Some Tips for Managing Your Bipolar

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.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

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.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

 

 

 

 

Therapy and Self-Talk

 

 

I believe that to manage bipolar disorder effectively therapy is essential. I also believe that when we decide we no longer want our bipolar disorder to rule our lives we become two distinct people. The person who wants to get mentally well and the person we were who resists change.  To over come that resistance we need a third person objective opinion to help us change. That person is a trained therapist. A therapist is needed to help us change our thinking and challenge our beliefs to bring us back to reality.  I owe a lot to the therapists that have helped me.

When it comes to sharing about therapy, I can only share my experiences and what I have learned in the hopes it helps you. I am not a therapist or councillor.

I was miss diagnosed with OCD for many years. Thus, my experience with therapists prior to my proper diagnosis was never good as we were all working on false assumptions. Kind of like trying to fix the tires on a car when it was the engine that was the problem and wondering why it wouldn’t go. Once I received my proper diagnosis of BP1 my experience with therapists changed dramatically.

In therapy, the first lesson I learned was that my self talk fueled my bipolar. What I said to myself fueled both my manias and my depressions. I knew that my self talk fueled my manias before I ever met a therapist. I had described the highs I had (mania) as “being driven by ideas, good or bad” for years prior to being properly diagnosed. The lesson for me was how my self talk pushed me deeper and deeper into depression.

“What I learned in therapy was that myself talk fueled my bipolar, both the manias and depressions”

The second lesson that I learned was that myself talk was based on my irrational beliefs about myself, others and the world around me.

“You will find it difficult, if not impossible to manage your emotions and life while holding irrational beliefs and using irrational self-talk statements.” Lynn Clark Ph.D. From the book “SOS – Help for Emotions.”

Although that is not exactly what my therapist said to me, it is close. This is when my therapy experience turned into beneficial work. My therapist and I had to find out what my irrational beliefs were and how they affected my self talk.

“What I learned in therapy was that my self-talk was based on my irrational beliefs about myself, others and the world around me.”

The third lesson I learned in therapy took a long time to believe could happen. but was talked about in the same session where we discussed how my irrational beliefs drove my self-talk was discussed.  My therapist told me I can remove and replace my irrational beliefs with rational beliefs. More importantly, I can change my self-talk from the negative way I spoke to myself and others to an encouraging, positive way of speaking to myself and others.

“What I learned in therapy was I could change.”

The fourth lesson I learned in therapy was to listen to myself. My therapist had been doing something since that first session that I did not know about until we reached this point. He had been listening for my most often repeated negative words and then counting how many times I used these words in a one-hour session. As this session ended he handed me the page from his legal pad.

It read:

Stupid – 10 times
Dumb – 5 times
Useless – 2 times
Hate – 25 times

In a one-hour session, I had used the word “Hate” 25 times. No wonder I was angry. I also showed what I thought of myself at that moment in time. I was stupid, dumb and useless. Today I know that none of those words were ever true, back then or now.

Then he said, “If this is what you are saying out loud, I can only imagine what you are saying in your head.”

From that day forward I tried to listen to myself. First by listening to what I said out loud and after time to what I was telling myself inside my head. It was only by doing this could I hear and then change the negative words that I used.

“What I learned in therapy was to listen to myself, what I said out loud and in my head.”

I attended regular weekly therapy for two years. In that time, I learned many things about myself. The main thing I learned is that when serious issues come up even today I need that third person objective opinion to help me change. The objective opinion of a trained therapist.

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.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

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 the link to their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Angela Ayles

http://www.activebeat.co/your-health/13-symptoms-of-bipolar-disorder-are-you-bipolar/

 

 

Therapy, Bipolar and Grief

 

 

 

I believe that therapy is an essential part of overcoming our bipolar disorder. One area where therapy is essential to bipolar sufferers is in grief and grieving.

Grief, bereavement of a loss, is normal. No matter if that loss is a loved one (spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, grandparent), a job, a boss, material possessions, a pet, aspects of our lives lost due to this illness, abuse or trauma. No matter the loss we need to recognize it and we need to grieve that loss or losses.

There are three things that bipolar disorder affects regarding grief, firstly this illness hides or twists the things that we need to grieve, like the aspects of our lives we have lost due to this illness along with any abuse and trauma we may have suffered.  We need to grieve the loss of jobs, friends, relationships. We also need to grieve the things our bipolar disorder has taken away, like our ability to think, remember and focus. Secondly, because of severe loss, the loss of loved one, pet or career, even the loss of who we once were, bipolar sufferers are more likely to fall into abnormal grief than most others. Our illness causes us to revisit, or even live directly in, the past. Thirdly, that many symptoms of grief can be compounded by our bipolar symptoms.

