Surviving Stress During These Hard Times
In this article, I want to talk about how the COVID-19 has affected people with mental illness.
As a person with bipolar I disorder I am experiencing sadness and mood fluctuations. Another challenge is that doctors and therapist visits are now mostly on video visits, which is not the same as in person appointments. My moods seem to dip, as I cannot freely do everything I used to do before coronavirus, like visit my brother. I miss having brunches or lunches with friends and family. Being in groups especially my bipolar group, used to boost my mood, and just to feel the spring sunshine helps me to be happy. As I look at new life of plants and buds opening into flowers, this brings hope for me.
In spite of this hard time, we are united, we’re coming together with solidarity and grace and by praying or believing in God or the Universe will get through this time. I truly believe this testament proves how strong we are as a world. It’s a test to prove how much we need each other and to focus our attention on what’s important. Whether that’s with your family, or yourself.
When I woke up this morning, I wished it was a dream, that this virus COVID-19 was a nightmare that had ended. I thought it was someone’s freak story or Halloween prank or movie that was fiction. But as I scrolled through social media, I was reminded that we are living in unprecedented times. I was optimistic when I rang in the new decade, I was thinking here I had a chance for new beginnings, dreams to aspire to. Never in my life did I think that my generation would be in the midst of this grave pandemic.
What have I done with my Life?
When I reached my 35th birthday on March 3rd, I complained that I have not done much in this life, but I was grateful that I had reached this milestone, and there was so much I have achieved. But I wanted to achieve more. I had a plan to be married with two children, with a husband, with a house that had a white picket fence. It did not turn out that way. The virus was ruining all of my plans, it is ruining the world.
My mom said something profound. She said, “my child don’t complain, be grateful each time you put your foot on the ground, you wake up and you are breathing, go back and thank God because it’s a gift it’s not a privilege.” Mom was right especially at this time…God has a way of making you listen to him, and pay attention to something more important. He will throw a brick at you, yes God has thrown bricks on the world to get our attention.
Maybe this is a time for self-care, praying, meditating, and journaling, spending time with loved ones a time for self-reflection. As I stated before, people’s minds are in disarray and I believe that this is the time to focus on yourself and those you love most. A time to rediscover something about yourself that you didn’t know.
Tips that I use to avoid stress…
While most of you are at home, I’d like to share a few things that have helped me with bipolar and it might help you amid COVID-19. Keep in mind I am not a doctor or specialist so this is not medical advice, I’m just sharing with you tips on what has worked for me.
- Before meditating I read a page or two from the Bible.
- I take 20 minutes to meditate with music, particularly ancient Chinese music it helps me relax and reach that elevated space.
- While I’m meditating, I use Fisher Wallace Stimulator. As described on their site, “[t]he Fisher Wallace Stimulator® is a brain stimulation medical device that is cleared by the FDA for the treatment of depression, anxiety and insomnia. It works by stimulating serotonin production, alpha wave production and the default mode network while lowering cortisol…” (https://www.fisherwallace.com/pages/how-it-works)
- I practice deep breathing
- I write a page or two in my journal. I’m starting a gratitude journal that my counselor suggested I start. It’s a moment of self-reflection and self-love.
- Take a glass of organic celery juice in the morning, on an empty stomach. This does wonders for your central nervous system, as I learned from Anthony Williams medical medium, “[c]elery juice’s mineral salts are an important support for the central nervous system.” In part, this helps many functions of the brain, as I have experienced less stress and less mania since starting this juice last fall. Here’s more info on the benefits of celery juice. (https://www.medicalmedium.com/celery-juice/celery-juice-supports-the-central-nervous-system). I will be talking more about this in my next blog.
- Since I can’t go to the gym, I take a 30 minute walk outside, enjoy the spring nature outside.
- Reduce watching too much news, just enough to be in the loop of things , but not too much to overtake your mind and corrode your mind with saturation of negative energy.
These practices have helped me with my moods, and keep me calm and swimming above water. Because as you know bipolar is variations in your mood cycle, sometimes you can feel good, other times not so good. You can also feel overly excited and depressed at the same time. Now, in this crucial time, it adds much pressure to those extremes that are already in place. For me, I found that, exercise, reduction in sugar, meditation/prayer, celery juice have been extremely helpful in regulating the mood shifts.
Have faith and trust…
As I stated before, I believe this is a time God is testing our faith, and trust in him. I also wanted to share this quote I wrote in chapter 16 of my book, “Strengthening Your Identity While the
Shadow Is in Front of You”.
I’ve learned growing up that we all have special gifts to unravel and present to the world. Your knowledge, wisdom, and intuition are unique. You have to share them with others so the Universe can share more with you.”
This is a time to unravel and share those gifts of compassion and gratitude.
During this time, I also remember the song “God’s trying to tell you something” by Tata Vega
from the motion picture “The Color Purple.” The title of this song rings truth to many things. I
believe God/Universe is trying to tell us, as my mom says, “the way we have been living is toxic.” We need to change our lives, change the narrative, change our destinies. Maybe we can improve our situations if we start with changing ourselves.
So let us not live in fear during these unparalleled times, let’s have the faith to keep uplifting each other to see the rainbow on the other side. I’ll leave you with this scripture from the Bible, 2 Timothy 1:7:
For God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind.”
Remember to stay home as much as possible, to think of others, stay safe do all you can to do your part, stay strong, we will all come out victorious and stronger as a world.