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I made an interesting rediscovery over the last 3 or so weeks and I feel obliged to share with everyone with the idea that you won’t have to also learn the hard way. So here it goes:

Remember that post about feeling homesick and losing my “marbles” a bit? Well, I found the trigger of that whole mess and it is a trigger that more often than not I have to find the hard way after my marbles are scattered because I am too stubborn to listen to the lesson from the last time.

Let me offer some context:

When I finally made some friends out here in good ol’ rural PA, I was thrilled! They were fun and easy-going and we had some good times just hanging around, talking. I spent 8 straight nights staying up until 1:30 AM or later while enjoying a cocktail or two…or several with my new neighborhood buddies. Nothing crazy or illegal, but definitely not part of my routine. I will offer a slight pat on my own back, however, for not missing a SINGLE day of classses in the midst of this lesson-learning experience.

It was soon after this and a few more nights of staying up late and drinking more than probably should have on a school night, that I lost my marbles.

So, let’s analyze this together, shall we?

  1. I was WAY off my sleep schedule and my normal nightly routine.
  2. I was drinking alcohol, ALOT. Which, by itself and in moderation, is not necessarily a bad thing. But, alcohol and the medication I am on do not exactly mix well and it tends to lessen the benefits that I receive from them (such as keeping my marbles and coping with every day life)
  3. Sleep is also a key factor in being able to cope with daily life when you have a mood disorder, especially bipolar polar disorder. Everyone has that friend that can get by on 3 hours of sleep all week and still be annoying productive and sane. Science has proven, though, that those with mental illness require a solid 7-8 hours for best coping abilities. I was definitely not getting 7-8 hours of sleep.

Take all of these point and throw them into a huge mixer and voila! Ladies and gentlemen, you have your very obvious, definitely avoidable trigger!

Now, this is not the first time I have cooked up a similar if not exactly the same kind of trigger recipe and I am sure that it won’t be the last given my stubborn nature. But, recognizing it and understand it are both very important. I haven’t had an episode like this in quite some time and that is something to celebrate! And ultimately, that is the goal to strive for. You are never going to have 100% perfect, happy, skipping on the sidewalk kind of days. No one does. But the more you learn about yourself and how you handle and cope with certain situations, the farther apart the bad days will be. Being self-aware and taking those long, hard looks in the mirror is what’s going to help you pick yourself up and move on to a better tomorrow.

Never punish yourself for a “bad day.” No one is perfect and putting yourself down for not being is counterproductive. Take a deep breath and remind yourself, there is always tomorrow and that is a good thing.