Category Archives: Balance

18 Things You Only Know if You’re Bipolar

1. It’s hard to finish one thing at a time

On the way up, you start doing the washing up, then you think of a poem and get a quarter of the way through it, then you remember you wanted to alphabetise your books, then you start watching a film, then you do more of the (now cold) washing up.A

2. Sometimes the world turns black and white

When you’re depressed you stop enjoying things you used to, nothing seems worthwhile and all you want to do is sleep for a thousand years

3. It doesn’t mean you’re up and down all the time

Everyone’s different – you can have rapid cycling (where you quickly go from high to low), mixed state (when you have symptoms of depression and mania at the same time), or go gradually up and down with periods of ‘normality’ in between.

4. You may be mildly amused by people who take drugs recreationally

There’s something rather tame about pill-popping in a field of muddy campers on a Bank Holiday weekend when you’re walking around with what feels like a permanent pharmacy dispensing random chemicals in a Russian roulette style in your head.

5. Madness

Everyone experiences mania differently, whether it’s delusions such as thinking you have superpowers, suddenly getting it into your head to get on a train to Scotland instead of the train home, not sleeping because you have so much to write or paint, or suffering hallucinations.

Losing control of your mind is odd to say the least. Imagine losing control of your limbs – having them dance about or do things without your input.

6. Ignorance

The ignorance and discrimination surrounding mental illness is considerable. Although sometimes the person who discriminates the most against you is you.

7. You are probably a great listener

Somehow you have become the one friends turn to with their troubles. You don’t know whether this is because you’ve had counselling and therefore have picked up how to listen sympathetically, or because you are more guarded than others about yourself so others fill silences with chatter.

8. Pill podge

Oh great, so as well as being mad I have to be fat too, thanks for that, THANKS VERY MUCH.

9. The buzz

The buzz of hypomania isn’t fun – it’s more like having espresso in your veins. Admittedly you can get quite a lot done during these times though.

10. Some people apparently don’t believe mental illness exists

Such people will say things like the above, and things like ‘he was signed off work for stress – not a real illness like gastroenteritis’.

11. You can act

Your most celebrated role? ‘Normal person who is totally fine and there’s nothing wrong at all’.

12. You’re probably a perfectionist

You need to sleep but you told the office you’d bring in homemade cupcakes the next day so you’re still up at 1am rolling edible flowers in egg yolk and sugar.

13. How not to cry when you really want to cry

And where to bolt to when your usual methods fail you.

14. That sinking feeling when you see another ‘crazy’ stereotype on TV or film

People who have suffered from mental illness are far more likely to hurt themselves, or be the victims of attacks. Despite this, lazy scriptwriters still rely on tropes when they need a scary character. What I’ve learned from my mother’s bipolar disorder

15. Sometimes you’re a shopping liability

You’ve gone over your overdraft more times than you can remember buying things you don’t even want during a manic phase. During mania or hypomania your brain makes weird connections and all of a sudden it makes perfect sense to buy a set of golf clubs when you haven’t played a day in your life.

16. Alcohol is usually best avoided

Alcohol is a depressant. Adding this in to your natural brain chemistry and mood stabilisers isn’t fun the morning after. It can also spur a mood swing and interact badly with your meds. Many people with bipolar disorder use alcohol to self medicate and often become alcoholics.

17. Relationships can be hard

I once dumped the man I loved during a manic phase and we never recovered. Not everyone can face mental illness, but then relationships can be challenging for everyone, in all kinds of ways. A friend who is also bipolar has been married for years, which gives me hope

18. You are stronger than you know

Sometimes getting through another day is a huge achievement. Don’t give up.

The ignorance and discrimination surrounding mental illness is considerable. Although sometimes the person who discriminates the most against you is you.

7. You are probably a great listener

Somehow you have become the one friends turn to with their troubles. You don’t know whether this is because you’ve had counselling and therefore have picked up how to listen sympathetically, or because you are more guarded than others about yourself so others fill silences with chatter.

8. Pill podge

Oh great, so as well as being mad I have to be fat too, thanks for that, THANKS VERY MUCH.

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16 Signs You’re Nearing Burnout

16 signs you’re nearing burnout

Alisa, November 29, 2016, Mindfulness and Cognitive Science, Neurobiology and Behavior, Self Care, 6

Does it sometimes feel like you have to hit bottom before you can really change? You can see the warning signs…the negative effects of overcommitting yourself are probably pretty predictable. But how do you take action now? (As opposed to when your body forces you to or when the next break gets here).

