I’m writing this post to my bi-polar friends… Especially the ones who I have not met yet. I want you to understand what is happening inside of your mind. And, most importantly, I want you to recognize these conditions, not as personal weaknesses of yours, but rather resulting behavior of your condition.
Mental illness is just that… It’s an illness… just like diabetes, it is a medical condition not asked for, but once understood, can lead to effective treatment and a better life for you. Don’t be ashamed to call it what it is… Your brain, just like other organs in your body has received some deficiencies and genetic imbalances, that are a challenge for you to navigate through. I’d like to offer some thoughts for you to consider.
Bi-polar is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. This might be over a period of time, or your mood could change in a split second. Those feelings that you have (when perhaps people call you moody) are a condition of the disease. You can be HAPPY… even giddy at times, and then swing to the lowest of lows, stuck in the pits of depression. Again… realize this is not a weakness of yours. It’s not that you are trying to act this way… it is a very normal trait of the illness.
You might even like the mood of mania, especially after depression occurs, but sometimes this high does not stop at a comfortable level. Your mood might accelerate to you becoming irritable, your behavior unpredictable, and your judgment impaired. During periods of mania, people frequently behave impulsively, make reckless decisions and take unusual risks. Understand this about yourself. Recognize when you are in the danger zone of mania, and put your guard up a bit not to get caught up in those decisions, or make those mistakes.
Now, the depression side. This is the easiest to understand, yet the most difficult to navigate through. From my experience, this can not be resolved without the key component of medication. There are other tools that are important and can be used during these periods, but medication… the right brand, and the right dose, are game changers. This behavior, when extreme, can not be resolved by just trying harder. The medication produces the balance that your brain needs, just like insulin that assists the diabetic.
Specific types of Mental illness are a challenge to diagnose. And… one size does not fit all in treatment. But if you can identify with some of these behaviors, your very first step is to visit a medical provider and begin treatment. Right medication… right dose again… this is an important factor. It takes time to find that balance. Do not give us by saying, “I’ve already tried meds, they don’t work”. It took me a year, and trying 8 different medications to find relief. Give yourself the time to zone in on the right stuff.
A second thought is.. Don’t get stuck in your own mind. Let me explain. We all have conversations in our mind. I am not talking about hearing voices… but we have thoughts, that lead to other thoughts. This is called “Self talk”. During self talk we think of what we are experiencing, and how bad or good life is. This talk usually leads us down a non healthy path. For example, “Here we go again. I’m feeling depressed. I hate to feel this way. Am I losing my mind? I have no desire to keep trying. I’m getting to be a burden for others. I’m not strong…..” and so it goes. If you stay there in your mind, it is unhealthy and dangerous. You need to “get out of your own mind” and redirect your thinking.
However, self talk can also be positive and redirected. Instead of taking you down, recognize that you are in this state, and begin to self talk in a positive sense. “Oh… I’m slipping again, but I have people who love me. I can distract my thinking by listening to music. I love my friends, this is my depression period, it will pass… etc”.
What else helps? Exercise! Just do something that gets your heart rate up for 20 minutes or more several time a week. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin… the “feel good” chemicals. Now… you’ll exercise to get some of those… right?
The last thought that I want to give you for this post is…There is a healing benefit to “Talk Therapy”. Talking to someone else about your condition. But, what do you talk about? This is the time to explain your thoughts and feelings. You are not looking for solutions from the other person, but you are getting lots of thoughts and feelings out to someone who will intently listen. If you feel misunderstood (another symptom of your condition), talk therapy is the perfect time to speak those thoughts. Listen to what you say. Release what you have been holding back. Talk it out…You will find this to be effective in healing your mind.
This is just the tip of the bi-polar iceberg. But, just enough for you begin to understand yourself more. I believe in you… I care about you… and I’m excited to join the team that is helping you find sunshine on a rainy day. =)