CW: Content warning discussion around mental health.
Bipolar can be intense overwhelming draining and confusing.
Here are a few tips to support you when riding the waves . This is all coming from personal experience. My experience is by no means everyone’s, but I hope at least one of these points can be a support to guiding you to a clearer headspace.
1. A journal is essential.
As the memory is impacted with bioplar, it can feel like when you're sad, you’ve always been sad. A journal helps you to remember the good days. A journal is also handy to avoid the situation when your therapist asks how have you been, and you have no clue because you’ve felt all the emotions possible since your last visit.
I’m not just talking about the ‘record your mood’ suggestion I’ve been told the countless amount of times. Even though this is a grand idea, when you have bipolar remembering to do this consistently is nearly an impossible task ( for me anyway ). Due to the switch in moods staying consistent at tracking your mood can lead to guilt for forgetting to do so, or being overwhelming to sad to care to. No, what I’m talking about is decorating your journal with your favourite bright colours and personal little drawings to create your personal happy space. List your dreams, your favourite artists, and cool genres of music that mean something to you. On especially happy days write a few sentences about what you did and how you felt. You can refer back to these pages when you believe all you’ve ever felt is sadness. It can be the sails that help remind you who you are, when you’re in a gust of confusion due to the extreme heights of the waves.
2. Give yourself credit and kindness
This illness is tough. The high and low emotions being so consistent, interchangeable and extreme is an ongoing daily battle. Yet when we reach that high again from an impossible low the power in that skill stays with us. Having bipolar means you’re an expert in resilience! Moreover, being an expert in emotions means we’re pretty much the best friend you could have. We’ve probably gone through every emotion on the planet twice in one day so best believe we can give you that tasty top-notch advice. Give yourself credit for all the small things you achieve per day. My mum would always say-‘just get up and make your bed, even if you get straight back in it, because it may lead you to want to do other tasks but even if you don’t you’ve made your bed.’
3. Do not say you’ll be there 24/7 for anyone!
We tend to be very caring people, especially during manic episodes. And want to hand out every last part of ourselves like puzzle pieces, However you’re a two-sided puzzle and the manic episodes don’t last forever. Your time is important to recharge. Never let anyone else’s problems/ events cut into this time. Don’t over book yourself either when you’re manic! Because when you’re eventually low again you’ll feel either so overwhelmed or guilty for cancelling.
4. Make The Voice In Your Head Your Best friend.
Make it soft and supportive, encouraging. If you are currently in the habit of this voice being self-deprecating no worries! This process just starts with conscious intention. If the first thought isn’t being kind correct yourself to a nicer more positive phrase. The more times you correct yourself the more likely it will be to become the first thought. Reprograme yourself to be your own best friend.
Bipolar can sometimes lead you to feel stuck in negative sinking sand. Let every day be different. Every night say bye to the day and every morning say it’s today! Make a concious effort to leave past negativity alone or meditate on it. Never let it spill on to the next day. Start new, you have the power to reinvent yourself always, you just got to want to and put in a tiny bit of effort in each day and the domino effect will happen.
6. Mornings Are Important
I believe the first half an hour when you open your eyes controls the rest of your day. It sets the tone. If you have a good morning routine, you take that control of the tone. This also gives you consistency and you’ll feel super proud when you complete your beautiful routine that your day is bound to be off to a positive start. If you want to give even more love to yourself start your morning rotuine the night before. Put water,lip balm and a book by your bed and pick out your outfit for your following day. Make sure your room is tidy and pleasant for future you to wake up to.
7. Treat your emotions as passing visitors
Our emotions are intense to the point it feels physical. Understand they pass. Understand you’re so badass that you’ve gone through this before and made it out the other side with a smile! Even when it felt impossible, a happy day followed. Remember this at your height of sadness ‘this too shall pass’. You will be happy again and you will be sad again try to accept and respect the waves. What I do when crazy upset,angry is feel it as much as possible. Instead of avoiding it or distracting myself. I feel it and meditate on the physically feeling of my pain and breathe with it. Sometimes I write it all out even if it comes out as jibberish. Even if it’s super negative I write it down and a weight is lifted as you’ve no longer kept it inside.
8. Sleep on it.
Not speaking for everyone but at my worst, I tend to act quick. Say things I regret and feel awful for it. I’ve learnt to sleep on things I want to say and if it still feels right to send that paragraph the next day I will, but most of the time I wake up so thankful I didn’t.
9. Alcohol is not your friend.
A hangover can make anyone feel low. When you have bipolar this is increased significantly. Be mindful of this when drinking, you have to be responsible to think forward to the next day more than your friends. Because you will be affected greater. I’ve felt so dramatically awful on hangovers and not realised It was even because I was hungover. A few days later I was so grateful to be alive and all over an average night on the town. No rave is worth your life. And I’m not saying stop raving I would never suggest such a ridiculous suggestion! But drink less, or have a few energy drinks ( still bad but an improvement) you’d be surprised the people that have the best time at raves, and go the hardest tend to be the rare sober gems. It can feel weird at first, but you’ll find your tribe, you just got to put out your most genuine vibe.
Overall the most significant tip I’ve learnt as I grow older with bipolar is to learn yourself, really get to know your waves become an expert in your signs. I use to not realise when I was manic and made questionable decisions ( that my bank account did not thank me for ) When you can take a moment to analyse where you are, you can keep yourself safer. There needs to be two of you. You and a Third-party perspective where you can look at things logically not emotionally. Kind of like a mother figure that looks out for you. I want to give you a big virtual hug if you’re suffering right now and a fist pump when you’re back up and feeling you again! Trust yourself, You got this!