It’s been three years since I was officially diagnosed as having Bipolar 1 with mixed episodes. The last three years consisted of numerous ups and downs, and many lessons learned. Through the time there have been countless therapy sessions and psychiatry appointments, sleepless nights and sleep filled days. Days of crying without ceasing as well as weeks feeling so numb I was certain that I would never feel another emotion again in my life. Needless to say, I have been all over the map.
Looking back, I can see that I have learned an abundance. I have been privileged to attend two vastly different treatment programs, one in mid 2016 and one recently in late 2018. As well as spending hours upon hours in weekly therapy sessions. We have worked through adjusting medication for the bi polar as well as adjusting my hormones, the combination being an exhausting battle.
During this time, I have been given many gifts. The gifts have been in the form of talking, crying, yelling and there’s been quite a bit of cursing. A huge gift that has been given to me is the gift of being given tools. Through my sessions I have been taught how to use new and different skills that have allowed me to process my thoughts, emotions and feelings and have allowed me to heal, forgive and in some cases forget (and I never thought that would ever happen). I have learned to breathe, to pause, to allow things to bubble up and then calmly allow them to simmer back down. And in each lesson, focus on the gift that I am being given, the healing, the warmth, the peace and the calm. It’s been absolutely the most transformational events of my life.
I wanted to share with you some of the tools that I have learned to use that allow me to better manage the diagnosis’ that I was given and what have helped free me from the captivity that had been keeping me in bondage for oh so many years. With sharing, I hope that you are able to use one, or perhaps two of the items and migrate them into your life and begin to see improvements like I have. As with anything, please always talk with your doctor before making a change to your daily routine. I am not a doctor, I am a regular person simply sharing what has worked for me.
Reciting Three Positives Each Day
- At the conclusion of each day, as a family, we share three positives that occurred during the day and expand about how it affected us. I have found that by doing this activity my brain stays on the positives of each day and I do not allow negativity to permeate my brain.
- I use the app “Calm” on my iPhone and use the daily calm feature as this provides me with ten or so minutes of relaxation and meditation. A time to destress from the day I had as well as regain my positive, balanced mindset.
- I am currently enrolled in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Class where I am learning how to utilize mindfulness as a way to control and decrease my stress. The class and it’s teaching is assisting me in adding another tool in my tool box in managing my mental health.
- Incorporating the practice of yoga and mindful movement (a slower version of yoga) has helped me in slowing down and spending time caring for my body. Spending time connecting with my body has allowed me to appreciate my body for what it is and to eliminate the frustrations I have for what it isn’t or for what I may lack as result of the mental illness. The stretching and movements as part of the practices provides much needed fluidity and releases tension and pain as well as increases mental clarity.
Happy Thoughts/Affirmation Jar
- I make happy thoughts/affirmation jar which brings me much joy as I love to craft as I view this as a way of spending time in self-care. Plus, spending time focusing on positive mantras forces my brain to stay in that place of positivity and therefore eliminates the time that is available to focus on anything negative
- A walk around the block, a hike along a trail on a mountain or thirty minutes on the elliptical at the gym are all things that I do to take care of my physical health. I may not go as often as I would want to, but I try to go once a week as a way of taking care of my mental, physical and emotional health.
- Currently, I struggle to sit down and have my nose in a book, so I rely on audio books that I listen to while laying down resting or while commuting during the week. The books that I choose to listen to are those that are uplifting and motivating.
- I have found that having hobbies is an amazing way to increase the time that I spend in self-care. My hobbies include writing, crafting, cooking, baking, photography and hiking. I find that I can do all items alone, for the days when I need alone time, or with others, for the days when I want to spend time with others, and all items that are produced are shareable, which is a way I show my love to others. I have found that engaging in my hobbies helps bring joy and happiness into my life, and also helps me feel like I have grand purpose and value.
I hope that these tools are ones that you are able to incorporate into your toolbox and they can help benefit you in ways like they have positively benefited me and my life.