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Life lessons for those with a new bipolar diagnosis

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This is a great thread, very helpful for me to read.

Do a mood chart. I did one for one year, it just takes a few mins a day.

It was very helpful for me to recognize symptoms as I begin to wind up or spiral down.

100% med compliance. That is my goal. I am probably 98% med compliant.

Every Sunday I distribute my medications into my pill organizers, for me and my husband.

I could never do it without a pill organizaer, actually I have two.

Moods do change. They will always change. I can feel an exquisite, sharp pain and two days

later feel much more normal. Never make relationship decisions when in a mood state.

Sleep, healthy diet, fresh air, pleasant company ........all these normal things help to normalize

my state of mind.

It is true about stress. I had to make career decisions which reduce the stress. It also reduced

my income. Basically I try to protect my sanity, my marriage, and my poodle.

We are everywhere. There are bipolar people everywhere in all professions. Take heart

in the sheer brilliance you can find among the bipolar. We seem to be highly intelligent.

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Thanks everyone for your responses! I find it good to hear that this thread has helped other people as well as me.

If only I could get my sleep schedule back on track and my springtime dip back up, I'd be all set.

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Hmm My advice is to try to have understanding and supportive people around you. I have my gf who is Bipolar and a co worker who has a Bipolar husband that I can talk to. Also my mom who can't completely understand as she isnt Bipolar, she does her best to listen and support me. Also as it has been already said Take your meds!! Do not suddenly stop them, that can suck major trust me. Always call your Pdoc if you are having an episode or issue. Become educated about Bipolar, you are going to be dealing with it for the rest of your life. I have a ton of books that I bought and read when I was diagnosed and I still refer back to them from time to time. Also find something you are interested in and or passionate about. I love music and being creative. I have a whole box of art stuff that I do when the mood stirkes me and I have tons of music that I listen to daily, it can work wonders for my moods. Ok I'm getting long winded, sorry, I'm manic and I am thinking a lot...lol hope this helps.

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Stay med compliant.

Look into Nami or DBSA for support for yourself and your loved ones.

Don't skip meals.

Get into a good bedtime routine.

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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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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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