Friday Afternoon Blues

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20 Jul 2012

Friday afternoon is one of those times when it's really easy to have your mood swing down or up.

Maybe you're the (bipolar) kind of person who at the end of the week comes home, drops the bags on the floor, and lets out a deep sigh that the hectic week is all over and you can take your well earned rest for the next two days. If you are, you might be setting yourself up for a bit of depression.

The tendency to let everything go and just veg is a dangerous habit for us. When we try to switch off from our thoughts and responsibilities and plans for a little while, we often swing a bit too far in that direction and we have great difficulty getting up off the couch, or from in front of the computer to start back doing the little things we have to do next.

And bingo!, depression episode.

This kind of falling into depression happens very swiftly, measured in an hour or three, so by the time we realise it, we are too depressed to be able to do anything about it.

It particularly happens if you drop everything and (a) decide to sit in front of the computer to surf the internet, or (b) decide to sit in front the television and end up watching the four back to back episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" and then switching to "Eureka" or "Americas Funniest Home Videos." And next thing you know, you don't want to get up to meet friends for drinks at eight.

Reading can do the same thing too, but my experience it isn't as likely to pull you in. Any other task / habit you have that doesn't have you moving much and is fairly mindless can act the same way.

Now, regular people procrastinate too. But for us bipolar people, procrastination and depression are right up next to each other. So close that we have a hard time telling them apart until of course, we realise that we are indeed depressed. If you're bipolar, procrastination is warning signal that perhaps you need to get your ass moving before you do fall into a depression episode.

But what happens if you do want take a breather from the hectic pace of your week?

Well, do something that keeps your body moving. Go for a walk. Carry the dog for a walk. If you are up to it, grumble as you put on your sneakers and go for a short run or ride. Trim some plants in the garden. Go to the mall and window shop. Amble in the park and people watch. Meet up with some friends and play some small goal football. Do your stretching or yoga routine, even if you do a halfway job of it. Whatever you do, do not stop moving.

At the very least, drop your bags, keep on your work clothes, put on some comfortable slippers, and go ambling (not power walk!) around a block or two in neighbourhood for 10-15 minutes. You should be able to have the energy to do at least that. With a little luck you'll return in a less hectic frame of mind and a bit better able to handle what you need to do next.

Do not use this time to worry or fret. Enjoy the scenery. Smile at a few people.

When you return, stat doing some of your routine tasks, but do not get ramp back up to a frenetic pace. Keep a calmer, more measured rhythm. And if you have too much to do, drop some of the tasks you were planning to do and put them off for another day. Those tasks can wait. It's also ok to be late to meet people or have your whole schedule slide a half hour or an hour.

Basically, learn to one of those laid back people who so irritate you at the moment. Laid back isn't the same as irresponsible.