The initial diagnosis of Bipolar disorder or "manic-depressive" disorder can be scary, disheartening, or depressing, all at once. It may also possibly bring relief to your life, to finally know what it is that has been draining you and overwhelming you, day after day. If you have recently been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, you may have started on a regimen of medications, psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Regardless of the type of treatment you've started, there are still a few "never forget" tips that will help you cope, day after day, and that are essential for your physical and mental well-being. Follow these steps daily, for every up and down:
- Take your medication as directed, every day in the same way. It is important to start following a routine, especially a routine that is prescribed by your doctor. No matter what activities you have planned, or no matter how tired you get at night, continue to take your medication the way it is prescribed. Remind yourself with an alarm or an email reminder, if you have not adjusted to this quite yet.
- Think of multivitamins, especially B! This is a topic you must discuss with your doctor first, but research shows that B-6 and B-12 vitamins are natural calm-inducers. This vitamin comes highly recommended by other people with Bipolar disorder--it assists in calming down the nervous system. Even if you don't focus on the B, a multivitamin is still important for overall daily health, especially for someone with a chemical imbalance.
- Exercise! Getting out for a 30-minute walk, bike riding, or even jumping rope is not only good for your heart, it is good for your mind. The release of those endorphins will naturally perk up your mood or even help combat depression. It is hard to do sometimes, but make a point of telling yourself that exercise is your "me" moment, and you must keep this appointment with yourself.
- When it feels like too much, don't be in a rush. This statement may only make sense to someone with Bipolar disorder, but it is clearly true: When you have racing thoughts or worries, feel overstimulated or giddy, remember not to rush things in life. Take a step back and ask yourself, "Is this chemical?" If it feels like it is, give yourself some breathing room wherever you are and take some time to center yourself. Remember the feeling will pass, but the feeling must be there for a moment and you cannot avoid it. The best place to feel these moods is a place where you can be alone, talk yourself through it, and be patient in the moment. This is only part of the process.
- Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Remember to breathe deeply when stressors are getting to you. Focus on breathing in through the nose, holding that breath for a minute, then exhaling deeply out the mouth. When you are stressed, you usually aren't thinking about breathing, thus, you may be inhibiting oxygen to the brain. By breathing this way, you will bring more oxygen to the brain and clear out thoughts, so you can refocus.
- Let go of any judgments you have. Bipolar disorder is a medical condition. It is not a personal flaw, a fault, or a personality trait. It is a medical condition that requires treatment and patience, not only with the medication regimen, but patience with yourself. Don't overcomplicate this condition. Remind yourself, "This is only an imbalance. By taking medication and taking care of myself, I am taking the proper steps to correct this imbalance, day by day. And that is all I can do." And then let go of any other attachments or judgments you have.
Remember, it takes some time to get used to the diagnosis, to understand your moods, and then learn how to take care of yourself in the best way for you. By reading and educating yourself, you are beginning with an important first step. There will still be days when you feel a loss of hope, depressed or utterly irritated with the world. By using these simple steps, you will begin to have better days. Finally, remember that every day is something new, so be patient with yourself and enjoy and embrace the moments you are most happy. Keep those moments close to you whenever you are down, and realize they will return.