Riding the Wave(s)

img_4675Sorry, this post has taken awhile to get posted, but between the flu bug that wouldn’t go away and life itself, it’s been a roller coaster. But that is what this post is all about learning to “Ride the Waves.”

I chose this subject, since it is a frequent topic of discussion with clients. If one is open to it this is an area that can provide much growth emotionally and in the self-esteem department is one I like to refer to as “Riding the Waves.” It’s more commonly known as “Peaks and Valleys.” We all have them, we are on a variety of biological schedules whether hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. It’s one of the aspects that connect all us to each other & makes us human.

Riding the Waves/Peaks and Valleys refers to our energy levels throughout our life. Most of us know it on a daily basis, such as “I’m a morning person or I’m a night owl” as examples. Which are you? The scope of this is much larger than just that question. It can help us define how best to use our talents, energy levels, resting periods and make the best of our life.  Learning to make peace and acceptance of this aspect of our humanity and uniqueness can help us use these Peaks and Valleys to our advantage instead viewing them as positive and negative. Actually they are neither, but definitely can help each of us make the most of Riding the Waves.

I was first introduced to this theory in my Pharmcology class in grad school, regarding dealing with the ups & downs/cyclic nature of Mental Health issues. This theory/method is actually quite applicable to everyone, whether you have Mental Health issues or not. I’ve used this technique with many of my clients over the years and many find it’s application useful in the many aspects of their lives.

Clients will often report their constant battle with themselves in regards to trying to change from being a night owl to a day person as an example, with my question to them is “Why?” Often startled by the response and the question,  we will discuss further the lack of acceptance of this natural aspect of their life.

Many of my self described “night owl” clients will discuss their struggles with trying to fit in with, the traditional schedules/daytime hours that the “average” person keeps. Often, they feel pressured to fit into a system that biologically doesn’t work for them.  My question to them, “why fight it?” Being a night owl is no different or any less than  being a morning or afternoon person. One just have different strengths and talents, figuring out how to use them is the key.

A larger population that can also benefit from this are various types of mental health issues, especially those with the diagnosis of Bipolar, higher functioning   Autism/Aspbergers and certain types of Schizophrenia. How they can benefit is very similar to night owls, since they often have highs & lows/peaks & valleys more often, for longer periods of time and are often fighting against the cycling aspects of their illnesses on a consistent basis. I often hear from this population of clients is the desire to be “normal.” (I’m still trying to figure that one out, such as the 2.5 kids part)

How my clients with mental health issues describe this constant struggle with the cyclic nature of their disorder, “is a battle between themselves and fitting in.” It can be tiring, frustrating and seriously effect their self esteem. When I bring up the idea of learning how to work with the cycles, instead of fighting with themselves, they are often surprised. No matter how much therapy or professionals they talk to, nobody has ever brought this idea up with them. Many are open to trying this new approach in their search for answers and solutions.

What I encourage clients to do as the first step is to track their cycles in length, intensity & what types of activities they are able to complete during the various stages of their cycles. Such as what are their talents during the up and down moments. Such as for someone with bipolar disorder, what can the best accomplish in manic/high energy phases. Such as cleaning house, work tasks that require lots of momentum & for some their creativity lies in this phase. As they are traveling down from the high phase to the lower/depressive phase or back up the ladder, often they have most of their clarity and clear thoughts. This is a time when tasks that require a clear mind are best accomplished, including working on ideas written down when manicy phase, making lists and paying bills. Upon reaching the bottom/depressive portion of the cycle, this can be a period of rest and gathering one’s thoughts.

For my clients who try this technique, many have reported that they have noticed some positive changes in their life. These include their cycles smoothing out, sometimes shorter in duration and more time between cycles. What is probably the most amazing result of this, is the improvement in their self esteem and reduction in negative self talk. Also they report having more energy due to the acceptance of who they are and a greater appreciation of their talents. It’s truly amazing what happens when we quit/reduce the internal fighting we can have with ourselves.

In your hourly/daily/weekly/yearly cycles, how much acceptance do you have of all your talents & abilities?

Do you struggle with yourself with these issues?

Feeling overwhelmed and help figuring out how to cope?

Contact me for help.