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The 5-Step Bipolar Manic-Plan for Married Couples

9FFA08A7-79D4-48D1-AAC9-11E4F3B006AFJust as we have fire-plans incase of a fire, so should we have manic-plans incase of mania.

During a time of stability a married couple needs to discuss what happens in the event of mania. Here is a 5-step sample start-up plan:

1. Call your psychiatrist for information on emergency meds that you have in place (especially in cases of psychosis, not sleeping, or if you feel he/she is a danger to his or herself or others). As always, if the situation permits, take him/her to the emergency room.

2. Credit cards/online account passwords need to be taken away or temporarily stopped if the person with bipolar goes on spending sprees. Nothing will bring on marital troubles more than huge piles of unnecessary debt.

3. All social media account passwords should be changed. So be in the know of passwords. While manic, social media posts can have devastating and embarrassing consequences.

4. Call in as much positive support (family, friends, coworkers) as possible, and let your support system know what will happen in the event of mania. Who will watch the kids? Can you have meals delivered to your home? Who will cover for you at work so that you can stay home with your spouse? Have a short-term and long-term plan.

5. The person with bipolar (during stability) should record themselves on video explaining why they chose to do all of the above steps and how this is for their own good. Their spouse can show him or her the video as a reminder during mania.

The above is only a sample plan. I wrote it in hopes that you and your spouse will put together a plan that fits your own flavor of bipolar and life. The bottom line is that when we are well-prepared we don’t feel so blind-sighted. We have a better chance of controlling bipolar, versus bipolar controlling us.

Do you have any more suggestions?

An Attitude of Gratitude

28A6C452-5E64-4035-BAEF-925FE1AC0F05This past week I was in a pretty bad car accident. The takeaway life lesson I learned is that of gratitude. Everyone involved in the accident walked away alive, thank God!

Sometimes life can feel like everything is going terribly wrong. This can often turn into self-loathing which usually begets the ugly cycle of depression. Not good for our mental health.

When we begin to self-loathe, we can put an end to it quickly by forcing ourselves to name ten, yes ten, things we are thankful for. Not only will this distract you for a moment, but it will also bring your brain back to positive-thinking.

It can be easy to live life on autopilot and take people and circumstances in our life for granted. We must guard ourselves against this.

I have started keeping an ongoing list on my phone called the “Gratitude Attitude” note. Throughout the day I jot down what comes to mind that I am thankful for, and thank God for it. Give it a try for yourself, it is difficult to be sad with an attitude of gratitude.

A chunk of glass got stuck in my forehead from the accident and I will more than likely be left with a large scar. If so, I will be so thankful for that scar! It will remind me to be filled with gratitude no matter my circumstances. There is always something to be thankful for.

What are you grateful for today?!

 

Make time to find your “happy place”

How can you go to a “happy place” in your mind when you struggle to remember moments of calm, peace, and happiness? Create a “happy place” today! We MUST take time for ourselves to create these moments because they do not always happen on their own.

Here are some ideas: take a bath with candlelight, pray, meditate (plenty of meditation apps out there!), stretch your body, go for a walk, watch a comedy, smell beautiful oils/perfumes, make love to your spouse, find an app that has soothing backgrounds noises (ie rainfall), listen to soft music, get a massage, cuddle up with a blanket and a warm beverage.

Whatever you choose, fully experience it. If you choose to take a bath, notice how the water feels on your skin, listen to the sound of the water splashing against your body, smell the beautiful scent of the burning candle. In other words, be fully present. Feel the good feelings, allow yourself to enjoy time with yourself. Make a mental effort to give yourself permission to enjoy your atmosphere of peace. It is no longer a luxury, rather a daily necessity. Make it happen, friends!

Overthinking

62F247FA-B6BC-4254-A282-DF3B4F8242D1.jpegMy husband, whom I have lovingly deemed the poster-child for mental health, thinks about things once, makes his decision and confidently moves on. Meanwhile, five hours later, I am still anxiously figuring out what to do.

Why is this? Why is he able to do what takes me five hours, in one minute? I get that we are all individuals and therefore will handle things differently, but I would like to know how to stop overthinking and move on with life. I feel stuck. Or am I overthinking this?! Ha! Any of you relate or have advice?

No Wonder You Are Depressed, Your Life Is Boring

1A72FEAC-6E6C-465C-96B0-309644878C3DMy psychologist looked up from behind his glasses that rest on the tip of his nose and very seriously said “no wonder you are depressed, your life is boring.” Say what?!

At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom to my newborn and 3 & 5 year olds. Not sure what more he thought I should be doing to lead a more action-packed life! Perhaps there was a grain of truth to what he said. I was not doing things like traveling or skydiving that would bring excitement to my life, but my life was by no means boring!

Just wanted to throw this example out there to explain why I say so often to keep looking for a psychologist/counselor you really trust and click with. Someone you feel you can talk with as a friend, without judgement. Also, just because someone has ‘Dr.’ in front of their name does not mean they are right, follow your gut instinct. Just like dating, don’t settle for just anyone, or you are wasting your time. That is why he is now my EX therapist. Never give up looking for the right one.

But, You Don’t Look Bipolar

95EF11BF-36EF-4BBC-A840-8D427C0D8FA4I left my straitjacket at home again, dangit!

In all seriousness, yes, people say this to me. No, I do not think they are trying to be mean. I do, however, think this is a perfect example of the stigma that very much exists surrounding mental health.

I think people hear that someone has bipolar and then sit on edge waiting for us to do something “crazy.” I could argue that those “mentally healthy” individuals are more likely to do something “crazy” than I am.

The Opposite of Love is Fear

855F13FE-0E1F-4CE2-A89A-4EC61928639BLove begets love, which cultivates joy, happiness, and peace. The opposite of love, which is fear, seeps anger, anxiety, irritability, and depression into our lives.

If we get to know our fears on a very real and personal level, we can move on from the ugliness of fear. To be truly honest with ourselves of what our fears are, takes a great deal of introspection.

To help illustrate this idea, think of an onion. The center of the onion is your deepest fear, while the outer layers are what you might think are your fears, but are not quite the root of the fear.

Let’s say that you are struggling with depression. You think the root of your problem is that you just can’t do anything right. This is what peeling the onion might look like for you:

Why am I sad? I’m sad because I can’t do anything right. Why can’t I do anything right? Because I feel so overwhelmed. Why do I feel overwhelmed? Because I have too much going on and can’t do everything exactly the way I want to. Why do I want to do everything perfectly? Because if I don’t, I won’t have control over things. Why does not having control worry me? Because I think I will fail. Why does failure worry me? Because I think people will be disappointed in me. Why do I want others’ approval? I want them to love me.

The root of the depression is the fear that people won’t love you. Once that is recognized you can work on healing that fear.

Keep asking the “why” questions, and you will peel the onion layers away until you feel that you can peel no further.

Once you have eliminated your fear, you will be able to love like never before, which is where true happiness lies.

 

Spend Your Time on Negative Thoughts and You Will Become Them

BB2DDE94-3EA3-4FFD-B012-88DC3B1E27E3This week I have been happily surprised by the impact three very small changes have had on my mood. Perhaps you would like to give them a go yourself.

1. Setting aside time for uplifting reading

2. Completing a 5-10 minute meditation once (or more if needed) daily. This was very hard at first, but is slowly getting easier.

3. Making a conscious effort to recognize my negative thinking patterns to train myself to replace with positive thinking.

This is work that has been well worth it.

I will be writing about more “positive thinking” topics for the next while, to see how they affect not only my mood but yours as well. Kind of a little experiment. My hope is that both you and I will be uplifted.

After all, our minds become what we spend our time on.