Bipolar disorder is as individual as the people who suffer from it. There are common factors, if there weren’t we could never be diagnosed. In being properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder the biggest issue is to learn how our bipolar disorder affects us as individuals. It is by studying our bipolar disorder and its effect on our lives that we learn to manage our bipolar disorder and in turn our lives. If we fail to study how bipolar disorder affects us personally, our bipolar disorder will always rule our lives.
In my own story, I was misdiagnosed with OCD for over 40 years. For me, to be finally properly diagnosed with BP1 made studying the symptoms of bipolar disorder and how they affected my life paramount as in my mind I didn’t seem to have much life left and didn’t want to waste any more of it having bipolar disorder as the ruler my life. I wanted to be the ruler of what time I had left.
What I learned in studying how bipolar affects my life and ways to mange this illness is:
Learn your triggers: Triggers are the things that bring on your bipolar disorder symptoms. Triggers are interesting because they are as individual as our shared illness. What triggers you may or may not affect me. Yet what triggers me may just make you smile. My biggest personal triggers are stress, change in routine and loss of any kind.
Chart your moods daily: Mood charting is incredibly important as a way to quickly spot triggers that may come into your life without your knowledge. Mood charting today is incredibly easy. There are several great apps for smart phones and even mood charting books that you can buy. One of the draw backs I found with apps or pre-printed charts over designing your own mood chart is that, at least in my case, if your stable state is slightly elevated or slightly depressed over time you may not see yourself as normal. Remember, you must learn what is normal for you, not someone else’s normal.
Keep a journal: Journaling is one of the best habits we can learn in the management of our bipolar. I combined my mood chart and journal into one page and many of the apps and pre-printed books do as well. One of the benefits of journaling is to use it to look at our thinking. Bipolar is not only a mood disorder but a thinking disorder as our thoughts create our emotions. What happens in many cases is an external event (a trigger) causes an automatic emotional and behavioural response. Journaling helps us learn that our responses do not have to be automatic. Personally, I use my journal more as a thinking exercise book to see on paper my crooked thinking, which is based mostly on beliefs that are untrue. I have unearthed many irrational beliefs in this way and stopped many adverse reactions before they happened.
Monitor and change your self-talk: What and how we say things to ourselves both in our minds and out loud can be one of our biggest triggers for our bipolar disorder symptoms. The fact that we can trigger ourselves seemed strange at first to me but this turned out to be true. Changing how we respond internally to external situations is one of the greatest skills we can lean. Over the past half decade, I have learned to practice love and encouragement to myself. Replacing the constant negative, berating voice in my head with a kind, compassionate one. Eventually coming to a place of no voice in my head at all.
Learn your emotions: Moods, as in describing bipolar as a mood disorder, are nothing more that emotions controlling your life. Usually these are negative emotions. Even in mania we never find the one emotion that leads to a full life, that emotion is peace. Inner peace radiates other emotions that are totally foreign to the bipolar sufferer such as serenity, contentment and trusting of others.
For the most part, bipolar sufferers become afraid of their emotions as emotions control their lives, we are either sad, mad or scared or one of the emotions that radiate out from these.
We need to be able to name our emotions and learn the emotions we need to cultivate to become a whole person again.
To practice these skills, learning your triggers, charting your moods, keeping a journal, monitoring and changing your self talk, learning your emotions takes time. The time invested in these skills is not a waste of time, it is an investment towards a better managed bipolar life.
Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things. Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.
The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.
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BLOG OF THE WEEK:
Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well. This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you. I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Johnna Mediana M.A.