ARTICLES, HEALTHY LIVING & WELL BEING. EATING DISORDERS
An Open Letter to Anyone Struggling with Bipolar Disorder
I have made it to see the light of today because I am Bipolar and being Bipolar has saved my life.
Despite facing extreme adversity and tragedy, I’ve been given a gift. That gift is called Hypomania.
The reason I say this is because, in my most desperate times of need, my brain puts me into a state of euphoria. I see the colours of the world in high contrast. I hear the music louder and feel more deeply than I can even express. And for this… I’m grateful.
I’ve been given this gift to move me through life — to show me that, even in my darkest days, there is light and that the world is so beautiful and I’m beyond lucky to still be in it.
But it comes at a price. The higher I get the harder I fall. Once I have seemingly triumphed through difficult circumstances and “sorted out my life” while in hypomania, the calmness crawls in, and at that moment my brain cycles down into a place where it knows it can grasp and realize the true despair of my reality.
I then become what I fear the most… unwanted, useless, and disgusting. No one can tell me any different. The silence of my suffering is only interrupted by a record of suicidal ideologies playing in my head.
I was born this way… I don’t know any different.
Only until recently being given my Bipolar diagnosis do I now realize I experience life differently than other people. And that’s ok. It’s ok because now I know the truth and can call the beautiful beast by its name… Bipolar. I can now seek the right treatment and start my journey toward wellbeing.
In the past, I have to be honest and say my coping skills weren’t the best, to say the least. It has taken me 32 years to receive a proper diagnosis of bipolar and now I feel I can finally let go of the unhealthy coping strategies I once resorted to. I was a chain-smoker, a binge drinker, and used every drug put in front of me… searching. Searching for common ground to not only to numb the pain but to feel a sense of belonging and comradery with those who used and abused alongside me.
But now with the answer, I can finally seek out and use healthy coping strategies that’ll lead me down a path of wellbeing and balance. “What you think about you bring about” — and soon enough, you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded people seeking the same for themselves.
These are the strategies I’ve found helpful and make me proud to use:
1. Be kind to yourself…always.
You didn’t choose to be this way and, given your circumstances, you’re doing the best you can. Everyone makes mistakes and just because you’re bipolar doesn’t mean you deserve any less forgiveness than anyone else.
Learn from your mistakes and quickly move on in order to not waste time getting back to a place of happiness.
2. Invest trust in other people to help you “forecast” and “look around corners”
It’s quite obvious you don’t experience life or react to it the way others do.
With that in mind, it’s important that you look to someone you see doing well for themselves… someone you consider smart and “even-keeled”… someone you’d like to be more like and, most importantly, someone you can trust.
Ask these people to look out for warning signs in you. Signs like self-isolation, risky behaviour, reckless decision making, self-loathing, poor sleeping habits, etc. Ask them to approach you or your parents with good, honest concern to ensure that when you’re spiralling out of control, help and support come to your aid when you need it the most.
3. Get outside
Yes, it seems like we’re happy as can be in mania, so why leave the place we feel best? In depression, how could I possibly be in public or even feel inclined to get out of bed?
The great thing is that outside is just on the other side of a door. It might take a lot to get yourself out of that door, but I assure you you’ll never regret opening it to see the light of day. Get out and embrace the beautiful moments happening in the great outdoors.
4. You are what you eat
That’s about it. You eat a smashed deep-fried potato, you feel like a smashed deep-fried potato. Choose bright fruit and vegetables to snack on. Eat wholesome food regularly and think of food as fuel for the well oiled, productive machine you desire to be.
5. Set boundaries for yourself and with others
Boundaries? What the hell are those? Yes, there is such a thing and we NEED to use them to keep ourselves and others safe.
Remind yourself for a moment of the mistakes you’ve made in the past and then think about what kind of boundary you could set that would potentially keep you from making that mistake again.
6. Be fearless.
You’ve been on a high octane roller coaster this long, but now it’s time to get off. That’s the scary part. But be fearless.
Of course, it feels amazing being in euphoria for hours (even weeks) at a time — BUT, you also know that for every high there WILL BE that devastating low that always comes after. So choose to be fearless in your pursuit of balance. Take the medications as prescribed and don’t be scared to find a baseline of emotions and stick with it.
7. Never take no for an answer when it comes to seeking help
I don’t care what you have to do as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or someone else.
If you feel like you need help from doctors or resources set out to help you, take command of your rights and say “I need help! I need it now and I know you can give it to me.” The squeaky wheel gets the grease and you know you deserve it just as much as everyone else.
8. Whatever happens… STAY ON YOUR MEDICATIONS as prescribed
It is known that Bipolar patients often go off medication because they’re convinced they’re “better.” But you are only “better” because of the medications and are taking a hugely dangerous risk to go off them at any time and for any reason.
9. Stay monitored by a trusted Psychiatrist.
They’ll continually assess your progress and ensure your medications are working to their full potential to provide you with balance.
10. Don’t let your suffering define you and do not let it go without learning from it
Everyone has their struggles, but understand you always have a choice.
You can either choose to let it define you and be victimized by it, OR you can choose to learn from it and get over it in a positive way.
If you make the choice to perceive it as a lesson learned you can then move forward… only to look back and be proud of your choice to survive.
About the Author
During the day Kimberlee Schultze is a Wife and Stay at Home Mother of 3 small children in Calgary, Alberta. At night she transforms furniture and pursues her passion to decorate homes to truly reflect the homeowners. You can follow her on Instagram.