Being bipolar…

Following on from my post yesterday, I just read an article on the portrayal of bipolar disorder in the tv show Homeland.

The finale of the first season is airing here in Australia this coming Sunday. So for the people out there who haven’t seen the finale yet, be warned, there are some spoilers.

The article is here: Bipolartoday.com – Bipolar-disorder-in-the-mainstream-homeland-season-one-spoilers/

I keep mentioning bipolar but for some of my new friends, I don’t think I have mentioned the reason for my interest in it. Well I was diagnosed as being bipolar in September 2010. I don’t have full-blown manic-depressive bipolar, rather the diagnosis my psychiatrist uses is bipolar II. I like to refer to it as ‘soft’ bipolar. But it doesn’t really matter what type it is really. My cousin likes to refer to it as simply a health condition, which i quite like.

Anyway.

For me it means:

– An increased responsibility for maintaining a healthy lifestyle i.e. daily exercise, regular healthy meals and sleep. Increased
responsibility because the way I see it, if I get sick then I place a preventable burden on myself and my family and friends.

– No alcohol. I don’t have an alcohol abuse problem. I choose to avoid alcohol because I have identified it as something which triggers a depression episode. I’ve also acknowledged it’s part in past mixed episodes where I have made a lot of choices which put myself in danger and that I deeply regret on a moral level. So no alcohol for now. And likely not until I have dealt with the guilt issues I have with the things I’ve done while under the influence. Yes, I do miss the socialising aspect of drinking. I’m learning to socialise without drinking alcohol but it is hard because going out and getting blotto on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday is such a big part of the social culture here. So, while I make an effort to get out occasionally, I more often find myself hiding away in my cave at home.

– Therapy. I see a counsellor every few weeks. As mentioned, it’s helping me to deal with what I see as extreme failures in personal judgement in my recent past. I am VERY hard on myself. And I suspect this is why I have such horrid self esteem despite acknowledging that I have many good qualities. I tend to focus on past mistakes. So therapy is aimed at helping me to heal, move on, build my self esteem and learn how to manage my thoughts and emotions.

– I mentioned sleep above but I just wanted to emphasise it because I’ve found if I vary my sleep at all, I feel the effects not only physically, but on my moods. So I make myself go to bed between 10-11pm every night. I tend to be more productive the later the night gets so I really do have to ‘make’ myself go to bed. I also try to make myself get up the same time every day but admit I struggle a bit on weekends. I like my sleep ins. On the rare nights I go out, say to an event or friend’s place, the latest I get home is usually by midnight. No raging nights partying for me anymore. I do miss them sometimes. I don’t miss the hangovers and wasted hours in bed the next day ๐Ÿ™‚

– Medication. I have meds I take twice a day, every day. They help keep me stable. Key word there is ‘help’. If I didn’t do all the other things above, I don’t believe medication alone will keep me from getting depressed or getting hypomanic (which is a milder form of mania characteristic of bipolar II).

So that’s what bipolar means for me. Not unlike my coeliac niece, being bipolar has placed some restrictions on my lifestyle choices, but it doesn’t restrict my ability to live a full life. And I think that’s an important thing that everyone can learn about mental health disorders. ๐Ÿ™‚

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