Bipolar and Anxiety: How to Cope with Our Fear of the Future
Tuesday, February 6 2018 Hannah Blum
Anxiety is a significant part of living with bipolar disorder. I deal with anxiety when I think about the future, and ask myself questions such as, "What if my bipolar treatment stops working?" and "What happens when I have a bipolar breakdown again?" In this blog post, I share my experience with bipolar disorder and anxiety and explain how I have learned to cope with my fear of the future.
Anxiety Over "What If My Bipolar Treatment Stops Working?"
A major thing that sucks about living with bipolar 2 disorder is that even when you are feeling your best, you are always worried about the future. Asking yourself, "What if my bipolar treatment stops working?"
About every five to seven years, I have to adjust or change bipolar medications. I am self-aware, which helps me know when it is time to talk about a change in bipolar treatment. Before this appointment, my anxiety is in full force, afraid of what the doctor will say. Sometimes I ease into the bipolar medication adjustment without noticing a difference, and other times I find myself twenty pounds heavier, irritated and lethargic. In those times, I worry that I have hit a dead end with bipolar treatment.
However, I have learned that worrying about it does no justice. I tell myself and other people who live with bipolar disorder, we have to be solution finders. We have to be someone who looks at the problem, and doesn't talk about how hard it is or how much it is going to suck to figure this problem out. Instead, we need to work on the way in which we are going to solve this problem. We have to tell ourselves that we will not stop until the problem is solved. This attitude helps relieve the anxiety by focusing on a solution rather than constantly ruminating over the problem.
What Happens When I Have a Bipolar Breakdown Again?
In my personal experience, it helps me prepare for the inevitable rather than waste time worrying about it. I will have another bipolar breakdown; this is something I have accepted.
It is about being prepared for it when it happens, not if it happens. Most likely I will be in a very different spot than I am today. There is a difference between having a breakdown when you are nineteen years old with little responsibility versus when you are older with more responsibility such as having a family, a career, and a mortgage to pay. I worry about the effect it will have on the people around me. However, I have to remind myself that the future is unknown and out of my control. All I can do is manage my bipolar disorder well enough to be prepared for the future.
One lesson self-help books have taught me is that you have to trust the Universe and go with wherever it takes you. Fighting against the inevitable will wear you down. We can't control the future, but we can control how we handle it.
A piece of advice I would give to those dealing with extreme anxiety and bipolar disorder is to get involved in the mental health community. Following advocates and people who share their journey with a mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder and anxiety, make us feel less alone and reduces our worry about the future. It is nice to know that when you are in a difficult spot, you have a community that is here to support you.