Organization. What is it? To those creatures who were molded by chaos, it might feel like the devil, while others feel like organization is their savior.
Organization is done by all. We could go down to the core of it and say that the hierarchy of needs is one way the mind organizes. Water, food, shelter, protection. It may seem basic, but we can see those things as four corners to the metaphorical room that is our person. In this example we are organizing how to stay alive. But there is more to life than staying alive, and how can we experience the good things through organizing?
Let’s try a saying. “She’s got things in order.” When you hear that, you know that person will know about the problem topic, and be able to find answers efficiently. Shout out to my wife because she is that person. These people file, sort, analyze, reassess, file new information, sort again, analyze… you get the picture. They are focused on a project or projects and spend the time it takes to know the project in and out. A person needing information on those projects go to her to understand what they sought to know.
Now try another saying, “He has got his shit together.” To me, this has to do with balance of mood. Believe it or not, I believe that people with mood disorders have the highest potential to be great organizers of emotion. What do I mean by that? I mean that because us people are subject to having seemingly disorganized and fluctuating moods, it provides a reason to get granular in organizing those moods. So those diagnosed with mood disorder are in a way offered a chance to improve their lives and other’s lives using and sharing techniques, diet, medicine, and community.
So what has worked for me?
A Technique: I am a chronic journalist of my experience in life. I do not have a set time to journal but I make sure to write about what I am doing or thinking, and I do this everyday. Part of it for me is that I am forced to hear my thoughts while I write them. I actually have a very quiet mind, so if I am not engaged with someone, or some task, my mind is observant and quiet.
Journaling not only helps me hear my inner voice, but it is visual too. I write in cursive with a pencil. I need to keep the pencil sharp with a manual sharpener, and the shavings go into my hand and then into the trash bin. It is a ritual. The led leaves a trail as I swirl across the page, regardless of what I am writing about. It is consistent. I could write my day is terrible, and, I saw a flower in december. The act of writing does not change.
A diet: To me, my food intake is a hot topic. I want to eat only that which is not taking from others, but am not always the best at that. I ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream the other day while meditating on what it took to get that tasty treat in my bowl and into my mouth. It is confusing when you do not live a rural life where you are close to the farm and food to know what you are eating.
We are what we eat, and I believe that goes the same in treatment of others. I worry about abuse and maladaptive farming practices or corners cut in order to get that food in my local supermarket today and not tomorrow. I am a cognizant consumer, and I do not beat myself up for eating food with limited resources on where it came from. I do desire to know, and in time I will find out more, as life goes.
Medicine: I take it. I take my medicine in milligram form with the knowledge that it is intended to be nourishment for my mood. It is not taking from me, it is not subtracting from me. But instead it helps me to be behind the wheel and allows me to decide what mood to explore today. I am aware that there could be side effects, and I report to my psychiatrist anything causing that to come to question.
Community: It is a good thing. I find community in those also seeking community. Part of the trick is knowing that we will not always agree. The other part of the trick is to remember why we seek community. For one, I want to be around people who share some life experience with me because somehow this makes my hard times easier to handle. For two, I want people to share joy and love and other good things with. Communities are strongest in my opinion when those two things are known by everyone in the group.
So organizing is not just spreadsheets and powerpoints. Organizing can be accounting for what brings you joy, and what doesn’t. Organizing can mean letting an emotion wait, as you stick to the plan and make yourself lunch. Organizing can be square breathing for two minutes before you break down. Life is good, and sometimes we need to learn that fact and how to remember it. To me that is ultimately what coping skills do. They minimize the risk of all things bad, and maximize the possibility of all things good. If I am doing a thing and calling it a coping skill those are my rules.
P.S. Spreadsheets are cool.