04 February 2009


For me, big part of dealing with depression is recurring patterns.

An episode of severe depression is typically characterized by adverse rhythms, by negative feedback loops, by spiraling down.

So much of my cope list consists of rhythmic activities, to break up the adverse rhythms by overlaying new ones.

Even such non-obvious copes as construction toy or cartoon book or jigsaw puzzle are rhythmic, as you place one piece after another, or read one daily comic strip reprint after another.

Now to some degree, this is influenced by Aspergers Syndrome, and may not apply so much to someone without an Autism Spectrum Disorder. But I think it is more likely that an ASD just makes the rhythmic aspects more obvious and that most, if not all, humans will respond to some degree.

Why else would music be so important in the human experience?

Beyond time rhythms of recurring or sequential events, there are also spatial rhythms in recurring spatial and visual patterns. Symmetry is a special characteristic of patterns that I find compelling, and seems to me to be closely related to rhythm.

Hence copes such as kaleidoscope and parquetry/pattern (or perler beads or weaving), and also labyrinths. To varying degrees, these also include time rhythms, but to varying degrees, most of the copes include mixtures of various spatial, visual, and time factors.

30 January 2009

The List

These are simply the line titles on my Cope List spreadsheet as it exists today, with a brief explanation added. I hope to come back and add links to longer discussions appearing in future posts.
  • prop, rot, ftc, btwitch -- propeller hands, rotating in place, faux t'ai chi, butt twitch -- physical movements proven beneficial for me
  • sing -- sing a short song to a cat or myself, or sing something longer
  • music -- play my zither, or otherwise do a music activity
  • platypus -- my well-worn plush platypus is a proven friend
  • pda -- play a game on my PDA, or do something a little more involved
  • pets -- interact with the cats in an active way, or be active with someone else's pets
  • tossplay -- throwing beanbags or quoits or balls or ... [mostly at targets]
  • cartoon book -- [smile] [laugh]
  • library book -- don't just check them out -- read them [or at least look at the pictures]
  • jo -- make her laugh; have a real conversation
  • hvblank -- heavy blanket -- woof!
  • labyrinth -- not a maze [puzzle] but a single path, in and out; held in hand or walked on the ground
  • kaleidoscope -- symetrical mystery patterns of light to break up the assymetrical patterns of a disfunctional brain
  • colors -- page through a book of color combinations, until one or some hold ones attention, even delight
  • dot-to-dot -- follow the numbers, create a picture
  • jigsaw puzzle -- little jigsaw puzzles, bigger jigsaw puzzles -- often with a DVD on
  • buttons -- could be an old-fashioned button box, but mine are the ones with pins, that I make myself
  • trains -- reading about railroads or streetcars, watching a video, running a toy train or model train
  • trackside -- watching a real train or streetcar go by, or just going to the tracks
  • sweep -- the rhythmic activity of sweeping or raking or mopping, plus the accomplishment
  • construction toy -- the things I do in my block play blog
  • unclutter -- deal with some of the accumulation that accumulates
  • german -- read or write or talk some German
  • froebel -- the Frebel gifts almost, but don't quite overlap with construction toy (above) but do different things for the head
  • parquetry/pattern -- like froebel, I have addressed these in blockplay but the activity benefits differently from construction sets or froebel
  • weave -- classic potholder loops on the square loom, or something a bit more advanced -- but not too advanced
  • photo -- take pictures, work with my pictures -- the camera is a tool for seeing
  • outing reading -- reading about places to go, things to do -- not limited to feasible in range, cost, or ability level
  • neighborhood -- walking right here from the house
  • water -- walking on the beach, or going to a river
  • bad z -- short for 'Badezimmer' [German for 'bathroom'] -- referring to doing some cleaning & maintenance
  • blog -- posting or doing maintenance in any of my several blogs
  • watch movie -- this can be a challenge for mental disability reasons, but it is also a benefit
  • binary arts -- the small single-player games/puzzles such as Rush Hour by Binary Arts (now ThinkFun), and similar toys -- mental exercise and finger stims
  • crossword -- crossword puzzles and their ilk
  • film reading -- reading movie reviews or other cinema or television writings
  • bookstore -- happy places that must not be neglected
  • autie play -- get together with a friend with Autism Spectrum Disorder for a third alternative to reclusiveness or socializing with neurotypicals
  • outing with jo -- get out & do something special with my favorite person
  • trees -- walk in the woods nearby, or get up into the hills, into the mountains
  • laundry -- not getting too far behind, having clean things, are both beneficial
  • spiff -- dress up a bit, trim the beard, get a haircut
  • hidey hole -- a quiet little retreat of my own, direly in need of unclutter lately
  • splish -- soak in the tub or go wading someplace -- benefit from some Ordnungswasser
  • hobby shop -- models and tools and neat stuff, oh my!
  • family -- see our girls, see my siblings, see my mother
  • dr s -- this is an administrative entry to show my last & next psychiatrist appointments
  • ssdi -- this is an administrative entry to show my last & next disability checks
  • decoupling -- this has no date entries, but is simply to remind me of the ongoing task of disconnecting negative associations when the connection is mental, not rigid
Many, or most, of these activities have elements of rhythm and pattern to them. I find that many or my head problems seem to be my brain getting itself 'trapped' in a 'bad rhythm' or 'bad pattern,' and that the cope list activities can help me break out of that by disrupting it with alternatives.

29 April 2007


A few years ago, I was periodically celebrating having found another activity that helped me get through a difficult episode of mental illness.

I would think it was a particularly good one, but when I tried to compare it to others, I couldn't remember most of them.

Eventually I created a simple list of activities that helped me get through difficult episodes.

A list that I could refer to when I needed help -- especially when I was least likely to remember.

A list of things to help me cope.

Eventually, it became something I use all the time -- to help prevent or reduce bad episodes, and so that when the need comes, I have done the various cope activities recently enough that they are friendly and familiar, and so that I don't become bogged down in just a few.

I have a version of the list in an online spreadsheet, with columns for date and how many days it has been since I did them. Some I do quite frequently -- daily or more -- some less frequently.

There are are actually two columns for 'date' and 'since' -- mostly for 'routine' and 'extended' version, but sometimes for explicitly different versions. What those mean can change with the situation.

What it all means can be adjusted to needs -- it is intended as a help, not as a burden.