Can you identify when you are in a manic or depressed swing, if so, is there anything you can do to lessen the effect?
Be aware. That’s the first rule to effectively managing your symptoms. Be very aware. Now that you know the golden rule, lets explore the specifics.
When I was first diagnosed I was given some very good tools in therapy yet when I left I didn’t implement them. Big mistake! Huge mistake! I was back in the hospital within a week. It’s not that I didn’t want to get better, it was just that although I was given the tools I wasn’t quite sure on how to use them yet. After more than a month of treatment and group therapy I was released and this time I was ready. This time I knew what to watch for and what to do when my moods swung. It took some time and a lot of effort but I finally am aware of when I’m in a manic or depressive state.
It has now become simple for me to notice that I’m manic. This was the most difficult mood to notice because for such a long time it was a part of who was as a person. I thought of my manic side as simply part of my personality. The signs were minor to me but noticeable to everyone around me. I want to shop for no reason. I feel the urge to spend a ton of money. I want to drive quickly because I’m constantly in a rush. No one can ever do anything fast enough for me. I feel the need to finish others sentences or thoughts before they have a chance to even try. My brain is running on overload and I cannot seem to silence it. Thoughts come so quickly that if I were to attempt to write all of them down they’d be gone before my pen had finished. Sleep alludes me for long periods of time, sometimes days. Everything is go, go, go and there is no slowing me down.
It’s very important that when I’m manic or I know I’m becoming manic I must remember to do a few things.
First, slow down!
My speech does not need to be at a hundred miles per second. When I speak that quickly no one is able to understand me. If I do things too quickly others can tell something isn’t right but they don’t know what it is exactly. I’ve had several people tell me that both themselves and their families/friends always thought it was strange how quickly I tend to do “everything” after finding out about my diagnosis. It’s a symptom that was pointed out to my doctors which I had not noticed and now must remember that in order to appear as though I am not manic I must slow everything down. Finally, my driving has already gotten my license taken away once for six months. If it happens again it will be for three years. I want to have children in the next three or four years and to not be able to drive is not an option.
Second, stay away from triggers!
My largest trigger when manic is spending lots of money. I basically stay away from all stores and computers during this time. It has helped both financially and in my relationship with my husband. Because I’ve learned this skill I’m finally able to contribute to our financial decisions once again.
Finally, much of the population is not like me.
Those without bipolar cannot move as quickly from one thought to another like I can when I’m in a manic state. This is as much not their fault as it’s not my fault that I have this illness. I cannot expect others to move or talk as quickly as I would like to because their minds are not wired like mine.
The flip side of bipolar is not as much fun, depression. Everyone hurts when you’re depressed. Most people tend to notice this mood a lot easier than the manic side of bipolar and thus the reason many of us are improperly diagnosed with depression first. I have always known when I’m depressed because it makes getting out of bed difficult. Getting dressed is only something I do when I’m forced. I could go without showering for days and not notice. If I have sick days at work, I take them. I stop caring about doing just about everything sometimes even eating. Everything can make me cry.
When I’m in a depressed state it’s more difficult to do the things I need to keep doing in order to function and stay well. Here are a few I try my best to remember:
First, stop that stinkin’ thinkin’!
Typically when depressed negative thoughts are all I can get into my head and they will not go away! In order to make them disappear I have to think what is automatic to me and then put the effort into turning that thought around.
Automatic thought: I’m never going to get out of debt! My paycheck is used completely towards bills each time and every time I turn around there’s more bills. It just never ends!
Practiced thought: I may have debt but in a few years there will be a lot less of it. We just paid off the car this month and last month we paid off a credit card. It may take a little more time but eventually we’ll get there.
Second, get out there!
I must force myself to get out of bed, eat, get dressed and get out the door. The first instinct I have when I become depressed is to cut everyone out and wallow in my sorrow. I must fight against this and force myself to do the opposite. If a friend invites me for lunch, even though I really would rather stay by myself locked in my room crying all day, I need to say yes. I need to see people and treat myself well.
So there you have it, my very long winded answer to your question. Hope you didn’t fall asleep while reading.