S.T.O.P.P.



Mania is one of the most complicated experiences to explain to someone who does not have bipolar. Each person experiences it differently and mania in itself expresses in different ways. It can express itself as extreme euphoric highs as well as extreme irritability resulting in aggression. There was a time in a manic high during college that I became delusional and believed I was a descendant of Aphrodite. Though this belief didn’t particularly harm anyone it did inevitably trigger a period of hyper sexuality in my life that I later regretted. But that is not the side of mania I would like to focus on today. Today I would like to focus on what I feel is the more dangerous side of mania. These are the types of manic episodes where I personally have had irritability overtake me and the build up of small aggravations have led to major aggression or even full blown rage. It is in the rage periods that I describe my mania like watching myself on the television but I can’t change the channel. Life is unfolding in front of me and I’m stuck watching, helpless, unable to stop it.

Today I am going to give you a tool that, though it will not hault a full aggressive manic episode, you may find useful to prevent that episode from taking form before it happens. This method is called STOPP:


Stop

Take a breath

Observe

Pull back

Practice what works

I am going to delve deeper into what this entails, but I must preface that the STOPP method will only work if you practice it regularly in your times of balance. What I mean is, as you go throughout your days and experience minor irritations, anxieties, or small triggers, do not let them pass by without implementing this strategy. I want you to turn this method into habit so that in the early stages of mania you do it instinctually. I myself have found this practice incredibly useful in keeping the intensities of my mania at bay. My “aggressive" manias now last only 1-48 hours and stop at minor irritation without inflating to agression or rage. And that is something I believe you are capable of too!

Lets begin with S:


Stop.

Take a moment to slow down. Our knee jerk reactions to things are more often than not based on our lifelong internal conditioning as opposed to external circumstances. Yes, the external is the trigger, but the reaction is internal and instinctual. By stopping for a moment we are able to look at a situation from a proactive viewpoint rather than a reactive one.

T:


Take a breath. Taking a few slow, deep breaths can often be calming and even lower your heart rate if done consciously. You can even go as far as to introduce yogic pranayama breathing styles like nadi shodhana. Nadi shodhana (or alternative nostril breathing) is a relaxed breath aimed to calm the nervous system, amongst other things. Begin by sitting or laying down and emptying all the air from your lungs. Use the thumb from your right hand to block your right nostril and inhale slowly into your belly through your left nostril only. Hold your breath momentarily here. Before you exhale, remove your thumb from your right nostril and block your left nostril with the ring finger from your right hand. Exhale completely now through only your right nostril. Pause, then inhale again, this time through your right nostril. Switch fingers once more to exhale through your left and repeat this process 4-8 times.

O:


Observe. Start observing your thoughts. Are they racing? What are you focusing on? What are you feeling? What are you reacting to and is it causing physical sensations in your body? Our body influences our mind and our mind influences our body, so recognizing how we instinctually react to specific triggers is a crucial step in reconditioning our natural response.

P:


Pull back. Now it’s time to pull back and remove your self from the emotions attached to the moment. This may be difficult at first, but will become simpler with practice. Pulling back allows you to gain perspective on your current situation. The best way to transition into this is by asking yourself if your instinctual thoughts are based on fact or feeling. For example, if you are anxious or angry someone has not responded to your text, what thoughts are you having about that? Are those thoughts based on fact or feeling? If it is based on feeling what is a more fact based reason they haven’t gotten back to you? (ie: they don’t get off of work until 5 and it is only 4 or they saw my message while they were in the middle of something and forgot) Once you have transitioned your mind to start thinking about facts rather than feelings, it is time to look at the event in terms of the big picture as an objective outsider. If this were happening to someone else, what is another way you could interpret the situation in order to help them? Lastly, ask yourself this crucial question: Will this situation matter in a few days, weeks, or months from now? If the answer is no, there is no use in dwelling on it for longer than a moment.

P:


Practice what works. What skills could you put into practice right now that would help you keep in a good frame of mind? Does it help to channel your energy into something athletic like a sport, the gym, or dance? What mindfulness activities do you find beneficial? You can do yoga, meditate, take a nap, or read a book. Have you tried color breathing? If you have never heard of this before, color breathing involves visualization and deep breathing. I personally have found it incredibly beneficial. Let’s give it a try right now!

Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. As you sit with your eyes closed I want you to breathe deeply imagining breathing in blue air and breathing out red air. The blue air represents calm and the red air represents anger, anxiety, fear, really any negative emotion you may be feeling. Repeat this visualization with your breath until your timer goes off.

...


How do you feel? Do you feel calm? Peaceful even? Whatever emotional transfer you experienced, I want you to write it down. Putting your experience onto paper will not only help you become more aware of identifying your emotions but it will help you track your progress as you continue forward using this exercise. If you didn't quite get to a calm place in 3-5 minutes this time, you may reach that point by your 4th or 5th attempt. This will also enable you to effectively communicate your emotions to your therapist in your next session without forgetting what you experienced.


So next time you start to feel a bit anxious or irritable, remember to STOPP and move forward with your day. Mania is not inevitable. I believe in you.


81 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All

About Me

IMG_0332.jpg

Since 2018, I’ve been helping my clients find their optimal wellness through developing a deeper understanding of their habits and lifestyle choices. Whether your goal is to better your physical health, mental health, or both I aim to create a life balance that prioritizes your well-being and celebrates all aspects of your true self. It’s time to start nurturing your body and soul again.

#naturallybipolar

Posts Archive

Keep Your Friends
Close & My Posts Closer.

Thanks for submitting!