Burnout often happens in a cyclical fashion. With unsustainable habits it’s always just a matter of time before your tank dwindles down to empty again. But it’s difficult to make changes to those habits when it feels like you have to choose between having fun and sustainable energy.

Hold up, do we really have to choose between FUN and WELL? Screw that. I think the choice lies elsewhere, in fact, I demand it lie elsewhere. We just might have to dig a little bit to find it.

Recognizing the patterns

The cool thing about habits is that they can be easy to spot. Trigger >> routine >> reward. It’s always the same pattern. And your patterns, though unique to you, are also easy to spot. You just have to be looking. I’ve compiled a list of common signs of burnout. These physical, mental, emotional, relational behaviors signal you’re reaching the breaking point where your system (being your life) can no longer withstand the stress of the environment. You’re a bridge just waiting to collapse.

Signs you’re approaching burnout (based on research + personal experience):

1 Trouble sleeping / falling asleep

2 Tension in back + shoulders

3 Headaches

4 Hard time waking up in the morning (even after a full night’s sleep)

5 Lack of interest in normal activities

6 Low energy

7 Trouble focusing / easily distracted

8 Trouble regulating behavior (outbursts, losing chunks of time to scrolling social media, unable to stop eating or turn off the tv)

9 Reversion to “default” behaviors (previous transformations start to unravel)

10 Easily overwhelmed

11 Down / depressed mood

12 Easily frustrated

13 Prone to ruminating on interactions with others

14 Crying more than usual

15 Trouble identifying “why” you feel sad, angry, tired, etc.

16 Pulling away from friends / family

And I’m certain I’ve missed some.

Now if you’re experiencing these “symptoms”, there is no need to panic. This is a diagnosis or anything like that. My hope is that by looking at this list you will see that some of the things you do that are just a “normal part of life” are actually signs that you aren’t handling the stress you’re under well.

See, it’s not a choice between “fun” and “well” – it’s the decision to raise the bar on what fun really is.

Take action

Don’t let this be something that becomes “oh that’s interesting” and on you go. Choose right now to set a higher standard for the “fun” you let in your life.

The greater the responsibility you have to perform at your best, the more resolute you must be in your standard for wellness. From your nutrition to your free time, the stuff you do needs to set you up for better performance. Your classroom, your clients, your patients – they need you operating at your capability. Which means they need you well, not the bare minimum of “functional.”

1 Take time to write down your personal signs of declining wellness and what you currently do to cope with it — scrolling, tv, declining invites, dessert, hyper-cleaning or organizing, etc

2 Choose one of your go-to habits for coping with stress and get curious about it. Every time you see yourself doing it or feeling the compulsion, ask yourself why that might be happening and observe does this actually make me feel how I want to feel? Am I really getting what I’m looking for?

3 Develop a routine or ritual to go through when it’s been a long day – something that will help you feel the way you really want to feel. Read more about this step here.

New Patterns

A New Pattern Of Living

“We suspect that if we do not use what we have, we will lose what we have.”

Basic Text p. 75

Addiction gave a pattern to our lives, and with it a meaning – a dark, diseased meaning, to be sure, but a meaning nonetheless. The program gives us a new pattern of living to replace our old routines. And with that new pattern comes a new meaning to our lives, one of light and hope.

What is this new pattern of living? Instead of isolation, we find fellowship. Instead of living blindly, repeating the same mistakes again and again, we regularly examine ourselves, free to keep what helps us grow and discard what doesn’t. Rather than constantly trying to get by on our own limited power, we develop a conscious contact with a loving Power greater than ourselves.

Our life must have a pattern. To maintain our recovery, we must maintain the new patterns our program has taught us. By giving regular attention to these patterns, we will maintain the freedom we’ve found from the deadly disease of addiction, and keep hold of the meaning recovery has brought to our lives.

Just for today: I will begin a new pattern in my life: the regular maintenance of my recovery.

What Matters Most in Your Life

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What Comes First in Your Life?

Do you  value love most? God is love. By putting God first, everything else will fall into place. We will best love and support ourselves, our family and our friends. By choosing love, we put God first. He is a light in the darkness, our helper in the storm. If we seek Him first, He will help us and show us how to love others and how to take care of ourselves.

