Bipolar – My Life is So Messed Up

October 30, 2014 Natasha Tracy

For many people with bipolar disorder, there comes a point where they look at their lives and realize: their lives are so messed up. Often employment, family, friends, hobbies, financial welfare and many other things have been harmed by an uncontrolled mental illness. I often hear from people in times like these and they want to throw up their hands and just give up. I can understand this. Sometimes a mess seems so big that we will never clean it up. But I’m here to tell you that no matter how messy your life may be, you can make it better.

Prioritize the Messy Problems

I just moved this week. This means that right now I’m playing Tetris with the boxes covering my living space. I also need to build a kitchen island, build a nightstand, hang a chandelier, clean my old apartment and so on. I am completely overwhelmed.

However, I can make my way through this mess. And the first step is prioritizing the problems. For example, I have to make sure my old apartment is clean and free of items by Friday. There’s a ticking clock on that problem so it has to be prioritized above mere unpacking.

The same is true with any set of problems. When you look at each one, some are more important than others. For example, did you overspend in a bipolar mania and the credit card bill that you cannot pay has come due? That sounds like a problem you want to handle sooner rather than later.

Work on the Most Important Problem One at a Time

Sometimes bipolar mania or bipolar depression messes up our lives. We may want to give up, but don't! Here are some tips are recovering a messed up life.Today I’ll be going to clean out my storage locker so I can get the lock from it and put it on my new storage locker. This is important so that storage items can be put in the new locker and so that my old locker is ready for the key handover on Friday.

The important bit here is that I’m taking the first problem on my list and addressing it. You can’t do everything at once. Just looking at the problems can be overwhelming but trying to tackle them all at the same time will make you absolutely crazy.

With Bipolar You Need to Pace Yourself

I don’t know about you, but I know that I get more tired than the average person more quickly. This means that I really need to pace myself when it comes to doing stressful or physical things. For this reason, I went to my old apartment yesterday and just cleaned one window and sill. That’s it. It took an hour (long story). I didn’t try to tackle the whole apartment. I didn’t wear myself out. I know that if I had done that, I wouldn’t be in any shape today to handle more problems – which I need to do.

It Took Time to Mess Everything Up and It’s Going to Take Time to Make it Better

When we “wake up” after a bipolar mania or bipolar depression and realize that everything is a mess, we want it all to be fixed immediately. Well, life isn’t like that. You didn’t mess up your life overnight and you can’t fix it overnight either. Give yourself time and space. You will get there eventually. Handle one thing at a time, remember?

Take Breaks from Cleaning Up a Bipolar Mess

Now, because I’m under a time crunch in many ways, I can’t afford to take a break from anything. But if you can, do it. Breaks are a way of strengthening yourself for the next set of issues you have to tackle. They are important. They are not lazy or lackadaisical.

Work On Not Creating New Bipolar Messes

And then, once you’ve dug yourself out of you mania or depression mess, work on not creating new ones. Try to put systems into place to keep you from wrecking your job or relationships. I’ll have to save more on this for another article, but it can be done.

Bipolar – My Life Is Such a Mess

I guess the point here is this: we all make messes but we all can clean them up, too. It’s not easy to clean up bipolar-related messes but slowly, you can do it. Just try to take a step back, take it one thing at a time and don’t become overwhelmed. There will be time for everything. Eventually.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2014, October 30). Bipolar – My Life is So Messed Up, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

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.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

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

January, 15 2019 at 2:10 am

Thanks! I am at this point of my life. This happened to me for years and all made sense now. It takes time to fix my messed things( work, relationships and daily routines).

January, 10 2017 at 4:06 am

Thank you so much for the information. I really needed it at this point in my life. I will message this article to my mom and we will figure something out. Again, thank you.

