Anyone who has bipolar, be it bipolar 1, 2 or 3 knows how unpredictable this condition is. You’re feeling like you’re doing really well and your emotional wellbeing is in check, when out of the blue you get hit. Be it by a bout of hypomania or a depression. You just don’t know what happened, everything went well and know you’re all over the place.
Often there are early signs, but most of the time it’s easy to ignore them as you’re just too busy with life and can’t take care of yourself.
Often the first sign that things are going downhill is when your sleep pattern changes. All of a sudden you can’t fall asleep as you keep having these racing thoughts. Or you keep waking up at 4 am in the morning and just simply can’t go back to sleep. Instead of feeling exhausted you start feeling winded up and experience racing thoughts throughout the day which can also lead to thoughts of grandeur, ‘I can achieve anything’ thoughts and you feelings of being on top of the world. But behold, before you know it your world comes crushing down and you’re engulfed in a low mood where everything is an effort and life is just too much.
A good way to keep these episodes as minimal as possible is to create an early warning signs list and a tool box.
It’s great to discuss these tools with your psychiatrist and get his or her input as well. For example, it might be good to adjust your medication if you feel your mood is slipping away. Be it extra medication to help you sleep or a different dosage to get you of your high.
A toolbox can be a great tool to add things to do and say to yourself when things start getting out of hand. Be it having a relaxing bath and some meditation before you go to bed when you start noticing you get to winded up before bedtime. It could be that you take extra ME time, by reading your favorite book, eating the most delicious cake without feeling guilty, listening to your favorite music, painting, running – what ever centres you and calms you down.
It’s also helpful to have a positive dialogue with yourself reassuring yourself that this phase will pass and you can influence your thoughts by telling yourself that things will change again.
It’s good to know you’re not alone with your bipolar and joining a support group is also a great tool in your toolbox.
I have bipolar 2 and used my toolbox for many years now. It helped me to prevent to slip into another catatonic depression for 11 years and I hope it might help you too.