footprints on ribbed sandy coast in daylight
My Take

Mental Illness and Coping with ‘Slumps’

Hi guys, how are you? Are the winter blues kicking in? Is the lead up to Christmas proving to be stressful and wearing out your energy? I know that on my end it’s not going super well and I’m sure I’m not alone! Dealing with slumps, (periods that are worse than usual), is an especially appropriate topic for this time of year!

I’m telling myself that it’s the normal end of semester pressure that’s making me feel like I’m walking against a super strong wind and not moving forward. It’s probably a pretty big factor…and it upsets me that I’m having so much difficulty despite having only one class left! French and Psychology are done after all…my last exam for Psych was Tuesday and thankfully I have a good feeling about it. But my exam for Quantitative Methods and the research project due date are looming up and I’m finding myself out of energy.

That said, I wish it was just the end of the semester that’s making me feel like this, but I think it’s a bit more complicated. And that ‘more complicated’ part, is making this ending harder. I think I’ve hit a bit of turbulence and I know that the emotional swings / deadness are really taking a toll. This must be a slump…that’s it, just a normal phase of going through a more difficult time. Right there is the reason for me sharing today; understanding and accepting it when such a ‘slump’ occurs. It’s interesting because as I write this it’s actually the first time that I seriously try to view and handle ‘slumps’ differently. I have to admit, feeling this depressed again was and is very hard to deal with and not just in the obvious sense of it being painful. Bad memories invade and all of it makes me really afraid. As I’ve mentioned before, the unpredictability of my mind is probably one of the most troubling aspects of all of this and that’s saying a lot.

Understand the Slump

These are the two sides of my conscience; the side that feels cloaked in fog and the side that’s reminding me to deal with this properly.

I hate this and I hate the timing so much. I’m at the end of my first semester back and I’ve been managing well, but now a slump turns up … a worse slump than the usual ones this semester! Why did I have to start obsessively thinking even more than usual at the most crucial part? I’m tired, I have more trouble focussing, I don’t know where most of my motivation is, I cry and feel horrible and then feel somewhat decent. I get some things done but feel empty as I do them…and then there’s my anxiety and anger that flares up. I can’t make much progress on my project because my head is too full and nothing makes sense. I didn’t come this far to fail one of my classes, but I’m incredibly slow at figuring things out right now and what if I blank entirely during the exam? I feel incredibly unprepared and my exam is MONDAY! Half my grade for this class is yet to be determined! If my mood is the way it was yesterday…things are going to go super badly. I was dragging my way through the day and needed to spend time in bed because I didn’t want to do anything. I’m angry and frustrated because I blame myself and think that this shouldn’t be happening.

The above is how I feel, but I’ll admit that it’s not very self-compassionate. I’ll have to be a little kinder, which means that I should accept that this is natural and remember that it will pass. As my family reminds me, I’ve come a long way and it’s the final stretch. It’s ok to feel this way. Some periods are bound to be more difficult than others, and experiencing more stress can trigger a ‘slump’. It’s an unfortunate reality of recovery as well as illnesses that need to be managed, like Bipolar.

I can’t allow this slump to ruin everything I worked for, so no matter how hard it is I have to use all of my resources and techniques. Here is a sheet I made myself to remind me of my ‘tools’ when I’m too submerged in shadows to think clearly.

I hope sharing this can help you make your own personal list to refer to when sh*t hits the fan! (Please excuse my language.)

Take care and as always, stay safe!

What's YOUR take?