Managing Mental Health

Managing Mental Illness
With a specific focus on bipolar disorder.

After living with bipolar on medication since I was diagnosed, I came off my medication and have been self managing for two months. Now at the two month mark with no real research done before it (only the laid foundation for successful mental health from a previous psychologist), I have now begun to conduct research and believe I should be reviewing my findings. To begin my review I’d like to examine the original foundations I was given and check in on where I am with them. In no particular order (for they are all balanced quite equally):

Sleep

As a previously diagnosed insomniac of whom, used to take medication to help it. I would say, that my sleep is actually pretty good. I try to make sure I am in bed, ready to sleep by 10pm at the latest. Sometimes I will slip and stay up until 11 pm or 12pm however this is nowhere as bad as it used to be (2am-4am). It no longer takes me an hour plus to get to sleep instead, it is now a maximum of twenty or so minutes. In my mind, this is a vast improvement and is still being conducted successfully.

Diet

Overall, I never did eat too badly. It was more that I would over eat or not eat too much. Now, I have begun to make a habit of finishing a meal before I am over full and then packing it up for the next day. To manage my diet properly, I need to pre-prepare meals so that a balanced , portioned meal is already waiting for me if I don’t feel like making or eating anything.  At the moment, I am failing a bit at this as I am letting my stress and depressive state get the better of me. I need to instead, go home, cook up a big meal and pack it all up. To help me eat breakfast more often I have also brought muesli into work. This way if I forget to eat before leaving for work, I have no excuse for not eating breakfast at all as there is breakfast at work. However overall, I need to work on creating a better discipline in following a balanced diet to help with my moods.

Exercise

Even when on medication I never really did exercise. I mean sure, I used to dance but that was once a week and sometimes I wouldn’t go. Now, I rock climb as much as I can however, my goal is to rock climb twice a week at least. I made sure to buy a year membership to make myself accountable for this and to ensure that I follow through with this. Sometimes it is hard because I don’t feel like exercising and I have to force myself to do it. Most of the time afterwards I feel better but not always. I think this is tied in to diet especially as, if I am in a low mood, don’t feel like climbing and do but don’t have the psychical fuel to do so then I can’t really expect to feel better afterwards can I? I am practically just exhausting both my body and mind with no fuel to revive me.  

These are the three basic foundations. Now, after reading a study performed on a group of people with bipolar that are using alternate methods to medication to manage themselves I now want to review the various paths they use (and I also use). Appendix 1  (stolen from the study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032714007794) shows the thought process for alternates to medication. It follows three basic self check questions that are positioned at the end and are the triggers to whether you should begin the cycle trial again or consider reusing medication. These questions are:

Am I Worried About The Consequences? – If Yes, Consider Medication or trying different paths, if no, try different paths.

Did The Strategies Work? – If Yes Check The Below Question, If No Check The Question Above

Do The Strategies Fit With Ideas About Myself And My Moods?

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The questions are all in regards to whether or not the various strategies you are trying have worked and if so, do they match your ideas and ideals of who you are. Now, the cycle doesn’t actually specify any alternate paths you can try however later in the study there is a table of alternate methods. I have compiled my own list below (Appendix 2). This is definitely a work in process and its interesting to explore the many options that the world holds.

Alternate Used? Successful/Unsuccessful Comments
Doing more exercise Yes Success Must have diet correct for optimum success
Eating Well Yes Success Much discipline and planning needed for me
Being Self Employed No N/A
Only Having Short Contact With Triggering People No N/A I think this may help however it would be hard for me to detach myself from people I care about
Trying to avoid stress Yes Both Sometimes stress finds me however implementing a good attitude towards stress often helps avoiding stress
Making Time With Partner Yes More Successful Than Unsuccessful Must be careful not to take on there pain or use them for emotional support too much or use them for sex as an outlet
Making a list and systematically working through it Yes Success This is unbelievably helpful
Spending More Time on Creative Tasks Yes Success Very helpful, even if it ends up as a mush of colours
Gardening Yes Success
Self-medicating With Alcohol Yes Unsuccessful Makes you feel shit, period.
Pampering (makeup, hair etc.) Yes Success I consider this a mixture of a creative outlet as well as a way of mentally and physically revamping myself
Changing perception of unpleasant thoughts Yes Success Often difficult but very rewarding
Setting more work to do Yes Both Sometimes can become overwhelming, pairing with a list helps this though
Lighting scented oils, incense or candles Yes Yes Creates a pleasant atmosphere for positive thoughts
Going to a gallery No N/A Would be good I think, often we can see ourselves in art which may help understand thoughts and moods
Spending time with a pet Yes Success Often calming and refreshing as they are a being much separated from the shallow worries of the world
Reflecting Yes Success
Asking a friends opinion and advice Yes Both Sometimes its hard to hear what they have to say
Using a mood tracker Yes Unsuccessful Not my style
Compare my current mood to Winnie the Pooh characters No N/A I actually think this would help… as tigger would perhaps be a high, and pooh sad would be depression? Not sure…
Meditation Yes Success
Time off work Yes Success if used to organise self
Letting myself ride out the high Yes Success if done correctly If partnered with meditation and creating it is good
Spending Money Yes Temporarily Dangerous, not good in the long run
Partying Yes Unsuccessful Not healthy as a constant, fun sometimes if done controlled
Swimming in the ocean Yes Success Floating is a type of therapy that seems to let everything just float away

I am feeling good at the moment. I’m in the process of resetting and laying foundations for the future which I like. I just have to make sure to remain in the present and enjoy the everyday as well. The feature image that goes with this is a tattoo I’m considering.  It is the female form with a mushroom for a head and it symbolises that even in the darkest of times or places, things are still able to grow (you are able to grow in your darkest moments). I hope you enjoy.
Until next time xoxo

Unapologetically Molly

 

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