Awetron

Life lessons for those with a new bipolar diagnosis

130 posts in this topic

I could not agree with the advice in this thread more!! I know it it is right and so do the rest of us usually because we have ignored it to our detriment - not taking medications, not sticking to routines, not sleeping. My psychiatrist recently told me I am playing Russian roulette with my mental health by ignoring the above - he was right as I quickly found out.

The other advice I would give is to be careful how you react to strong emotions - I have learned that sometimes I cannot trust the way I feel and that what might seem like an appropriate response in accordance with how I feel can do a lot of damage as my judgement is severely impaired. If I am not sure I am ok I wait before saying, doing, texting or emailing. It can be hard to undo the damage later.

Good luck

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This is a great thread! I agree with all of the above. There will be lots of uninformed people who will tell you that you just need to get out, get some friends, lose weight, get a hobby and you'll be good as new. We all know it doesn't work that way, but with the right advice from docs and your treatment plan, you will get better.

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If in the beginning of your recovery, you have to make sacrifices (maybe other things in our life that you love) in order to stabilize and stay that way, do it. Grieve about it, yes, but all your efforts to create stability and wellness in the beginning (even at the expense of your life plans) will pay off.

This was sooooo hard for me. I struggled against it for years. I was supposed to be a huge success, dammit. But you will find after you overwork yourself into episode after episode, that your life may not be splashy, but that doesn't mean you can't be productive.

Reset your expectations, don't beat yourself up that you "can't" achieve your life dreams. It is likely you will develop new ones. I know this is kind of a lame example, but I am an attorney. I absolutely cannot handle the stress of the work life. I thought I was going to be a muckety-muck criminal defense/civil rights attorney.

Instead I work with dogs. But you know what? I love working with dogs more than any other job: the legal jobs, the teaching jobs, the museum jobs. Dogs rock. And I would never, ever have pursued that but for not being able to work at "high pressure" jobs.

Your life is going to change, but you may find that that is actually not such a bad thing.

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I wish I had read this in 1991. When I heard those two little words "manic depressive" I was floored. Back them things were not so politically correct. They used Bipolar but not that much. I remember coming home after seeing the p-doc and looking it up in the dictionary....it said "severe mental illness. Not what you want to be when you are 29. I had to decide whether I would ever be able to have children (medication/genetic) issues. So, I decided no children.

I also had to pass up other jobs because of the stress levels. I worked until 2005, The secret was what everyone is saying. Sleep well and steady, balance your life, stay on your meds, have a plan for bad days and even better have a plan for those 'good' days. I, personally, have more problems with the 'good' days. I tend to buy red shoes and other things. My closet is a monument to bipolarity,

Support groups helped me a lot and I made some good friends. I don't want to end up writing a book though. Just hang in there it does get better after you hit the right meds. I kinda a look at it as an eyeglass prescription, they have to click the right little lenses until they find the right prescription and every once in a while you need 'new' glasses,.

Gook luck and find an outlet for your creativity...that's what we are all about.

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Remember, life is hard. Don't forget that it is good too, but it is hard. To preserve your relationships, school and/or career, when you feel really, really bad, keep moving forward as much as you are able. That way you are still headed in the right direction when you feel better. Good luck. :)

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When Im having a manic episode I tend to change my whole life, and end a long term relationship for something new and different. And always after the episode (they last between 1-2 maybe 3 months usually) I regret making that decision, but there is no going back. I even ended my first marriage during mania....

So i would say dont make any decisions that can forever change your life. Like a relationship.

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Good point, endless storm.

'Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew.'

St Francis De Sales.

'Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.'

Brian Adams (not Bryan Adams, lol!)

'Our patience will achieve more than our force.'

Edmund Burke.

Patience was the biggest thing I needed and had to cultivate. When you have bipolar, things don't happen on your terms. Have the patience to know that if you do the positive stuff today, the things you hope for will come in the end. Every mood episode looks like a disaster but if you can hang in there, it will improve. Much of my progress was having the good grace to accept and wait.

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Patience was the biggest thing I needed and had to cultivate. When you have bipolar, things don't happen on your terms. Have the patience to know that if you do the positive stuff today, the things you hope for will come in the end. Every mood episode looks like a disaster but if you can hang in there, it will improve. Much of my progress was having the good grace to accept and wait.

^^This times 1000. Your bipolar diagnosis will change your life, but you will still have a life. It is hard to let go of how you thought your life was going to be. Your life can still be a good, productive, and useful one, but you need to take care of yourself.

