Bipolar disorder is still a highly stigmatized condition, and many people living with it battle with this stigma. Characterized by mood fluctuations that range from high to low, people with bipolar are often misunderstood and labeled “crazy” or “unstable”. For someone living with this disorder, these misconceptions are damaging and unhelpful.
If you or someone you love lives with bipolar disorder, our team of therapists understand just how dehumanizing these portrayals of bipolar are. Living with any form of Bipolar is not easy, but it’s certainly not impossible. People with bipolar are capable of living a life full of joy and peace with the right support and tools. While there are many components involved in managing bipolar, there are some foundational ways to support yourself with bipolar.
Bipolar is lifelong and requires regular care and maintenance. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so tough for those who live with it. Therapy is important for those with Bipolar because developing skills to manage depressive and manic episodes will help reduce their intensity over time. Your therapist will help you build and implement coping skills and habits that make bipolar easier to manage.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly effective and well-researched form of therapy that many people with bipolar disorder use to manage their symptoms. CBT will help you take back control of your condition by restructuring your thoughts about the disorder. Alongside CBT and medication management, these are lifestyle factors you can establish that will give you the strongest foundation for managing symptoms.
You might understand bipolar as a disorder that you have no control over. This false understanding will lead you to believe you have no control over your moods. While a bipolar episode may seem to appear on its own, there are influences in your environment that can trigger a depressive or manic episode.
Triggers are not the same for everyone, so identifying your own personal triggers is a key part of living with bipolar disorder. Once you can identify the experiences or people in your life that trigger your symptoms, you can make plans to reduce these triggers and effectively reduce the severity of an episode or avoid an episode altogether.
Below are some of the most common bipolar triggers:
Not everyone functions well with a solid routine, but those with bipolar disorder are not one of these people. A stable routine provides a foundation for someone with bipolar disorder to thrive in their day-to-day life. Poor sleep patterns happen to be one of the most common triggers of bipolar episodes. Since life with bipolar can feel chaotic and unstable, the consistency of your daily routine acts as the eye of the storm.
Creating a solid routine isn’t always all that simple. As much as having a routine can help with bipolar, you might have a hard time sticking to one, especially at first. The goal here isn’t to create the perfect daily routine and stick to it forever. With bipolar, you should account for energy levels during episode cycles, and adjust your expectations as a result.
Your routine is the anchor that helps you stay in control. If you’re willing to play around with your routine until you have something you’re happy with, you will feel more prepared for episodes.
Creating awareness around your emotions helps you manage them and identify what causes them in the first place. Over time, you will have enough data to recognize what triggers your episodes. If you can identify these things early on, you can implement coping skills and intervene before things get worse.
If pen and paper aren’t your thing, that’s okay. There are apps specifically designed to help you track your bipolar moods.
Once you’ve established your mood cycles, planning becomes your best friend. When you’re in the middle of an episode, manic or depressive, decision-making skills become hindered and it’s more difficult to employ coping skills when you’re in these states.
If you get to know your mood cycles, you have the chance to create a plan of action. Being ahead of an episode can greatly reduce the intensity of it. This plan will include coping skills but should also involve your support system. Determining what you need during a manic or depressive episode can help your loved ones support you correctly.
The tips mentioned above are great ways you can begin to gain control of your episodes, but they aren’t the only answer. Bipolar disorder is a condition that requires the help of a therapist. Your therapist is your advocate for this very misunderstood disorder. They are there to help you learn more about your disorder, develop coping skills, and manage your symptoms in a way that is unique to you.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.