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How to Survive as a Single Person with Bipolar Disorder

May 29, 2023 Natasha Tracy

If you're a single person with bipolar disorder, surviving can be hard. Last time I outlined why this is in a piece about being alone with bipolar disorder, but this time, I'm focusing on successfully dealing with being a single person with bipolar disorder.

How to Survive Being a Single Person with Bipolar Disorder

There are many techniques I employ to try to survive as a single person with bipolar disorder. Some of these might work for you, and others might not. I'm not saying they are the ultimate ways; I'm saying they work for me.

  • I use a meal prep delivery service. They deliver all the ingredients I need and the recipe; all I have to do is cook it. They also deliver complete meals like salads. This makes keeping myself fed with healthy food much more realistic as I don't have the energy to shop and cook. 
  • I get any remaining groceries delivered.
  • I have an accountant do my taxes (the fee is a write-off the following year).
  • I make a schedule, and I'm extremely hard on myself about following it. It's not okay to deviate from the schedule without an earthquaking reason. 
  • I have routines that I follow, especially first thing in the morning and before bedtime. Again, it's not okay to deviate from these routines.
  • I call on friends to help me when things get too out of control. For example, a friend came in and made me dinner one day, as even with the ingredients and recipe, I just couldn't do it. Another time a friend helped me clean as the cleaning tasks had been building up seemingly forever.
  • I set up check-in times when things are really bad either with depression or another mood. So, for example, a friend agrees to text me every day, and I have to answer no matter what. We put a plan into place for what to do if I don't respond within a set time period.
  • A friend helps me with my errands by driving while I complete what I need to do. This ensures I pick up my prescriptions, get to the bank, etc.
  • I make rules for myself that I must follow. For example, I must open the mail as soon as it comes into my apartment. I must wash my sheets every week. I must eat vegetables and fruit every day. There are many others too.

Also, I've considered getting a cleaning service, but I just can't afford it right now. I find it extremely difficult to keep up with cleaning (and, in fact, generally don't).

The Secret to Surviving as a Single Person with Bipolar Disorder

You might have noticed the secret, also known as the flaw, in the system: for many of the above, you must agree to do what you outline for yourself. You have to be hard on yourself. You have to be a taskmaster. You have to crack the whip. None of that is fun. And people want to know how to do that.

I don't exactly know.

It's basically a contract with myself. For someone else, it could be a written contract if that helps. Use whatever it takes to make you accountable.

It stems from perfectionism, work ethic, and just a general fear of failure. Not everyone has these things. Not everyone wants these things. 

I don't know how helpful it is to suggest that people emulate any of that, however. But people want to know how I do it, and that's a big part of it.

Keep in mind making reasonable rules and goals for a day is also really important in achieving success.

(Note that just because I have all the above set up, it doesn't mean that I'm always successful in all ways. These are the techniques I use. That doesn't guarantee 100 percent success every day.)

Surviving as a Single Person with Bipolar Doesn't Work for Everyone

Finally, I'd like to remind people that surviving as a single person with bipolar disorder just isn't possible for everyone, and that's not because they've done anything wrong; this is just because their illness hits them in ways different from mine. Some people need assisted living. Some people need to live with others, like a parent. Some people need social support. All of that is okay. People need what they need. We're all different because bipolar disorder and its effects vary so dramatically.

So, what I'm saying is even if you do everything I've outlined, it doesn't mean it will work for you. It works for me, that's all.

