It can be very difficult living with bipolar disorder. Managing everyday highs and lows in mood and emotions can be challenging. All of this is compounded when a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder endures grief. Losing a loved one, family member, or friend, is a very stressful life event and it can be difficult to navigate even for a person without bipolar disorder. I have found grieving to be much more difficult with bipolar disorder.
Last December, my son, Mateo was born stillborn. My wife and I have been grieving his loss ever since. Over the course of the last 10 months, I have tried to manage my moods, emotions, and cope in healthy ways. I have journaled, read books on grief and grieving, gone to support groups for parents who have lost infants like Share, and been creative and learned to crochet and played my guitar again. I have gone to counseling, been taking my medications as prescribed, and continued to exercise and sleep regularly. Despite all my best efforts my wife and I have noticed my moods shifting more so over the last several months, and I often experience anxiety, fear, anger, uncontrollable crying and depression, and in some moments joy and peace too.
I feel like I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions and been living in a mixed state for a long time now.
From what I have learned about grieving, all of these feelings, moods, and emotions are normal for anyone, even a person with bipolar who has experienced a loss. I feel on heightened alert as I try to regulate my moods and emotions and stay in stable place. There is no drug for grief I have found, unlike my other psychiatric medications which can help me with my moods or anxiety.
So what have I learned over the past year? I have learned the only way out of grief is through it. I know it sounds cliche but it’s true. I have to take each day as it comes, sometimes moment by moment. I have to give myself permission to feel whatever it is I need to feel. It’s ok to not feel ok. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok for your whole worldview to shift.
Death does that. It changes you.
I also consulted my WRAP plan and continued trying to live in mental health recovery. I also sought out others. I surrounded myself with healthy, positive people. I leaned into my faith. If you don’t practice faith, I would encourage you to practice meditations, yoga, or seek out a spirituality that works for you. I wrote. I felt. I kept on living. Losing a loved one, especially a child, is perhaps the most difficult thing a person can go through.
Living with bipolar disorder is another area of life that can be incredibly difficult. Thankfully, we do not have to walk these paths alone. I found communities of support online, support groups at local hospitals, and people in the community who offered friendship when I need it most. The same is true with bipolar disorder. Support groups exist such as DBSA, and blogs exist like BP Magazine. If you’re struggling and you need to talk to someone when life seems so overwhelming you don’t know how to go on, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Grieving is hard. Doing it for the first time or alone is also hard. Grieving with bipolar is difficult, but not impossible. Hang in there.
Some days will suck, and you’ll wonder if you are ever going to make it, but then there are other days where there are rays of light, glimmers of hope once again. You will cry, laugh, get angry, fear, and find a new rhythm for life. You can keep on living. I am. Continue to practice wellness and strive to surround yourself with positive people. Take it one breath at a time. That’s all you can do.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community