Now, I am going to give you my suggestions and the suggestions I have picked up from professionals along the way on how to better myself. These thing will not cure your disease if that is what you were hoping, sorry. But my goal, and I think it should be the goal of all those of us who live with bipolar disorder, is stability. Do you know how good it is to have a “normal” day. No mania. No depression. No hallucinations. I think people without mental illness take it for granted, I really do. Anyway, enough of my chatter here are the five:
- Get some sun
Try to get at least fifteen minutes of sunshine a day. You may wear sunscreen, the sun is making it to your face and eyes still. Try drinking your morning coffee on the patio, taking a break from work and go outside for lunch, skip the gym and the treadmills and go for a walk or run in the morning or afternoon. This is why a lot of people get Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD) as the sun wanes. There are these great light lamps, I set my next to my computer screen for fifteen or thirty minutes and there is less sun. I use it in the late fall and winter. Fun fact, in Sweden where there is little day light in the winter, they have cafes with special lighting to provide people with the same kind of energy you get from the sun. Sun wards off some depression. Be cautious, though, for some people living with bipolar disorder too much sun can cause them to fly into mania.
- Have some friends.
Have friends. Good ones. Great ones. Thiss is your support system. You are going to need these people so make them now, I know it is not easy. I have a hard time making friends. I work from home and I am single so I do not get introduced around easily. But I belong to a few MeetUp groups (www.meetup.com) and in those groups I meet new people, potential friends. Try that. You need several types of friends; a person without mental illness so that it does not consume your life, you can remember what it is like to enjoy normal things – movies, shopping, going out to out, basically remembering there is a life beyond bipolar disorder. You need a mentally ill friend of any kind. This mentally ill friend will understand where you are coming when you say you are “tired.” And you need an older stable mentally ill friend. He or she can help with suggestions for you. They do not have to be older, but sometimes maturity helps you believe.
For some of us, this is…well, shit. I go through waves of enjoying being there. Right now I have tendinitis in my left hip so cardio is out. I love lifting weights (even if they are quite light). But my excuse for a week or so is that I just got a sleeve tattoo covering the top part of my arm and all that bending would hurt. But, I promise, I will be back there soon. Anyway, exercise give you natural endorphins, that stuff in you brain that makes you feel good, that gives you that natural high. So, no matter how you feel, you will leave those gym doors feeling better.
- Take your medications
This one to me seems so obvious to me. If you see a psychiatrist or MD and they suggest and prescribe psychiatric medications, please try taking them. Some people will not take them because they are scared of how it will make them feel. I hear people complain that it will make them numb or dull, and yes,, it might, but then you talk to your doctor and you try something else be your own advocate. A lot of people will stop taking their meds because they will be feeling good again and, after all, it had to be them, not the pills that have made them feel this way. In a week or two they will be back to mania or depression and realize it was the medication that was making them well. Bottom line: don’t give up. It can take some time to find the right cocktail, but it is out there. Hang on.
- Keep appointments you make with your psychiatric professionals
These professionals have made it their lives work making sure that people like you and I are well. How does that make you feel? When you do not show up for an appointment, you are wasting there time when they could be helping someone else, saving someone else. Find the right therapist and a psych doc who listen to you and you click with. Then trust them and respect their expertise and time.