Take what works for you and leave the rest. And if you have any additional tips, tell us below.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2023, May 29). How to Survive as a Single Person with Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, February 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2023/5/how-to-survive-as-a-single-person-with-bipolar-disorder



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Ara Hagopian
December, 26 2023 at 7:54 pm

Hi to all and Natasha to hear this comments just makes it so much easier to understand bipolar 2 ....as I have not been officially diagnosed as its so hard to see a psychiatrist and still in the process to find one hopefully in the new year I have all the symptoms and have been diagnosed with depression and cyclothymia....but what really designates with me that im not alone its a debilitating illness and coping everyday is a struggle but i do have days where I feel well not as agitated as other days so I thank all for sharing 60yr old male living alone

Sherry
August, 27 2023 at 7:42 pm

Hi Natasha,
I appreciate your transparency and step by step ideas to survive as a single person.. Even though I suffer from Bipolar 1, I find that either end of the polar spectrum creates chaos in my life as well as friends and family. These are the more full blown manic times, where literally everyone who cares about me are dealing with hospitalization emergencies. While well , they assume everything is fine. Now is the deep depression where even leaving my house or getting out of bed are really hard. I am overwhelmed and my house is a mess. I do not communicate my depression to anyone but my therapist because I don’t want to make them worry. I’m worried myself because of the unpredictability of this disease.. I am too sad to cry and I’m practically having a panic attack thinking about going to work tomorrow. At any moment I could snap at one of my unlikable colleagues. Even though I need a paycheck, I’m also fully capable of quitting if anyone crosses me. The biggest frustration is that no one seems to understand. I appear normal on the outsides but inside, it can really suck. I’m going to listen to your podcasts and hopefully, you will cover more specifics on how to elicit support without causing panic…and who wants to be appointed this unpleasant job.

August, 28 2023 at 4:03 pm

Hi Sherry,
I'm so sorry about how hard it is. I know what it's like to appear "fine" but be anything but. I also know how hard it is to ask for help.
I think when you're asking for support, the best thing to do is to think about what you want to say ahead of time and think, specifically, about how to explain what you're going through. You can then think about how to express yourself while not overly concerning the other person. (Keep in mind some concern is normal and unavoidable.)
For example, maybe you want to talk about being depressed. You might say something like, "I feel like everything is grey. Food tastes like sawdust. I feel like I'm never going to get better. I don't know what to do."
All those things are normal and okay. You might want to further express something like this, though, "I know my brain is lying to me about never getting better, but it feels very real."
The second part is important because it helps the other person put what you're saying into perspective.
Other people don't know what it's like to be in your brain, so try to explain it to them and explain how concerned they actually should be.
Finally, if you can't do the above, I understand. It's awful to have to take care of the other person while asking for help for yourself. That doesn't mean you still should ask, though. If they're concerned, then they're concerned, and that's okay.
-- Natasha Tracy

Emma
August, 11 2023 at 12:52 pm

Thanks for another useful article!
I appreciate your humility: this works for you, but you're not saying it'd work for everybody.
Personally, I'm able to do my meals every day, but since I mostly eat the same thing for lunch and dinner (I don't eat breakfast) it's not that hard.
I get a lot of things delivered. Amazon replaces the car I don't have (and the energy to drive).
I make a schedule: like you, I stick to it, like it or not. It's especially helpful to do other things than just work, like reading a book, learning a new language, returning my emails, jogging, cleaning (1 task per day), etc.
I call on friends when I want to do an activity that's more fun with a friend or in a group.
I make rules for myself that I must follow: when I check them one by one, the sense of accomplishment I get is unparalleled. That defines if my day is successful or not. But I don't blame myself if I cannot do one of the tasks on my list. I demonstrate to myself the same empathy I'll show a friend. We are not machines. We are sick. And sometimes, life gets in the way.

August, 16 2023 at 1:26 pm

Hi Emma,
Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
I appreciate you sharing your tips on making it through the day. And I agree that there is a sense of accomplishment when we're able to check things off our lists -- even tiny things. That sense can be hard to find in other ways.
And yes, we are sick. I'm all for showing ourselves grace.
-- Natasha Tracy

MCM
July, 26 2023 at 1:50 pm

All good tips. I can't deal with meal delivery services since I'm too picky an eater to try new recipes. A lot of what you suggested seems in keeping with social rhythm therapy which therapists can help with. I also found a cleaning person through the web that only charges $10/hr and that helped me so much with getting my housework done.

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