College is a stressful period with or without a mental illness, but with a bipolar diagnosis, the triggers for mania are all around. Here are eight tips for manage campus life:
#1 Learn stress management techniques
Campus life means crushing class workloads and high-pressure deadlines, poor sleep patterns, socializing, plus the lack of a parent’s stabilizing influence if you’re not living at home. This is fertile ground for the onset of bipolar. Seek out tips specific to your challenges, such as breaking assignments into smaller components and putting your attention fully on one task at a time.
#2 Practice self-care
Getting proper sleep (which means, quantity plus a regular schedule) is essential for preventing a manic episode. A good diet is key and can combat moodiness, boost energy and helps maintain your weight. By practicing meditation, you can learn how to relax so that when you do get anxious, you’ll have the tools to combat such stressors. Finally, avoid the use of brain-altering substances such as alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
#3 Accept the new normal
The best thing for change is profound acceptance of the new reality. This new reality could be different and specific for each student, and may even take a few wake-up calls to understand, acknowledge and accept what he can or cannot do.
#4 Stay flexible
Students with bipolar have to recognize it may take them longer, explains Russ Federman, PhD. They may have to take a medical leave from time to time, or drop a course to lessen their stress. It’s all part of the adaptation and it’s necessary to recognize.
#5 Garner support from peers
Getting together with other students in the same situation provides a counterweight to feelings of being isolated, different and misunderstood. After all, it’s not easy to explain why you’re heading to bed when everyone else is heading to the campus pub. For those who can’t find a peer group on campus, it’s worth researching online options.
#6 Enlist family support
The complement to peer support is parents. Family support works best when the parent-child relationship is good and the student is able to work around the natural adolescent drive for autonomy and independence. Perhaps it means going home on weekends, or having a parent coming to campus for frequent stays.
#7 Know your rights academically
Go to your college’s disability office and try to get a good advocate. Be strong in pushing for what you are entitled to under law (Americans With Disabilities Act, Section 504, or Canadian human rights legislation). DO ASK for accommodations and/or special treatment. These are in place to provide everyone with a fair chance at an education.
#8 Line up psychiatric support
If away at school, make arrangements with a local psychiatrist or therapist. Many students find it helpful to organize regular appointments with a current practitioner through Skype or some equivalent.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community