This post is Part 2 about creating a better life with bipolar.
6. Build a Support System
Building a strong and supportive group of friends or family members is crucial to your long-term mental health. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we are more and more physically isolated. Especially if you are a mental illness warrior will you at times find it hard to leave the house or interact with people.
On the positive side, your support system doesn’t have to be where you are. I use Twitter quite a bit and have fallen into a great group of supportive bipolar and mental health warriors and mental illness professionals. If you want to connect on Twitter, my username is @SpeakingBipolar.
Lately, I’ve had the pleasure to interact with Caroline Cook @oneworldonepeo1 as she works tirelessly to help promote mental health awareness and connect fellow warriors together for better support. Even if you don’t want to follow me, please take a minute to follow Caroline. She is good people, as a friend of mine would say. You can also follow Caroline on her blog.
Through her group tweets, many of us are finding validation and support that we all need. Stop by and check it out.
7. Control Your Weight
I know, I’ve just made some people upset just by typing that heading. Perhaps it’s not a “simple” way to improve your bipolar life, but it is a way that you can.
Just about everyone today seems to be battling some sort of weight issue. Some find it difficult to eat enough while most of us fall at the opposite end of the spectrum. I was way too thin into my mid-twenties. Then I started medication, and although I am now stable and productive, my weight has been a constant struggle in all the years since.
The good news is that you can start small and work your way up. Right now for me, that means eating more nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Start with one thing you can control, like drinking more water throughout the day, and then build on that. Even small steps can help to improve your bipolar.
8. Talk to Your Doctor About Side Effects
Let’s face it, the path to the proper treatment of mental illness is too often long and arduous. As a result, many of us learn to suffer in silence as we weigh the benefits of certain medications against the negative side effects.
Stop that trend. Your doctor can only best help you if they know the whole story.
Recently, I had a talk with my doctor about anxiety. I’ve lived with near constant anxiety for so many years now that I never even imagine a world where I wouldn’t have it. My doctor and I hadn’t talked about it in some time, though. When we did, he told me about several new medications that are effectively treating bipolar and controlling anxiety at the same time.
I was floored. Every day, I’ve been struggling to leave my own home, when all this time there is a medication that might help.
I’m only a few days into the new med so I can’t say how it will ultimately work, but it’s nice to have hope again.
9. Avoid Alcohol
Another way to improve your bipolar life is to avoid alcohol.
Most psychiatric medications are made less effective or completely negated by alcohol. You don’t need for me to tell you all the reasons you should avoid alcohol when you have bipolar disorder or another mental illness.
The same goes for other substances. Be sure that anything you are taking into your body, including things that seem innocuous like vaping, is not counteracting with your medications. If alcohol neutralizes your drug cocktail, then don’t drink. Not ever. Life does go on without alcohol. I promise it does.
10. Be Active
Exercise is another dreaded word. So, for today, let’s not use it. I’m all for breaking things down to the smallest possible part and then dealing with the small parts individually.
Getting on a treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes three days a week may be overwhelming. But, what if you agreed to get on it for five minutes?
For most of us, five minutes isn’t scary. If you can do five today, try for six tomorrow. If five was too many, do what you can. Even one minute is better than nothing. Tomorrow, try for 90 seconds. You can do it!
The same goes for interacting with other people. Plan activities, and then follow through, if at all possible. Social interaction is an integral part of good mental health. If nothing else, find a local mental health support group to attend.
11. Don’t Ever Give Up!
Last, make sure that you never give up. There will be bad days. There might be lots of bad days. Even so, there is always a reason to keep going.
Even if you fall down along the way, you can always get back up. You can find 15 inspirational quotes to help you by reading this post.
The sun will come up tomorrow, and that alone is a reason why you can’t give up today. Believe that you can improve your bipolar by not giving up.
Well, my fellow mental illness warriors, that’s all I have today. Do you have other tips on how to help to improve your bipolar life? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time, keep fighting.
Looking for more to read? Read the story of a Bipolar survivor in the series Surviving Bipolar.