How to hack a mood

I got into a steamer of a mood earlier yesterday, a proper cynical, loathing/self-loathing one, and the sort which could linger for weeks at an earlier stage of my life, leading to consequences that could also easily lead to a vicious circle where it was necessary to form a lifestyle to adapt around all that, with often long-standing consequences. Yesterday’s lasted about 20 minutes.

I’m firmly of the conviction – and I’m not alone in thinking this – that there’s a whole heap of people walking around society doped up, where the issues they need to deal with are obscured to them, charging around in the back of their minds, largely inaccessible and often leading to subtle, long-term alterations of character at best or extremely bizarre behaviour at worst (a situation bioreductionist psychiatrists are only too willing to ‘treat’ by medicating individuals even further).

I once was one of those people, tortured by what I didn’t understand and couldn’t really see. That was until I was put on a medication that didn’t sedate me (though it still had unacceptable side-effects). This, along with a more outward-looking approach from Relate, the relationship counselling organisation, reintroduced the notion of context and was the catalyst for re-educating myself about moods so that yesterday’s lasted for as short a time as it did.

Yesterday’s was a combination of the medication I’m on kicking something off – I could feel the increase in physical anxiety that had no psychological input – though thoughts would develop that I had to subsequently deal with, even though that wasn’t a big deal. It isn’t, these days, because, between my two past spells in hospital, I developed the work I did with Relate (which was roughly in line with what had always been my approach prior to psychiatric involvement) and sought reasons for why I’d often been behaving bizarrely for over a decade, where the moods came from (there’s always reasons, despite many people claiming there aren’t) and what I could do about it all (incidentally, it was a bit of a revelation to me when, in 2011, I first realised that medication could induce physical reactions you’d normally associate with negative mental states but where there were no thoughts whatsoever that could have led me to them. In other words, the meds that are supposed to deal with psychiatric symptoms were producing physical reactions that were giving me them instead).

Nowadays, that process is pretty natural, an almost automatic process where one reason will trigger me off into seeing another in another now-automatic process of putting it all together to make sense of it all and so mastering it to the point where I’m empowered in relation to the mood and its causes, which then transforms the mood into something far more realistic, balanced and manageable.  From there, I can pick up the pieces of where I left off without psychological residue: no dramatic consequences, no bizarre behaviour, no need to endure weeks or even months of angst. It’s a more flexible and creative approach, a critical, including historical, awareness that works for me, at least. It needs a fair degree of honest accuracy (warts and all, but all in context) but once it develops into a habit, it’s yours for life.

I still get into moods. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t and some moods are useful in many ways that aren’t widely acknowledged. But the ones I find unacceptable are the more involving negative and debilitating ones which lead nowhere and, with me, are usually a consequences of meds I have little choice but to take (even though my view is that I’m largely having to take them because of initial psychiatric incompetence, social factors and, now, a physical dependency). Those meds still have an obscuring effect, so it takes me time to recognise and act upon even the deepest moods even now, but these days I do and do so pretty quickly. Even where sometimes there’s a course of action you’d like to take to ideally work around the mood that isn’t open to you, accepting that and working on something else instead is part of dealing with the mood, too.

The really important thing, though – and again, most people should know that I’m certainly not alone in thinking this – is that such an approach is available to everyone, if they want to use and benefit from it.


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