ETA: I don't think I said "life" enough.

Edited by crtclms
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I agree with everything you guys said but also I would say to you: PRACTICE SPORTS! it's the best remedy ever, natural medicine! do it at least 3 times in a week! good luck, hope all u guys be stable as much as you can

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I am having a very hard time with depression after my first extreme manic episode. I am so depressed right now. Suicidal thoughts creep in. I try to stick to everyone's good advice about sleeping and diet and exercise, but honestly i feel too depressed to follow through. I just want to feel better. I'm hoping a change of meds can improve my condition.. I can't imagine living this way permanently. This bi-polar thing just blows my mind. I had no idea that my brain was so unreliable and untrustworthy. It's a lot to come to terms with. I almost miss my hypomania because at least I was happy and productive,

Edited by appleblossom
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One thing I learned is that you may be too unstable (and stubborn) to realize you're in serious need of help. Give your doctor's business card to a trusted friend or family member, mate/spouse, etc. so that once they observe the onset of erratic behavior, they can notify your doctor and get you help before life spirals even more out of control.

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Also, avoid the news when you're already depressed. I know some of you may be able to handle it, but I personally can't when I'm depressed. It only makes me more depressed.

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I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.

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This is a great advice, useful even for those of us who have received a diagnosis years ago.

I would suggest keeping a Wellness Journal. This could be a place for: mood charts, handouts from workshops, Wellness Recovery Action Plan wellness toolkit and action plans, diet/exercise/meds advice, notes/reviews on MI books/articles, inspirational quotes/stories, helpful CB posts, prayers, whatever. A one sentence entry per day is useful to keep track of achievements and the things one is grateful for.

Eight years post-diagnosis I've just started mine and it's proving invaluable... and fun to keep too :)

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I was diagnosed just under a year ago. It was two weeks after my wedding. I'm still way too unstable. Last night I got REALLY drunk and said a ton of hurtful things to my dad. Now I feel terrible about it.

I know the advice in this thread is great but when you are just getting beat down by your symptoms it is hard for me not say "just fuck it all" and start drinking and/or yelling at loved ones and/or staying up for days on end without eating. My manias last only 1-3 weeks and the depressions is there the rest of the time.

Thanks for reading.

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Ow,

I totally get that, when you feel like you are out of control and nothing that you do helps, it is tempting to just give in to the chaos. As you are finding, that tends to create more problems in the long run. It is a pain in the ass to work to get bipolar under control, but I think a life of happiness and good things is what you probably want, it's worth working for. Do you have a good treatment team?

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I think my psychiatrist prescribes whatever samples the pharmaceutical companies give him. I was there when the pharma rep was in his office and he was literally telling the doctor which medications to try and increase prescriptions of. Of course they were all the newest and most expensive drugs too. On top of that I don't feel he's responsive enough to my needs. I'm in the process of getting a new one.

My talk therapist is very nice and seems competent but I am concerned that I am not making much progress with him. I've been seeing him for 18 months but my bipolar diagnosis is only 10 months old. He was much more helpful with my depression. I don't know if he 'gets' bipolar.

More than once he blamed the bipolar on how much I used to drink when I was younger. I'm not defending how much I drank in the past but I don't believe it changed my brain chemistry and gave me bipolar like he has implied. If that was true I feel like a lot more alcoholics would have bipolar.

I don't drink anymore (other than the occasional beer with dinner) except when I'm manic. What is so scary is that I don't see it coming. It starts when I can't sleep so my schedule gets messed up. Because my schedule is screwy I miss and/or take late doses of my medication. I don't realize there is a problem until I'm most if the way through a bottle of liquor--usually during the day. By then I feel either so GREAT or really agitated and angry that it is hard to stop.

I wish the sleep disruption would be the single indicator but I've had bad insomnia since I can remember (even as small child). The depacote helps get me asleep but it isn't unusual for me to wake up three hours later.

I've had problems with depression since I was a small child so mental illness isn't new to me but dealing with the manic episodes is. To me the scariest thing is that I feel like I can't trust myself. I know I will learn more about what being bipolar means for me but it feels like that can't come soon enough.

Thank you for listening. I am very glad I joined this community. The anonymity allows me to be more honest than I can even be with my family. Even when I am completely honest with my family they end up worrying about me instead of understanding. I think it is hard for someone who doesn't have it to truly understand it. That's why I chose 'owthathurts' because the bipolar does hurt. I am suffering. I know we all are and that makes it easier for us to understand one another. Thank you again for listening.

