This blog is inspired by another writer who gave us these tips but for managing chronic pain.
I felt like her tips would be good for managing bipolar, depression, ptsd, any mental illness.
So this is my adaptation.
#1 – Acceptance
I was stubborn when I heard my diagnosis 40 years ago. I didn’t believe it. I wouldn’t read up on what it was. I just didn’t want to know.
So for 40 years, in and out of one hospital or another. Loss of relationships. Loss of jobs. Lost home. Lost truck. Lost mind. Then I went to Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. They have modern facilities with very nice private and shared rooms. I had a private with my own shower and bathroom.
BUT the best part of the place was the food. The food is excellent, and you get to choose off of an extensive menu. Smoked Salmon was my favorite. Gourmet.
Accepting my diagnosis took a weight off my shoulders. I could identify the culprit of all my shenanigans. It also allowed me to get treatment both socially, therapy and meds.
Definitely, accept your new reality. I did and I’m glad I did. Because I know what I have and I can now manage it with music, meditation, or meds.
#2 – Do the hard stuff
Accepting your illness is one thing, but taking care of yourself is going to require change.
- Take your meds. Everyday.
- Go to your doctors appointments before meds run-out.
- Take care of you.
#3 – Have a contingency plan
Having bipolar any number of reasons that can cause a need to seek help. Suicide is the number one problem with bipolar depression. Mania is fun. Depression is dangerous.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have the suicide hot line #? 1-800-273-TALK
- Do you have your meds?
- Do you know your local ambulance number?
- Do you have all your allergies listed down?
- Do you have your next of kin’s details in your wallet?
#4 – Take it one day at a time
Looking back at past loses doesn’t do me any good to help me live today.
And dreaming about exciting plans 5 years, or even 6 months down the road doesn’t help me live today.
So how do I want to live today?
- I want to avoid triggers to my mania (no alcohol)
- I want to help people with my story. It’s your story.
- I want to feel happy, and I have many reasons to feel happy. Normal happy.
Those are my goals for each day, but the symptoms of bipolar can come rushing over your body like a massive tidal wave. Somedays you can’t get out of bed. I know, I’ve been there.
That’s when taking things one day at a time is your new mantra. One day at a time. One hour. One breath. One moment.
Just don’t expect so much give yourself a break.
#5 – Practice self-care
When you get bipolar depression I bet you:
- forget to bathe
- wear the same clothes every day
- don’t eat well
- irregular sleep patterns
Bad boy/girl…No really we can’t help it. We are depressed. It saps the living life and all interests and desires right outta your mind.
That is why it is so good to give yourself a little vacation every day. Just like the old movie “What about Bob?” the character is given a prescription to take a vacation from their problems.
“A vacation from my problems?”
#6 – Mind your mental health
Besides your physical health from eating better and sleeping regular patterns you have to work on your mental health so says the writer in the article. Here is an excerpt.
- Practicing mindfulness and being aware of what you consume on the internet, TV and magazines
- Practicing guided meditation
- Practicing guided box breathing
- Having a health journal to help keep track of your pain, e.g., when it’s less, when it’s worse, when it’s triggered
- Having a gratitude journal and listing down every night, 5 things you’re grateful for, big or small
#7 – Find safe people to talk to
One of the things that I do is offer peer support. I don’t want anyone with a mental illness to have to be alone. I am registered as BbqDad at the depressionforums.org. Come and get a safe place to reach out and have listening hearts that understand what you are going through. They understand you. You won’t be alone. And I will be there ready to hear your story. I can give you ideas about finding relief.
Beyond that you can reach out to a counselor, or therapist. Someone knowledgeable in your mental illness and nonjudgmental. You would think this would be a requirement of working with people. But mental health stigmas exist even in the health field.
#8 – Remember what makes you happy
What makes you happy? What is your passion? Why do you do what you do?
These are good questions to remember we have a life. We have passions. Dealing with the everyday of mental illness can sometimes engulf us and consume all our energy leaving nothing for just ourselves.
Do what makes you happy.
For me it is music, and writing. Camping. Vaping. Being with family.
#9 – Be gentle with yourself
This illness is not going to go away. There are going to be good days and bad days. It’s not your fault. It is all about chemistry. Be gentle with yourself. Let yourself drift and get rest. Breathe. Let the racing thoughts take their moment in your mind but then let them drift away and leave peace.