I want to start by defending myself about something. I am not an eavesdropper. No, I’m really not. But I’m out a lot, I go different places, like to get something to eat, or to go work out at the gym, or to volunteer, or to the library, or wherever, but I do go a lot of places. And I hear a lot of things. I don’t mean to, but I still do. And there are a lot of negative people in this world, let me tell you! But there are also some positive people, too.
So I’ve “overheard” someone say, “It was the worst case of the flu I’ve ever had in my whole life!” But I’ve also overheard someone else (about something totally different) say, “It’s the best case of making something out of nothing that I’ve ever seen!” Two different people. Two different situations. Best case. Worst case. That’s what I overheard. But it made me think of bipolar disorder. (Doesn’t everything? : )
It’s about attitude toward your situation. You can look at things in a “best case” scenario or a “worst case” scenario.
For example, think of a worst case scenario, like:
My loved one could:
• Quit their job
• Scream, yell, holler
• Go into an episode
• Stop their medications
Now, I am all for having plans for bad situations and being prepared…BUT you should also create a best case scenario. Take my mom, for example. I could have only thought she would keep running up debt, stay out of control, bankrupt the family, create huge problems for everyone, etc. But then I thought of the best case scenario: She would get out of debt, get stable, get and keep a job, have friends, master her bipolar disorder, etc. Now, which is the better way to think? If I had given up on my mom, I don’t know if she ever would have reached stability and be doing as good as she is today.
I have a friend whose husband has bipolar disorder, and she does it this way: She takes her two hands and cups them, palms up. It’s kind of like a game. She calls it, “On the one hand, and on the other hand.” So, let’s take the examples I used before. She would hold her one cupped hand up and say: “On the one hand, my husband could lose his job.” Then she would lift up her other cupped hand and say, “On the other hand, he could get another job, collect unemployment, start his own business, go on disability, or I could get a job.” See? Right there she came up with 5 good “best case” scenarios out of that one “worst case” scenario!
Let’s look at another one: “On the one hand, my husband could scream, yell, and holler at me.”
“On the other hand, I could scream, yell, and holler right back at him, or try to calm him down and say that he’s an adult and shouldn’t act like that, or tell him that his behavior is unacceptable, or tell him that I understand that he’s angry and can we talk about it calmly?” Again, for the one “worst case” scenario, she’s come up with 4 “best case” scenarios.
Now, here’s one of the worst “worst case” scenarios that supporters worry about: “On the one hand, my husband could stop taking his medications, go into an episode, bankrupt our finances, and end up in jail.” And here’s one of the best “best case” scenarios of all: “On the other hand, we can make sure that he has a good doctor, psychiatrist, and therapist, that he sticks to his treatment plan, I can help him make sure that he takes his medications, and we can both watch for triggers, signs and symptoms so that he won’t go into an episode, I can handle all the finances, including the checking account and holding all the credit cards, and together we can manage his bipolar disorder so that he stays stable and manages his bipolar disorder well.” Now, THAT’S a plan for stability! SIX “best case” scenarios right there.
So now when your mind slips to the negative, allow yourself to create a most negative worst case scenario AND a best case scenario, whether you use the “On the one hand and on the other hand” technique or one of your own, and compare the two. Some people even write them down and compare them. See which is more likely. Then ask, how can I turn my negative worst case scenario to a “best case” one?
Well, I have to go!