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We are here 24/7, you don't have to edit around us. Sounds like you are making steps toward solving some tough problems - be proud of yourself :-)

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Great stuff, folks. Thanks for the tips. BP is new to my life, and I still can't "internalize" it... love the idea of NOT internalizing it. I'm not Bipolar, I HAVE Bipolar.

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Um, yeah, hey, I'm really new to all of this. I've "been bipolar" for about 10 days now. Well, actually 47 years, I can look back now and see this all through my life, from when I was a hyper and moody young boy to now. But I was only diagnosed officially by a psychiatrist 10 days ago.

And it has been one hell of a rough time for me. It feels like a death sentence. Like I'm going to lose everything. My family already hates me, they'll just love this when they find out, because it will just confirm in their minds that "God is punishing you for your sins". Job, well, actually, my boss has been way beyond super, except I didn't exactly tell him my diagnosis, he kinda sorta thinks its something physical. I didn't outright lie, i just provided sparse details and let him fill in his own blanks. I live in terror of the thought that this label is going to lead me in the end to either the gutter, the locked psych ward, or a prison cell. And that is a tough thing for an upper middle class background guy who's biggest brush with the law was getting a ticket in 1994 for going 32 in a 25 mph zone. I feel like now I'm a "marked man" and I will have to be on my 110% best behavior at all times, about everything, or they're going to either haul me off or just plain shoot first and ask questions later. I am not taking this at all well. In fact, I'm a basket case.

So this thread has helped. I really like the idea of journaling all of this, I had that thought the other day before I joined this forum. I think that will help. Some other good

Edited by DennInDetroit

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Hi Denn,

I won't lie, prejudice exists and you do have to be smart about it at work. It's sad that family cannot be more supportive. However it is very possible to live a functional and happy life with bipolar, now moreso than ever. We have a community here on CB where you won't have to edit or hide and you will receive the kind of honest support you deserve, because you're not marked or defective, you're one of us! I also hope that there might come places in your real life where you meet people who do live out their MI in a positive way, with roughly one in four people suffering with MI at any given time, chances are there are people in your every day life who also suffer silently. You're not alone, here or anywhere else.

The key really is getting into treatment, learning about your mood cycles so you can influence them and having some rock solid support.

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I can't thank all of the responders enough. I carry a lot of guilt and shame for the things I did while unmedicated.

I would only add keep everything in perspective. Something I try to do but usually fail. I'll keep trying though .

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the most helpful thought i have is that each and every mood state passes. every time i'm in a bad way, i think i'm going to feel that way forever. but there's always an end to the depression (usually after fooling with meds), an end to hypomania (ditto), and even an end to the better times (which is why i have to remember to enjoy these times as much as possible). no matter how bad it gets, it gets better again. every time.

This is great advice. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through the episodes is hanging on to the thought that it will pass. It doesn't feel like it, but it will pass

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- If you have to choose between a job with little stress and a job that pays more, seriously consider the cushy one. If you're stuck in a high stress job, be vigilant for a less stressful alternative. Overachieving is overrated.

- You don't have to tell everyone you're Bipolar. After almost 20 years I can count on one hand the people I've told.

- See Post #2, fourth point. Cut & paste it. Print it out. The difference between Heaven and Hell can be an hour of sleep.

- If you have to choose between a job with little stress and a job that pays more, seriously consider the cushy one. If you're stuck in a high stress job, be vigilant for a less stressful alternative. Overachieving is overrated.

- You don't have to tell everyone you're Bipolar. After almost 20 years I can count on one hand the people I've told.

- See Post #2, fourth point. Cut & paste it. Print it out. The difference between Heaven and Hell can be an hour of sleep.

I like this post, ESP about the part about stress free jobs. Stress is my #1 trigger. I went from a VERY high stress job that made my anxiety so bad I couldn't even function on my days off. Now I am in a verrrry low stress job, that actually pays more. My life is better for it. Sometimes I feel like I could be doing more with my career. I'm very smart, have a bachelors degree in a science with 3.8 gpa. But it's just not worth if, it would totally derail me completely.

I only have told 3 ppl I have BP. People do judge and I'm just not up for that. I've seen others come out of the BP "closet" here at work and it hasn't bed good for them what so ever. Some ppl just will never understand and won't even try.

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