One of the most frustrating parts of my mental illness is that I know it will keep rearing its ugly head, even when I do everything “right”. My therapist has pointed out multiple times that while my mood will vary, taking my medications and engaging in healthy behaviors can help my depressions come less often and less severely. I’m still not entirely convinced – especially since I have been doing just that and still recently hit a really tough patch.
During one of my recent appointments with my psychiatrist I asked if he thought I was doing too much and if that is why I keep getting sick. After talking a bit about my schedule, what I do for fun, etc. he mentioned Social Rhythm Therapy.
Since that appointment I have done two things. First, I made a list of responsibilities, fun or relaxing activities, things that are both a responsibility and fun, and things I do that are fulfilling but not always fun. After making my list, I researched social rhythm therapy.
Let me start with my list, below is a sample of what I came up with:
|Responsibilities||Fun/Relaxing||Responsibility and Fun||Fulfilling but not always fun|
|Pay Bills||Take a walk||Cat mom-ing||Volunteer advocacy|
My lists included more activities than above, and the categories did not have an even number of activities. When I looked at “responsibilities”, “responsibilities that are fun”, and “fulfilling activities”, I noticed I regularly do all if not almost all of those activities regularly. The fun/relaxing category did not tell the same story.
That quick list made me realize that I need to focus on engaging in more fun and relaxing activities. I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t been doing so until I talked with my psychiatrist.
After completing my list, I took a few days to think it over before doing research on social rhythm therapy. Social rhythm therapy was developed for people with bipolar disorder. It focuses on routines and the importance of keeping a consistent schedule to help maintain a person’s circadian rhythm.
Throughout my reading about social rhythm therapy I alternated between thinking “I do that!”, and “there’s no way this would help me”. Despite my disbelief, I decided to try out social rhythm therapy. Research has shown that it in combination with medication, social rhythm therapy can be very helpful.
So here is my two week challenge:
Week one (starting today): I am going to fill in the schedule below daily, but not change anything about what I am doing or when.
Week two: I am going to work at following the schedule I set as closely as possible.
|Activity||Target Time||Time/# of people||Time/# of people||Time/# of people||Time/# of people||Time/# of people||Time/# of people|
|Out of Bed|
|First contact with other person|
My hope is that this will let me see how close I currently am to staying within range, as well as allow me the opportunity to see if and how my mood may change by using this technique.
I have added “relaxing activity” as a category to try and make myself remember to do something nice for me each evening.
For more information about social rhythm therapy, this DBSA powerpoint had some good information.
For an easier, quicker read, you can learn more about social rhythm therapy here