Bipolar Disorder, Self-Care, and Your Mental Health
If you have bipolar disorder, self-care is so important because it's easy to find yourself in a pit of self-hatred. If the depression doesn't get you there, regret over what you've done when you're manic might. Self-hatred is just all too common for those of us with mental health issues.
And self-hatred produces all kinds of effects - like ignoring self-care. You might find yourself not eating, not showering, not exercising, not being kind to yourself or constantly hearing a voice of hatred in your head. And the trouble with all these things is that not only are they "not good for you" they make you feel worse both in the short and the long term.
Making good self-care choices is a way of fighting back against bipolar disorder.
What Is Self-Care? Why Does Self-Care Matter in Bipolar Disorder?
Self-care is simply an act that is kind towards yourself. Self-care can be anything from brushing your hair to enjoying ice cream to practicing yoga, to watching a movie. It could be something you treat yourself to, like going to an event or something you do every day like eating healthily.
You have to build self-esteem and self-love; you don't suddenly come upon it hiding under a pile of dirty laundry. You didn't leave it there and you won't find it there either. You need to build the feelings you want to have about yourself and as some Anonymous groups would remind us, "fake it until you make it."
In other words, behave like you love yourself until you actually do. Believe it or not, self-caring behaviors will help your brain to change and help reduce the negative thoughts about yourself. Hopefully one day soon, you'll find yourself thinking self-caring thoughts over self-hating ones automatically.
Self-Care Ideas for Bipolar Disorder
- See a funny movie
- Read a book
- Call a friend
- Take a bath with candles
- Watch the game with friends
- Cook dinner and serve it on your fancy china
- Read the paper in bed
- Go to a spa
- Ask others for what you need
It doesn't matter what it is, all that matters is that you do something that feels good for you.
What else do you like to do to show self-care?
Tracy, N. (2011, November 23). Bipolar Disorder, Self-Care, and Your Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/11/bipolar-disorder-mental-health-and-self-care-video-2
Author: Natasha Tracy
I don't ever remember being this depressed, disillusioned and cynical before being medicaticated at least before my house was relatively clean and I didn't spend the majority of my time sleeping!!! At least before there was some semblance of happiness in my life. Here just take a pill and then all those around you will be happy. Fake it til you make it. Well I'm here to tell you that that doesn't work either!!! I'm tired of pretending for every body else's sake. I feel like a character is the movie Ground Hog Day, the same old thing every single day. Life feels so meaningless.
I know I need to focus more on self care to get me out of the slump I currently find myself in, things like
- Eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to give me the
energy I need so there's less of a desire to gobble up sweets and wash
them down with coffee
- Exploring different forms of exercise to make it more interesting
- Listening & dancing to music, instead of sitting in front of the TV
- Taking a long hot bubble baths by candlelight where feasible instead of
just having a quick shower
- Wearing makeup, giving myself a facial, manicure or pedicure
- Experimenting with accessories, i.e. scarves, costume jewellry, etc
- Trying out different hair cuts, colours and accessories
- Getting to bed by a certain hour every night and rising by a certain
time every morning to make sure I get enough rest so I'm better able
to face the problems of the day
- Practice calmly asserting myself in certain situations instead of allowing
myself to be somebody's doormat
- Praying meditating, getting out in nature more often
- Socializing with others instead of isolating
Sounds good right? But what if you're so depressed/sedated with medication that you just can't seem to get yourself motivated? I have a tough time just trying to do the bare essentials let alone all these other things even though I'd like to. I'm not wholly convinced that medication is THE answer. In fact when I look back on my life I actually had long periods of wellness without ANY medication.
I think the advice here is more of spur of the moment advice...which is good, but also misses what people with BP could be doing.... a life time of self care. Sure, it's good to do things that direct you to a more positive light if you are not doing well, but the real self care is about being as healthy as possible. Being healthy means regular exercise (really...the effects of moving the body for a nice length of time is important to anyone's well being), eating right (not a bunch of carbs and crap...I love it when people complain about exercise and eating well, because it's super easy to do once you commit to it), if it's your thing...being spiritually fulfilled (for me it's buddhism), staying away from alcohol and caffeine (a downer and an upper that does cause mood flux), rest times as well as regular sleep times, seeing a therapist and other mental health professionals and being honest about your symptoms as well as being proactive about treating them. I also pull in acupuncture and chiropractics into my mix. This is just some of the ways I practice staying healthy and believe me, it's a tough road this BP stuff is and the better I am to my body and mind, the better I feel overall. I have told by a few doctors that I am doing exactly what 90% of their patients are NOT doing.... but need to be. Again, doing the things you love to do are key and help you feel better...not to mention completing those fun tasks you start......but doing the really hard work of self care will benefit you greatly. Good health to all!
It sounds like you're having a watershed moment. I had one many years ago when I ascertained I was bipolar from reading online too.
Your one-hour of self-care a day sounds like a good goal. I made popovers for breakfast so I'm off to a good start. Congrats on taking this important step.
You are welcome for the words. I always like a new fan.
Natasha, I am crying as I read post after post on this blog and on Bipolar Burble. To see so many of my thoughts and worries shared + questions answered feels good (and also sad because it makes me think: "Yup, the doctor is right: I'm definitely bipolar. No way around it.")
This article especially made me smile, because at the moment (after having to quit school because of my illness) my main goal is to do one hour of self-care each day. Baking something. Painting my nails. Listening to music. Having a shower and putting on make-up.
These are things that I absolutely do not want to do, but feel are necessary as the first step towards changing the way I feel about myself.
So for this post and for all the others - THANK YOU. I am now a devoted reader of your blog(s)
Thanks. I'm glad to hear you're actively working on taking care of yourself. It's a good example for all of us.
Self-care is a huge thing for me. I'm going into a field that is very challenging emotionally, and having this diagnosis quite fresh in my mind, I have to make doubly sure that I take enough preventative measures to avoid burning out. Great post!