March, 22 2016 at 10:04 am

Hi Colin,
I have never posted messages on a bipolar board before (or any board for that matter), but I felt the need to reach out to you. I have had bipolar II essentially since childhood, but misdiagnosed until many many years later. I have had several periods in my life when I royally screwed up; dropped out of university, lost really good friends, alienated family, got fired, attempted suicide... the list goes on. I wondered why I was such a "black sheep" but the eventual bipolar diagnosis made everything make sense.
I am currently in the throes of another major depressive phase and I can totally relate to everything you have written. I am struggling to hold it together; I cry at commercials, can't accomplish anything, I've gained 50+ pounds, I feel useless and utterly lost and on top of it all, I feel guilty and ashamed for being so messed up.
Instead of blaming myself, I try to focus the blame on my illness. I don't choose to feel this way... I would give anything to feel good again. I want to get better and am doing everything I can in order to make that happen. So how can feeling bad be my fault?
When these scenarios are happening, it can feel completely overwhelming, and like there is no hope. However, each time these episodes have happened to me, I have managed to eventually turn it around, and enjoy a "remission period" for an extended period of time. Currently, I have been happily married for nearly 20 years, I work full-time, and have 3 wonderful kids. For me, this requires a good psychiatrist and numerous medication trials to find a cocktail that works for me. I also try my best to supplement my meds with anything else that helps... regular exercise, regulated sleep times, online CBT etc.
I guess what I wanted to say was that you aren't alone. Being bipolar does "suck". But don't give up, because there is always hope. A remission may be just around the corner, and your ensuing life will be everything you've dreamed of. Hang in there!

March, 21 2016 at 1:45 pm

I've messed up my life HUGE right now.
I've struggled with some severe personal issues for years and they've gotten in the way so much, that I've dropped out of college twice and wasted a lot of money, it's gotten in the way of me getting a job and of having the life I want. I've blown off about 11 job opportunities in a matter of 4 months recently and now I really need one or I'll be homeless because I won't be able to afford my rent.
My options are very limited and I don't know what to do. I'm pretty broke as is. I'm not blaming anyone but myself and even though no one will understand, I couldn't handle anything at the time.
My personal issues have also severely hurt my friendship and relationship with my entire family and friends. I've lost so many people. Half of my days are spent wondering if I'm going to kill myself to be honest!
I'm giving myself and life a little bit more time and a chance since I'm not 100% screwed right now or yet, so we'll see what happens.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Mirsad Basic
July, 27 2022 at 3:34 am

Hi there. I was wondering if your situation has improved since then? Your story sounds very similar to what has been happening in my life in terms of ruining relationships and spending money. I also gave away and spent my life savings recently so my family are really surprised and sad with me and I only then found out that I have bipolar. All these years and painful situations to find out I had an illness that was controlling me. I am 38 and trying to start over again.

Will Parsons
November, 30 2014 at 5:51 am

I was first diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, a form of Bipolar disorder, when I was 23 years old,and years of messes and cleanups followed. Hospit lizations, rehabs, ECT treatments and too many scripts to count were part of my life for a long time. And though I received disability, my desire to work has been insatiable. And specific work too. I worked as a peer provider for most of the past 14 years. In 2009, though, I got a diagnosis that changed everything. I was diagnosed with polycythemia vera...a blood disorder caused by a very rare "blood/Bone marrow cancer" called Myleofibrosis. The treatments require me to have a pint of blood removed every 2 months... though at times it has been more frequent. The blood problem makes strokes and heart attacks very likely. The psych meds I was on had, as a side effect, induced hyperlipidemia, staggeringly high cholesterol and triglycerides. Something had to change as between the two conditions I was walking around with a 30-70 percent chance of heart attack or stroke everyday. I made the big decision in 2013 to stop taking the atypical anti-psychotic causing the hyperlipidemia. And then just shy of 4 months ago, stopped using drugs, alcohol, and the other 2 psych meds I was on.
Now, nearly 4 months later, I still have my cancer, but my cholesterol is 105 and my triglycerides 125, I have been clean and sober for that time and am still sane, happy, and free. Do I not have Bipolar anymore. Of course I do, it IS incurable, but as suggested by previous posts, if I plan my recovery, knowing the shortfalls and incidences that my mood swings can induce, if I stick to a deliberate and regular sleep schedule, take time for myself and my sobriety, and keep a relatively balanced view of life... my mental health IS manageable. Planning for tomorrow is not a bad thing, but understanding that yesterday may not have gone the way I intended it too is okay too.

