Bipolar Disorder, just like any other disease, must take precedence in your life for you to be able to attain stability. That is not to say that if you eat right, get enough sleep and take your medications properly, you won’t have any relapses. Even when controlling all the triggers you can, you may still have times of severe mood swings. However, if you are on a constant roller coaster ride, ask yourself if you are truly invested in attaining stability.
How Serious Are You About Getting Better?
1. Do you skip/forget/adjust medications?
Occasionally life can get hectic and you may forget a few times but if you have a constant pattern of skipping your medications, evaluate your dedication to getting better. My mother has a heart condition and my son has type 1 diabetes. They never forget their medications, ever. If you truly believe and advocate that mental illness should be treated like any other physical illness then take your meds like your life depends on it. If you need an adjustment or your combination of medications are not working, seek medical help till you get the result you need to get better. Every illness needs constant monitoring to continue to have quality of life.
2. Do you self medicate with alcohol/marijuana/street drugs?
All of the above are drugs and they interfere with your bipolar medications. They may also exasperate your symptoms of bipolar. Yes it sucks that you have to give up things you enjoy but is that any different then someone who loves ice cream and is lactose intolerant or someone who craves bread and can not have gluten. If you indulge in more than the occasional drink and can not seem to stabilize your condition, maybe it is time to quit all non prescription drugs. Ask other people who have bipolar and are stable if they drink and you will find a majority that have stopped self-medicating all together. If you want what they have, maybe you should try their approach and see if that makes a difference for you.
3. Do you have a regiment for proper sleep and eating?
My uncle is 95 years old. He still lives on his own, drives and has good health. If you ask him the secret for a long, good life he will tell you. He eats at the same time everyday and approximately the same amount of calories. He watches his sugar, fat and caffeine intake. He goes to sleep at the same time every night and he wakes at the same time in the morning. Sound boring? Yes, but he has survived some major health scares that he was not expected to survive from. He made the necessary adjustments he needed to. Proper Diet and sleep can contribute greatly to improving overall health. Is there changes you could make?
4. Do you ignore symptoms?
How many times have I heard people say that they had some sort of ailment but waited to seek medical attention because they thought time would heal itself. Then they find out it is too late to do anything or that many more problems have arisen that could have been avoided. Be aware of all your symptoms and take the necessary steps to impede the acceleration or exaggeration of any health issues.
5. Do you have a routine?
Everyone likes to have a purpose in life. A reason to get up in the morning. That is important for everyone’s mental health. If you are still working, that may be your purpose. However, if you are unable to work, you must find a way to bring meaning and routine to your life besides doctor’s appointments and going on the Internet. Classes, volunteering, and regular exercise are all good for establishing routine. Journaling, reading and starting a blog are also some of the things that help people with bipolar find purpose as well as being therapeutic. Find what you enjoy and make a committment.
I know it is not easy. And you may falter sometimes in your efforts to have a healthy lifestyle. Do not beat yourself up about that. As long as you are making a conscious effort to move in the right direction, you will see improvements.
I have seen cancer patients change their entire diets and lifestyle and use every medical intervention available to extend and improve their quality of life. If you have bipolar disorder, you should be willing to do the same. Get really invested in your own health and make yourself accountable to control the variables you can to have a better life for you and your family.
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