Balancing Bipolar Disorder

Balancing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can be difficult to manage on a daily basis. Depending on your cycles, you may be pushing yourself to trudge through the day or so full of energy that you feel like you could pull a 2-ton truck up a steep hill.

I must admit, I kind of like the manic part of this disorder because on those days I get so much done and my house looks spotless. The challenge with the manic side is to avoid unrealistic impulsive actions, behaviors, and thinking.

Once during a manic phase, I went out and bought a brand new truck. Did I need a brand new truck? No. Could I afford the payments for a brand new truck? No. When I finally came back to reality, I had to go and get a second job to be able to make the monthly payments. Eventually, the truck ended up getting repossessed and it took a long time to dig my way out of an over stressed budget.

At the other end, the depressive side is like a time bomb waiting to explode. The lows can be so low that you feel like you are stuck in the bottom of deep dark canyon with no ropes, or rocks to climb out. It takes all the energy you can generate just to be able to get up and walk to the bathroom. Sometimes the lows are so intense that all you can do is cry and lay there drifting in and out of sleep. The danger is that lows can lapse into destructive behavior such as not eating or bathing and/or suicidal thinking.

There are some positive things I have found to make these transitions easier and keep them closer to the midline. These few practices add more health and balance to my life:

  • I must drink at least 4 to 5, 8oz. bottles of water per day. Sometimes I really have to push to get these down, but the benefits are wonderful. 
    “… a new study shows that even mild dehydration can influence mood, energy levels and the ability to think clearly(Rick Nauert, PhD)
  • Pay attention to what foods I am eating. 
    Can an unhealthy diet play a role in triggering bipolar mood swings? According to recent research, the answer is “yes” (Madeline R. Vann, MPH)
  • Get some type of daily exercise, even if it is just a walk around the block. There are numerous studies and research articles that say to avoid exercise if you have Bipolar. However, like my grandma used to say, ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ I know how good and balanced I feel when I am exercising regularly and how poor I feel when I am not. 
    “I contribute a lot of my wellness to…aerobic exercise for many years” (Letter, Dr. James Phelps, M.D.)
  • I make myself accountable to a few select people that know me and can spot destructive behaviors that I cannot see or am not aware of occurring. 
    When done in combination with medication, psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”) can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. It can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families” (NIH, Bipolar Disorder)

 

  • Regular checks with counselors and/or mental health professionals. 
    A good therapist can help you cope with feelings and symptoms, and change behavior patterns that may contribute to your illness” (DBSA)

None of us like having the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, nor having one more thing on our plates to have to deal with daily. However, we have it. That is reality, so let’s make the best of it and do all we can do to keep ourselves as healthy as possible.

What do you do to help manage your Bipolar Disorder and keep it in check?

Feel free to add your comments.

Additional Resources:

Bipolar Disorder: Managing the Balancing Act by Denise Mann

Dealing with the Uncertainty of Bipolar Disorder by Erica Cirino

Seven Biggest Myths About Bipolar Disorder by Natasha Tracy

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