I have enjoyed five months now where I can finally say I have my disorder under control. I have learned a lot about myself and how to recognize when a mood is just a reaction to life or when it is the start of an episode. I learned this from a lot of soul searching, especially with the generous help of the people on this site, and with practicing one of the steps of my dual diagnosis group (based on the 12 steps of AA), the one that says we do a searching and fearless personal inventory of ourselves.
Following are the steps I take to manage my bipolar disorder:
- I learned I have to take ALL my meds at the same time every day. This is the number one most important thing for me to do.
- I go to weekly appointments with my tdoc (therapist).
- I go to monthly appointments with my pdoc (psychiatrist), who is actually a pnurse (psychiatric nurse) and we talk for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes about everything in my life, sort of another therapy session with med management.
- I try to eat healthy.
- I try my best to get the same amount of sleep every night, no matter what.
- I have to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, including over the counter herbal things.
- I try to find balance in all areas of life. i.e. not all day on the computer, not all day doing any one thing, making time for everything.
- I keep busy and active. I try to get outside and walk at least once a day.
- For now I meet with a nurse three times a week to get my meds and have additional med monitoring.
- I take help when it is offered (something that has always been difficult for me).
- I recognize my limitations but also don't limit myself too much. That comes with learning about what affects my moods and when to worry and when not to worry.
- I keep in contact with friends and support people all the time and I am open to their opinions about how I am doing. I have learned that sometimes others see things in me before I do and to take their opinions into account without letting it influence me too much. I still have to think for myself.
- I attend twice weekly dual diagnosis support groups and have even been trusted with leading some of the groups.
- I come here for support and also enjoy my friends on another support forum.
I am honest with myself as much as I possibly can be. I forgive myself if I don't do everything perfectly. I try to find a balance in all areas of my life. It is not easy but I am doing it. I am still at the point where I have to be vigilant every day for changes signaling a mood episode, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel where one day I will not have to think about my disorder so much.
I have found peace and a newfound understanding of myself. I learned to listen to my body and what I need and to ask for help when I need it. It has made me a happier person, a better mother, and a more reliable friend.
Thank you everyone here for teaching me what it means to take care of myself. For teaching me that I am not just a bad person, that I am simply a person with an illness that can be controlled with work and dedication. For being patient with me when I was difficult and telling me like it was when I needed to hear it. And, for just being you.