Part two in a three-part series of posts about Bipolar Disorder.
Can bipolars really have happy endings? The answer is yes — it really all depends on you. The old saying, “What you put into it is what you get out of it,” is true. You are the master of your destiny. You get to call the shots on your health, and you are the one who creates your future as a better one. Here are four things to help you discover your happy ending:
- Accept that you are bipolar.
- Be open to medication and therapy.
- Make your bipolar disorder your friend.
- Make the changes in your life that you need to do to ensure that it is more peaceful.
Accepting that you are bipolar is hard. It comes with a stigma that is hard to shake. Movies and television portray it in a bad light; people assume that we will suddenly snap and do something bad, or we hear that bad blood runs in our family. But the reality is, that’s not true. The truth is, we just have a chemical imbalance in our brain that needs to be rebalanced. If you are still having problems accepting it, let me ask you this: if you were told you had a brain tumor and needed medication to treat it, would you take the medication, or walk away? Now, if you’ve decided on medication for that condition, why would you not accept medication to help your brain get better? Being open to medication and therapy can be scary. I admit, it will feel a little weird at first. Your mind has been running at what feels like 50,000-75,000 miles an hour, and suddenly everything is quiet. It feels weird, but at the same time, it will feel so nice. DBT therapy, or regular therapy, will also help guide you with these new emotions, and help you learn how to channel your energy and deal with depression.
Famous poets, actresses, actors, and singers have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The mania is a gift, and they’ve learned how to work it. Here are a few who have survived and thrived despite being bipolar: Richard Dreyfuss, Bebe Rexha, Demi Lovato, Ted Turner, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jane Pauley, Patty Duke, and Winston Churchill. One other thing they all have in common — they have accepted their bipolar diagnosis and made it their friend.
If you’re still having doubts, start doing research on psychiatrists. Talk to family or friends, get referrals, and read reviews. Don’t be afraid to find another psychiatrist if the one you’re seeing doesn’t seem to be helping you. My favorite thing about my psychiatrist is this: he told me, “If the medicine you’re taking starts making you feel funny in a bad way, stop taking it immediately.” I went through four medications. I knew about side effects and told my psychiatrist what I didn’t want to happen to me. It was a bit trickier to find the right med for me, but I’m still on it and I love it.
Make your bipolar disorder your friend. I know that seems weird, but it’s part of who you are and it does have its advantages. When you’re manic, you have great energy, can multitask like nobody’s business, and your creativity is out of this world. When you’re depressed, your brain is telling you it’s out of juice, and will force you into self-care, which is a need for everyone.
Making changes in your life is also important. There are things that can rev up your mania and plunge you into depression (like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol). When your sugar and/or caffeine high wears off, you plunge into depths of exhaustion and depression. Drugs like marijuana, methamphetamines, LSD, etcetera, are also not the answer. They seem like a good idea at the time, but once they wear off, you come crashing down in the other direction. These drugs aren’t stabilizing — they’re more like putting a band-aid on a dam that is breaking.
Another big change in your life is the people you surround yourself with. Bipolars are very sensitive to other people’s emotions. What they’re feeling can become amplified in us, so you really want to watch who you hang out with. Negative people breed negative emotions which in turn leads to dark thoughts and depression. Try to surround yourself with positive people. People who, when the chips are down, don’t give up. People who care about the world around them and want to make it a better place. These people will make you feel better, inspire you to do better, and their examples of coping skills will be mirrors for you to reflect on and follow.
Living with bipolar disorder is possible and manageable — just let it motivate you to find a way to make your life better.