Tag Archives: bipolar bear

This month’s challenge is *drumroll*…remember to write your blog (oh, and find a job)



Well I made it back from my travels in one piece, which is always nice, and now it’s time to actually start job-hunting properly *tiny sigh*.  In order to delay this for as long as possible  I’ve been doodle-tastic – designing cards, setting up shop on Etsy, organising market stalls and also uploading some work to zazzle and redbubble.  Man, it takes up a lot of time . To be honest  it’s a nice way of indulging in something I like without feeling too guilty (it’s entrepreneurial innit) and it might just keep me sane once I get back on the treadmill too (the work treadmill that is, not the other sort, I’m still working off a lot of ice-cream.  Damn you Ben and Jerry and your delicious, cellulite inducing desserts ).

So, if you feel like making people look at stuff-they- can -get- you- for- christmas on the internet, experiencing the outcome of summertime hypo-mania by-proxy, or just analysing the extent to which people will go to avoid doing anything sensible, then  go and hang out at the slightly rustic (eg.  just about holding together) http://www.doonesdrawingroom.co.uk

Anyway, I’m going to make myself finish some application letters now, no doubt I’ll have some musings to share about the whole process along the way.

In the meantime, peace x


Challenge 2 Depression Hacks: From going outside to getting some exercise (Easy does it)

It's quite bright out here isn't it?

It’s quite bright out here isn’t it?

According to research, aerobic exercise encourages your amygdalae to get their groove on, helps your hippocampus get happy & lays some love on your limbic system ( *all accurate scientific descriptions). Which is good to know.  What is not so good is that, for some of us, at the very time these brain-parts most need this boost we are using up most of our energy doing necessary activities such as moving between the sofa and bathroom, and conserving the rest for visits to the kitchen and back.  Sweet irony of ironies.

*Ok, this is a lie, you can find the proper science-y stuff here.

I’ve been thinking about this as I fight the good fight for fitness, so when I spotted an article on Facebook, hailing exercise as a good way to tackle depression I wondered why they had paired it with a picture of a well-kitted-out glossy haired sprinter.  Come on now I thought know your audience.  It’s one step at a time people.  Being outside and running and looking all sprightly?  They’re  massive things when you’re dogged by the black dog. Let’s break it all down a bit…

Hmm...definitely more trees out here than in the kitchen.

Hmm…definitely more trees out here than in the kitchen.

FIRST STEPS:   A reasonably achievable aim is a short walk around a park, or  a short shuffle down a street with some nice trees if you don’t happen to live next to a park.  If this is a step too far then you could aim for a slow walk to the shop looking forwards instead of at the pavement.  You don’t even have to go into the shop…but you could take your hood down.  And if you’ve yet to crack simply going outside (never mind moving around out there)  & you’re really lucky like me you might have a lovely friend who will assure you that you don’t have to stay outside for more than 10 minutes, then drive you to a large pub garden, sit with you at a table away from other human life forms and let you look at trees and ducks and stuff in silence for as long as you’re able.  Then take you home. Usually well after your 10 minutes has elapsed.

NEXT STEPS:  Unless you were an athlete before the black dog bit, you are as likely to hit a sprint during the throes of depression as you are to find a unicorn in the cupboard when you go to find your trainers.  There are exceptions of course and if you can work up a run, go for it.  If you’re like me that’s not going to happen until you’ve managed to shrug off your dressing gown for a good day or two, in which case you could get active indoors to start with.  I’ve looked up a few sites where you can follow an instructor without worrying that you will have the added worry of an audience if you flake/panic/need a nap after 2 minutes.

You could try this not- so- glossy but calm and gentle yoga-for-beginners   or this low-impact vid  which is quite sweet and involves some clapping – a cheery kind of activity I suppose.

If you feel a bit more lively a chap called Jared has put together this selection of zumba videos  which I’m struggling to watch more than a few seconds of because my laptop is being temperamental (eg. s***) but I thought I’d leave them here anyway because there’s links to a few other workouts on the site if these don’t float your boat.

Personally I managed to get moving now and again with the very-smiley Davina’s High Energy Five Workout DVD, mainly because it was the only workout DVD I owned.  It’s brutal in parts but the 5 different sessions are 15 mins each. I did one session of a day. Sometimes.  Mainly I just did the warm-up 🙂

MOVING ON:  You might be able to skip straight ahead to this or you might need time on the above to help you work up to it.  Communicating effectively with other humans is a necessary part of overcoming or recovering from depression, so any activity that brings you into contact with your fellow life forms is good.  Start with something short and gentle, but try a class, you’ll only encounter small talk, nobody’s going to start asking probing questions – unless you turn up in your dressing gown, which I would advise you not to.