Tandy Arnold
November, 30 2014 at 1:14 am

I really appreciated this article. Depression messes can be just as bad as mania messes. I like the perspective of calling them "bipolar messes" rather than "my (God-I-hate-myself)messes. I really have to fight off a guilt trip to do that.
What to do with all the overwhelming chaos tumbling around in your head? List, Group. Prioritize. I'm working on that. It has to be written down where I can see it...I'm notable to do this off the top of my head anymore. But I can still do it.

Vanessa Williams
November, 28 2014 at 10:18 am

As part of cleaning up my most recent and biggest mess, I made it a priority to get a job where I had sick time and protection under the ADA and FMLA if necessary.
Within the past two months, I have felt a wave of self destruction building up. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to ask for and take ten sick days under FMLA without any notice. I cried tears of joy knowing that I did not have to blow my life up in order to get the break I needed.
I've had 20 years of messes to clean up. I have a little over two years on this job, which is a record for me. I lost almost everything five years ago. For me, there's no getting it back. But I have faith that the future can be different.

Chris Madsen
November, 28 2014 at 8:53 am

You are so right, you do have to break it down into prioritized manageable steps. Looking at the whole picture can be incredibly overwhelming (most of the time). There's a joke, "How do you eat an Elephant?" The answer is one bite at a time...

November, 10 2014 at 4:58 pm

I put ALL my energy into work. It's EXTREMELY important that I don't mess that up too because I only have 3 more years left until I can retire with a FULL pension at age 55 with 36 years service. I consider myself VERY lucky to have a good government job that also has an employee assistance program. I don't think I would have done so well if I had worked in the private sector. I probably would've been fired or layed off a long time ago. So I consider work my number one priority. Unfortunately when I get home that's another story. When I get home I am often very tired and in dire need of some rest and relaxation so I honour that. But consequently the housework doesn't always get done as often as it should, but that's okay. I don't beat myself up about it. I know I am doing the best I can (I don't have kids to help me). I just did a huge load of dishes today (it took me most of the day to do it and tomorrow I'll tackle the laundry. When my mother used to come down to see me (she lives 5 hours away) she used to give me a heads up and then I would work for 48 hours straight (without sleep) to clean my apartment to make it look presentable. I knew I would be poorly judged if my place did not meet her standards and I didn't need the hassle. I can no longer clean like that anymore so I must pace myself each dat and do what I can when I can so that when the weekend comes I'm not so overwhelmed. Eventually I get things done even if that means doing a little bit at a time like during the commercials if I'm watching TV. You are so right Natasha. By prioritizing what needs to be done and then chipping away at at it bit by bit at least something gets done. Even though I may not feel like doing ANYTHING I try my best to push past that feeling. I know in the end I'll feel so much better.

November, 9 2014 at 4:28 pm

Like Suzy it has been a long time with it only rearing for very brief and not intense 1-2 days of feeling irritated or judge mental :) but I am not the same person I was before either. Husband became suddenly sick and I am a mess! Terrified the depression I am feeling now will overtake me. I never want to go back. Late wills, nothing titled correctly, yhink I need to quit work cuz he can't remember anything and misses appointments meds..... I am no questioning my worth as a human, scary territory. I like your advise about one step/ thing at a time. I just need to give myself a break and stop with the guilt. I hate guilt, completely unproductive.

Suzie Toler
November, 1 2014 at 12:05 am

I was diagnosed with Bipolar win 2008. I have not been manic since then but here recently I am experiencing a manic faze right now I am afraid of hitting rock bottom

October, 31 2014 at 7:03 am

I was diagnosed with Bipolar I when I was 19, and now I'm 44. I have made a lot of messes and have cleaned a lot up. It is easier when you take it one step at a time and pace yourself. Also, with each mess I clean, I try harder not to make another one. Lifestyle is so important in preventing bipolar messes. I exercise, eat well, meditate, spend time with friends and family, pace myself at work, clean my house regularly, go to bed and wake up at close to the same time every day, and don't drink any caffeinated drinks or alcohol. All of this helps to keep my messes to a minimum.

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