Tips on How to Survive Your Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
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Being told you are bipolar by a licensed mental health professional can be hard for many to handle. Even years after being diagnosed with the disorder. It’s easy to get information on the textbook version that doctors tend to read surrounding bipolar disorder, but let’s face it… it’s hard to get useful information on how to deal with the disorder when most doctors have never even struggled with their own mental health; minus typical anxiety.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type one when I was just 14 years old. I didn’t fully understand what that meant for me and my future. My psychiatrist at the time didn’t really explain much to me, except that bipolar disorder explained my symptoms and the way I had been behaving and that I would have to take some medication. I was never told that I’d be on meds for the rest of my life. I found that out the hard way.
There was a lot that I had to learn for myself. I did a lot of research on what being bipolar meant for me from the age of my diagnosis up until today and I am now 36 years old. That is 22 years that I have been working on how to control my mental health symptoms.
I’ve also gained knowledge from the handful of times I’ve been admitted to a Behavioral Health Unit as an inpatient and the few times I’ve had to complete a partial hospitalization program.
Everyone that gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder eventually ends up figuring out different ways to cope with their bipolar symptoms over time. You won’t be able to learn how to cope with your symptoms overnight. It takes time to develop coping mechanisms that work for you.
I want to share some of the things that have helped me cope and deal with my bipolar symptoms. You have to try different things to see what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. Below is a list of things that I’ve done to survive my bipolar disorder.
I started journaling as a teenager. I still journal today. It’s an excellent way to release all the things that have been stuck in your head. It’s also a way to release your emotions and feelings. It’s a way to vent.
I have over 20 journals that I have kept to look back on how I used to be compared to how I am today. It can help you see and realize the progress you have made over time.
I have always believed that journaling is the best coping mechanism for anyone that has a mental health diagnosis.
When you feel like no one understands you and that you have no one to talk to, start journaling to get things out because holding things in will just make things worse.
Try using positive affirmations such as I am happy, I am beautiful, and I am loved. Say those three affirmations to yourself every day.
You might feel silly, and weird, and even counter the positive affirmations in your head and turn them into something negative. But don’t give up! That silly feeling will eventually fade away and you will start to see small changes in yourself.
Over time those small changes, such as gaining some self-esteem by saying that you are beautiful, will eventually turn into bigger changes that can be life-altering in a good way.
Try it for a month straight and see how you feel. If affirmations are helping you after the first month, try adding more affirmations to your list and continue saying them. If it hasn’t helped you, maybe your negative thoughts are worse than you realize.
If it can help me, it can help you too!
3. Make Sure That You See a Licensed Psychiatrist and Therapist That Specialize in Dealing with Patients That Are Bipolar
Finding the right psych doctor and/or therapist can be challenging for many people. Make sure you prepare yourself for your first visit after being diagnosed. (Click the link above to see tips on how to prepare for a psych appointment)
Many people find that taking medications can help control their bipolar symptoms, but it also takes time, effort, and working closely with your psych doctor to help find the right medication combinations that work best for you. Not everyone is the same and different people can react in certain ways to different medications. It took me years to find the right medication combination for me.
Therapy is a massive helper when it comes to helping control your symptoms. Your therapist can work with you, but you have to make sure you find a therapist that you are comfortable with, and help you find different coping mechanisms that work best for you.
4. Figure Out a Hobby You Like Doing
Keeping your mind busy is a great way to help you cope with your bipolar symptoms. Hobbies can be an excellent distraction for your mind. It can help relax you once you find a hobby that you really like doing. You can try writing (like I did) or anything that comes to mind that is safe for you to do. Try different things to see what works best for you.
5. Talk to Someone You Trust and Can Vent to
Not everyone has someone in their life that they are comfortable talking to about their mental health issues. In cases like that, try out some mental health groups (<<< Click the link to be taken to the My Bipolar Mind Facebook Group) on various social media platforms. You can look for mental health websites that have forums where you can vent to other people that understand exactly what you are going through. Or you can even try journaling like I did.
If you do have at least one person in your life that you can talk to about your mental health, keep in touch with them. You can ask that person if they are willing to be a mental health support for you.
Get stuff off your chest by speaking to your trusted person. Holding in feelings and emotions can ultimately lead to you having an explosive episode or breaking down. It’s just not healthy when it comes to managing your mental health if you keep everything inside and bottled up. Eventually, the glass will overflow and cause even more issues for you.
6. Reach Out for Help When You are in Crisis Mode
Sometimes being bipolar can become overwhelming when your feelings and emotions get the best of you. Don’t let yourself go down with the ship. Call your psychiatrist, your therapist, or a support person, and if you are feeling suicidal call the suicide prevention hotline by just dialing 988 from your cellphone. Don’t try to do it alone. When you need help, you need help and there is no shame in that.
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Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.
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