Bipolar: What Works for Me

To my Bipolar friends and those supporting the someone else’s fight,

Comrades? Peers? Partners? Whatever you want to call yourselves. I know this blog gets read by people living with bipolar and I’ve been having a good streak for the last few months, so I thought I would share what I’m doing in case it helps even one of you. I have no idea what part of this actually helps bipolar versus just helps me feel better, but obviously, I endorse all of them (:

  • Lithium carbonate every 8-ish hours
  • Second bipolar medication, Aripiprazole, right before bed. It helps my bipolar symptoms and majorly with my anxiety. My shrink says he gives it to people who struggle with OCD-like or extra depressive symptoms on top of another illness like bipolar or schizophrenia.
  • I have a pedometer in my phone and every 2 weeks, I reset my step goal for each day to be 1000 steps more than my average for the 2 weeks. I am only successful about 50% of the time at meeting the daily goal and increasing the 2-week goal.
  • I change where I work a lot. I noticed how dramatically different I interacted with my space when I went to a computer lab instead of staying at my desk or my usual spot in a library. It made me hate my social anxiety for never letting me try it before. I reason with myself each time I’d rather feel anxious than depressive from being in a place that was too comfy when I needed to be in work mode.
  • I have a circadian rhythm! It took 2 years, but I go to bed within the same 2 hour period and wake up within the same hour period every day almost.
  • I try to avoid caffeine and alcohol. This is especially true when I take my ADHD medication, with one or two drinks I can feel the edges of a depressive episode and by 3 it’s effectively a guarantee.
  • I started getting laid again. I’ve never had an orgasm make me angry or upset, and it’s certainly nice to not feel lonely immediately after having one.
  • Stress triggers episodes for me so when I’m overwhelmed and alone, I take myself on a walk and remind myself to look around and think about how lucky I am to be alive right then.
  • I also do other stress relieving things, like karaoke or video games with friends or finding a place where it’s socially acceptable to scream.
  • When I feel myself falling into a rut, I run stairs, do push-ups, text my good friends that I’m concerned that I’m walking the line of something depressive.
  • I generally have now trained babysitters, a.k.a. friends who live near me who are notified when things are getting manic or depressive and know to take me on walks, make me shower, help me email the relevant adults that I’m sick, make me eat, generally let me exist near them.
  • I have routines. Things are much less intimidating to do when I have no energy if it’s already a habit.
  • Sometimes I just give up, call in sick, and try to convince myself it’s a normal sick day and I can treat myself like a kid playing hooky. Once I give myself permission to not care about the deadlines and work I’m missing, a lot of the depression-based anxiety goes away and I find myself with more energy.
  • I do self-care things, like doing my nails or dying my hair. It makes me feel creative, attractive, and gives me a sense of control over my own body.
  • I’ve started eating meals like a real human. Before, I grazed junk food over the course of the day, but eating real meals (sometimes with real people), including breakfast within an hour of waking up has become a part of my routine.
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