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Life lessons for those with a new bipolar diagnosis

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Meds actually do work. It takes a long time for them to work in a reliable way. It took about a year for me. Don't forget your dose. You start back at ground zero and for me it takes about a week to stabilize from that.

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I found that coping with bipolar is a DAILY task.

When i feel most stable thats when I forget. I forget that I need meds, I forget that I become manic, I forget that I should never EVER drink alcohol, I forget that I have insomnia, I forget that I get depressed.

SO when I feel somewhat stable THAT is when I have to be the most diligent at coping and dealing with my illness.

 

What does that mean?

Daily visits to http://helpguide.org/toolkit/emotional_health.htm

OR

 

Or

Find a way that works for you to maintain. And everything everyone else wrote is absolutely priceless. Especially response # 2

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If you are second guessing your doctor's diagnosis for you--don't stop taking meds. Go get a second opinion before doing anything on your own with meds. The rebound you get after you go off makes you more crazy then you were before you even started treatment.

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Find meds with the least offensive side effects and be compliant. Get with a doctor that is cutting edge. Don't take the shortcuts of recreational drugs and alcohol. Exercise regularly and sleep well. Keep a regular routine. Have one or two people in your life at all times who won't judge you. Pray and meditate. Maintain high standards in your personal affairs and realize that bipolar doesn't define you. 

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Amazingly great things that cause normal amounts of happiness and joy can happen in the midst of mental illness. Don't forget to look for the good things or they will pass you by. It is hard when you are depressed (or bouncing off the ceiling), but it can be done.

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I'm waaaay late to the party here, but I'll add this:

 

Eat right.

 

It sounds really simple, but  how many of us do that? And eating right can be hard when you are on a budget, since real food costs money and has to be prepared, as opposed to fast food, which is cheap and quick. When you are tired all the time or yu can't calm your brain, it can seem impossible to prepare yourself a good meal.

 

In the long run though, fast food and over-processed food costs you a lot more than fresh, because of the toll taken on your health and pocketbook. So learn how to prepare a few things from scratch that match with the seasons, are quick and cheap to make, and are good for you. My favorite year-round go-to dinner is Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or preserves, and honey. You can use any fruit, even dried, like raisons, and honey can be found pretty much anywhere. You can even use good old Dannon in a pinch, although I happen to like the tangyness of Greek yogurt. You can even add nuts and fresh herbs like mint if you want. Plus, you are getting proteins and good carbs, which will give you an energy boost. 

 

Another quick meal is bread (although if you can get a hold of a French baguette, a crunchy roll or long Italian loaf, all the better) topped with chopped tomatoes, some chopped basil (fresh if you can get it), minced garlic, a little salt and pepper and some olive oil (it doesn't have to be the fancy stuff) Toast you bread if you can, and pile the yummy stuff on top. In Italy, this is called bruschetta, and you can add things in like chopped yellow or green pepper, chopped onion, oregano, and so on. This keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so you can keep it and eat off of it for a few days without having to prep it again. It also tastes great over pasta. 

 

A good morning or comfort go-to is egg in a basket. Take a piece of bread and cut a large circle out of the middle.Melt some butter in a pan and out the bread in it. Crack and egg and pour the egg into the hole in the bread, and cook it until it has set. If you want, you can flip is over. I always cook the leftover piece of bread, too. Turn it onto a plate, and eat. If you serve this with something like V-8 juice, you have a complete meal that took about 5-7 minutes. That's less time than it would take to wait for the pizza guy. It's also perfect for those days when you cant seem to get out of your pajamas.

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Mood charting

Identifying triggers

Plenty of sleep

a routine

as much contact with others as possible

religious adherence to taking meds

reduction of carbs in one's diet

Mood charting and reduction of carbs? Could you explain further? Please (: I'm a newbie.

 

Carbs are things like bread, cereal, sugars, and so on. Put simply, if it isn't a recognizable fruit or vegetable, and if it couldn't walk, crawl or swim in its living state, it's a carb. Even with fruit, be mindful. Too much fructose is bad for you too- fructose is fruit sugar, which is a carbohydrate. 

 

By the way, most blueberry muffins and cereals don't contain blueberries. They contain gooey sugar pellets made to look like blueberries, so don't think that if you eat them you are eating fruit. 

