I listened to a cassette (yeah, that was some time ago) that posed an interesting concept about managing pain. It described a technique of envisioning the size, shape, and location of the pain. I’m an overthinker, so it is not uncommon for me to dig around in my head and put two unrelated things together. I’ve been thinking about this unique method of managing pain and managing moods. For ordinary people, a bad mood may come from having a flat tire on the way to work. Sure, that’s a bummer, but for those of us who have mood disorders, our feelings are more complicated. Our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors bounce around like ping pong balls for no particular cause.
Dealing with Bipolar Type ll dysthymia, and deep depression puts a tricky spin on the ping pong ball. When I can quiet my mind enough to think, I can hear the voice on that old tape asking me to imagine the size of the pain. To start with some reference point, I think about a breadbox. It may be one of those cool roll top boxes like my Grandmother owned or the funky green Tupperware boxes of the 1960″s. Is the emotional pain caused by my mood smaller that or is it more the size of my Uncle’s gun case? That is relatively easy to figure out. What is it’s shaped? Hmmmm. The answer to that is quite thought-provoking. Is it more of a small but sharp dart? Could it be a thick fog? Is it more like a pancake with creamy butter and maple syrup? That analogy is for you to give much thought. I usually find the location pressing down on my skull, riding low in my chest or in the pit of my stomach.
The flip side of that old cassette was a mental challenge to change these three things – size, shape, and location. Let’s be introspective. As we look closely at the configuration of our mood, we can learn to change them. That is EMPOWERING! With a quiet mind (that is going to be the hardest part for me) we can make mood fluid. Rather than accepting or refusing to address its reality, we can close our eyes and choose to lovingly, objectively, and empathetic view of our mental state. A diagnosis of mood disorders tends to make us believe that mood swings are random and uncontrollable. Is that an assumption or can we control the swings and lessen their erratic nature?