God loves us more than we can imagine and only wants the best for us. God does not cause bad things to happen. We live in a lost and broken world plagued with darkness. The good news is that light has overcome the darkness. This is not our home. and as the song says, “We are just taking the long way home”  (Steven Curtis Chapman-lyrics) There is something better. God sees the whole story beginning to end and He has defeated death. We only need to have faith. We can never earn His love. We are all broken in our own way. No one is perfect and God doesn’t expect us to be.

However, He knows our heart and true motives. If we honestly pursue God first and want His will for our lives, He will use all things for good. That terrible heartache, health problem, broken relationship, addiction, or other struggle is nothing compared to the power of God. In order to use that power to be an overcomer, we must have faith and rely on God’s strength to pull us through. We will never make it on our own.

I am going though a really hard time right now. After a while with stable moods, my bipolar disorder  is causing major issues in my life. My previously helpful medication and treatment plan have not worked to push this mania away. It crept up over a year ago. There have been ups and downs, but for the most part I have been hypomanic. Stress and other triggers cause it to flare up. This is the case these last few weeks. I am battling anxiety, struggling to sleep, my mind is scattered, memory disabled, and thoughts are constantly racing.  Although I try to contain them, my words keep spilling out. I try to do what I know works. I set A schedule, try and get enough sleep, prioritize tasks, spend time with God, and avoid triggers such as caffine. If I suddenly get the urge to organize everything, I need to step back and think about my thinking. Why do I suddenly have a desire to do the chores I usually put off because I dislike them so much?

I know I need to put God first. They only way for me to get better is to rely on Him. He loves me and wants what is best for me. When my mind is scattered and I struggle to make good choices. God leads me along the right path and carries me when I am too week to walk.

God also helps me through others. My family loves and supports me. I try to listen to their advice and accept their help. Normally, I try  to do everything myself. Obviously that has not worked. I need to let go of my pride and take care of myself. I know I will come through this and be better for it. My pain serves A purpose and I will persevere!

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How Do We Put God

First, ask God to help you put him, ask him to help you see what to do, and to guide your steps

Have faith that God keep His promises. You are loved more than you know. You are forgiven through grace. Trust that He wants what is best for you and that if you rely on Him, you will overcome your struggles and find true joy.

Eliminating obstacles such as, desires for fortune and fame, work overload, addiction, or other temptations by confessing them to God.

In place of sin, struggle, and heartache, we are to rely fully on Christ. We do this by being accountable to a Godly friend, spending time in God’s Word and prayer every day, attending and becoming involved with church worship regularly, and listening to Godly music and messages are a few ways to put on Christ. A little bit of sin can add up to making provision for the flesh, so putting on Christ will add up to making provision for the Holy Spirit.

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Prayer: You are Holy, Lord. Thank you for the Blood of Jesus to wash us and cleanse us from sin. As a born again believer I ask You to help me to put off these things that hinder my life from being completely surrendered to You and show me the ways to put on Christ so that I may please You. Amen.

“Long Way Home”
by Steven Curtis Chapman | from the album re:creation

I set out on a great adventure
The day my Father started leading me home
Said theres gonna be mountians to climb
And valleys were gonna go through

But I had no way of knowing
Just how hard this journey could be
Cause the mountians are steeper
And the valleys are deeper than I ever would had dreamed

But I know were gonna make it
And I know were gonna get there soon
And I know sometimes it seems like, were going the wrong way
But its just the long way home

Some rocks on my shoes
Fears I wish I could lose
That make the mountians so hard to climb
And my heart gets so heavy with the weight of the world sometimes

There’s a bag of regrets,
Should’ve beens, and not yets
That keep on dragging around
And I can hardly wait till the day I get to lay them all down

I know that day is coming
I know its gonna be here soon
I won’t turn back even if the whole world says I’m going the wrong way
Cause its just the long way home

When we cant take another step
The Father will pick us up and carry us in His arms
And even on the best days, He says to remember were not home yet
So don’t get too comfortable
Cause we are just pilgrams passing through

I know that day is coming
I know were gonna be there soon
I keep on singing and believing
What all of my songs say

Cause our God has made a promise
And I know everything He says is true
He promised He would never ever leave us
He’s gonna lead us
He’ll lead us home

Every single step of the long way home
So keep on, were gonna make it
Were just taking the long way home
So keep on, were gonna make it
I know, were gonna make it
Its just the long way home

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7 Strategies to Outsmart the Sun: Staying Clear of Summer Mania

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The changing seasons effect my moods in a noticeable pattern. Very often winter or even fall bring on depression which last though the spring. I slowly climb out of depression only to land in a hypomanic state, which often begins in the springs and worsens in the summer.

