Three things in your life that can make bipolar worse.
Managing bipolar disorder can be a full-time job. That’s especially true in the beginning, after you are first diagnosed.
Receiving a bipolar disorder diagnosis transports you into a whole new world. Suddenly, you have to look at everything you do differently.
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So many things can affect bipolar disorder. From the foods you eat, the type of exercise you do, or even the career you choose. All things now have to be considered from the bipolar perspective.
I’ve found that a key to managing my bipolar is to make sure I limit my exposure to things that will make it worse. Here are three things to think about.
Bipolar Disorder Symptom Checklist
The amount of noise in your life can have a definite impact on the way you feel. Especially if you’re already irritable. Every noise will only make things worse.
Even on my good days, repetitive sounds like a dog barking or someone tapping their foot on the floor will grate on me. On the bad days, even the ticking of the wall clock can be too much.
Intense or prolonged noise can cause sensory overload, making you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or angry.
Pay attention to how noise affects you. Even if you enjoy listening to loud music, note how you feel after you listen to it. Do you feel better or worse?
I used to love concerts. Now I know crowds and extended periods of loud music are too much for me. It often takes me a few days to recover.
On a similar line, you also need to consider your environment. This includes the type of entertainment you choose.
Listening to endless break-up songs or bingeing tearjerkers on Netflix can push you to lower depths of bipolar depression. Angry music can intensify bipolar irritability.
The people you spend time with also matter. If you know a negative Nelly or Debbie Downer, watch how their attitude affects you. Do you feel better or worse after spending time with them?
I need abundant sunlight to maintain stability. If I spend days shuttered inside, I almost always sink into depression. It’s important for me to keep my shades open to let in as much sunlight as possible.
Fortunately, I have tall windows both at home and at work that let in lots of natural light. My toughest challenge comes in the winter. Shorter days and gray, gloomy skies take their toll.
Pay attention to how your environment affects you. Do you feel better after being in the sun for a while? Are you energized after being out in nature? Are you happier after spending time with cheerful people?
As you answer these questions, use that knowledge to your advantage. Then, seek out the things that make you feel better.
The things you say to yourself matter. Bipolar disorder likes to play repeating audio files that tell you all the worst things. I understand. My brain is always telling me how terrible I am, what a rotten friend I am, and how inept of a writer I am.
I’ve learned to reason on the truth most days. I know I’m not terrible or the worst. However, if I join in those voices by saying negative things to myself, their impact increases.
Be conscious of the things you say to yourself. Even insignificant remarks, like when you look in the mirror and say, “I look terrible!” can be damaging. Try to reframe those comments with positive words.
One thing that may seem harmless is saying to yourself, “I don’t have a mental illness.”
Also Read: 3 Questions to Stop Negative Self-Talk
I’m sorry, but if a medical professional diagnosed you with bipolar disorder or another mood disorder, you can’t deny it. Yes, sometimes doctors are wrong, but more often they are right. Telling yourself you don’t have a mental illness is only going to hinder your treatment and recovery.
Raise your hand and repeat after me. “I have a mental illness, and that’s okay.”
Part of living successfully with bipolar disorder is learning to accept your illness. Yes, it sucks to have a mental illness, but it’s a reality you have to make peace with. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can learn to thrive with it.
Maintaining stability with bipolar disorder is challenging, but not impossible. I suggest keeping a journal. My journal dates back to 1983 and has been priceless in helping me master bipolar. If you write nothing else down, try to write the things you do and how you feel later.
Over time, your journal will reveal how certain actions and environments affect your mental health. Once you know the trends, you can make wiser choices going forward. (Note: You can read more about the benefits of keeping a journal is the post 5 Useful Reasons Why You Should Be Journaling)
You can live a good life with bipolar disorder. It takes work, but it’s worth the effort.
Are there things you find make your bipolar better or worse? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Until next time, keep fighting.