Two steps forward, then three steps back. What to do?

falling down stepsI bet many of us have uttered my subject line at some point in the past, or even recently. Maybe people have even continued the statement with something like “…and then four steps forward, then three steps back.” I know that kind of progress, or lack thereof, can be extremely frustrating, and maybe even lead to hopelessness, and becoming overwhelmed. It has happened to me a lot because of my bipolar disorder. I sink into a depression, and then struggle to get better. Then I get manic, and that pushes me back, too, and on and on. When and if I get the chance to bolt forward significantly it becomes ultra-satisfying. I have to do whatever I can to hold that ground, but relapse is often inevitable. Long-term stability and progress is also very much possible. I must keep that in mind.

Believe me, I’ve had to learn patience and tolerance over the years, and the will to continue, or “keep on keeping on”. Without that tolerance and will I would fall and never get up, or worse. I’m not willing to do that, and neither should you be.

DeterminationHow have I managed with so many setbacks? In many ways. I utter “The Little Engine That Could” speech, or when I’m done falling or stepping further back, I breathe in and breathe out slowly and find my way up again, even if it requires requesting someone to give me a hand for a lift or to stay steady. If I feel stuck in one place, I try to make the best of that place for a bit by finding some positives in that spot. For example, if I get up from a fall I dust myself off and look around and find something about that spot that can inspire. When the fear or anxiety dies down even a touch, I lift my left leg forward, and then the right. Or maybe someone helps drag me a bit by a figurative rope wrapped around my waist.

It doesn’t always take a lot of strength, money, or other resources to continue on. It takes brute determination. Yes, sometimes a little anger can be a good thing, if the anger is focused appropriately. Some anger has provided adrenaline I thought didn’t exist.

It is very important when you find yourself at or near the bottom of the steps or further back on the road to stand there for a bit and analyze what has been forcing you backwards. Sometimes moves forward without such knowledge are a sure way to trip down or back again. When you figure out the causes of your descents or back stepping, learn and then use the tools needed to move forward and stay forward. Tools like getting help sooner than before, learning better organization skills, better healthy living skills, confidence, new approaches, and sometimes even simplification can all be helpful.

Remember that life will continue to have setbacks occasionally for all of us. You are not alone. Perhaps knowing that can provide some comfort.

What strategies and tools have you used to help you move forward after setbacks?

20 thoughts on “Two steps forward, then three steps back. What to do?

  1. Vandana September 2, 2017 / 6:04 pm

    Faith and hope along with a bit of patient self-confidence is what helps me in many of my trying times. Quite a motivating piece Cindy, not many of us face a downtimes in life, especially with acute depression and then overcome the way you have so strongly represented. A small setback and we tend to lose all the faith we build over time. A determined thought to positive tomorrow and walking towards the same at a strong pace is indeed a compelling awakening of oneself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 12:59 am

      Those are definitely important for all of us. I’m so glad you added them. Faith is crucial, no matter how it is regarded.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. goddessingheart September 2, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    I agree with your idea of taking time to analyze the situation. I tend to need time to reflect and process a negative situation.
    For some reason, I don’t conceptualize my journey as a forward-backward dynamic. I tend to see my experiences as a spiral, where I often feel like I’m back where I was, but then notice I’m actually in another layer of existence, usually with a few more tools and resources than I previously had.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 1:10 am

      Thanks for adding another perspective to this idea. I think I can understand a spiralling pattern. Perhaps my backwards and forwards experiences are strongly related to my mental health challenges. I would be interested in better understanding what your alternate layers of existence are like.

      Liked by 1 person

      • goddessingheart September 3, 2017 / 1:47 am

        I’m really curious to learn the different ways in which people conceptualize their journeys! I think of it like a labyrinth or concentric circles, so that even when my current struggles seem to be repeating the past, I can remind myself of the distance I’ve come and what I’ve gained in understanding. Not sure if I’m headed towards or away from the center. I’ll have to write a post on it at some point so that I can better describe it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 11:17 am

        I would love to read such a post, goddessingheart. I’ll be following your blog closely.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Darlene J Lane September 2, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    Cyndy, one of the most difficult tragedies in life is learning to live with the pain of loss without your loved one.
    The blessing is to know they are together in beauty and the love we keep within in our ❤️ heart…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 1:12 am

      Yes, it is such a comfort to me knowing they are together.


  4. rightorwrongparenting September 2, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    Very motivating piece. We just have to keep pressing forward and as you said even if we have to ask for help from someone, continue to keep going. Life will always have pit falls but is what we do after we get out of the pit is what matters. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed your take on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 1:15 am

      Thank you so much, rightorwrongparenting. It’s such a great point you made to highlight those times when we lift ourselves up and continue forward.


  5. Melissa A. September 3, 2017 / 8:22 am

    I love your strength and tenacity. So many people I know with bipolar disorder don’t seek help and fall into despair or drug addictions. You are a glowing beam of light for the mental health community! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 9:42 am

      Melisa, that’s so nice of you to say, but sadly not always true. I’m just getting over a 2.5 week manic episode. I have bipolar type 1 and not 2, so often the light may shine as often as the dark. The light can shine way too brightly.


      • Melissa A. September 3, 2017 / 10:58 am

        I’m sorry. Perhaps I should have worded it differently. What I meant was that your blog is informative and encouraging, and I’m sure that many people suffering from Bipolar Disorder can benefit from it. 🙂

        Btw, I don’t know the difference between the two types. Maybe you could do a post on that…just a suggestion 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 11:14 am

        I’m happy to read that my blog is encouraging and helpful. I want it to be.

        I do like to write about mental illness some of the time, though for my sake I try to limit it to no more than 50% of the time.

        I like your suggestion about sharing the differences between bipolar type 1 and 2. Perhaps I will write an article on that or at least reblog one that seems well written.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Melissa A. September 6, 2017 / 2:37 am

        Thanks for letting me know. I saw it in my Reader and will be reading it in a few moments 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 19, 2017 / 2:04 pm

      I will be reading your post. I’m so glad you decided to expand on your conceptualization of such a journey.


    • updownflight October 19, 2017 / 2:42 pm

      I just read your post on the ideas you mentioned. What a very interesting read! I was almost done writing a response in your blog, but my computer suddenly ran out of juice, and I lost it 😦 I will try to rewrite it now.

      I hope anyone reading this will go to your post.


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