Once again, spring brought on a hypomanic episode that worsened in the summer. Stress, changing schedules, change in sunlight and activities all bring on these mood swings. I just read this blog about fighting summer mania. Here’s to a balanced life. Now I’m going to sleep because I know sleep and a consistent schedule are an important part of my self care. ☀️ 🏖🧜🏻‍♀️💦💛

While you can’t change the seasonal shift to longer days, you can make subtle lifestyle changes, such as regulating sleep, to sidestep summer mania.

Photo: Merlas/Getty Images

By Brittany Sibley

The days are longer and the sun is shining the brightest in a while. For a person diagnosed with Bipolar I in 2006, the mere transition to long, luminous days and shorter nights causes more anxiety and nervousness than usual.

The change of seasons has caused me plenty of manic episodes in the past. I have since learned seven solid solutions and tips to help combat the symptoms of seasonal changes. These tips help in staying clear of an inpatient hospital visit during what most consider the best months of the year. I hope they are as effective for you as they have been for me.

1. Sleep

It has been essential for me to always get enough rest. However, with Daylight Saving Time and longer, shinier days, an additional burst in energy is never too far away. Although it almost always feels wonderful, and causes you to want to get more done, stay out longer, possibly accomplish a few more things in 24 hours…DON’T!

While the feeling of more energy is real and feels great, falling away from your regular sleep regimen is never a good idea, especially when the season of mania approaches. In fact, one should definitely keep the regular sleeping hours and if anything changes, let the hours increase, and not the opposite.

2. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy and making healthy eating decisions regularly is something I still struggle with. Yet I have experienced the benefits of eating salad instead of a deep dish pizza several times. You are what you eat! Eating more veggies, fruit, and lean meats instead of processed foods regularly, and especially during manic season, makes a difference. You will feel a difference in your skin, your mood, and even your waistline.

3. Take Deep Breaths

Taking deep breaths when stressed, tired, upset, angry, unfocused or even irritated helps. Try deeply inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth in sets of 3. This is also a good tool because it requires nothing but reminding yourself to do so in times of sudden distress.

4. Pray/Meditate

Take time out of your day, (first thing in the morning works best for me), and remind yourself of who you are besides your diagnoses.

Remember that you are loved and worthy of all the great things that day has in store for you.

 

Since I am a Christian, it helps me to remind myself that I am never alone because the Holy Spirit, who my Savior promised to send when he left, is with me no matter how lonely I may feel.

5. Take Breaks

The sudden burst of energy one may experience from the sunnier days and more exposure to the sun in general can trigger the want to complete more tasks—and this can be alright, as long as you remember to take breaks.

It helps to remember that this new energy feels good, but is coming from an unbalanced source.

 

Doing too much in 24 hours with little time to break or rest can cause the onset of a manic episode.

6. Watch Alcohol Intake

5 years ago in 2013, I had an inpatient hospital visit that can be directly attributed to the large intake of hard alcohol consumed two nights before. I simply drank way too much that night.

With spring and summer come more festivals, barbecues, beaches, and let’s admit it—booze.

Monitoring alcohol intake during these seasons is a must! If you still are not sure when you have had enough, take it slow. Yes it can be a bit lame being the responsible one at the party, but I promise, your freedom will thank you later.

7. Cover Bedroom Windows Heavily

The day before Daylight Saving Time, try covering your bedroom window with a dark-colored blanket. The blanket will work as a shield to the bright rays of sun in the morning.

Although longer, sunnier days are always welcome, adjusting to the initial change while having a mental health condition can be traumatic.

The dark blanket helps ensure your sleeping pattern is not interrupted so blatantly. It also allows your body to tell you when it has had enough sleep.

I hope these seven tips are as helpful for you as they have been for me over the past several springs and summers.

Let’s do our best to have a safe, healthy and stable summer while enjoying the sunnier days and moonlit nights. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health. Until next time…Happy Summer!

Learn more:

Ask The Doctor: Summer Mania

Watch Out for Summer Mania

4 Go-To Tips to Take on (Unbearable!) Social Anxiety

Getting busy striking up a simple conversation or just helping an event organizer can allow you to ease discomfort in situations with A LOT of people

Photo: GeorgePeters/Getty Images

By Brittany Sibley

Over the years I have realized a few things related to my journey with Bipolar I. The fact that I can experience hard core anxiety is one of them.

