Support is Essential

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Photo from https://www.franciscanhealth.org/news-and-events/events/grief-support-meetings-0

Support is the foundation that will keep you grounded through the storms of Bipolar Disorder. Family, friends, doctors, therapists, support groups, and even this blog are great support networks. That means opening yourself up and saying yes, I have Bipolar Disorder and I need you to support me through this journey. Telling people is hard to do. There is a sense of shame or stigma attached to telling people you have a mental health issue. I know! I have been there. The looks, the “aw, are you okay?”, the pity. It is downright maddening at times. Though it took some time for me to talk with people outside of my family about my situation I found a lot of my friends were very supportive and actually thanked me for sharing this part of myself with them. Trusting them with my situation.

When I first told my family they all seemed to say, “ah, yeah, that makes sense.” Talk about a smack to the face but they didn’t mean it in that way. They supported me and asked questions about how I felt, where I was at in treatment, and how they could help. I am lucky. No, I am blessed. I started talking with my doctors and therapists about books, journals, and articles that I could read that gave me more insight into my condition. I found a lot of information but not much in the way of how to live with Bipolar Disorder. My friends would send me articles and Pinterest links when they came across something they thought I might find interesting. They kept inviting me places even when anxiety and depression crippled me into not leaving my bedroom. They would call or text. Well let’s be honest we mostly text. The thing I needed was accountability to my family and friends. I asked them to talk with me if they saw signs that I was going manic or depressive. That helped me stay in tune with myself. I knew people who cared about me were watching out for me.

There are support groups out there for those of us living with Bipolar Disorder. They teach coping skills, medication knowledge, questions to ask your doctor, and other bits of information that we can use. If there isn’t one in your area perhaps you could start one. We tend to have grandiose ideas and the energy to pursue them when we are manic. Be sure you have put into place supports to help you carry out goals long-term. This blog is one of those things for me. I want to help others. I came up with this idea when I was manic and thought about it for weeks. I wrote articles and did research when I was back to normal. I put things in place to prevent me from doing a knee jerk reaction and just going for it all at once without preparation. If I couldn’t follow through with this in my normal state then it was something I shouldn’t pursue. Fortunately, I feel so strongly about letting you know you aren’t alone that this blog came to be. I am so thankful you are here reading this.

Mania can provide inspiration but beware of the desire to do everything right now. The Greeks used to call Bipolar Disorder “Divine Inspiration”. Use those manic phases to create ideas or plans. Write them down! I journal a lot when I am manic. Wait until that phase passes before you act. Read over your ideas. Are they achievable? Rational? Maybe they would work down the road but not at this point in your life. These ideas can breathe life into you. Give you a purpose you may not have had before. This is where a good support system comes into play. Your family and friends may see your manic and wanting to do all these activities, buy a lot of stuff, or do questionable actions and they can call you on it. In my case, my husband calls me out when I go shopping on Amazon when I am manic. We have an agreement that if either of us spend more then a $100 on anything, other then groceries, we discuss the purchase. That built-in support helps me stop myself from spending a lot of money on things I don’t really need just because it feels good in my manic period. Friends can call me out if they see me drinking more then normal when manic. Having built-in support structures in your life can really help limit any damage that could be caused during a manic phase. When your depressive phase hits they are there to lift you up. Even if it is as simple as a text letting you know they are thinking of you. Those supports help you get through the hard times and know that you are valued, you are loved.



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