I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder almost a year ago now, but I knew for many years that I was struggling with it. Here are a few of the things that have helped me to balance things and cope a little better.
Find medication that works for you
This is a trial and error process. The first medications I was put on were a mixed bag – I liked my antidepressants, but the antipsychotics/mood stabilisers weren’t really doing what I needed them to. I’ve just started on a new antipsychotic with less side effects which I hope will work a little better for me, but it’s going to take a while of waiting to see how it goes. If you’re not happy with the medication that you’re on, see if you can try something else. There are a lot of options out there for you to try.
Get a routine
I find that keeping a consistent routine is really good for my mental health. It allows me to fill the time in my day appropriately and organise everything really well. As much as I like every day to be different, I find that my mental health is more consistent when my routine is consistent too.
When I have too much free time on my hands, I don’t feel very good, and I enter a depressive episode pretty easily. When I have a lot of things to do and I keep myself busy, I don’t have the time to wallow and I feel a whole lot better. It’s important to me to find a balance between keeping myself busy and taking on too much at once and becoming hypomanic, and sometimes that’s hard. Right now, I work full time hours Monday to Friday, so my weekdays are already pretty full. On the weekends, I like to clean, hang out with people, wander around the shops, or just treat myself to a pamper night. As long as I don’t spend too much time sitting around doing nothing, I’m golden.
I’ll be real with you, I haven’t been to the gym in about a year. I haven’t done any intense exercise for months. But since living in Brighton, I do a lot more walking than I did before and that makes me feel a lot better. Just the simple act of walking, listening to music, and knowing that I’m keeping my body moving makes my mind feel a lot calmer. I might even stretch to a run at some point soon, you never know! Keeping the mental and physical in harmony makes all the difference for me.
Find things that relax you
Take time out to relax at the end of the day, and make sure you really do wind down to keep everything feeling steady and calm. You might do this through meditation, yoga, reading, or whatever else might work for you. Just keep it as part of your daily routine to feel calm and refreshed.
Keep your doctor updated
I regularly check in with my doctor so that we are on the same page. A doctor can recommend other things that might help me, note if I need changes to my medication, and help me to keep things balanced.
Communicate with the people around you
Talking to the people close to me about my current mental state is vital. It’s important for me so that I can tell people what I need from them and make sure we are on the same page, but it’s also important for the people around me as they can communicate any difficulties or worries they might be having about me. Sometimes other people notice changes in my mental state more than I notice them in myself, so it’s important to keep that line of communication open as it works both ways.
If you have any more tips to suggest, please do let me know what works for you!