In busy, active situations, my brain can sometimes label this as too overwhelming. These types of situations, for example, include riding a crowded bus, eating lunch in the employee lounge, holiday parties, birthday dinners, outside festivals/concerts, ordering food in a busy restaurant, and waiting in long lines at a local grocery store, supermarket or any other place a lot of folks—familiar or unfamiliar—may be located at one point of time.

At times, my “bipolar 1 mind” cannot conceive baring situations with lots of people because it feels a little too much for my five senses. I have learned a few tips to try and ignore the sense of unbearable discomfort to help you get through your day, run your errand, stay put at the party, and enjoy your family’s get-together, concert, festival or any other situation where your brain would like you to detach, resist, isolate or literally walk away.

I have experienced when walking away is necessary to maintain your calmness, and if you find yourself in this situation, please do what’s necessary to ensure stability. However, if you think you can stay put, staying active personally is a great way to get over that hump. These are often my go-to tools for keeping myself active in busy situations.

1. Try to make convenient, comfortable conversation with at least one person.

It does not matter who the one person is, and you don’t need many details to start the conversation. Just mention something you both have in common in that moment of time. I hate to be cliche, but it really could be the weather, how his or her day has been thus far, how and why the place you both are presently in is so crowded or decorated (depending).

Usually as the conversation progresses, your mind eventually fades from unbearable to sort of bearable to not so bad after all.

2. Always have something to read!

If not, pick up something to read. A magazine, a book, a schedule, a brochure, an itinerary—it does not really matter what it is.

In my experience, by reading, you are taking your mind off the sudden discomfort your body experiences in busy, or suddenly busy situations. Your mind begins to instead focus your energy on reading and learning, possibly information you did not know before.

If you continue to read long enough, the urge to walk away from the situation will settle. When in long lines, I usually read long enough until it is my turn to check out.

3. Offer/ask host of event or gathering if there is anything you can do to help.

I have found making myself available to the host keeps me very active at busy events. From helping with displays and food layouts, to assisting with clean up by gathering dishes, and finally helping any elderly with second plates, take home bags, and drink refills, these tasks can take your mind off of your anxiety.

4. Keep your head up and remind yourself that the reason you feel anxiety is because you actually got up and went to the situation, event or invite in the first place.

While some places can be required and unavoidable, choosing to remain active in them in any effort deserves a little recognition. Recognizing any small feat allows the next accomplishments to become easier and easier.

These few tools can help in trying to remain active in anxiety-inducing situations the same way they continue to help me. I speak from my personal experience, and you or your loved ones may have experiences quite different than what I know to be true.

Either way, trying the tools will not hurt, especially during this summer season where things to do abound! I would love to hear if these tips work for you and if not, what other tools you may know of to better assist in similar situations. Happy July and continue to take care of your mind as well as you do your body…until next time, Happy Summer!

Learn more:

7 Strategies to Outsmart the Sun: Staying Clear of Summer Mania

Stress or Bipolar Anxiety? How to Tell the Difference

Hope for Bipolar Depression

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Even in our darkest moment there is hope, a reason to keep going. Depression does not last forever. When we are in the middle of it, it can be impossible to see the light. However, there is room to grow and learn from our experiences, no matter how bleak and painful.

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Depression is an element of bipolar disorder that we cannot completely escape. Reaching out for help brings us on a journey of recovery and acceptance that makes it okay to not be okay. It is imperative to know that clinical depression is not always triggered by something in particular, and there is often not a ‘reason’ for the experience. We are plainly dealing with a mental illness that often has no specific logical circumstantial indicator. As we travel through the valleys, we must remember than one day, we will once again soar into a place of stability and balance. Taking the first step by reaching out may be the most difficult, but it is also one of the most vital decisions that you will ever make.

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Keep your heads up and know that you are worthy of understanding, acceptance, and empathy. Never be afraid to ask for the help that you so rightfully deserve.

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You Say

Lauren Daigle – You Say Lyrics

From the album Look Up Child

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low

Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

You say I am loved

When I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong

When I think I am weak

You say I am held

When I am falling short

When I don’t belong

You say I am Yours

And I believe

I believe

What You say of me

I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet

You have every failure, God, and You’ll have every victory

Oh, I believe

Yes, I believe

What You say of me

Oh, I believe

Publishing: © 2018 See You At The Pub & CentricSongs (SESAC) / So Essential Tunes & Fellow Ships Music (SESAC) / Flychild Publishing & So Essential Tunes (SESAC)

Words and Music by Lauren Daigle, Jason Ingram and Paul Mabury