One aspect of bipolardom seems to be a distinct inability to tolerate boredom. Whether this has to do with something inherent or if it is because an unoccupied mind lets in more demons than one occupied, it is smart to keep yourself occupied and/or entertained in a non-abusive way. If you have a well-loved pastime (besides drinking or drug-taking that is) now is the time to devote some extra attention to it. It is also an ideal time to experiment with both old and new likes. This advice may be easier to listen to than do. The drugs you are taking for your condition will affect your mind, how you feel physically, and your ability to stay awake. Concentration and comprehension are frequent casualties of psychotropic drugs. There is much to mourn for regarding the loss of some mental faculties you've probably always taken for granted.
If mental confusion is severe, then it's time to speak with your pdoc about a meds adjustment, but it is unrealistic to expect no adverse affects whatsoever, so learn now to begin to compensate for the loss. Pick up a book and read. This is much more difficult than it seems for some of us, but forcing your mind to concentrate even briefly will help hold the line against losing whatever mental capacity you have that remains unaffected by the drugs and the disorder itself. Experiment a bit. Allow yourself to pursue whatever interests you at the moment--especially if it involves play of some sort. Anything that you do out of genuine love or interest counts as a form of therapy. So if you must justify play, then there you have it -- it's therapy!.
If you have been able to continue in a career of some sort, but find it has become increasingly difficult for you to function well in it, then perhaps it's the right moment to take time off (if possible) to re-evaluate your options. Be prepared for the possibility that your current career aspirations may not be viable now or sometime in the future. Bipolar disorder tends to worsen with age. This alone is sufficient reason to be prepared. I urge you not to limit yourself, that is not my intention here at all, but be realistic regarding what you can expect of yourself and above all, don't blame yourself for those things you've done your best to overcome or deal with in some positive way.
When it becomes clear that a situation is unworkable, then don't let wishful thinking prevent you from taking steps toward a new, and possibly more satisfying direction. Experiment with the future; it's going to be better in many ways, and you need to keep the good things in mind when some of the inevitable bad ones (like drug side-effects) interfere with plans. It's crucial that you learn now how to be kind to yourself, how to tell old, vicious voices to shut the hell up, and how to kick yourself in the butt only when it's absolutely, reasonably justified.
Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and past experiences will aid in making concrete the reality of where you've been with this illness and where it is you'd like to go. Writing is a kind of therapy as well, as anyone who has kept a diary or a journal can testify. But even if you've never written before, try it, it may help you see some things you were only fleetingly aware of, like self-abusive thinking patterns and attitudes that seem to flow with the moodswings.
I just mentioned some of the somewhat esoteric benefits of writing your story, now let's talk about keeping a mood chart. Keeping a chart of how your moods cycle and the effects of your various medications throughout the day will serve as a great resource when you need to convince your pdoc that the reason you are or aren't doing well seems related to the medications you are taking. Empirical evidence is what makes science compelling; mood charts are what make your testimony as a mental patient compelling. I can't emphasise enough how valuable they can be. This way to get your own downloadable mood chart. If that doesn't work for you, I'll be happy to send you one if you email me.
Since I provide a full, in depth online course on critical thinking I'm only going to give you my "Mama always said..." version. And though I offer them half in jest, they are very sound guidelines for getting through some tough times. Just remember that the unabridged version is available online. Ok, here they are. Laugh or chuckle, but most of all...try to figure them out!
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