STRUGGLING with DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, or BIPOLARITY? LEARNING can really HELP. Start with ARTICLES above or Topics below. Ty! Bill

The Sum Is More Powerful Than Its Individual Parts: 8 foundational concepts…

Reclining in a tub of rose petals (hmmm, never did that), other relaxation techniques, guided imagery, breathing techniques, positive self-talk, visualization – all great remedies for mood and anxiety issues.

BUT – the fact of the matter is, individually or combined, they aren’t going to destroy depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Ouch, right? Well, wait a minute here; because I’m not proposing the end of the world.

I was talking with a chipur reader on the phone last night who’s been experiencing a recurrence of some panic symptoms. She’d had her first panic attack years ago while driving; however, she’d worked hard and had been panic-free (notice I didn’t say “panic-cured”).

Well, a month or so ago she very unexpectedly had a panic attack on the drive home from work; and has found her confidence compromised ever since. As “punch-in-the-gut” as it is, it’s not unusual at all. Yes, it happens.

We talked at length about so many cool things, and at the end of our conversation, after ensuring me she’d been focusing upon her breathing, she asked if I had any tips on how to get over the hump. Well, I offered a few ideas and she said she’d already incorporated them.

But you know what? That was okay, because we both knew the solution to her temporary discomfort wasn’t going to be in re-stocking her strategy and technique arsenal, and obsessing over their deployment.

What we came up with, instead – and it was so cool because it was already mutually understood before a word was spoken – was continuing to understand that just as she’d had the original panic attack and got past it – so she would her immediate circumstances.

Back to my opening paragraph. Please don’t misunderstand; those techniques, as well as others, can be tremendously helpful as we achieve and maintain relief. But we, and those who peddle “miracle-cures,” do ourselves a gross injustice when we elect to believe they’re the end-all/cure-all. They aren’t, and it’s the same with meds.

Our relief is found in a multi-faceted, and flexible, effort. As I’ve said so many times, we can’t lose the forest for the trees. Yes, the blending sum of our work is so much more powerful than its individual parts could ever be.

That said, let’s start a list of the components that’ll build the foundation for our “forest-focused” lifestyle management regimen…

  • Self-honest insight as to our disorder(s)
  • Understanding how our distress has impacted our lives in the past
  • Knowing what’s comfortable, as well as what isn’t
  • Knowing what to expect if we don’t self-manage
  • Having an arsenal of self-proven relief strategies and techniques locked and loaded for immediate use if needed
  • Knowing when it’s time to put our prepared strategies and techniques to work – instead of flipping-out
  • Understanding that we have a proven track record of emerging from the depths of our ick
  • Staying in relationship with a counselor and folks enduring the same stuff
  • Your thoughts…

It was great talking with my chipur friend last night. And it’s just another example of how important it is for all of us to stay connected. Just as the strength of our individual relief mission is based in the sum of its parts, each of us become so much stronger when we derive power from the connection of community.

Won’t you share with us in a comment?

  • Karen

    as usual, timely and excellent. Sometimes I try and visualize a huge sticky note with BREATHE on it BEFORE freaking out. a form of self managment. I’m still often stuck or not aware of the external forces that I need to manage better though. baby steps, as usual. Karen

    • Walk us through the sticky note thing, will ya’? And, hey – baby steps are steps, ma’ dear. Great hearing from you, Karen…

      • karen

        sometimes, when I am paying close attention (which seems almost impossible when you are in the throes) I can take a step back, visualize the HUGE sticky note in front of my face, which says BREATHE, JUST BREATHE, and if i can do it early enough, my head remains clear enough to manage the freak out- ie all or nothing thoughts, impending doom, etc. and last week, I actually looked at the source of the problem (work related) and said I need to step back here or it is going to get ugly and will be back in 5 minutes. went outside and breathed and came back in. He wasn’t happy, but that was his stuff to deal with, not mine. I didn’t need to tell him about the anxiety, which he would use to his advantage, but merely said i needed to process what he was saying into terms i could understand. (he actually had a valid point, but was presenting it in a HORRIBLE manner, triggering all sorts of anxiety in me) does that make sense?

      • Makes perfect sense. What’s even better is it works for you – and I believe will work for others. Really good move, Karen!

      • Hey – you know the more I think about it, the more I’m really impressed with that technique. Dang – sounds like the guy is a real jerk. But you’re the much better – and much more enlightened – person for doing just what you did. You anticipated trouble, were ready for it, and implemented your plan. Kudos!

  • Inna

    All-I am the person that Bill is referencing in the article above. Please-remember that if you are having recurring panic, after being panic-free for sometime, you’ve beat this before and you can do it again!!! Maybe it will take a new technique, maybe a reconnect with a therapist, or any other trick, always know that if you have beaten it before you can do it again!!! I plan to. After my talk with Bill and joking about wishing we had a reset button that we could press when we feel a panic attack coming, I think I am going to try to visualize a big red button and as I am focussed on pushing it, hopefully I can try and collect my thoughts and breath. For me some sort of distraction seems to help :)

    • Inna – you are so awesome to have commented. I was so glad you phoned me last night – and even happier you came out of it so much more comfortable. Of course, you knew it would pass; but sometimes we just need to connect with someone who understands. The the big red reset button was/is a hoot, but also very effective. It’s great having you as a contributor.