There are times when things are going great and wonderful and it’s easy to look around and think – “Is anything even wrong?” The sky seems bluer for the moment, the sun shines brighter and there seem to be birds singing louder and sweeter than usual. But – life being what it is, and more importantly bipolar being what it is, this peace can’t last. It isn’t permanent and never sticks around for a super long period of time. The peaks and valleys will always be there – but the name of the game is minimizing them, and keeping them in control. In other words – you’re going to fall … just don’t forget to get up. Cope. Keep going.
I’m amazed at the difference how I keep going this year versus last year. It’s literally night and day.
-Last year, I was staying up until 2 and 3 and 4:00 in the morning, working puzzles, cross stitching (yes, cross stitching!), reading, praying, and crying.
-Last year, I was reliant on pills to get through moments of anxiety. The result would be that I’d pass out, and be stoned out of my mind for the next three hours.
-Last year, I would stay in my room to get through fears. It was the only safe place in my world at the time.
Last year I was coping, but I wasn’t living well.
-This year, I haven’t had to take medication for anxiety. When those moments arise I go into safety mode and try to slow the world around me down.
-This year, I’ve educated myself on the symptoms of a manic episode, and when I feel myself heading in that direction I keep myself close to family and safe places.
-This year, when I wake up at 2:00 in the morning or can’t fall asleep immediately – I focus my energy first in prayer. From there I go to the distractors – the cross stitching (yes I still do that), the Seinfeld episodes on Hulu, and puzzles.
The moral of the story is this, again: You can live well with the symptoms of mental illness. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth every ounce of blood and sweat and every gallon of tears to do it.
Educate yourself on the symptoms of your particular challenge. Be aware of what they are, and know them cold so that when they start to crop up you can know what to do to prevent them.
Surround yourself with the best care your situation allows. Where possible don’t skip out on medical care – self treating can only take you so far, and can be something of a slippery slope because try as we might – we’re never going to be experts in all of this. There are caring professionals out there who do want to help. Let them.
Lean on those around you. Don’t be afraid to go to friends and family for support in whatever form is needed. It will help you, and will help your support team become more comfortable with your reality and theirs. There’s no better way to help, and be helped.
Above all, always try to have hope. It make such a difference in the day to day survival, and truly change how you see the world.