Bipolar Disorder, Everyday Life, Uncategorized

A Full Time Job: Managing Mental Illness

personal organizer and pink flowers on desk
Photo by Kaboompics .com on

I was reminded of a number of things when I met with my psychiatrist last Thursday afternoon.  One thing that she complimented me on was how I was in tune with my body and on top of my appointments.

She mentioned she felt that managing a mental illness, like mine, which is Bi Polar, among a few others, is a full-time job, and how she believes that others do not fully comprehend how much time and energy go into managing the condition.  I can not begin to express how it made me feel to hear my doctor, of all people, share this with me.  To have a person who I deem is on my side, tell me that she feels, I am in essence working two to three full time jobs, and still keeping my wits about me.  It was such a compliment.

By trade, I am an executive assistant and have been working in this capacity since the summer of my junior year of high school.  It’s a job that turned into a career and one that I do enjoy, and it fits me and my personality.  When I am able to keep my brain and wits about me, I am able to juggle multiple calendars and help keep my boss in tune with what is going on and allow him to be prepared for whatever the day may bring.  Now days, the days are not as busy as they used to be some five years ago, and this is a blessing as I am not the person, I was five years ago.  But the skills that I possess, not only allow me to help me do my job, but also help me manage myself and my illness.

Much like I manage the calendar for my boss, I use the calendar feature to manage my appointments, reminders to take medications, to schedule appointments, and when needed, to get up and take a walk.  Technology can be used to improve mental health, when used for good and in moderation.  There are many days when my brain is foggy and I am incredibly forgetful, where I would not make it to appointments on time had it not been for my calendar and the ability to send emails to myself with reminders or jotting down thoughts when they popped into my head.  I have learned to use my skills to help me, help myself, through thick and thin, through better and worse.

We all have unique gifts.  Time comes and goes. As does the opportunities to use the gifts, they ebb and flow as well.  Having a mental illness is a challenge and managing it can feel very overwhelming.  Taking it bit by bit and breaking it down one small piece at a time helps to make it more manageable.  It can easily become overwhelming, but take a moment, take a breath and try again, you’ve got this, don’t give up.

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