 

To chart your moods, get a calendar and write down for each day how you felt. Like  happy, or sad, or depressed or elated, or bored, or what have you. This will make it easier to figure out if your moods are cyclical, or if there are certain triggers such as weather, food, or certain kinds of activities. 

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First tackle getting your illness under control medically. Then make the necessary life changes to get out of unhealthy or stressful situations. Both take a lot of courage, so don't be afraid to enlist the help of a therapist.

 

Make sure you take care of yourself. Get enough good sleep. Keep a regular schedule. Don't drive yourself too hard. Give yourself a break sometimes. Learn what behaviors and feelings indicate you're going too high or too low, so you can react to correct things before you reach episode levels.

 

If at all possible, have a support person who can give you a sympathetic ear and can recognize your behaviors and tell you you're getting off track.

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NOTHING IS WASTED.

 

You will suffer losses and grieve them. You will go without things you wanted and lose things and people you loved. You will rue the years that go by, the mistakes made, the time killed on med trials that didn't work. You will play the imaginary 'what if' game where you spin yourself the fabulous fantasy life you would have had without bipolar. There will be a certain amount of clean up and forgiveness you have to apply and that will hurt. Your rage is justified. Your sorrow is understandable. Bipolar is fucking unfair.

 

All that is true.

 

I'm not a believer in all things having a purpose or coming together for good. I'm a believer that it would have been nice to grow as a human being in a life that didn't test me with crippling illness. I won't lie that one day you will get a peaceful sense of perspective that coherently blurs all the horror. I'm a realist.

 

All I am saying is, nothing is wasted.

 

For everything you lose, the real core of yourself is there, obscured by mood episodes, but it patiently glitters underneath as it's own reward. You will be shaped by bipolar and you may lose the roles that may have defined you, but your self will continue alongside you. And all the graft you put into life has not been wasted, every smack in the face revelation is a useful lesson. Every moment you spend in agony will polish the shine on the happiness that will come back into your life (it shall come, I promise.) And you won't forget that agony. But you will have it there so that you can feel the strength of 'how did I ever endure that?' and when shit things happen, you will be able to name five shittier than this moments you got through. And you will find in time that however much bipolar makes you loathe yourself, you will also grow a grudging respect for that battered old self that endured that agony and can endure it in future, if you have to. Not willingly endure it or choose it, but able to withstand it. And to suffer and survive is a power. 

 

And with that strength, you will become attractive to others. They will use words like 'approachable' and 'real' and 'compassionate' which you may not accept as true. But you have known agony and you can stand with others in theirs. The most unexpected gift might be to hold someone you love in their agony with no awkwardness or fear in you, that is the biggest thing you can do for another person, some times. You will have shed the bullshit about popularity and perfection and respectability. You will know the faces of people in crowds who feel the way you do. You might sense the spark of madness in someone else at times. And when the shitty things happen in life, you will be there with no clever platitudes but the thing that counts: your presence.

 

The 'normals' will call you brave or inspirational or some such junk. Your own tribe of people who have been through it or are going through it will smile with you about this. Your good days will reveal the tiniest obscene pleasures; grass between your toes, laughing with your child when they laugh, a really great whiskey, fitting into a dress you love. A day at work where you didn't hyperventilate. Love. Pleasure. Peace of mind.

 

Everything you didn't want, throws into relief what you do (it will feel good when you get the things you want.) Everything you tried and failed at means you can get into bed feeling like you did your best and used what power you still have. Fuck the chemicals in your brain, today you did good in faith that it will yield a return. Every hope you invested in is a sign that no matter how awful it gets, you still have it in you to hope, you're still in there somewhere. The hunger years will turn into harvest years and every tiny baby step you took will bring you sanity.

 

It is not necessary to make every scar pretty to be recovered and enjoy life. It is not necessary to eradicate every symptom and make good on every manic fuck up to be able to relax. I suspect some answers will elude you, some relapses will happen and that is unjust. But every scrap iof yourself you put into getting better will be worth it, they will become part of the fabric that is your future.

 

Nothing is wasted. I promise.

Edited by Titania

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Focus on the long game, and keep stumbling forward. I may never be graceful at life, but Im here, trying.

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NOTHING IS WASTED.

 

You will suffer losses and grieve them. You will go without things you wanted and lose things and people you loved. You will rue the years that go by, the mistakes made, the time killed on med trials that didn't work. You will play the imaginary 'what if' game where you spin yourself the fabulous fantasy life you would have had without bipolar. There will be a certain amount of clean up and forgiveness you have to apply and that will hurt. Your rage is justified. Your sorrow is understandable. Bipolar is fucking unfair.

