you can’t stop!”, if you can remind yourself and your brain “No, I drive this boat! And this is what we’re doing!” life gets easier.

The most important thing I do, though, is that I seek a reality check now and then. I have no problem asking my companion, “am I doing this right? Am I doing the right things? Is this what I need to do to be successful?” and I always get an honest answer. I hope you have someone in your life who can provide that for you.

It’s perfectly okay to want to give your all to something– but it only works if you are able to prioritize. When I am energetic and intensely focused, I need to start by making a list of things that need to get done. I make sure I take care of basics (dishes, laundry) before I embark on a new mission (painting the kitchen cabinets). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But the most important thing to do, even if impractical, is to look for that balance I mentioned earlier.

2 thoughts on “How do I keep from going to the extreme?

  1. Christian Frederick

    Hello Darling – I mean that only in the kindest terms! I, like you am coming across my 12th year as bipolar 1. I’ve been treated at Duke Hospital, UNC Hospital, Umstead Hospital, and a round out with Kay Jamison at Johns Hopkins —-then one final stint last year at a hospital in the mid-west. A grand journey for a successful business man and published writer. I feel, like you, that my brain is somehow separate from this body and it says and does things that I can’t begin to understand. Friends and even family tend to go very quickly and is simply all seems so bloody bleak. If I’m going to boil eggs, I have to think out every step out and then if I THINK I did it, I have to see if they are actually in the fridge! Try this method I was taught by Kay, herself, and see if it works for you, ok? When a thought enters my mind, I think, “STOP.” I do that about 1500 times. Then, three days later, I decide I am meant to give the dog a bath and I do it! It sort of clears this totally, well you know our minds, confused up mind and I suddenly now have three days to NOT think about it! Think of that sign in HARD, METAL, RED FORM, with the letters LARGE and unpassing. I think I didn’t get dressed for a month worrying about this! (Just a silly thought from a person trying, like you, not to suffer.) Always, Christian

  2. I was diagnosed as bipolar in 1982. However, I have learned how to manage the disorder. I have achieved this by researching it and myself.
    By researching myself I mean I have examined how the disorder affects me.
    In particular I understand the signs that I am moving into hypomania. (I generally cycle mania then depression). By knowing and understanding my early warning signs I am able to take myself off for treatment at the earliest possible moment. This gives the treatment the best opportunity to succeed

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