It’s Tough Being Bipolar
I won’t lie to you because enough people already have. Enough people have already told you that you can “get over it” that it’s “all in your head”, but the reality is that is NOT only in your head.
No, Bipolar Disorder is something that deeply affects the body in ways that most people don’t realize. Bipolar Disorder can cause brain fog, cognitive processing issues, and the dreaded extreme fatigue.
I’ve said more times than not in the last year, “The thing I hate about being bipolar is that my energy is so up and down. One day, I could take over the world and get more than enough done and in as little as 24 hours feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. I will go from 100 to -10 in no time. It’s hard; it’s exhausting; and to be quite honest–it’s frustrating.
I’ve been learning to combat some of the physical symptoms of Bipolar Disorder through improving other areas in my life:
I Exercise Weekly
I try to exercise most days. Now, to me, exercise is anything that involves movement for me. I do strength training a few days a week, I walk a few days week, and on some days, I just do some simple breathing and stretching. It really helps me get the stress out of my body and re-energizes me.
I Find My Voice Through Writing
I write all day long. I write on my computer, on my notebook that sits beside me, and in the memo part of my cell phone. I find that writing helps me quiet the chatter of a noisy mind and makes me an observer of my own story. There’s real power in starting to observe your life and not just participating in it.
I Practice Meditation, Mindfulness, and Prayer
Probably one of the best things that I’ve embraced this past year is the desire to meditate and make it a constant in my life. Meditation has a way of opening one’s mind all the while quieting your soul, heart, and body. It’s a way that to observe my innermost dialogue and I use it as a safe place. It’s been a beautiful process for me and has allowed me to decrease my agitation and angry outbursts. It’s allowed me to be OK with taking a breath before an angry outburst and find the courage to say “I need a moment. I will come back and talk about this, but I can’t right now,” and walk away. Before I started practicing mindfulness, this was an impossible task that ended in hurtful words and daggers to the heart.
Finally, I pray. It may be one word or it may be outbursts of “help me’s” but the point is, I believe in something greater than myself because if left only to myself and my way of thinking, I end up in bad places.
I Take My Medicine And Vitamins
I’m not on much now. There are days that I think I could back on medicine, but most days I enjoy the strong feelings. I’m able to have good days which are euphoric as well as some really tough days. In the past, however, while taking Lithium and a plethora of other drugs I was numb. It was if I lived in a beautiful and icy cold winter tundra where I was incapable of feeling anything. It took numb to a whole new level. I feel better now and part of what helps me feel better is that I take my vitamins and medication every day. In the past, medication was “optional”.
I Practice Gratitude Regularly And Not Just In November
Gratitude is an ancient practice that has allowed me to really see my life for what it is. I truly cannot be thankful and miserable at the same time. Part of my gratitude work is to write down or say three things that I’m proud of myself for that day. I learned when attending recovery meetings that I often skew my internal inventory towards the negatives in my life instead of the positives. This is me taking time to “cut myself some slack” and celebrate the little victories in each day. It’s better than thinking “I’ve screwed up again…, I didn’t do enough…I’m worthless, etc”
I Hug My Mom
Hugging my mom is teaching me compassion because I’ve not always shown compassion. The doctors think she has Early-Onset Alzheimer’s which wasn’t the gift of the holidays we were expecting. Sadly, I don’t always show the best side of myself when dealing with her and feeling the overwhelming stress of work, anxiety (need to..need to… need to…) and the lies of guilt (you screwed up again…way to go… you’ll never get better..). So, hugging mom is a mental cue for me show her love to the best of my ability and continue to give her the same grace that she gives me when I say unkind things. Compassion is best given and received. Be kind to others, but also yourself.
I Have A Bedtime
Going to bed around the same time every day and waking up around the same time every day has really helped reset my Circadian Rhythm. When I took medicine to sleep in the past, it was because I was unable to come down from the mediation zoom. I would have fitful sleep at night and now, I sleep very well.
If I have trouble going to sleep, I will diffuse some Lavender (yes, I use some oils) and take some melatonin. I learned that much of my attitude the next day is determined by when I get up, so I am turning back into an early morning person even though I want to sleep til noon.
How about you?
I’ve shared the routine that has helped me continue in my recovery to and to meet my goal of “more good days than bad days”. I feel that as I work on my mental health recovery and work real steps and use real tools instead of just popping another pill, I will continue to find my power. It’s not just enough to take a pill, we must do the work.
I encourage you to not just sit back idly and say the mantra I’ve heard for years, “I’m Bipolar it’s how I am..” rather say to yourself “I may be Bipolar but it does not and will not define me. I will work to be the best version of myself that I can be!” Do the work. You won’t regret it.
What can you do most days of the week to improve your chances of having more days than bad?
Better yet, what have you done in your life to improve your symptoms?
I’d love to hear from you and what’s helping you recover and live this bipolar life.
Be well friends,
Feeling blue? Try some light therapy. Always be sure to check with your doctor first, but this has made a huge difference for me.