Normal grief is a process of reconciling ourselves to the loss we have suffered.

Abnormal Grief according to the DSM 5, “Lasts longer than 6 months, the person must yearn the loss on a daily basis or to a disabling degree. At least five of the following symptoms must be present; Emotional confusion about one’s role in life, Difficulty accepting the loss, Avoidance of anything to do with the loss. Inability to trust others since the loss, Bitterness or anger related to the loss, difficulty moving on with life, Numbness since the loss, feeling that life is meaningless now, feeling stunned or dazed at the loss

I suffered from abnormal grief for over 25 years and coupled with my bipolar disorder it destroyed my life. The trigger for change was the death of my 22-year-old cat, it proved to be one loss too many. I sought help with a qualified grief counselor.

The losses I suffered haunted my mind, most daily, the rest regularly enough to make me unable to function.

One of the main things that my therapist needed to do was to explain and help me separate the symptoms of bipolar disorder and the symptoms of the grieving process and to see how my bipolar contributed to my abnormal grief.

Bitterness and anger are part of the grieving process, however that bitterness and anger is meant to pass. This is a normal grief symptom but if that feeling lasts longer than a few months it is abnormal. One of the symptoms of bipolar and a major part of my disorder is a long-simmering irritability and rage—angry outbursts lasting over several days, during both manic episodes and agitated states of depression.

Numbness, feeling that life is meaningless, feeling stunned or dazed are also symptoms of bipolar and of grief.

It took two years of almost weekly sessions and a lot of work on my part to grieve these losses in a healthy way and put them in their proper place, the losses in the past and me in the present. During those two years, many losses were found that also needed grieving, these are the losses that my bipolar brain told me were of no importance or had twisted into complete fabrications that had nothing to do with reality. They turned out to be very important and I ignored acknowledging and grieving them at my peril.

Today I am living in the present, not in the past and I am no longer haunted by the what’s, if’s and whys, the blame and shame, of the losses that I have suffered. I acknowledge that they happened but I no longer live there.

Look for your losses that keep you in the past and learn to grieve them, in this area we usually need help so talk to your therapist and if necessary find a specialized grief counselor.

What we need to separate is our bipolar disorder and that fact we need to grieve our losses.

As a bipolar sufferer, we have symptoms and an illness that are not going away.

As a griever, you are not broken and do not need to be fixed. You need to learn that grieving is a natural part of living, but it is not a permanent state. Yes, loss happens and we need to grieve, but the real grieving process ends in recovering from the loss and living again.  Grieving is meant to be a short process not a way of 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.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

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 Gabriel Nathan

Book Review: An Urgent, Bold Voice Emerges from the “Manic Kingdom”

 

Things to Meditate On

I feel that I am the luckiest bipolar sufferer in the world for several reasons. The most important, besides finally getting a proper diagnosis and finding medications that work for me, is the instantly accessible team of professional support I have. This is something few bipolar sufferers have access to and I am always grateful that I have this.

The other reason I feel I am so lucky is I have been allowed to learn, through unobtrusive means, certain ideas that have helped me in my growth towards mental wellness. The unobtrusive means are very large statements that have been placed on the walls of my work place that I can meditate on at my leisure as I work. I want to share these statements with you so you can meditate, on them as well.

James Allen wrote, “Mediation is the intense dwelling, in thought, on an idea or theme, with the object of thoroughly comprehending it, and what so ever you constantly meditate upon not only will you come to understand, but you will grow more and more into its likeness, for it will become incorporated into your very being, it will become your very self.”

“What you say and the things you choose to do are 100% your responsibility.”

 

 “To live the life, you want action is required.

You can think and dream about what you want for your life,

But unless you actually do something to make change

things will stay the same”

 

“You can’t change another’s behavior but you can change your response to it.”

 

“Happy people are constantly evaluating themselves. Unhappy people are constantly evaluating others.”

 

“Your body is the only place you have to live.”

 

“Attitudes are contagious, are yours worth catching.”

As I have meditated on these statements over the past few years I have found that I have changed. My hope is that these statements may help you change as well

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.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

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 Natasha Tracy

The Effects of Lack of Sleep on Bipolar Disorder