I was just wondering how you cope with Bipolar?

I don’t know much about bipolar disease.  I am wondering what it feels like to have it.  Is it hard to deal with?  I am sure it is.  But I was just wondering how you cope with it? What kinds of things do you do to take your mind off of it?

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Bipolar is a mood disorder and as such, when you have this disorder, you constantly find yourself questioning what most people take for granted as normal, our emotions and thus actions based upon them. It’s an everyday is a struggle.

If you’re in treatment and mindful of staying well, part of that awareness is looking at each emotion or lack thereof and deciding is this a normal emotion to have for the particular situation or an extreme emotion? Those with bipolar specialize in extreme emotions. As I like to put it, our moods go up and down and all around. It’s kind of like a roller-coaster ride that never stops nor does it slow down.

You can receive some great insight by going to therapy and/or support groups. I find most of my support online through facebook support pages. For the further assistance I still see my therapist regularly. Strong support helps in fact I believe it’s a must in order to remain healthy when you have this illness. During the times I didn’t have medical insurance it was the support I found through others that helped me get through everyday situations which can become quite difficult especially when you’re not medicated.

For example when I’m in a depressive state and someone yells at me while I’m working, that action can put me on such a downward spiral. Those without bipolar would know that the person doing the yelling is not attacking you as a person, but they are just upset with the situation. With bipolar you have to constantly remind yourself that in situations like that it’s not your fault, you are not the worst person in the world, nor does everyone hate you. Basically most of the emotions which run through your mind instantly are the ones that are incorrect. Ninety percent of the time our brains tell us things that are incorrect. I like to call this negative thinking which we do so well, “stinkin’ thinkin’”.

The same is true when you’re manic. You feel on top of the world, full of confidence and as though you can do anything. Often when I’m manic I become very productive, I speak rapidly and want to do a million things all at once. Many times I get everything I can possibly think of doing in one day done in a few hours thus becoming bored. I can do what most people accomplish in a month within a few days. Honestly I sometimes like the manic me, however, it’s also the part of my illness which has gotten me into the most trouble. The worst trait I have when I’m manic is that I tend to overspend and not realize that I really don’t have all the money in the world. You can see where that would lead to some serious trouble. In a manic state my brain is telling me lots of good things which can have bad consequences if I follow through with them. During these times, I must remind myself to slow down. I don’t have to do everything so quickly or all at once. Most of all, I stay away from stores or the computer so my purchases do not make me very depressed later.

The best thing I’ve ever done for my illness is getting the right treatment and following through. A medical health professional can teach you what a manic or depressive state looks like, but if you don’t practice recognizing them and correcting your behavior during them, no doctor can ever help you. To effectively treat bipolar, not only are you medicated, but you practice what was preached. You must play an active role in your treatment in order to remain stable.

As to what I do to forget I have the illness, I’m not really sure how to answer that. I don’t think I ever forget, but the closest I ever come is when I’m exercising. I tend to zone out while working out. Especially while running, I tune out the world, most of all what stresses me out including my illness. I’m certain that if I didn’t run outside with others I would have been hit by a car already.

2 thoughts on “I was just wondering how you cope with Bipolar?

  1. I think you did a great job in describing what its really like to be bipolar Jen! People, especially the media, like to characterize others who are acting oddly or differently (Charlie Sheen or Britney Spears are the most prominent examples) as Bipolar. While it could be true that they are Bipolar, the media is just making a generalization based on some generic definition society has adapted. However, some people look at what the media characterizes as Bipolar and think that because they act similarly (or know someone that acts similarly) that means they are Bipolar, or if a person says they are Bipolar, they are going to act like Britney and shave their hair off. A person can’t exactly diagnose themselves bipolar. They can sense that something is wrong or off, but I have seen a lot of people, and met a lot of people, that go around saying they are Bipolar when in reality, they have other issues (anger, anxiety, etc.). For example, they think because they get angry easily and quickly, and can then calm down quickly, they are Bipolar. So then they start telling everyone that they are Bipolar.
    I agree with Jen that support groups and looking to others for support is very beneficial in coping and treatment. Thats why I mention this, because someone who has self-diagnosed themselves as Bipolar, may not actually be Bipolar, so may not be able to relate as well. They may have a skewed perception as to what Bipolar really is. It doesn’t mean that person won’t be supportive though. That actually is one very good reason that sites like this one should be in existence and should be utilized. Stigmas and false perceptions are huge barriers in my life as a Bipolar, which can sometimes make coping and trying to keep my mind off of it a lot more difficult. While every bipolar exhibits their own variation of symptoms and how they appear, the symptoms are still the same.

    Jen, this is a great, non-medical, non-technical description that the everyday person can actually understand!!!! I’m going to share this with some of my family members and friends as well because while some have done their due diligence and researched bipolar to learn more, others still have either no idea at all, or think that one day I am going to walk into their house with a shaved head saying I partied with Charlie Sheen all night! 🙂

  2. Thanks so much! I’m so happy that this post is something that you can show those you love so that they gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be someone with bipolar. I know that you’ll never find me with a shaved head or partying all night with anyone! Good luck! 🙂

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