When I am in hypomanic mode, I get a lot of ideas. But because I have not reached full blown mania yet, I can write down my project ideas, task list (monthly, not daily: daily creates pressure to get everything done, forgetting there is another day), or whatever else comes to mind.
I have to write them down somewhere visible to me on a daily basis. If I don’t, the thoughts keep racing through my mind jumping mentally from one to another. When this happens, I jump subject to subject with whomever is with me at the time. What it is, how to do it, how fast can I complete it and move onto the next. I want every project done now. That’s impossible. But at the time, my brain does not comprehend it as being illogical to believe every project can be done in a day, in one sitting. Full mania will have me spinning in circles.
So when I first realize that one brainstorm after another is spinning in my head, I write each one down. It doesn’t matter when I start them. I don’t even have to have a plan, I just need to write down as much as possible about the ideas that are coming at me so fast. To help me keep these racing thoughts from getting to full blown mania, I include in my bipolar toolkit bag, a small notebook so I can write down whatever idea comes to mind and all the details that are in my head at the time. Whenever an idea comes to mind, I stop (unless I am driving) and write it down. Every idea may not turn into an actual project but at least it is not spinning in my head getting mixed in with other ideas.
I also keep a small notebook in the car, so if someone is riding with me, they then become my assistant and write the thoughts down for me.
One stays in the house, I have two levels in my house, so one stays upstairs and one stays downstairs. This way there is always a pad or notebook available to me. I write down as much detail as possible to get as much of it out of my mind. I take control of the driving, not the thoughts. They come to fast and can turn into full mania if I don’t take control of the wheel.
Some ideas actually turn into projects, some do not. The purpose is to get them out of my head.
Later, when I am in neutral, I go over the ideas, decide which ones are viable projects and write the project name on an index card. One project for each card. Then I put the card on my project board under the column Project Name. These are the projects I plan to complete. There are no time limits. The purpose of the project board is to help me maintain functionality through all bipolar episodes.
Once I start a project, the card gets moved to the second column: In Progress. It stays there until it gets completed. There will be more than one card in this column because I will work on any one of the projects at any time, it just depends on which end of the spectrum I’m in at the time. Meaning, how calm or how rough, the storm is. (Even keel, which is maintaining at a steady pace in the life cycle. Hypomania- the creative juices are flowing. Full blown mania- hard to concentrate on one thing. Working on everything. May be experiencing mixed episodes. This is the rough storm for me and of course depression can be in any stage as well).
Finally, when a project is completed or up and running, it gets moved to the Completed Section. Yay! Success.
Living with bipolar doesn’t make me ineffective at anything. I can accomplish my goals and I do.
Remember bipolar does not control us, unless we give up and do not have plans on how to combat the depression and the mania. They will happen, but we can control a little bit of to what degree they go to.
Put up a project board and see how it works for you when you have racing thoughts. Work on your projects. Eventually they will get completed. This will give you the incentive and help you work, in spite of the episodes. Each day will have a different level of productivity. Some days you will get one thing done. But the goal is to do something that is productive according to your definition, not someone else’s. You will be so proud of yourself when a project is up and running.
Love to all of you,
peanut butter (PB)