I was speaking with a friend the other day and reviewing comments to some of my blog posts and noticed that a lot of what we deal with while being beautifully bipolar are choices. I often write, and you often feel, that there is a lot out of our control. That is quite true. I never wanted to die, but I felt so overcome with these dark, depressed emotions that it seemed the only escape. I never wanted to try and commit suicide. I never wanted to be in the psych wards, but I ended up there. There is a lot about this illness that is beyond my control. Sometimes I see things. Sometimes I hear things. I have Bipolar 1 with PSYCHOSIS. That is what the psychosis stands for, leaving reality for a bit. I don’t like it when those hallucinations or delusions happen, but I do NOT have a choice about when and where they will occur. Sometimes that is how it goes. No choice. Roll with the punches.

But there are a lot of things within our control that will make our illness more manageable. First of all, remember to take the appropriate medications at the proper times. It sounds simple, but I assure you that in the beginning this can be an overwhelming task. To make it a bit easier try using a pill container, the kind that divides pills by times of day and days of the week. I no longer have to do this (again, I have been at this for more than a decade), but in the beginning it was the only way to keep things straight. It is tricky. I know. Don’t be embarrassed at all that you need something to keep things straight. Soon you will have it all under control and you will be able to take your meds without a thinking about how many at what time. I know, I know, this can make you feel…inept, but if using a simple compartimented container helps, hell, use it, dear reader.

It really is imperative that you keep a regular sleep schedule, being sure to get plenty of it. Like your body after a hard workout, your mind needs time to rest and heal. Think about it – everyday your mind is battling itself. That is exhausting! You need to make sure you give your mind time to recoup. Getting a good night’s sleep can do miracles for your mental health. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time if possible. I am guilty of not following this rule. If I sleep in then I do not take my meds on time and things get out of whack. Not good. Just try. That is all I ask.

Exercise. I know, I know, most of us would rather not, but it can also do great things for treating mental illness. Even just a daily walk. Fresh air, a little sun, taking the dog out. Sounds good, right? Getting into, again, a regular habit of working out is beneficial. It increases the good chemicals in your brain giving you a natural high and for all of us living beautifully bipolar, that means less depression, and we can ALL use that. Plus (!) it can whittle away some of that chub that those psych meds added on. Really, this is a winner all around.

Therapy is another choice you MUST make. We have to be able to open up to someone who is skilled in psychoanalysis and objective to our lives. Friends are awesome. Family is great. But we can’t burden people all the time who don’t/can’t  understand our illness. It isn’t fair to them. I am sorry to tell you that, but it isn’t. Get your booty in therapy where it belongs and you will be better off.

There are a lot of other little things we can do to get out of our own heads and the “craziness,” which I will write about another time. But try to keep these tips in mind. Start here with the above. See if life doesn’t get a bit better.

Baby steps, dear reader. Baby steps.