Living with bipolar disorder is chock full of uncertainty. You never know when you might be well. You never know when you might be acutely depressed. You never know when mania might make you psychotic. And you never know when it might be the day when you need the hospital. If that isn’t uncertainty, I don’t know what it. And while everyone lives with uncertainty, the uncertainties that come with bipolar disorder are so very hard to live with.
Travel can make my bipolar disorder worse. Knowing this can make me fear travel. It's not that I don't like travel; theoretically, I like travel. I’ve done quite a lot of it, actually – I’ve been to 12 countries. Nevertheless, the older I get, the nastier my bipolar becomes and the more my bipolar disorder is worsened by travel. There are good reasons for this but there are also ways to mitigate it.
It’s important to celebrate the small achievements in bipolar disorder. I have written about this before, in fact. But what does a small win in bipolar disorder look like? How do you celebrate a small achievement in bipolar disorder?
Beating insomnia in bipolar disorder is a serious challenge. In the past, I have recommended sleep hygiene as the primary way of handling insomnia. And while this is very important, quite frankly, it just doesn’t work for everyone. I do it, and sometimes still don’t sleep – even with sleeping pills. So is there something better for beating insomnia in bipolar disorder? Maybe. I have discovered two mobile applications (apps) that help with sleep in new ways.
Sometimes we feel bad ourselves because of bipolar disorder but you can feel better about your bipolar by helping someone else. Maybe this sounds obvious as anyone can feel better when helping someone else, but I think in the case of bipolar disorder, we might get so wrapped up in what we need to be well, we forget that helping others is powerful, too. Recently, I was reminded of this as I felt better about my bipolar by helping strangers.
It’s hard for non-bipolar people to identify with this, but when I have bipolar depression, I don’t want anything. It doesn’t matter what it is, it doesn’t matter how I used to feel about it, it doesn’t matter how good an idea it seems, I just don’t want it with bipolar depression, and that’s it.
I have bipolar disorder and self-harm urges. No, this doesn't mean my diagnosis is wrong, it just means that I happen to have a mental health issue outside of my bipolar diagnosis. But let me be clear: I deny my self-harm urges. Even though I want to hurt myself, I don't. But this hurts. If the only thing in the world that you wanted to do had to be denied, wouldn't it hurt you, too?
Some argue that professionals shouldn’t talk about Trump’s mental health, mostly comparing him to anyone else. For example, I wouldn’t want, nor would I think it was appropriate, for a mental health professional to make judgments about my mental health based solely on my public actions. But then again, I’m not The President of the United States. And that makes the situation just a wee bit different. It’s because of this that professionals should openly talk about Trump’s mental health and fitness as a president.
Recently, someone said I was pitying myself because I have bipolar disorder, and this person was judging me very negatively for it. The person said I was having a bipolar pity party, if you will. Not surprisingly, I felt this notion was far off the mark. I feel suggesting that pity about bipolar disorder from the self or others is always negative, is just plain wrong.
People often ask me how to help a friend through a bipolar mood episode. These are great friends that I can honestly say, anyone with any illness should treasure. So many people turn their backs on people with serious mental illness, so when a person actually wants to help, well, we love you. If you’re a friend who wants to help someone through a bipolar mood episode, consider these things.