Breaking Bipolar

The idea that bipolar medication side effects suck is not a new idea. I am not the first person to mention this nugget. This is something every person with bipolar disorder who is on medication knows. In fact, when it comes to every medication, side effects suck. The reason why bipolar medications stand out for me is, of course, I take them, but not only that, they are medications that most of us have to take for the rest of our lives. When bipolar medication side effects suck, they suck for a very, very long time, so why take bipolar medications?
It seems like there are 1000 things I can’t do because of bipolar disorder, but what I’ve learned is that I need to focus on what I can do with bipolar disorder, not what I can’t. Because there are things we all can do. We often take those things for granted – but they are still there. We all have a “can” list and a “can’t” list. We, with bipolar, need to focus on our “can” lists.
Because of the chronic mental illness of bipolar disorder, I have guilt on sunny days; and this really sucks seeing as we’re now into summer. I know this might sound weird to your average person, but I actually prefer a rainy day to a sunny one. Rainy days don’t bring about guilt. Sunny days bring about my bipolar guilt.
It is being widely reported in the media that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen had bipolar disorder, but do we really know if Mateen had bipolar disorder (What Is Bipolar Disorder)? Where did this information come from and should we really believe it or is it just media sensationalism? After all, every mass shooter seems to be designated some mental illness; is it just bipolar’s turn?
Do people have the right to leave mental illness untreated? That is the question of the day. Now, I know some of you are offended by this and are likely saying, “Heck yeah! Of could people have the right not to treat a mental illness!” Well, let’s think about this for a minute. Maybe this doesn’t apply to all groups of people; maybe there are select groups of people who truly don’t have the right to untreated mental illness (Violence in Aurora: Untreated Mental Illness, Again?).
Mindfulness doesn’t help my bipolar disorder. I’m sorry; I know advocates aren’t supposed to say that kind of thing. I know we’re all supposed to get behind the new, fashionable therapies and tell everyone to do them (but heaven forbid we do the same with psychiatry) but this is one that I think has some major holes in it, particularly for people with serious mental illness. Please understand, mindfulness as a therapy might work for you but here’s why mindfulness doesn’t help my bipolar disorder at all.
Getting things done when you’re depressed isn’t just about finding time. Getting things done with depression is also about finding brain space. Brain space, for me, is the biggest limiter of my functionality in bipolar (at least partially because I’m a writer). It feels like my brain gets “full’ and then I can’t do anything because I can’t think. Or I can’t handle thinking. Or thinking causes such anxiety that I’m frozen. This brain space limits me getting things done when depressed.
Anger can be tough to deal with in bipolar disorder. Some people really do find they get extremely angry often for no reason other than bipolar disorder. And, as most people know, feeling angry, and even worse, acting angrily, are not positive experiences. Here are some tips on dealing with anger in bipolar disorder.
Over time, bipolar disorder can cause a decrease in functionality when it is being particularly nasty. Day-to-day activities like showering, cooking, going to work or even socializing can seem impossible (Why Don't We Want to Shower When We're Sick). They can seem like climbing up an infinitely tall staircase. In my case, I’ve been trying to write an article that requires a bit of research for three days and I just can’t. I can’t function well enough to do it. I’ve watched as my functionality has decreased over the week thanks to bipolar disorder and it just sucks.
I have found that one way to avoid suicide is to look forward to the little things. I know that sounds simple, but some of the most useful coping techniques are and as I’ve said to many people, when you have a mental illness, you need to do whatever works for you. If it’s stupid but it works, then it’s not stupid. And one of the “not stupid” things I’ve found to avoid suicide is focusing on looking forward to the little things.