Training Checklist: Put Distraction Back in the Toolbox

As I continue my Bipolar Bad-Ass Training, I’ve found that skills and activities necessary to survive an episode of depression or hypomania can be detrimental for training.  Different forms of distraction are required during an episode to keep my mind from churning out negative, twisted thoughts and to keep the illness as benign as possible.  In the past, I’ve continued these activities unconsciously after the episodes end, letting them suck my time and brain power.  Training requires a different attitude.  Ask any Bad-Ass.  In order to carry out The Mission, there can be no distraction, nothing that will pull focus or cause detours.  During training the mind must stay sharp, and the target always in mind.  To that end, the distractions have to go back in the toolbox to be used only when the episodes require them.

This means doing actual art instead of what I call “gleaning.”  When my illness is raging, one thing I can always do is look through my stacks of magazines and cut out interesting pictures and words.  These gleans are the fodder for my collages, but the act of gleaning is completely mindless.  Back in the toolbox it goes.

Going to the movies is also a distraction for me.  I love the movies, but can’t really afford them.  In the middle of an episode, it’s worth the bucks to sit in a dark theater, completely transported out of my mental pain.  In training, I need the money for other things.

Shopping continues to be a distraction, even though I’m a compulsive spender.  If done in a controlled way, shopping still brings some relief from depression and anxiety without causing additional financial problems.  But, while I’m in training, I need to keep to my budget, make sure I’m purchasing high quality food at the grocery store, and taking care of necessaries.  Shopping goes back in the box.

One of my favorite distractions is surfing the Net and reading blogs.  And I can burn hours doing that.  I think the key here is “hours.”  While in training, I’ll allow myself time to write my blog and quickly scan my subscriptions.  No long, meandering comments.  No side searches.  I’ve got guns to oil, dammit.

But, the biggest distraction of all is TV.  It is my drug of choice, the siren song that lulls my murky mind.  I’ve used TV for so long, I’d need a Twelve Step program to stop.  Is it cheating to compromise?  What would Keh’leyr do?  Would Linda Hamilton stop doing chin-ups long enough to watch the series finale of Smallville?  What I will do is make sure all my other tasks are taken care of, that I’ve put in a good day’s training, then I’ll sit my bad-ass down and watch Criminal Minds.  Even warriors need to take a knee once in a while.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JAPLM
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 07:34:09

    I am new to your blog as of Monday and wow your posts since then have been exactly what I need to hear right now! This one hit me right between the eyes. Time to put the mindless activities back in the box and get back to the business of life! Thanks : )


  2. stevebetz
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 09:07:27

    I’ve had a post in the back of my mind for a while about “mono-tasking” — as opposed to multi-tasking. I had been finding that my gmail, twitter, fb, wp, and all the different feeds were really distracting me from getting anything done.

    So now I have prescribed times when I let myself check them and I try to focus on one thing in front of me. It’s been helping, but I still feel the draw to check “in between”.

    Good luck!


  3. Cheryl LaVille
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 11:07:05

    This is great processing! You know yourself well. Impressive training exercises.


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