In the last 14 years, I have had no major mood swings, episodes nor interruptions to my life due to having bipolar disorder. Yes, I do have bipolar disorder. Four of us in my family have bipolar, and my mother-in-law died from suicide due to bipolar. And I understand that you might assume that I don’t have too severe of a case of bipolar since I’ve not had any major bipolar episodes in my life for the past 14 years. But, I do have it. I not only bipolar but when I relapsed 14 years I very sick.
I find it curious that I have to defend the fact that I have bipolar disorder. But, in the past when I’ve written about living well for this length of time I’ve received comments from various readers that I must NOT have bipolar. One reader accused me of pretending to have bipolar disorder so I could make money by blogging about it. I could only wish that was true! (By the way, those of us who blog for bphope.com are not paid to blog.)
The truth is, I’ve been able to live well in spite of bipolar disorder for the past 14 years, but NOT without a LOT of work and self-care. Daily I do everything within my power to keep myself stable and living well in spite of the bipolar disorder. And I happen to believe that many of you who have bipolar disorder can, in fact, live well (stable) too. That is, to live without bipolar causing major interruptions to your daily living. You can take back your life from the monster of bipolar.
And no, that does mean that you can be “healed” from bipolar that you can get “over it.” It simply means that through hard work you can learn how to keep the bipolar monster from ruling your life.
I know that there is a mindset out “there” that we are simply victims of bipolar disorder. I don’t see it that way. The only way I end up being a victim is if I do nothing regarding managing my disorder or if I simply use it as my excuse in life.
One of the most important things I do each and every day besides taking my medicine and getting enough sleep is what I call a “self-check-in” (mindfulness). For me, it is imperative to stay self-aware of how I’m emotionally doing at all times. So, routinely I ask myself “how am I doing today?” I check in with me. See, if I don’t stay “on top” of managing the disorder, it way too fast and too easily begins to control me instead!
So, I do this every day. If my ability to live well in spite of having bipolar disorder feels at jeopardy and I feel as though I’m not doing emotionally well (stable), I ask myself the following questions which help me answer why I’m not doing well.
- What exactly am I feeling?
a. How is my clarity of thinking?
b. How is my mood? Have I experienced
- Did I take my medicine?
- Have I been getting enough sleep?
- Am I too stressed due to work or schedule?
- Did something or someone upset in the recent past that I have not worked through yet?
- Is this a life situational issue (something normal that happens to most- i.e. feeling frustrated, angry or anxious about a typical life situation or is it a bipolar issue (i.e. in spite of everything going well in life, feeling depressed and not able to function, etc.) Or is this a life situational issue that must be worked through or I will end up experiencing issues with my bipolar disorder because I’ve not worked through the situation?
- Is this something that I need to contact my doctor about?
Once I figure out what exactly is the issue I then attempt to figure out what exactly I need to do to hold off a major mood issue or episode. And I do it no matter what.
How about you? What do you do to live well? What do you do to avoid major episodes; questions that you ask yourself?