Strategies and Advice on How to Cope With Bipolar Disorder
written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick
• edited by: Paul Arnold
• updated: 5/31/2011
After having shattered the myth that bipolar disorder will severely limit a person’s ability to fully function in all facets of their life in the first article of this series, we’ll now present some coping strategies and advice on how to overcome the challenges and perceived pitfalls of it.
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Managing and Overcoming your Bipolar Condition
Now that you can see the erroneous nature of the stigma regarding this mental illness from the first article in the series, it’s time to be proactive in seeking all the treatment and support you can to manage and overcome any limitations caused by bipolar disorder that you think are there. A brief list of what these perceived limitations better stated as challenges are:
High energy mania with racing thoughts, and a sense of invincibility
Self-destructive and reckless behavior with no thought as to the consequences
Crippling and hopeless depression where nothing seems worth doing and death appears to be a better alternative than the life you're living
Engaging in risky behaviors and hyper sexuality
Being easily distracted and forgetful
A lack of control and a dread that you are going “mad"
Isolation and withdrawal
Trouble maintaining personal and work relationships
Constant feeling that the bottom can drop out at anytime and there is no way to control your emotions
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There Is a Way Out!
That all sounds pretty dismal and make no mistake about it, this thing is a champion at fighting dirty and wrecking lives. However, with many the condition isn’t that severe, and coping with bipolar disorder can be a highly manageable task. Because no matter how severe it is, once the individual works closely to find the best medications and undergoes effective treatment such as cognitive therapy for dipolar disorder, this condition can indeed be handled to the point that the sky is the limit in all facets of one’s life.
Otherwise, It can thrust drastic mood swings suddenly upon you with no regard for whether you want to feel the effects or not. You can’t avoid the punches though. In less severe forms of bipolar disorder, the hypomania (which is much less dramatic than full blown mania) is actually welcomed by some people who experience it because they feel that heightened energy makes them more energetic, productive, and creative.
Strategies and Advice from a Fellow Bipolar Individual
Let’s consider that rash behavior we talked about in the first article of this series. The bipolar person is subject to it - described clinically as impulsivity and using poor judgment. Can these behaviors not be applied in a field where they are useful or accepted? The bipolar tends to be more creative on the whole so use that creativity to your advantage - graphic design, writing, and any other careers where it’s called for.
In getting initially knocked down by the ravages of bipolar disorder, you gain the opportunity to build yourself back up. Changes have to be made, and with that change comes the ability to choose who you want to be. It’s no longer a matter of what happens to you in your life, but rather how you choose to react to it. You must develop the skills and strategies to deal with the stresses and conflict - which can sometimes trigger cycling episodes - when they surely come your way.
You must surrender your need to control everything; letting go allows you to ask for help from those willing, courageous, and knowledgeable enough to give it.
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For Those Looking to Assist Bipolar Individuals
Supporting a family member with Bipolar Disorder is an excellent read if you’re trying to understand and care for someone diagnosed with it. You will need to cultivate patience in the beginning - finding the right medication is often done by trial and error, and therapy isn’t something that always succeeds on short order. You may take the brunt of their anger and hear hurtful things from them, but try and remember they are not in their right minds and that hurting people hurts them too. If you happen to be an employer of a bipolar person, there are some excellent resources below provided by the Job Accommodation Network to review that can enable and empower a bipolar employee to be a lot more efficient and productive.
Living with bipolar disorder need not limit you in anyway. Once you accept the diagnosis, seek professional help, and find the right medications to control your mood swings, you can surmount all the challenges ahead. This series explores the mind set, strategies, and advice to help you do just that.