Obviously I am only an expert in my own breed of black dog so this is all based on my experiences, the key is to be kind to yourself and do just enough to feel a sense of achievement.  The ten minute rule’s a good one though…

And just so you know, I’m not trying to distract from my own fitness antics.  I’ve managed two gym sessions so far this week.  I’m trying to build up the time I can spend running rather than simply wiggling uphill on the treadmill.  It would be lovely to tell you that I am a glowing picture of health, but in truth my bones hurt and I look knackered.  Mood’s pretty chipper still though.

I’ve been checking out  http://fitnessista.com/work-out-with-me/ and I think I’m going to give it a go starting from tomorrow, wish me luck.

That is all.


Challenge 2: February Fitness (get me a body-double)

LIFE AND TIMES OF BP BEAR "Come back when you can be bothered to draw me a body."

“Come back when you can be bothered to draw me a body.”

Well it’s February the first.  Fitness Challenge time.  Great.  Allow me to begin by saying that I do already have a gym membership, and I like the gym…or rather I like how I feel once I’ve been to the gym.   Over the summer I went two or three times a week, partly because I could feel gloom settling in and was hoping to work it off.  That plan didn’t pan out once the gloom got all thick and treacle-like because when that happened just reaching for my trainers felt like a workout. It still does a bit, but I’m going to aim for three exercise sessions a week (maybe even yoga) and we’ll see what becomes of me.  I’d love to say that I kicked off first thing this morning.  But that would be a lie.  Sorry.  Instead I finished writing these so don’t judge me.  Yet.


Tomorrow then.

Bright & early.


Final Thoughts on the January Challenge – I am a zen master and a teller of cheeky lies (only one of these statements is true)

Ok, I’m not a zen master, it’s only been a couple of weeks, but I do feel a little more calm and collected.  Here are my five best and worst discoveries, realisations and cogitations from Challenge 1 – a meander through meditation and mindfulness


First is Best

  1. I have remembered that am not a brain in a jar.  Forgive the cheesiness of the forthcoming statement – I feel more in touch with my physical self.  Although not enough to have stopped walking into door frames and table edges, my spatial awareness still does not seem to extend to registering  where  my shoulders and knees end and other objects begin.

    My brain.  The Platypus situation needs some explanation.  Another time I promise.

    My brain. The Platypus situation needs some explanation. Another time I promise.

  2. I have learned that there are loads of meditation techniques out there.  Since my natural cynicism is generally outweighed by my curiosity (the kind that did for the cat)  I’ve tried to reserve judgement until I’ve learned a bit more/tried it out.  There have of course been times when I should have listened to my inner cynic, but y’know,  it’s been a learning curve.
  3. It is wonderful to not think about anything, even if I’ve only managed it for about ten seconds of a day.  I can’t think of a time before now when my brain has shut-the-*@£!-up.  Even when it’s all mushy and miserable it likes to go on about it.  A bit of not-thinking is bliss and worth the surprising amount of effort.
  4. I have noticed little and lovely things more, although I stopped to photograph a spotlight of sunshine falling across some grass the other day and decided that it was possible to take things too far.  Plus I am a pretty terrible photographer.

    A step too far?

    A step too far?

  5. This blog has got me writing and doodling again.  And I have been inspired, informed and entertained by other blogs, articles and essays along the way.  Long may that continue.


  1. My boss is never going to think that stopping to be in the moment is a valid reason for being late to work.  No matter how lovely the birdsong/ river sparkle or angle of sunlight I have been enjoying.
  2. Mindfulness is a discipline really, and that takes work.  Which is fine, it’s just a bit tougher than I realised.
  3. It can be hard to stay awake during some of the exercises.  You’re supposed to stay awake to benefit.  Sigh.
  4. I have an aversion to pipe-music.  Just sayin’.
  5. There are individuals and organisations out there offering theories, resources and services that involve parting with a lot of money.  And  they are targeting a demographic (ie. me) that is often vulnerable to promises of psychological relief. Maybe some of these truly are brilliant and life changing (I admit, I didn’t spend any hard cash finding outbecause I am a cynical, wallet full-of-moths creature)  and I am horribly wrong.  But in my humble opinion there’s a world of difference between spending a bit of cash on an App, CD (they still make them you know) DVD or book that will teach you something and signing up to an expensive course that promises to make you a wealthy and healthy zen master if you invest in various talismans along the way.  Unless you’re loaded, in which case…well, have a go and let me know.

To conclude: I’m going to try to continue investing a little time in mindfulness and other forms of meditation.  Even the guided sort involving tinkly bells and waterfall sounds in the background.  I think I’ve discovered a few things to store away for the dark days too – if I can be bothered to remember.  Depression makes you forget to be bothered to remember things doesn’t it?  Like how to get dressed or form sentences.


