Living with bipolar disorder makes it challenging to keep my mood stable, but there are things that I have found from my experience over the years that really help me to keep my mood on an even keel.
1. Taking my medications at the same time every night
I take my medications at night in order to take advantage of the sedative effect and to reduce tiredness throughout the day. I find that taking them at the same time has not only helped me remember to take them, it also eliminates feeling unwell if I take them late.
For a long time, I was unable to hold down a job. The stresses that came with a job, the pressure of not feeling able to express what I was going through or take time off for my mental health, the worry about stigma and varying hours were too much for me and would often affect my mood in a very detrimental way. I also found that not working was problematic; without the structure and sense of purpose that a job brought, not to mention the money aspect of things, I struggled just as much as when I was working.
I came to realise that it wasn’t that I couldn’t work, it was that I needed to find a job that worked for me and allowed me to stay stable. I now work from home full time and I am absolutely thriving; the challenge keeps me engaged, I am able to use my creative side, the flexibility allows me to work at my own pace, the structure and sense of purpose keep my mind occupied and it is keeping me more stable than I ever have been before.
As I’ve increased the exercise I do, I have felt benefits on both my physical and mental health. Being outdoors allows me to feel grounded in nature, to enjoy myself and to feel relaxed, as well as making me feel empowered knowing that I’m doing something healthy for my body.
4. My dogs
Not only do my dogs give me unconditional love and mean that I am never alone, they also motivate me even on my worst days. They need me to take care of them and this keeps me going even when I don’t want to do things for myself.
5. Keeping a good sleep routine
I quite often used to stay up late and get up late, not realising how troublesome this was for my bipolar disorder; now I go to bed at a reasonable time each night and get up at the same time each morning, and it has really helped my mood.
6. Talking about my worries before they escalate
Rather than allowing worries or problems to remain unresolved, hanging around in the background to cause anxiety, I have found that talking about things that I am worried about and dealing with problems head-on, allows me to resolve them and to feel more in control of my life.
7. Distracting myself
If I feel that my mood if shifting in a negative way, distraction has proved a wonderful tool that I use regularly. Whether it be changing my environment such as moving into another room or going for a walk, keeping busy doing a task, or even something as silly as dancing around the living room to my favourite song, keeping my brain distracted helps me immensely.
8. Planning for change in advance
Change is often really worrisome for me and can trigger a change in mood, so planning for it in advance allows me to prepare myself and to feel less anxious about it. It also allows my loved ones to be more aware of my mood during times of change, in case I am in need of extra help.
9. Not holding onto guilt from the past
When you live with bipolar disorder, there are usually times that you have acted out of character when your mood has been too high or too low, and these times can be really embarrassing; it’s hard not to reflect back on them and feel guilty for how you acted. Now that I have my diagnosis, I understand why those events happened, I realise that it wasn’t my fault but yet take responsibility for them by apologising where needed, and taking the best control possible of my mental health in the present; with those actions I have done all I can, and I release those negative memories rather than carry them with me.
1o. Nurturing my creative side
One of the things that brings me the most joy in life is being creative; I love making jewellery and other accessories, painting, drawing, writing and so much more. Nurturing that side of myself and exploring it without limits is something that helps me to express my feelings, to relax, to feel the most ‘myself’ possible and to just really feel true joy.