 

All that is true.

 

I'm not a believer in all things having a purpose or coming together for good. I'm a believer that it would have been nice to grow as a human being in a life that didn't test me with crippling illness. I won't lie that one day you will get a peaceful sense of perspective that coherently blurs all the horror. I'm a realist.

 

All I am saying is, nothing is wasted.

 

For everything you lose, the real core of yourself is there, obscured by mood episodes, but it patiently glitters underneath as it's own reward. You will be shaped by bipolar and you may lose the roles that may have defined you, but your self will continue alongside you. And all the graft you put into life has not been wasted, every smack in the face revelation is a useful lesson. Every moment you spend in agony will polish the shine on the happiness that will come back into your life (it shall come, I promise.) And you won't forget that agony. But you will have it there so that you can feel the strength of 'how did I ever endure that?' and when shit things happen, you will be able to name five shittier than this moments you got through. And you will find in time that however much bipolar makes you loathe yourself, you will also grow a grudging respect for that battered old self that endured that agony and can endure it in future, if you have to. Not willingly endure it or choose it, but able to withstand it. And to suffer and survive is a power. 

 

And with that strength, you will become attractive to others. They will use words like 'approachable' and 'real' and 'compassionate' which you may not accept as true. But you have known agony and you can stand with others in theirs. The most unexpected gift might be to hold someone you love in their agony with no awkwardness or fear in you, that is the biggest thing you can do for another person, some times. You will have shed the bullshit about popularity and perfection and respectability. You will know the faces of people in crowds who feel the way you do. You might sense the spark of madness in someone else at times. And when the shitty things happen in life, you will be there with no clever platitudes but the thing that counts: your presence.

 

The 'normals' will call you brave or inspirational or some such junk. Your own tribe of people who have been through it or are going through it will smile with you about this. Your good days will reveal the tiniest obscene pleasures; grass between your toes, laughing with your child when they laugh, a really great whiskey, fitting into a dress you love. A day at work where you didn't hyperventilate. Love. Pleasure. Peace of mind.

 

Everything you didn't want, throws into relief what you do (it will feel good when you get the things you want.) Everything you tried and failed at means you can get into bed feeling like you did your best and used what power you still have. Fuck the chemicals in your brain, today you did good in faith that it will yield a return. Every hope you invested in is a sign that no matter how awful it gets, you still have it in you to hope, you're still in there somewhere. The hunger years will turn into harvest years and every tiny baby step you took will bring you sanity.

 

It is not necessary to make every scar pretty to be recovered and enjoy life. It is not necessary to eradicate every symptom and make good on every manic fuck up to be able to relax. I suspect some answers will elude you, some relapses will happen and that is unjust. But every scrap iof yourself you put into getting better will be worth it, they will become part of the fabric that is your future.

 

Nothing is wasted. I promise.

Titania, I just read this post (though it's a month old) and I just want to say thank you for it. Thank you.

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Take your medication.  Above all else.  Do not go off it, do not try to tweak it on your own.  Work with your doctor to find the right combination/dosage.  It took me a year, but now that I am where I need to be life isn't just manage-able, it is infinitely better. 

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Don't stop you're meds just because you feel better. I did that on and off for ten years! You're going to notice a lot of changes in your life, but that's probably obvious. Just live "your" life and be mindful of those important to you. Most importantly, do your best to stay on top of your new "life-partner" because he or she will be with you for quite a while. One quick note... Have your bull-shit filter on at all times. You're going to meet many individuals on your journey who have all the answers and know better than your doctors and most importantly yourself. So keep handlin' your business and the docs and meds will get ya home free! So to speak. Best of luck too you and don't be afraid to ask questions as I'm sure you have many.

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This has some amazing advice. I'm also very very newly diagnosed, completely confused and actually feel like shit. This reminds me that it will get better. It has to!

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Here are some global tips for BP:
 
- Create structure and routine
- Get a good pdoc to develop a good professional relation between pdoc and person.
- Psycho-education about the illness is a step forward!!
- Get stable by medication and therapy.
- Let someone control your meds if your uncapble to do it (example: in a Manic episode, there is chance you can discard this)
- Get exercise everyday (30 minutes intensive 5 times a week)
   --> I do 3 times a week GYM (power) and 5 times a week a walk with my dog.
 
