World Suicide Prevention Day 2014

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Every 40 seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide. And every 13.3 minutes in the U.S. Don’t become a statistic. YOU HAVE A PURPOSE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK

For information on suicide, grieving, warning signs, coping, and how you can help spread awareness, visit the following links:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
To Write Love on Her Arms
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

(Gif image via Tumblr)

 

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The Breaking Point of a Legend

Like many, the death of Robin Williams surprised and saddened me. His means of death- suicide- interested me even more.

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To some of you, this will sound completely morbidly fucked up. To others, it will be hitting the nail on the head. But whenever I hear of someone dying as a result of self infliction, it triggers my own suicidal ideations and obsessions. Am I saying Mr. Williams is a role model for committing suicide? Absolutely not. But I am saying that I get it. I understand that point of hopeless desperation. Of despising yourself so greatly. Of thinking that your absence will only make things better for those around you.

Depression Doesn’t Discriminate

It has been confirmed that Robin Williams battled drug and alcohol abuse throughout the years, and sought help for it on a few occasions. It is also reported that he had a long battle with depression. I’ve read a handful of articles claiming he had bipolar disorder, but nothing was solidly confirmed on that, so I won’t make claims on it either. Nonetheless, depression can be absolutely crippling. It is the job of folks in the entertainment industry to wear a face for their audience. To act. To become someone else. I remind myself that these entertainers are part of the same human race that I’m a part of. And I could not imagine wearing a new face all the time, hiding a harrowing illness. Not to mention living their life in the spotlight, under a microscope. I know when depression grabs a hold, there are days I don’t leave my bed. There are days I am not mindful on what clothes I wear in public or whether my hair is washed or not. Sometimes I can’t make it to work. Now I look at someone like Robin Williams, who has been in the spotlight for decades, that he no doubt has people watching him in public, judging his every move. Of course that’s the life of a celebrity, and some might argue that celebrities choose this lifestyle, etc., but when it comes down to it- celebrity or not- nobody chooses mental illness. It doesn’t matter if you’ve won numerous awards for your comedic and dramatic acting skills. Mental illness can still sink it’s teeth in. And sometimes it can get so bad, that -celebrity or not- you lose sight of hope.

Let’s Take a Minute to Talk

Okay as many of you know by now, I swim in the pools of suicidal thoughts, ideations, fantasies, and even a few well thought out plans. It is an ongoing nagging battle that I fight. These notions entertain a spectrum of how obsessive they are, and how desperate I feel. It’s not unusual for those with bipolar to have this. So, it may seem a little odd for me to post this next segment about suicide. Truth is, I don’t love that I have this part of the illness. It’s a horrible way to think, and education on suicide and suicide prevention is imperative to living a mentally healthy life. Plus, it could help save the lives of people you know.

Understanding Suicide: Myth vs. Fact

To understand why people die by suicide, and why so many others attempt to take their own lives, it is important to know the facts. Please read the facts about suicide below and share them with others.

Myth: Suicide can’t be prevented. If someone is set on taking their own life, there is nothing that can be done to stop them.

Fact: Suicide is preventable. The vast majority of people contemplating suicide don’t really want to die. They are seeking an end to intense mental and/or physical pain. Most have a mental illness. Interventions can save lives.

Myth: People who take their own life are selfish, cowards, weak or are just looking for “attention.”

Fact: More than 90% of people who take their own life have at least one and often more than one treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented.

Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will put the idea in their head and cause them to act on it.

Fact: When you fear someone you know is in crisis or depressed, asking them if they are thinking about suicide can actually help. By giving a person an opportunity to open up and share their troubles you can help alleviate their pain and find solutions.

Myth: Teenagers and college students are the most at risk for suicide.

Fact: The suicide rate for this age group is below the national average. Suicide risk increases with age. Currently, the age group with the highest suicide rate in the U.S. is middle-aged men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The suicide rate is still highest among white men over the age of 65.

Read more from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention…

Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Risk factors for suicide are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take her or his life. Suicide risk tends to be highest when someone has several risk factors at the same time.

The most frequently cited risk factors for suicide are:

  • Mental disorders, in particular:
    • Depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
    • Alcohol or substance abuse or dependence
    • Schizophrenia
    • Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
    • Conduct disorder (in youth)
    • Psychotic disorders; psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Impulsivity and aggression, especially in the context of the above mental disorders
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of attempted or completed suicide
  • Serious medical condition and/or pain

It is important to bear in mind that the large majority of people with mental disorders or other suicide risk factors do not engage in suicidal behavior.

