Structure a Bipolar Life

structureI’m extremely organized. Everything is in its place and there’s a place for everything. In addition, my time management skills are outstanding. I know when it’s time to get things done and I do them then and there. Structure is important to me and I maintain it at all times. In addition, I have bipolar disorder, and if you know anything about bipolar, you know that everything I just wrote is a load of crap.

Actually, if you are living with bipolar disorder, maintaining structure and keeping a routine is extremely important to maintain stability in your life. The name “routine” may sound….well, routine, and it can be a struggle, but a struggle that is worth it.

Structure Times to Take Your Meds

In case you don’t have structure in your life, I’m going to start with the basic, but one of the most important routines – taking your medications at the same time each day. This is important for a couple of reasons – to help ensure you are taking them and because they may be timed released meds. Time-released pills dispense your medication, in your body, over several hours, rather than all at once. This helps you remain stable over a period of time during your day. Examples of medications that are available in time-release form are Wellbutrin, Seroquel and Depakote. To help you maintain a routine, take them at times that you have a routine in place, such as, brushing your teeth, or while eating breakfast. I have scheduled times for my cell phone to remind me when to take my meds and it works very well for me.

Bathing is not just on Saturdays

One of the best gifts you can give yourself is to structure your personal hygiene. Like many others with BP, I sometimes have great difficulty getting myself into the shower. This is especially true when depressed. Set a routine to brush your teeth, take a shower and get dressed every morning. The more you make it a routine the easier it will be to maintain a routine on those days you can barely get yourself out of bed.

Meal Time

Do you eat breakfast? Many don’t. Some skip lunch. Some don’t eat dinner until late in the evening. If you are like most people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Skipping breakfast can lead you to eating unhealthy snacks before or around lunchtime. Maintaining a routine for eating can help you eat healthier foods and keeps you fuller, so you’re less likely to eat poorly throughout your day.

A Tidy Home is a Happy Home

I hate housekeeping. The only thing I like about it is having it done, and that’s not going to happen on its own. Make a list of what needs to be done each week and then schedule them. I keep days, time and chores on a chalkboard in my kitchen. I know that I wash light colored clothing and whites on Tuesdays. I wash dark clothes and towels on Fridays. Clean the kitchen on Wednesdays, the bedroom on Fridays, and so on. Without my trusty chalkboard, most things would not get done around our house because my brain would look at everything I need to do, make the decision that it all needs to be done in one day, and I’d crawl back into bed and pull a blanket over my head. My chores list has a major impact in keeping me structured and balanced. The only thing worse than being in a depressed state, is to be depressed in a dirty, cluttered home.

If you need more motivation than just writing down your list of weekly chores, I would suggest you check The Fly Lady website. Marla Cilley (The Fly Lady) provides a wealth of information on how to structure you housekeeping.

Nighty Night

The body needs rest. It needs to sleep to keep you functioning. You already have a brain that can get a littlesleeping out of control (okay, okay, maybe a lot out of control,) you don’t want to make matters worse by not getting enough sleep. The problem with having bipolar disorder is that sleep can be very fickle. If you’re in a manic state you can be awake for days and when you’re depressed you can sleep for days.

If you structure your sleep you may be able to detect a manic or a depressed episode coming on. Let’s say you’ve made a routine of going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 7 am. Do it regularly and you’ll be surprised how quickly your body will adapt to those time periods. However, if you find yourself suddenly not being able to sleep or getting too much sleep, you may want to prepare for a mood adjustment coming on.

Google “bipolar” and “sleep” and you’ll find plenty of tips to help you create a schedule and sticking with it.

Any tips you can share that add structure to your day?

14 comments on Structure a Bipolar Life

  1. For me, I have to keep my home clutter free or it can set off a mood swing–too much visual or aural overstimulation can have a profound affect on me. I will start to get very antsy, perhaps irritable, and anxiety may set in (a signal for a significant mood swing coming). I can’t explain why I am like this – just it’s one of many ways bipolar affects my life.

    Another great article, Bradley. Thank you.

    1. I totally get why you are like this. I’m an all or nothing kind of guy, which means I follow all the steps I’ve listed or my entire place falls apart. I’m glad I have a system

  2. LMAO and I haven’t even read past the first paragraph. I was reading it thinking, “He has bipolar and is super organized and gets everything done on time? Omg!” And then came the punchline. OK, wiping my eyes and going back up to read the rest now. Thanks for the laugh, Bradley. I needed that.

  3. OK read the rest of the post which was great! I also semistructure my leisure time. I have standing weekly social dates with 2 different groups of friends and I make sure I read and write on a regular basis.

  4. Great post, Bradley! My only addition would be to keep a day-planner to help you stay on top of doctor’s appointments, events, and daily tasks. It helps me wonders!

  5. Great article Brad. I schedule my excercise at the same time everyday. I also eat the same things for breakfast and lunch every day so I don’t have to think about it. It helps me control the calories some too. But I need to try your chores method. Maybe that would help me. I hate how a messy house makes me feel.

    1. Making exercise as part of your routine is an excellent idea, Deb. For me, I’d be much more motivated if I schedule the time rather than thinking “I’ll exercise later.”

  6. you have to have been in my brain! it is so true, all of what you said, i can’t function in a home that is disorganized, cluttered, dirty. it is so important to my ability to make phone calls, fill out paperwork, get things mailed and bills paid, or to taking showers…if things are not organized i just can’t do anything at all.

    also, it keeps me able to leave the house for appointments and errands and i am generally more stable. i like routines. they make me ‘better’.

    1. Nope, I don’t get inside the brains of anyone with bipolar. The ride is too wild 🙂 I struggle to keep the house in good order, because, like you, my entire life goes crazy otherwise.

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