How to live with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness is a brain disorder. Bipolar disorder causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and ability to carry out everyday tasks. With bipolar disorders you will experience extreme emotion. Changes in sleep patterns such as insomnia or excessive sleeping. Also unusual behaviors which are known as “mood episodes”.  There are four basic types of bipolar disorders.
  1. Bipolar 1 disorder an illness where you experience one or more episodes of mania. Those with bipolar 1 will experience both depression and mania. You don’t have to have depression to be diagnosed. Although mania episodes must last 7 days and do require hospitalization.
  2. Bipolar 2 Disorder. Those who experience depressive and hypo-manic episodes shifting back and forth. You don’t have full manic episodes.
  3. Bipolar Disorder “other specified” and “unspecified”. For those who don’t meet criteria for bipolar 1 and 2 or Cyclothymia but still has abnormal mood elevation.
  4. cyclotomic Disorder or Cyclothymia. An unstable mood state in which someone experiences hypo-mania and mild depression for a least 2 years. Cyclothymia will have brief periods of normal mood that last anywhere from 3-8 weeks.
Manic episodes may look like:
  • Having a lot of energy
  • Increased activity levels
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Agitated, irritable, or touchy
  • Mind racing
  • Multi-tasking and taking on too much at one time
  • Doing risky things
Depressive episodes may look like:
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Minimal energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetting things
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling empty
  • Decreased activity levels
The Risk Factors:
There is no single cause of bipolar disorder. Many possible causes such as the structure and functioning of the brain. Genetics, and family history. Bipolar is a lifelong disease but with the correct treatment most people can get control of their mood swings and other symptoms. Some of the treatments include medications (mood stabilizers, antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics). Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Family focused therapy, Interpersonal and social rhythm).
  1. Brain structure and functioning. Scientists say that someone with bipolar disorder brain may look different than someone’s brain who is healthy.
  2. Genetics: Certain genes may develop bipolar disorder over others. Studies show a set of identical twins with only one twin diagnosed with bipolar disorder even though they have the same genes.
  3. Family History: Bipolar disorder does tend to run in families. A child who has a parent or sibling with the condition is likely to develop the condition over the child who has no family history.
I have bipolar 2 disorder and while I deal with depression everyone can tell when I am dealing with my hypo-mania because I am going 1000mph. When I am on my lows I am not doing much of anything but watching TV, sleeping or coloring.
If you don’t treat your bipolar disorder or follow your treatment plan you could see it affect every aspect of your life. Some of those ways are:
  1. Problems with drugs and alcohol use
  2. Suicide attempts or suicide
  3. Financial and/or legal problems
  4. Relationship issues
  5. Decline in work and/or school
Living and Coping with Bipolar disorder
To live well with Bipolar Disorder you will need to make some healthy lifestyle changes. It will help keep your symptoms under control of your life! This includes medication and therapy. Learn about your diagnosis, become an expert so you will know what to expect. Improve your treatment by:
  1. Being patient: Its going to take time to find the right treatment for you. Everyone is different.
  2. Communicate with your provider. Talk to your provider about changes. Likes new symptoms or side effects to medications
  3. Take medications as instructed: follow instructions and don’t skip doses
  4. Get Therapy: Great to help you cope, learn how to deal with bipolar disorder, stabilize your mood.
Develop a wellness toolbox. A wellness toolbox consists of coping skills and activities you can do to maintain a stable mood.
Coping techniques will vary by person. Everyone is different but some common ones that were helpful with bipolar disorders are:
  • Talking to a supportive person
  • Get a full 8 hours of sleep
  • Cut back on activities
  • Attend a support group
  • Do something fun or creative, write in a journal
  • Call your doctor or therapist
  • Exercise
  • Increase your exposure to light
  • Take time for yourself
  • Ask for extra help
  • Cut back on sugar, alcohol and caffeine
Reach out for face-to-face connection
  • Don’t isolate yourself at home
  • Join a bipolar disorder support group
  • Build new relationships: 10 tips for reaching out and building relationships
  • Talk to one person about your feelings
  • Help someone else by volunteering
  • Have lunch or coffee with a friend
  • Ask a loved one to check in with you
  • Go with someone to a movie, concert or a get together
  • Call or email an old friend
  • Go for a walk with a workout buddy
  • Schedule a weekly dinner date
  • Meet new people by joining class or club
  • Confide in counselor, or therapist
Develop an active daily routine
  • Build structure into your life. Stick to a daily schedule. Set times for sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising and relaxing.
  • Exercise and avoid sitting for long periods.
  • Keep a strict sleep schedule.
Keep stress to a minimum
  • Learn to relax
  • Make leisure time a priority
  • Appeal to your senses
Watch what you put in your body
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get your omega 3s
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Be cautious taking OTC medications
One day I am on top of the world and the next I’m hiding from it, but I am still here fighting!!
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to this picture. I am not a medical professional, if you are having a medical emergency please contact 911 immediately. This post is for informational purposes only. If you believe you have a medical issue contact your local medical provider.

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