But, like I seem to keep saying, I am going to try.


If you can’t shake it off, sleep it off


When I woke up there were birds singing, there was even some sunshine.  I felt pretty chipper as I made some coffee. I did 10 minutes of meditation with headspace.com and then answered some emails, got some work done and read the news for a while.  I had plans to search out a local yoga session.  But somewhere between morning and afternoon my good mood sneakily snuck off and left me really grumpy (am I that afraid of yoga? 🙂 )  I went for a wander but couldn’t walk it off so I turned to a worn-out but much-loved strategy; sleep.  Which is lazy, considering I am trying to find new ways of dealing with moods.  But it did leave me feeling a bit less horrible, and stopped me biting anyone’s head off.  So.  A success.  Better get back to it zzzz

*PS – I suppose should have read this earlier  http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-to-let-go-and-overcome-a-bad-mood/   but it turns out I did number three anyway...’I will feel better when…I’ve had a sleep’

A Mindful Success (& an unusual encounter with wind-chimes and whispers)

I finally managed to to see this ‘Mindful Body Scan’ exercise through to the end  http://www.freemindfulness.org/download   (Body Scan, 45 minute version).

It is very restful (which is why I kept drifting off to sleep initially) but the best thing about it is that makes you focus on your body.  Now, I might think about my body if I stub my toe, or if I’m cursing my pathetic muscles at the gym, or if I have a sore throat…you get the picture –  I live in my head most of the time.   Getting out of my mind is good for me and this is a nice calm  (not to mention legal) way to do that.

The audio on the download is a bit fuzzy, but I liked that, less clinical.  There are lots of versions of this exercise out there though.  There are shorter clips on the site I link to above and you can convert Youtube versions into mp3 using http://www.listentoyoutube.com/index.php  as long as you are careful to dodge all the annoying ads.

Now, in my quest for meditation information I did a lot of googling, as you can imagine, and wandered around YouTube – at times lost, at times afraid.  And it was during this time that I wandered upon a thing called ASMR which I had never heard of before.  This article kind of sums up some of the concerns about it as a Youtube pheomenon http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30412358  There is definitely  something kind of fetish-y about some of it.  You can go through a whole ASMR spa experience, an ear-cleaning… No really.  It’s true.  For reals.  With videos.  And lip gloss.


And yet, although I was too timid to go near anything labelled ‘role play’, I did listen to some  popular ASMR sounds and overall it put me in mind of my mum brushing my hair when I was small (without the nasty tangle ouches) ultimately a very comforting and non-fetish-y experience .   And I suppose, in the midst of a depressive episode, you might struggle to find someone prepared to brush your hair whilst you pace/weep/slump attractively.  Or to just chatter and eat chocolate at you without expecting any active human responses. It’s not the same thing, but it could make you feel a bit less awful.  Or it might just be really creepy.  Who can say.  But anyway, it’s out there.  So here’s a whisper-y man who’ll ask how your day went


And a whispy-voiced lady who’ll take you on a very sweet, rainy walk towards self-worth (don’t look at the pocket watch…)


You can make up your own mind.  Whatever works man, whatever works.

A ‘Labelling Emotions’ Fail (or how not to mind when you can’t be Mindful)

Mindfulness: Labelling Emotions Excercise

The Life and Times of B.P Bear:  Mindfulness

So, I’m making progress with the 10 minute sessions on headspace.com and I think it’s helping me to approach things more calmly.  So far. Anyway, I thought I’d have a go at another mindfulness excercise called ‘labelling emotions’ because emotional confusion is a bit of a thing for me (If I can find a suitable file type I will upload it, along with the mindful body scan).  I didn’t do so well with this one though, I found it a bit of a struggle, but that could be because it’s Thursday (the end of my working week) and just sitting still made me feel quite happy.  In fairness, I was able to label my emotion as contentment which should indicate some success, but I only called it that because I was worried about repeating ‘I can’t be arsed’ three times – y’know, in case the guy on the audio could hear me *shakes head at own idiocy*  Sadly, I didn’t find this particular version of the exercise that useful, but it did occur to me that this type of meditation might be  a good thing to try when you’re a bit confused about what you’re feeling or worried you might be entering into a mixed episode.   I will seek out a better version.

But don’t fret, I dealt with this sort-of-failure well – by eating some leftover sweet potato mash.  I don’t think its’ effects are as powerfully medicinal as the icecream I ate yesterday, but I’m doing ok   😉

Tonight I shall be returning to the Mindfulness BodyScan…I’ll report back on that, if I can stay awake.  Peace.