Let me start this post by telling you not to do what I did in the following story. This is meant to be a lesson on what to do instead, especially when you have any sort of autoimmune disease. And remember that I am not a medical professional, so if you do experience these types of impulses or any type of mania that I mention, please go speak to your doctor.
So, this last week I got two tattoos. They are beautiful and amazing and I love them. However, because of my ~lovely~ undiagnosed autoimmune disease, I am now in severe pain. For context, I’m writing this the day after getting the tattoos so the pain is fresh.
Now, in case you didn’t know, getting tattoos hurts for everybody. Even if you are at the tip-top of your health, getting stabbed repeatedly with an electric needle is unpleasant. So why did I decide at the end of my work day that I would make a quick pitstop at a tattoo parlor?
You guessed it! Lack of impulse control from my ADHD and extreme anxiety sending me into a hypomanic episode.
So, what should I have done instead? Almost anything! I could have called my therapist, my sister, or even my best friends and asked them to remind me why it was a bad idea. I could have waited even a week to see if I still thought I should do it. There are so many options for what to do instead, I came up with an acronym for when I (or you) are feeling impulsive: S.T.O.P.
I’ll do another post when I’m in less agony about the proper procedure for getting tattoos and the extra steps you should be taking if it can cause a flare up. But for this (very short because I gave myself a flare up) update, let’s delve into how to S.T.O.P.
- Sit your butt down. Take a breath. If you’re able to, meditate. If you’re like me and you can’t, then pace across the room and move to the next step.
- Think. Rationalize with yourself to decide if you’re impulse is truly worth it. Is it something that you should wait and decide on later? Is it too expensive? Do you even have time?
- Options. Make a list of everything you can do instead that will bring the same kind of satisfaction as your impulse. For some it is harder than others, but it’s also important to remember that most impulses do not bring the same level of satisfaction that one may expect.
- Person to call. When you have potentially dangerous or harmful impulses, it is SUPER important to have a list of people you can call to be talked back down. For me that list includes my sister and my three closest friends. Depending on the situation, I might call someone else.
Now let’s be clear. If you are in the midst of a hypomanic or manic episode, that is not enough steps. I am learning myself how hypomania plays a role in my life and will try to make a post on it next week, once I’m comfortable writing about it. But for now, I’ll leave you with three simple grounding techniques that I’ll explain more next week:
- Cold things. If you drink something cold or wash your face with cold water it is a gentle way to potentially shock yourself out of it.
- Take off your shoes. When you take of your shoes and feel the grass or carpet or whatever with your own toes, it is supposed to help.
- Talk to someone. As I mentioned before, try to have a list of people who can help you rationalize.
The goal when trying to ground yourself is to bring you back into a place where you are able to rationalize. For me, it works best to talk to others. Since I was at work, there wasn’t anyone for me to talk to that could help me do that. Some other grounding techniques that I also had no access to, but that work for me specifically, are playing with my dog, going for a walk, and hanging out with my friends. Even writing will help bring me back to reality sometimes.
But now I’ve taken the best steps I know of after the fact. Adjusted my budget, talked to my psychologist and psychiatrist, and started doing more research on how to keep myself grounded. Remember that if you feel the same kinds of impulses, there is help for you. I’m finding it now and will do future posts on resources too!
All the love,