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Manic-depression, or bipolar disorder, is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions in psychiatry. Part of the problem, as noted in yesterday's post, is that the term bipolar has been watered down to an adjective for moody. Anyone who has worked in mental health can tell you that if someone's symptoms are erratic and involve mood changes, an (inappropriate) bipolar diagnosis may be on the way. As the title of John McManamy's book, Not Just Up and Down, tells us, it's, well, not simply up and down moods. Using the term manic-depression is much more descriptive and could help practitioners stop and think about what they're looking at before any knee-jerk diagnosis is applied.
Those of us diagnosed with depression will experience the darkness that comes with it, yet there are things we can do to shine a light into even the darkest of days. When it feels as if all our joy has been stripped away, we discover that we might have to work harder to create happiness and light in our lives. Let's talk about some simple ways to do that.
You may be struggling because… it’s winter and the cold and the dark leave you feeling isolated, creates some seasonal depression, or just plain blahs. Or you’re going through some major transition—a breakup, a divorce, a move, a loss of a job—and your old way of running your everyday life has fallen apart. Whatever the cause, it helps to create some structure in your everyday life.
Irene is a 30-something businesswoman who has to pass the CPA exam—after flunking it twice. For the past several years, the pursuit has consumed, indeed defined her. She talks about little else when we meet, and frets about it the rest of the time. “I know I sound like a broken record,” she told me, “but I feel like one. Round and round in the same stupid groove.” As I listen, and assure her that she has the energy and grit to pass this exam, I begin to think that she may be her own biggest hurdle, bigger even than the exam that looms larger and more menacing as she keeps up the pace of worry, dismay, and B-movie imagining of total disaster.
Being generous and giving is generally considered a virtue—both at home and at work. But in a world where there are givers and takers, how do givers who are trying to be "good" protect their generosity and energy? How do givers avoid becoming depleted, resentful, burnt out, or disappointed?
Depression can really do a number on your motivation and energy level.1 At times, it can be difficult to keep up with the day-to-day chores around the house. Yet, too often a messy house only makes us feel worse and it can be very discouraging.
If you call someone “selfish,” they are likely to be offended. Selfish is thought to be a defect and is undesirable. For this reason, most people think that selfishness is bad for intimacy and selflessness is good. But things might not be so black and white.