Bipolar disorder and self-care is something everyone talks about. Self-care, in general, is just a major topic in the world of mental health. What few people recognize, though, is what realistic self-care looks like. It's not enough to harp on about self-care for those with mental illness, we need to focus on what realistic self-care in bipolar disorder, and severe mental illness in general, looks like.
I'm tired of feeling sorry that I have bipolar disorder. I don't mean feeling sorry for myself -- that's a different thing -- I mean feeling sorry for the very fact that I am sick. I mean feeling sorry for the very fact that I am the one with the serious mental illness. And this feeling sorry about bipolar disorder is wearing on one's being. I, for one, don't want to feel sorry that I have bipolar disorder anymore.
Many people associate self-harm with borderline personality disorder -- and rightly so, as self-harm is a symptom of borderline personality disorder -- but can you self-harm and not have borderline personality disorder? Or, more specifically, can you self-harm and still be correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or something else) and not borderline personality disorder? Self-harming and not having borderline personality disorder is actually quite common.
Celebrity suicide can take a toll on those who are depressed and that happened to me this week with the suicide of Kate Spade and the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, reported just this morning. I can say I was upset by Kate Spade’s suicide (particularly the details, which I won’t discuss here) earlier in the week and then this morning, when I learned of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide (not an official ruling at this time), it felt like adding insult to injury. The celebrity suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have actually worsened my depression.
I'm tired of disappointing my loved ones because my bipolar won't improve. I'm tired of looking at my doctor's face as I tell him that the new bipolar treatment isn't really making things better. Their disappointment becomes my disappointment. I feel disappointment in me too. Of course, When bipolar won't improve, disappointment is natural, but it's the disappointing my loved ones that twists the knife.
For many of us, we deal with bipolar disorder every day and it often feels like dealing with bipolar disorder takes up way too much time. I know I spend a significant amount of time thinking about how and doing things to mitigate bipolar’s effects. I have to. It’s how I function as well as I do (however moderate that may be). And when I look at what I get done in a day, it seems painfully clear that dealing with bipolar disorder takes up too much time.
Bipolar depression can last for years. Now, I know, bipolar disorder is a cyclical illness – i.e. you cycle through various states like hypomania, mania, depression and euthymia (no symptoms). This is true. But it is also true that a person can get trapped in one of the mood states. This isn’t necessarily the most common manifestation of bipolar disorder, but it does happen. And usually, if you’re trapped in a particular mood state, it’s bipolar depression that lasts for years.
Rumination in depression (both unipolar and bipolar depression) is common, and it is typically a negative thing. Doctors will ask about ruminations as will therapists; but what is rumination and how do you handle rumination in depression?
Unfortunately, it is the case that bipolar coping skills can sometimes stop working. This echoes the unpleasant experience of many with medications that can stop working due to tolerance. One doesn’t develop a physical tolerance to a coping skill, but sometimes changes in life or treatment can cause a bipolar coping skill to stop working. Here’s how to handle it when you rely on a bipolar coping skill that just stops working.
Attempting to accomplish big goals when you have bipolar disorder can end very badly. I know this; it has happened to me. But some big tasks must get done. Sometimes we have to move halfway across the country. Sometimes we have a six-month-long project for work. Sometimes we have to raise a child. Big goals don’t go away just because a person has bipolar disorder. So here are some tips I’ve learned on how to accomplish big goals with bipolar disorder.