When Things Get Tough, Go Back to Basics

What I do when bipolar makes things tough.
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Sometimes we all need reminders. Even though I write almost every day about positivity and how to live successfully with bipolar disorder, I’m not always good about following my advice.

There are days when bipolar attacks me like a rabid dog and then pins me to the ground with the force of 100 men. On those days, I let myself have a good old-fashioned pity party. I don’t recommend doing it a lot, but there is some catharsis in letting yourself be in the dumps and whine about your lot in life.

It sucks to have a mental illness, especially when you know it’s likely to be part of your life all of your days. It’s why I recommend grieving the life that you thought you would have before your bipolar diagnosis.

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A pity party is healing for a day or two, and it’s helpful to get all the garbage out of your head by venting to someone or in your journal. But then it’s time to get back to work.

What do I do? The same things that I tell you to do.

First, I get out my journal. If I’ve not written in it for a few days, I explore the reason why. I ask myself questions like, What’s going on that I don’t want to write about? What am I feeling? What’s holding me back?

If I have been writing, I look through the last several entries to see if there are any trends. Is there a specific topic that keeps coming up or a person I keep drifting back to?

Many times, my worst days are because I’m refusing to face something head on.

Woman thinking in her kitchen | Bipolar disorder will cause bad days, and when it does, the best thing to do is go back to basics. This is what I do when things get tough. | #MentalHealth #MentalIllness #Bipolar
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When my journal reveals nothing, what do I do next? I hit my gratitude jar. I look at all the reasons I have to be grateful.

If you’re not already keeping a gratitude jar, you can find instructions on how to make one here. The great thing about a gratitude jar is that you can see the good things in your life and they’re written in your own handwriting. How can you argue with you?

Okay, so I know you can, but it’s harder to argue with yourself.

Next, I check my habits. Am I taking my meds every day at the right times? Am I eating healthy food? How are my sleep habits?

Usually, at least one thing is slipping. And truth be told, it’s usually the food part. What can I say? I love me some junk food. Hello, Cheetos!

If I do all these steps, and still don’t feel like I’m myself, then I just settle in. I know that the worst days always have an expiration date. Things may be dark today, but the sun always comes up.

I’ve lived with mental illness long enough to know that every awful episode eventually ends. You just have to hold on.

One thing that really helps me to stay on the positive side of life is writing the daily posts for the Positivity Club. One story that sticks with me is How To Cause a Chain Reaction of Positivity. I first it shared in the Club a few months ago. I hope it helps you find your way back to the light.

There will be times when bipolar walks up and smacks you upside the back of the head. You will have bad days, and they may last for a while. But if you keep doing the right things on the better days, you’ll have the strength to make it through even the darkest days.

If, like me, you’ve been slipping to the wrong side of the attitude scale, admit it to yourself today. Then, take positive steps and get back to work. You are strong, and you will fight and win this battle.

Until next time, keep fighting.

Young man thinking and looking at night sky. | Bipolar disorder will cause bad days, and when it does, the best thing to do is go back to basics. This is what I do when things get tough. | #MentalHealth #MentalIllness #Bipolar
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5 Comments

  1. I have been managing bipolar illness for about 35 years. I am aware that bipolar symptoms can get harder with age. But the “good” part in managing the illness for so many years is that I have a path forward in my mind for getting through the lows and getting out of the highs. I also have cultivated a habit of asking for help from my support circle during these times. Because I have managed through depression and/or mania before, I am that much more likely to get through it again because I have a roadmap from the past. In some respects I “have learned” to get through the hellish days. Holding onto that thought when things are at their worst gives me hope. I agree that at any present time it might be dark but eventually “the sun comes up…..” Years of going through that cycle brings reassurance that indeed the sun will and does come up.

    1. Asking for help and having a support system are so important. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Like you, age has taught me to manage some parts of bipolar better, but the anxiety, especially social anxiety, seems to get worse every year. All we can do it keep trying. Thank you for leaving such a nice comment. Keep fighting!

      1. I agree that with time I have found / might find better ways of managing bipolar but the anxiety increase is there for me too. Daunting to deal with. Never had this in my twenties and thirties….

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