Navigating the Challenges of Living with Bipolar Disorder
Photo by Taylor Deas-Melesh on Unsplash
Living with any type of Bipolar Disorder can be a hard road to navigate at times; Especially if you are an untreated person with bipolar disorder or if you are an undiagnosed person with this disorder. Unless you have finally found the right combination of medications that help your symptoms, which probably took a long time to find, you might still have to deal with the manic highs and the depressive lows that are associated with bipolar disorder.
I was diagnosed with bipolar nos (non-other specified) at the age of 14 and I am now about to be 37 this coming August. (You do the math haha) Then as I got a little older, they changed my diagnosis to bipolar II. Then as I got even older and I had stayed in an inpatient Behavioral Health Unit, my diagnosis again got switched to what I believe is the most harsh form of bipolar disorder and was told that I am really bipolar I.
(Incase you were not aware, there are seven different types of bipolar disorder:
- Unspecified Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar I
- Bipolar II
- Rapid Cycling
- Bipolar with Seasonal Pattern
- Bipolar with Mixed Features.
If you click the highlighted link above, you’ll be able to read the article I wrote about the seven different types so you can learn more about the types.)
Navigating and living with the challenges of bipolar disorder takes time, patience, and effort. Without those three things it would be awfully difficult to manage your bipolar symptoms. Below are some tips to help you with managing your bipolar symptoms so that life doesn’t feel as challenging trying to live with your bipolar disorder anymore.
A. See a Psychologist
It’s important for your mental health and wellbeing to make an appointment with a Psychologist if you do not have one already. They can help you with your symptom management by prescribing medications or, for some people, medical marijuana. Finding the right meds for you can be difficult for many people. I have been on more meds that I cannot even remember them all anymore.
Your psych doctor can give you advice or suggestions. You should try to find the right doctor for you. It might take a couple of tries but you should feel comfortable and get good vibes off your doctor. This way you can build trust and feel confident that your doctor is doing the right thing for you. Your psych doctor can also help you gain some mental health tools by teaching you coping skills as well that can help you with your bipolar symptoms.
B. Try Mood Tracking
You can try tracking your moods by creating or downloading a mood tracker. If you want to try out the mood tracker I made… Click Here. You should try using what ever mood tracker that you choose every single day; and I’ve found tracking at night before bed, once a day is the easiest way because your day has come to an end, and you can honestly track your moods with however you felt throughout the day.
You should try to make your mood tracker for an entire month so that you can show your doctor and you can look for patterns in your moods. Plus, your doctor will get a better idea of how to treat your symptoms.
Affirmations are when you say, “I am…” statements to yourself that are positive such as; I am happy, I am beautiful, I am loved, or I am a great friend. There’s almost an endless supply of affirmations that you could come up with. Sometimes you can skip the “I am” statements and say affirmations like, “I love myself” when you need to work on loving yourself.
You should try to start with three affirmations a day. Say those three things to yourself either inside your head or, even better, out loud several times a day, or whenever you think of it. The longer you say these three affirmation for daily, the more you will start to feel a positive change in yourself.
I have even been able to gain some self-esteem in my life (other than when I’m not in full blown mania) which is something that I’ve never experienced before because for the first time in my life I felt like I was beautiful and worthy enough to be treated good; and that was just from saying daily affirmations.
Affirmations truly do work when you keep at it. Don’t worry if you feel silly or weird during your first few weeks but it really does get easier and more natural.
D. See a Therapist
If you do not already have one, you should try to get an appointment with a therapist. Therapists can play an amazing role in symptom management. They can help you make better decisions. They can help you get over some of your traumatic experiences. They are also someone you should show your mood tracker too so that they can get a better understanding of what is going on with you. You can literally tell your therapist about stuff that you’re too scared to talk to other people about.
Make sure you find a therapist that you are comfortable with. This way you feel safer opening up to them and getting to trust them.
Journaling is something that can be beneficial for your mental health. Writing in your own private journal (whether it’s a physical journals you can write in, or an app you downloaded, or even file you can save to a private flash drive) can help you unload some of the ways that you have been feeling. It can feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest since you can literally write anything you want that’s private to you or that you wouldn’t tell another person. And getting that stuff out of your head can sometimes make you feel better. I highly believe that journaling is beneficial for your mental health.
F. Gain a Mental Health Support Network
When you are bipolar, it can get so easy to feel alone at times, like nobody understands you and what you are going through. You can start by trying online support networks through things like Facebook groups dedicated to mental health support, just like the My Bipolar Mind Group. You can meet new and interesting people that are truly helpful and give you positive vibes that you can chat with one-on-one and you’ll be surprised by how understanding the other person could be.
You can also see if you can find a very close friend or friends that you trust telling anything to without feeling judged or embarrassed. If you find a person like that try asking them if they can help be one of your mental health supports that you can call when even in a crisis. See if any of your family members are willing to also be a mental health support for you.
G. Learn Coping Skills & Ways to Relax
Healthy coping mechanisms can help bring you back to reality when you start to panic or you’re overly anxious. They are skills you can use to help calm yourself down. You can try different breathing exercises, get a necklace of your choice that you can use to rub the pendent with your fingers to take your mind off of what is going on and help ground you (and with that coping mechanism, I find that one of those necklaces with a crystal hanging on it to rub helps best for me, buy everyone is different), there are so many different coping skills and ways to relax out there.
You could also try reading one of these articles; 30 Coping techniques for Anxiety and Beyond, Common Triggers & How to Cope with Them, or 20 Things You Can Do to Try to Relax.
You can try the seven tips above to help you try to navigate the challenges of living with bipolar disorder. If you really want to get help with your symptoms, try all seven of the above tips during the same week. Everything I have mentioned can help you out tremendously. Just give it some effort and time. You’ll get there. I believe in you.
If you choose to download the My Bipolar Mind Mood Tracker, and need help using it, please contact me at Samantha@Mybipolarmind.com.
Advice, Articles, Bipolar Disorder, Featured, Medications, Mental Health, Samantha Steiner, Tips & Techniques
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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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