I am a 45-year old woman. I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder 4-years ago. My life has been a nightmare since. I am having a real hard time with my thinking. It is very negative, I am depressed, and I can’t snap out of it. I also have anxiety attacks every morning. They have gotten bad over the holidays. Would anyone have any tips for me?
My first thought when I read your question was I wonder if this person’s Bipolar has been or is being treated with any medication. My second thought was that if you have been medicated for the last 4 years is your medication no longer working? Seeing that you were diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 4 years ago I am going to presume that you have been on some sort of medication. Providing some tips is a little difficult with the information you have given but I will give you some suggestions based on what you have provided.
First of all I would like to start by saying I am sorry to hear that your life has been a nightmare for the last few years. However things can get better with the proper interventions. Here are some suggestions that I am hoping will be helpful to you:
Medication – Most people with Bipolar Disorder need some sort of medication to help lessen and control the symptoms of the disorder. If you are not on any medication you will likely continue to struggle, I know that I sure did before being properly diagnosed with Bipolar II. If you are on medication it may no longer be working, need adjusting, or changed altogether. Either way I would start by seeing a doctor. If you already have a psychiatrist I would see them as soon as you can and tell them about the problems you have been experiencing. If you do not have a psychiatrist make an appointment with your family doctor or go to a walk-in medical clinic to see one if you do not currently have a doctor.
Counselling – Often times seeing a counsellor or therapist is very helpful as they can be a supportive, understanding person that can help you through all of the difficulties that Bipolar can present to us at any given time. When I was having a lot of struggles I saw a psychologist once a week and it was a huge help. Once I was more stabilized my sessions were cut back to once/2 weeks and then eventually to once/month. Getting this type of support was helpful as it provided me with direction and every day practical tips that I could use to help manage my Bipolar. If you do not have this type of support I highly recommend that you ask your doctor about counselling. Another alternative is joining a support group as many people find that helpful as well. The best and quickest way to find these types of supports is to ask your doctor for a referral.
Become Educated About Bipolar Disorder – I was diagnosed with Bipolar II a year ago and during that time I have taken the time to learn about the disorder as much as I can. There are all sorts of books and websites that you can access. There is a vast amount of information out there and no matter how much you think you already know there is always room to learn more about how to cope with and manage the symptoms of the disorder.
Access Community Supports and Services – If you find yourself at your wits end and are at risk to yourself and/or to others, (having suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts, or having a suicide plan) please call 911 immediately or have a trusted friend or family member take you to the hospital or a walk-in mental health clinic. If things are not quite that bad but you feel you are not doing well I would suggest that you call a “Help Line” or “Suicide Hot Line” to get some support and further direction. All of these services are “confidential” so do not be afraid to use these kinds of supports.
Racing Thoughts, Negative Thoughts, Depression and Anxiety Attacks – I can totally relate to how difficult it is to deal with these things as I have suffered from all of them and sometimes still do. One of the things that you had mentioned was that things are even more difficult for you during the “holidays”. Most people with mental illness can have an extremely hard time during the holidays because there is a lot of “extra stress” which can quickly spiral out of control on us if we do not take some precautions. Even if we are on the appropriate kind of medicine our symptoms can flare up very quickly if we become too stressed. My advice here is to try and limit any extra stressors in your life as much as you can.
For instance try not to take on too many extra things. Some things that you can try are to limit your time in crowed places and limit the amount of time that you spend with family/friends if that creates stress for you. Sometimes we need to limit the things we do when we are highly stressed, if we don’t the consequences can be pretty severe. Little time outs or breaks from any stressful activity or environment can also reduce your stress level so things are not as hard on you. Again a counsellor can provide you with all sorts of valuable tips to help you cope with the difficulties that you may face.
As far as depression goes “we cannot just snap out of it”. That unfortunately is a huge misconception that society has about depression, it just does not work that way. Same goes with racing thoughts, negative thinking and anxiety or panic attacks. We are not able to flip a switch and turn all of these off. If it were that easy we would do so. Our chemicals in our brain are imbalanced and if left untreated we are at even more risk for all sorts of mental health problems. Some of us not only suffer from Bipolar Disorder but have multiple disorders as well. My primary diagnosis is Bipolar II and I also have secondary diagnoses of ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. So it is possible that some of your symptoms may be caused by some other disorder that you are not aware of. It is really important to have a complete assessment done by a psychiatrist because without a proper diagnosis the nightmare will likely continue. I hope that these tips are helpful to you, and please contact us at www.askabipolar.com if you have any further questions. Thank you for your question.