Before we get started with the three ways to manage bipolar disorder you probably haven’t thought of, it’s important to note that different suggestions will be more or less helpful, depending on where you are on the bipolar spectrum. Managing bipolar takes a lot of practice, patience, and good medical care. These are great suggestions and I recommend them, but this list is in no way comprehensive.
1) Manage Bipolar Depression by Cooking
When I’m in the throes of bipolar depression, I don’t cook, but I do eat. I know first-hand that it’s difficult to motivate ourselves to get up and do anything when depression is weighing us down, but there really is a lot of benefit to cooking for ourselves when depressed.
First, cooking has therapeutic value. Feeding ourselves is essential to staying alive. Completing the task of cooking even a semi-healthy meal sends a subtle message to our brain that we still care. There is a pride factor in preparing a meal and when the food is done, there is the reward of enjoying it.
Second, eating foods that are better for us will make us feel better faster. Eating junk like potato chips, fast food, and other processed foods only serves to make us feel sicker, not better, and prolong our suffering.
So this suggestion really is two rolled into one. During bipolar depression, remember to nourish your body with healthy foods that don’t keep you feeling bad.
2) Manage Bipolar by Keeping up With Household Chores
Dedicating a little time every day to managing our household goes a long way toward managing bipolar disorder. When I was a teenager, I would never have thought that something as boring as doing laundry would have so much impact on my day-to-day life.
Being overwhelmed is something that those of us who live with bipolar need to work hard to avoid. It turns out that life is filled with incredibly boring tasks that, if managed poorly, can cause innumerable headaches. And there is no better deterrent than keeping our living spaces organized and clean.
The level of organization and cleanliness will vary from person to person. Generally speaking, there is no right or wrong. For example, my BFF makes her bed every morning and I never make mine. It’s personal preference. It is when we allow our homes to get messier than our comfort zones allow that we get ourselves into trouble.
3) Manage Bipolar Disorder by Volunteering
Giving back is something that I believe everyone should do, not just people living with bipolar disorder. I could write several columns on the general mental health benefits of volunteerism, the rewards of influencing our communities, and so forth. However, for the purposes of this article, I want to keep it specific to managing bipolar.
When I was somewhere in between “very sick” and “in recovery,” I didn’t have a lot going on in my life. I wasn’t working, so I spent a lot of time at home watching TV. I wasn’t depressed, but I didn’t have the confidence to get a job, either. I wanted to “dip my toe” back into the real world, but with some sort of safety net.
I started by volunteering my time with a local children’s charity. They gave me a schedule, assignments, and expectations. They depended on me and I wanted to prove to myself that I could handle the responsibility. The confidence that I built during that time went a long way toward helping me get my first job after diagnosis.
I built up my stamina, gained valuable experience, and was able to work my way back into full-time employment. Without that step, I may have taken on too much too quickly and, at that time, I wasn’t in a place where I would have handled failure very well. Volunteering was an important stepping-stone toward rebuilding my life.
Crowd Participation: Using the comments section below, share some bipolar management techniques that you have used that others may not have thought of?
Gabe Howard is a popular speaker, writer, and advocate who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. He is an award-winning writer and the creator of the official bipolar shirt. (Get yours now!) Gabe can be reached on Facebook, via email, or via his website, www.GabeHoward.com.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community