Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Regaining Control in Response to Early Warning Signs and Symptoms

I discovered how to regain control of my recovery by redirecting the focus onto stress management techniques. Initially, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, however, my symptoms presented those which resemble both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Specifically, my symptoms included: mania, anxiety, depression, delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations, etc. Accordingly, my diagnosis became schizoaffective disorder. Managing the mania is an ongoing battle for me.

    Reflecting on my past behaviors, especially shifts in my mood and symptoms, I created a blueprint on how to rejuvenate and get back on top of life. In this blog article, I will list seven early warning signs to be mindful of. Moreover, I will discuss methods which I personally use to fight back against the odds. However, I am not promising complete healing and avoidance of relapse, but I am simply sharing the tools that I utilize to maintain my health goals.

    Whenever I exhibit certain signs and symptoms I try to recycle my wellness tools. Here are 7 early warning signs:

1. Shifts in sleeping patterns. For me, not getting adequate sleep could lead to elevated moods or mania. Yet, excessive sleep could indicate a steady decline into my depression.

2. Excessive texting. A strong indication that I am manic occurs when I reach out to people in my circle of influence and beyond with excessive texting to check-in, catch up, and to share thoughts, etc.

3. A surge in thoughts. Occasionally, my mind races with ideas that demand a lot of attention, but I cannot activate the plans because my mind cannot to focus on multiple projects at once.

4. Misunderstood. When those closest to me tell me they can't follow my train of thought or are confused by my line of thinking I reflect on these conversations after the fact, and consider analyzing my stress level in order to address it.

5. A buildup of stress. Life is stressful, however, I recognize that I can be hyper-sensitive to everyday stressors. Examples of daily stressors is managing traffic and being late, bills and financial obligations, and also disagreements with family and friends. Overtime these stressors buildup and wear me down by interfering with my memory, feeling like there's ongoing pressure on my mind and body, and thus, triggering my lack of patience and producing irritability. 

6. A disrupted routine. I discovered that I manage well with a self-care routine. I have a wide variety of habits that helps me stay balanced such as writing in my journal, and prayer and meditation. When I lose consistency in my daily routine I could tell I need to concentrate on my wellness. 

7. A pileup of house chores. Whenever I notice how uncomfortable or unmanageable areas of my space becomes I start to realize that I need to regroup and redirect my attention onto my basic self-care needs. Not to say that my home is tidy or spotless, however, there are degrees of tolerance or intolerance to messiness such as an overfilled trashcan that just sits and I seem to work with it. 


    However, accepting a rigorous call to action can disrupt the downward spiral. Here are 7 stress reduction strategies to maintain wellness:

1. Walking. Walking has always created stress relief whether around my neighborhood, in the park, or gym, because I can clear my thoughts.

2. Therapy. When I feel overwhelmed I schedule an appointment with my therapist and come to the session with an agenda or list of stressors to discuss and resolve.

3. Medication. Even though I understand this may not work for all of my peers, it works for me. Occasionally, I ask for an adjustment to my medication dosage and discuss additional options with my doctor. 

4. Cleaning. When I am anxious I focus on performing house chores. Cleaning takes a level of concentration to organize and rearrange stuff. It helps me clear my mind. Afterwards, I feel relieved and enjoy the atmosphere.

5. Rest. This is a huge stress management technique because resting rejuvenates the body. When I get enough sleep I can utilize my energy to work on other areas of my life.

6. Projects. Sometimes I create new projects to exercise my creativity and to stay busy.

7. Prayer. My prayers manifest clarity. I say my prayers aloud and remember to be grateful for what I have. 


    I share my experience so that it may empower others to relate and enhance coping strategies to manage similar challenges. Therefore, I encourage my peers to observe and accept individual warning signs and symptoms in order to address them. 

    I've experienced two psychotic breaks over the last 14 years, and I have more mental battles to overcome. I believe that another breakdown is inevitable for me, because of the uncertainty in dealing with a brain disorder. I understand I am not immune to another psychotic break. Still, I strive to master stress management skills every day to control what I can. My goal is to defeat my condition by getting back up after every breakdown by utilizing my wide range of coping tools, my faith, and hope that I can manage to bounce back. 

    I must be clear that mental illness is a very serious condition that stress management techniques may not always be able to resolve due to the severity of the condition. In fact, I advise every individual living with a mental health condition to discuss treatment options and a crisis plan with their healthcare professional. 

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