- If your manic 
          --> To prevent damage: Let someone handle financial things and if your making people annoying with your behavior, reduce sound and temper 
 
your control.
          --> If your libido gets to high, think of protection if get involved into sex...
          --> Are you having delusionals of grandeur are some paranoid things? Talk with your pdoc about it!!
          --> Are you sleeping enough? ==> If not: Talk with your pdoc about it!!
 
- If your depressed
         --> Try to do exercise..
         --> Try to eat 
--> Are you severe depressed and getting suicidal thoughts? ==> Talk about with relatives, family and for sure with your pdoc!!
 
- Search a job that's not torsing onto your shoulders! Stress reduction is very underestimated aspect..
 
- Set up targets for your live if your better and give yourself by day a 'thumbs up'.. Even if they are small!
 
- Work on social assertive skills to improve social network.
 
- Is your job or school/homewerk/tests/exams stressful? Reduce working hours + Work on skills like selfimage... 
 
- Learn more about CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and read books about it..
 
- Mediation and mindfulness sometimes helps people with depression. Maybe it's something for you?
 
If you read this post completely 'thumbs up', even if you didn't; I respect that concentration in a manic or depressive state is very annoying. So 
 
thumbs up! 
 
- Are you good in music or creative skills and making art? Enjoy it and make it your hobby!!
 
- Listening to your favorite music can do a little about elevating mood, but a little is also an improvement is positive away. 
 
- Create a daytimewatch where you log time you spend on activity A, B, C, ... if something goes of the road, your may be getting manic?
 
- Did you make a mess in your room or your house? For example: Are there everywhere beercans from a period that you where manic? Is there everywhere 
 
a mess of papers because you thought your new project was going to make you rich? Talk about it with your family to create 'overview'
 
- Create a mood flow and graphic with Excel or online programs/apps. And write everyday the symptoms you experience..
 
- Are you getting a panic attack and pdoc is on holiday? Take a shower or a relaxing bath.. 
 
>>> And if you do something sneaky with your meds (like throwing away), first discuss to your relatives and pdoc!!
 
 
I hope you have something about my tips.. Good luck and thumbs up again!
 
And also think about a good 2014 is coming to you even it's bad... And look out with firework, so you'll have your fingers in all pieces left and healthy!!  :lol:
Edited by InnovatingProfessor²

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NOTHING IS WASTED.

You will suffer losses and grieve them. You will go without things you wanted and lose things and people you loved. You will rue the years that go by, the mistakes made, the time killed on med trials that didn't work. You will play the imaginary 'what if' game where you spin yourself the fabulous fantasy life you would have had without bipolar. There will be a certain amount of clean up and forgiveness you have to apply and that will hurt. Your rage is justified. Your sorrow is understandable. Bipolar is fucking unfair.

All that is true.

I'm not a believer in all things having a purpose or coming together for good. I'm a believer that it would have been nice to grow as a human being in a life that didn't test me with crippling illness. I won't lie that one day you will get a peaceful sense of perspective that coherently blurs all the horror. I'm a realist.

All I am saying is, nothing is wasted.

For everything you lose, the real core of yourself is there, obscured by mood episodes, but it patiently glitters underneath as it's own reward. You will be shaped by bipolar and you may lose the roles that may have defined you, but your self will continue alongside you. And all the graft you put into life has not been wasted, every smack in the face revelation is a useful lesson. Every moment you spend in agony will polish the shine on the happiness that will come back into your life (it shall come, I promise.) And you won't forget that agony. But you will have it there so that you can feel the strength of 'how did I ever endure that?' and when shit things happen, you will be able to name five shittier than this moments you got through. And you will find in time that however much bipolar makes you loathe yourself, you will also grow a grudging respect for that battered old self that endured that agony and can endure it in future, if you have to. Not willingly endure it or choose it, but able to withstand it. And to suffer and survive is a power.

And with that strength, you will become attractive to others. They will use words like 'approachable' and 'real' and 'compassionate' which you may not accept as true. But you have known agony and you can stand with others in theirs. The most unexpected gift might be to hold someone you love in their agony with no awkwardness or fear in you, that is the biggest thing you can do for another person, some times. You will have shed the bullshit about popularity and perfection and respectability. You will know the faces of people in crowds who feel the way you do. You might sense the spark of madness in someone else at times. And when the shitty things happen in life, you will be there with no clever platitudes but the thing that counts: your presence.

