Lessons I Learned

The other day Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. who is an Associate Editor at Psych Central posted an excellent article titled “The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned in Managing My Bipolar Disorder.” Upon reading the article I was pleased to find that I pretty much learned the same lessonsr. Below are each of the lessons she listed and, of course, how they pertain to me.

Understanding Severity

I flip flop with this one. There are many times that I have no idea what state I’m in. I’ll be laying around the house for days while not showering and refuse to accept that I am depressed. Then there are the times that I’m manic and refuse to accept that’s a problem out of my fear of crashing and burning and going back to depression. There are two times that I feel blessed that I knew where I stood. Both times I realized I was severely depressed and went to the hospital because I felt I was a danger to myself. The first time I was in lock down for 10 days and I’m grateful I sought help, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.

Having a Great Support System
I hear so many horror stories people tell me about the lack of support they receive from friends and family. It makes me thankful. My husband Maurice understood from the beginning that my bipolar is a disease and that I’m not just lazy, nor am I crazy. My friends are supportive and all the members of our church, in which we are very active, have shown me nothing but love. I believe being open and honest to everyone has made the road much smoother for me.

Committing to a Treatment Plan
It took three years to find the right balance of meds that work for me. I have no plans to go off my meds. I’m not taking herbs or any other type natural products that are supposed to help me. I don’t like taking six pills a day, but I wouldn’t consider going off of them unless some of them stop working for me. Should that happen I would work side by side with my psychiatrist to find the new balance. What I’m doing now works and I have no plans to go back.

Being Honest
As honest as I am on this blog is as honest as I am in the outside world. I won’t allow fear or stigma to prevent me from telling the truth about what’s going on in my life. I was the guest speaker at church when our minister was on vacation this past spring. My sermon was about my bipolar disorder and I received nothing but love from the congregation.

Being Kind to Yourself
I try, but I’m not so good at this. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Taking A Holistic Approach
I walk, walk and walk some more. It is the best form of exercise for me. I also try to eat right and joined Weight Watchers to help remove the weight gain I received from medication. So far I’m 50 lbs less than my max weight of 303. I have about 100 more to lose and feel confident that I’ll achieve that goal.

Having A Routine
I use to create a schedule each week of things that need to get done. The days and times were pretty routine from week to week, I scheduled my meds for each day and went to bed at the same time each night. This had a tremendous, positive impact on my stability. I haven’t been doing this lately, and it shows.

If you’d like to read the full article, you’ll find it here:

10 comments on Lessons I Learned

  1. Good post. Perhaps it is possible that your inability to be kind to yourself is related to the root of your problems, which would explain why it has been such a tough nut for you to crack.

    Ever thought about a dog? Veterans with PTSD have benefitted from having a canine companion. If fact, there are formal such programs in both the US and Canada. Maybe it would help.

    1. I am actually a cat lover, but Maurice is allergic to cats. I do think a pet would be nice and something to seriously consider.

  2. These are big lessons, Bradley. Some I have learned better than others. I know I am not good at being kind to myself, either. That can be really challenging and is often the worst for me to deal with.

    1. It’s the worse for me as well. I’m not very easy on myself. It’s what I’ve spent most of my time in therapy.

      1. When I sat down to blog today, I thought about your post and how much in denial I am about things right now. Linked to your post today and the article you referenced. Hope that’s ok!

  3. Those are some really good lessons to keep someone on track. In regards to being kind to yourself, have you thought about giving yourself a treat as part of your weekly or monthly routine? Once it’s added to your diary, hopefully it will force you to do something nice and be kind to yourself. Just take out an hour or more at a set time and go for a manicure/pedicure – yes men do it too, or a spa, or have a night out. If you can stick to it, it might help in the long run.

  4. I have found that I have also learned many hard earned lessons from this lovely mood disorder: I have trouble with the loving myself one even though I know that may be the most important one. If you love yourself, you will be more attuned to the fluctuation of your moods, and you won’t deny that you are depressed.

    I have learned what my “tells” are: if depression is coming on, I don’t bathe or wash my hair (that’s a big deal for me), I stay in my pajamas, sleep as much as possible, and really do not want to be bothered. However, the biggest tell that depression (or mania) is out of control is when I line the pill bottles up on the counter and wonder if I have enough to kill myself. That’s when I go to the hospital because even in my chemically deficient brain, I know that’s not the right way to think.

    I have learned that routine is very important. For some reason, people with Bipolar resist change with all their being. At least I do, and I do not understand why.

    I have learned that a reliable sleep/wake cycle is incredibly important in maintaining a relatively stable mood primarily because I have gone through bouts of insomnia and I am prone to psychosis.

    Most of all, I have learned to forgive myself (for the most part), because I didn’t do anything to become Bipolar. I was already predisposed to possible development of the illness because my paternal grandmother was manic-depressive. All I needed for the illness to manifest was a trigger, and boy, did I get a whopper of a trigger! But, that is a whole other blog post preferably after a bottle (yes, a bottle) of wine.

    Of all the lessons I have learned, I think loving yourself and forgiving yourself are the two that are most important to me.

    Excellent post, my friend 🙂 Keep on educating yourself and you’ll see change in yourself,and it will be for the better and more stable (I chant for mental stability a lot, you know what I mean).

  5. That’s a great list! I like how you apply it to yourself.

    As for loving yourself…..this is something I struggle with too. Something I’m learning is to take in tiny doses. For example I like rocking in a rocking chair. I take that simple act and add to it a moment of self talk that sounds like this: ” this feels comforting, I can take a moment to really relax into the pleasure of it”

    That might sound too simplistic but maybe simple and small steps is good. I think part of self love is letting myself experience healthy pleasures even if just for moments. The self talk helps to replace any negative beliefs like “I don’t deserve pleasure”. Of course self love is about more than pleasure but I hope that example is useful. I could be expanded to many things and other new thoughts could be used to replace shame thoughts or others – what ever your conditioning is.

    Blessings to you!

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