Coping with a Bipolar Depressive Episode
In my experience living with bipolar II disorder, depressive episodes are overwhelming, confusing and filled with mixed emotions. It is essential to think about ways to cope and prepare for a depressive episode when you live with bipolar disorder.
How to Cope with a Bipolar Depressive Episode
Finding ways to cope with a depressive episode can help ease anxiety; however, it will not eradicate the lows. Arguing with your mind and emotions only makes things worse. One significant way I cope with a depressive episode is by working with my feelings instead of beating myself down. I find items that will keep my mind busy and spark my interest. These include:
- Self-help books. Some of my favorite self help books are: "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck" by Mark Manson and "You are a Badass: Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero.
- Crossword puzzles
They all help focus my mind in a different direction. The bipolar coping skills that work best are the ones that suit your personality.
Additional Coping Techniques for Bipolar Depressive Episodes
As far as exercise, I have a yoga mat in my closet that I use when I am depressed. I do small exercises on my mat throughout the day. Getting outside, whether it be sitting or walking, keeps me moving and helps me gain clarity.
I also do my best to rearrange my schedule to decrease stress, especially at the beginning of a depressive episode, when the lows are extreme. I let my close family members and friends know that I will not have my cell phone by my side, in case they try to reach out and I do not respond.
I find that taking a step back for a few days and disconnecting is helpful. As a mental health blogger, being active on social media is a significant part of my work. When I am severely depressed keeping off these apps for a day or two is very helpful, and a nice break. Also, I do not force myself to be social when I am depressed. Although isolation for an extended amount of time can be unhealthy, there is nothing wrong with keeping to yourself for a couple of days.
One bad habit I have is that I tend to reach for junk food, among the worst foods for bipolar disorder, when I am depressed. That negatively affects my mental health. I've learned that keeping healthy snacks around my house is beneficial in dealing with that problem.
Preparing for a Depressive Episode
Many people believe that once a depressive episode has passed, it will not return, but this is not the reality of living with bipolar disorder. It leads to feelings of guilt and shame when these types of lows do begin to surface. Accepting that the highs and lows are a part of your life with bipolar disorder is key to coping with depressive episodes, and helps prepare you for the future. Keep in mind, there is no perfect guideline for preparing for, or coping with, a depressive episode but the most important thing to remember is that these feelings of sadness will pass.
Blum, H. (2018, August 7). Coping with a Bipolar Depressive Episode, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, November 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/living-with-bipolar-blog/2018/8/coping-with-a-bipolar-depressive-episode