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Tips on Dealing with Bipolar and Exhaustion

I’m useless in the afternoon. My functional, working hours are extremely limited. And this is thanks to my bipolar disorder. It’s like every character I type and every minute that goes by zaps just a little bit more of me until, by mid-day, there’s nothing left.

This is hugely disheartening. I want to be like everyone else. In fact, I want to be like me a few years ago – me when I worked a full day – like everyone else.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m not like everyone else in this regard. In this regard I’m limited. In this regard I’m disabled.

Exhaustion and Bipolar Disorder

Exhaustion is a sign of depression, and, of course, depression is a part of bipolar disorder. Exhaustion can also be a side effect from medication. And, quite frankly, living with bipolar disorder itself can be gosh darn tiring. So people with bipolar disorder have more than their fair share of reasons to be exhausted.

Dealing with Exhaustion and Bipolar Disorder

But I do have some tips for dealing with bipolar disorder. These are the things that keep me going and these are the things that keep me producing all the work that you see here and elsewhere. These may help you fight the fatigue in your life:

  • Plan your day around your functional hours. Plan for the differences in your functionality. Anticipate them. Don’t think that suddenly you’re going to be functional all day when that hasn’t been the case in months or years.
  • If your early hours are the best ones for you, then get up early and get functional quickly. Don’t let one functional minute slip through your fingers. (Maybe have your partner get the kids ready for school so that you can get things done while you’re functional.)
  • Make sure you plan the tough tasks for during your functional times and plan the easy tasks for when you’re less functional.
  • Make lists and prioritize your tasks. Skip the small stuff. Give up perfectionism and do only what needs to be done.
  • Ask for extensions when you need them. Ask people to work with you (you don’t have to tell them why) because most of the time, they will.
  • For your non-functional hours – be kind to yourself and rest. Don’t beat yourself up for not being functional during that part of the day. Lay on the couch for hours if that’s what you need and hopefully that will help you get up again later in the day.

I said it before, but I’ll say it again – don’t beat yourself up for your non-functional hours. Would it help you if I told you that it’s normal for many? Well, it’s normal for many. And beating yourself up about it will not help you, help your mood or make you more functional, so be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

And remember, you can be successful even with only part of the day to work with. It’s hard and you have to utilize every second, but it is possible. I do it and you can too.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

23 thoughts on “Tips on Dealing with Bipolar and Exhaustion”

  1. I’m currently having therapy, although only seen my therapist once. The doctor referred me as he said I show symptoms of Cyclothymia (mild form of bipolar) although it’s felt quite severe at times. I’m changing therapists due to inaccuracy of judgement. I also keep a mood diary and have felt manic but have had extreme bouts of fatigue due to to major depressive disorder.

  2. I know exactly what you mean in this article. It’s so deceptive, you think that you have relatively few symptoms compared to times when frankly depressed or hypomanic/manic, but in reality there are always these subsyndromal symptoms grumbling along.

    One thing that we know from the research in the field is that these grinding symptoms that extend beyond episodes are a normal part of the disorder, that they are much worse for up to six months following a mood episode (which means that many of us never escape them), and that the longer we have had BP, the more frequent and intense these symptoms are.

    Some people benefit from taking N-acetyl Cysteine daily for these subsyndromal symptoms, and others (those who have done well on lamotrigine) benefit from taking methylene-blue. Ask your psychiatrist if they have heard of these adjunctive treatments. They are not conclusively proven, but they are largely harmless to try, so long as you have good medical supervision. One that anyone can try is taking tryptophan before bedtime (usually with milk for the tummy). One key thing to know is that methylene blue is totally incompatible with all SSRI SNRI NRI medications (it is a mild MAOi). Beyond that, self care (especially exercise and good sleep), and realistic goals are the best we can manage.

  3. Renita,
    I’d like to hear more about your coping mechanisms when feeling low energy, agitation, and just not up for relating to people.
    Thanks

  4. I’m so grateful to have found you and most of all someone who could validate how I feel! Knowing there is someone that understands that energy levels come and go, that moods can twist on a dime and the absolute need to shut down – is my normal. I may have bipolar illness, but I’m very clear on how I feel and how it’s ok to do what I can, when I can and lay down when I need to take care of me.

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