Tips for living with bipolar disorder

Be serious about your treatment

image13

Be patient with the treatment process as it can time to stabilise. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder so you know what to expect and how to deal with it. Don't be afraid to tell your psychiatrist when you have side-effects or episodes. Make sure you take your medication. Get therapy to help regulate your mood and work through problems.

Keep a journal

image14

Keep a journal of your moods and symptoms so that you can monitor subtle changes. Note your mood, sleeping patterns, energy levels and thoughts. Prevent minor mood changes from escalating into an episode. I use Daylio to track, monitor and report on my moods.

Self-soothe

image15

Calm yourself in a stressed situation. Distract yourself by focusing on something else like watching Netflix, calling a friend, listen to energising music, watching funny cat videos on YouTube or organising your cupboards and cleaning house. 

Your wellness plan

image16

Support

Use therapy, surround yourself by loved ones, talk to people you trust, use your support structure to develop your self-esteem and confidence. Reframe your thoughts into positive and realistic thoughts to lead a more fulfilling life. 


Understand the struggles that your family and friends are going through and be kind, patient and understanding with them. Support them while you can.

Enrich your life

Take care of yourself and cut out negative reinforcements. Enrich your life by having loving pets; doing activities you love; listening to music that makes you feel good; living in a comfortable safe space; exercising; participating in fun activities that are affirming, creative and stimulating; and change the stimulation in your environment.

Time

Manage your time and energy. Avoid obsessing with things that can burn or stress you out. Spend time with people doing fun activities which can affirm the love and bonds you share. Take the time you need in order to establish a fulfilling career as best you can. Understand that work is work and sometimes that's all there is to it. Try change your perspective and make it as fun and exciting as you can. Learn techniques to deal with difficult people to help you with a colleague or boss that you can't work well with.

Nutrition

Follow a healthy eating plan avoiding caffeine, sugary foods and heavily salted food. Avoid substance abuse. See a dietician if you feel you need to or if yous psychiatrist has referred you to one. Weight gain on mood stabilisers is a thing and it can cause serious problems with self-esteem when you no longer fit into your clothes. 

Write it down

Write down your emotions, thoughts and ideas in a journal. Create a calendar where you can plan tasks and events to look forward to. Get colourful stationery and be creative, doodle and make your journal something exciting to look at.

Zen

Stop. Analyse the situation and make rational choices.

 

Go for a massage, meditate, sit outside in the sun (not too long and wear sunscreen), do activities that help you relax, focus and reduce stress and avoid stressful things to keep your life calm and peaceful. Expect that it is going to be rocky. Know that your zen space exists and that you can activate it when you need to.

Words of wisdom from a psychiatrist

"Just because you have bipolar disorder it does not mean that you cannot live the life you have planned for yourself. You can still achieve everything that you want to achieve ( i.e. career, children, etc.)"

Distress tolerance box

image17

You can create a box filled with items that work with your favourite senses: see, hear, smell, taste or touch. These items should help you feel loved, distract yourself from feeling the way you do and bring pleasure in your time of stress.

Write a crisis plan

image18

Print out a crisis plan or share a document online which will outline what you need when you are experiencing an episode.

Reach out to people

image19

Instead of isolating, keep in touch with people. You can visit family and friends or they can come to you. Joining a support group will help you spend time with people who know what you are going through. Build new relationships by going to meetups and making friends doing yoga at the gym.

Words of wisdom from a psychiatrist

"Living with bipolar disorder requires one to have a balanced way of living by managing stress levels, eating healthy, exercising, doing activities/ hobbies that you love, avoiding substance use ( including cannabis and alcohol), in addition to taking medication. This helps to prevent relapse."

Skills you can learn and develop

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT is a psycho-social intervention. It challenges cognitive distortions and behaviours by improving mental health, emotional regulation and the development of coping strategies. It focuses on identifying and changing the pessimistic thoughts and beliefs that can lead to depression.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

DBT can treat mood disorders, suicide ideation, and the change in behavioural patterns such as self-harm and substance abuse. It focuses on behaviours that can increase and decrease stress. It can increase pleasurable experiences that may help improve depressive symptoms.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

NLP can be used for personal development, phobias, and anxiety. NLP uses perceptual, behavioral, and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions. NLP relies on language processing.

Counselling

Counselling plays an important role. Therapy issues include dealing with the psychosocial stressors that may precipitate or worsen manic and depressive episodes and dealing with the individual, interpersonal, social and occupational consequences of the disorder itself. Counselling can also help ensure better compliance with medication. While there are many forms of counselling available to people with manic depression, they all include support and education.

Types of psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can be individual (only you and a therapist); group (with other people with similar problems); or family. The person who provides therapy may be your doctor or another clinician (e.g. a social worker, psychologist, nurse, or counsellor) who works in partnership with your doctor.

Psychotherapy

Talk to a psychologist about your episodes, state of mind, thoughts, feelings, fears and desires. They can help you through past hurt, give you skills to cope and let come to your own conclusions about whatever is bothering you. it focuses on reducing the strain that mood disorder may place on relationships.

What to know about therapy

  • Book and keep to your appointments.
  • Be open and honest so that you can get the best help you deserve.
  • Do any homework that has been assigned to you.
  • Give feedback one how it is going.
  • Be patient as therapy takes time.
  • People react differently to therapy just like they do with medication.
  • Long-term therapy can help maintain stability and prevent further episodes.
  • Therapy cannot replace medication.

image20

Straight from the blog

A deep love between two sisters

image21

Jane describes how her relationship between her sister is affected by bipolar and how she has learned more about it to create a level of understanding.

Guide to taking medication

image22

Here is what I learned: keep taking them, remember to take them, tell your psychiatrist about the symptoms,be patient, understand them, cautious about interactions, get vitamins and avoid substance abuse.

Side effects of some medication

image23

If side effects affect your work, become debilitating or have serious consequences then, in my experience, your dosage may be lowered, a complimentary drug may be introduced to counteract the symptoms or the drug must be discontinued.