The 'normals' will call you brave or inspirational or some such junk. Your own tribe of people who have been through it or are going through it will smile with you about this. Your good days will reveal the tiniest obscene pleasures; grass between your toes, laughing with your child when they laugh, a really great whiskey, fitting into a dress you love. A day at work where you didn't hyperventilate. Love. Pleasure. Peace of mind.

Everything you didn't want, throws into relief what you do (it will feel good when you get the things you want.) Everything you tried and failed at means you can get into bed feeling like you did your best and used what power you still have. Fuck the chemicals in your brain, today you did good in faith that it will yield a return. Every hope you invested in is a sign that no matter how awful it gets, you still have it in you to hope, you're still in there somewhere. The hunger years will turn into harvest years and every tiny baby step you took will bring you sanity.

It is not necessary to make every scar pretty to be recovered and enjoy life. It is not necessary to eradicate every symptom and make good on every manic fuck up to be able to relax. I suspect some answers will elude you, some relapses will happen and that is unjust. But every scrap iof yourself you put into getting better will be worth it, they will become part of the fabric that is your future.

Nothing is wasted. I promise.

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Titania, I am so grateful for finding this brilliant commentary. It gave me hope and inspiration.

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Mood charting

Identifying triggers

Plenty of sleep

a routine

as much contact with others as possible

religious adherence to taking meds

reduction of carbs in one's diet

Mood charting and reduction of carbs? Could you explain further? Please (: I'm a newbie.

Carbs are things like bread, cereal, sugars, and so on. Put simply, if it isn't a recognizable fruit or vegetable, and if it couldn't walk, crawl or swim in its living state, it's a carb. Even with fruit, be mindful. Too much fructose is bad for you too- fructose is fruit sugar, which is a carbohydrate. 

 

By the way, most blueberry muffins and cereals don't contain blueberries. They contain gooey sugar pellets made to look like blueberries, so don't think that if you eat them you are eating fruit. 

 

To chart your moods, get a calendar and write down for each day how you felt. Like  happy, or sad, or depressed or elated, or bored, or what have you. This will make it easier to figure out if your moods are cyclical, or if there are certain triggers such as weather, food, or certain kinds of activities.

Fructose is metabolized almost exactly the same way as alcohol. It's "booze without the buzz." See Dr. Lustig (video: sugar, the bitter truth & his book fat chance). Fortunately fruit, eaten whole, is seldom problematic because of the soluble and insoluble fiber. But if you atomize it in a blender to make a smoothie (or juice it) you might as well drink coca-cola, at least from macronutrient perspective.

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MMMMm. Coca Cola. Does that mean I have to stop pretending my Odwalla smoothies are good for me (*sniff, sniff*)? They are so damn tasty, and make me feel virtuous.

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You can continue to pretend I'd you like, but won't change how the stuff is metabolized. Now there are micronutrient advantages to stuff like juice or smoothies over coke or 7-up, but when it comes to the havoc they wreak on your body, there is precious little difference between coke and OJ or whatever. Nutrition HS been s subject of interest for,me the past year. This was my reading/watching list so far:

The blood sugar solution

Why we get fat

Fat chance

Suffering succotash

Salt, sugar, fat

Wheat belly

Good calories, bad calories

In defense of food

The vegetarian myth

Appetite for profit

The harcombe diet for men

The obesity epidemic

Nourishing traditions

Tomatoland

The American way of eating

Animal, vegetable, miracle

Grain brain

The omnivore,s dilemma

The great cholesterol myth

Edible education 103 (Michael Pollan, et al—UC Berserkeley) [can watch on youtube—very good]

Edible education 101 (Michael Pollan, et al— UC Berserkeley) [can watch on youtube—very good]

And all the movies mentioned by Marion Nestlé in 101

.

MMMMm. Coca Cola. Does that mean I have to stop pretending my Odwalla smoothies are good for me (*sniff, sniff*)? They are so damn tasty, and make me feel virtuous.

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I was very addicted too Coca Cola, when I was (hypo)manic in the past I had drunk 3 liters of it on daily basis. Now I just drink max. 1,5 l to prevent the worse-things that can happen. But I always need min. 0.75 l.  :D

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