Environmental Factors That Increase Suicide Risk

Some people who have one or more of the major risk factors above can become suicidal in the face of factors in their environment, such as:

  • A highly stressful life event such as losing someone close, financial loss, or trouble with the law
  • Prolonged stress due to adversities such as unemployment, serious relationship conflict, harassment or bullying
  • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide (contagion)
  • Access to lethal methods of suicide during a time of increased risk

Again, though, it is important to remember that these factors do not usually increase suicide risk for people who are not already vulnerable because of a preexisting mental disorder or other major risk factors. Exposure to extreme or prolonged environmental stress, however, can lead to depression, anxiety, and other disorders that in turn, can increase risk for suicide.

Read more from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention…

 

My final words to you on this topic is to please talk to someone if you feel you are a danger to yourself. If you are feeling hopeless, allow someone to show you hope. If you think there is nobody to talk to, call a hotline number. There is always someone available and willing to hear what you have to say. On that note, we say farewell to a legendary performer, a legendary person, Mr. Robin Williams. May he finally be at peace. And may we remember him for what he loved to do- make people smile.

 

Suicide Prevention Resources:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

 

My Rapist Just Sent Me a Friend Request

Suddenly the room closed in on me and my head was spinning. There it was on my computer screen. His name. I froze, glad his profile picture was not his face. 13 years passed and I hate him more today then I did back then. The fact that he would even send a friend request was shocking. I chose to ignore it until I better knew how to handle what I was feeling.

TRIGGER WARNING! Before you read any further, please know I will be talking about a sensitive issue involving sexual abuse. While I will not discuss anything graphic or in detail, the subject matter may not be suitable for all readers. I want all of my readers to feel comfortable on this site. Thanks.

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 Early Signs

I was barely 18, and I worked as a banquet server at a nice Midwestern country club which was owned by a tight-knit Italian family. I loved my job and I made a lot of friends there. Many of us would hang out after work on the weekend and have parties. The social groups were somewhat segregated by whichever position you worked. For instance, the servers were not heavily associated with the chefs or the dishwashers. Which brings me to the beginning of my nightmare.

I thought it was odd that one of the chefs- we’ll call him C- took interest in me. I immediately thought he was disgusting. He was 10+ years older than me, he smelled nasty, had teeth resembling toilet scum, and had a very aggressive demeanor. At first I just played it off like whatever. I was a very outgoing and wild young person, so my attention was everywhere else and I thought nothing of it. Until the day I needed a ride home from work. Due to circumstance, I had no car or reliable transportation this particular night. C offered to give me a lift. I thought this was generous of him and I did appreciate it. I climbed into his pickup and we began the 20 minute drive to where I lived. As we were approaching my neighborhood, C pulled into a nearby parking lot. And locked the doors. He proceeded to unbuckle his seat belt and inch his way into the passenger side, where I was sitting. I remember asking him what he was doing. He said he knew this was more than just a ride home. At this point his body was crushing me. I asked him repeatedly to just take me home. Amazingly, he released me and drove me home. What happened next? I went into my room and I got incredibly angry. At myself.

Clearly I had provoked him somehow. How could I be such an idiot? Such a whore? What was wrong with me?

I made a vow to walk home before I ever let this sleaze give me a ride again. I know most would think I was crazy for blaming myself. But you need to realize I was already a teenager suffering from a mental illness. I was also already a survivor of sexual assault when I was victimized at age 16.

Then it Got Dark

He left me alone for awhile after the truck incident. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I changed how I did things at work. I tried to avoid him when I was in the kitchen. That worked. For a few weeks. Then came my education of just how physically strong C was as he lifted my 5’1″ self and carried me into the walk-in cooler. It was so dark in there. And sound proof. He pinned me up against shelves of ranch dressing, and shoved his toilet bowl mouth on mine. His hands grazed, as if checking out the merchandise he might consider stealing at a later date. What was probably 5 minutes, but felt like an hour, finally aborted when he had to return to his post.

I was dizzy. I was nauseous. And I knew everything had just changed. He wasn’t done with me. And I knew it.

To complicate things further, C’s mother was a manager at this country club. Being that the club was family owned, and considerably prestigious, C was highly regarded by the traditional elderly Italian man that ran the place. I was a teenage banquet server. There were 20 more just like me. The head-honchos didn’t know my name. And I wore a name tag. I was not highly regarded.

The next antic C pulled was, again, physically carrying me to a vacant space. This time it was the laundry room. I remember pushing with all of my might, against his huge arms, to try to get free and make my way for the door. He over-powered me and even though he was only restraining me at this point, I now realize that he was grooming me. Breaking me down. Showing me that he has power over me. Conditioning me for what I didn’t even know was to come next.

The first time C forced me to have sex with him, he was very strategic and made sure nobody was in this particular part of the building. Like usual, he hauled me over his shoulder and scooted off with me. His ragdoll. At first, I’d try to fight. I’d kick and push his arms. He was never phased by my resistance. I found myself in a vacant banquet room. He jammed the double doors and held me down on a round table. I tried to get up, he pushed me down. I tried to roll off the table, he pinned my shoulders down. I knew I could scream, but no one would hear. I could kick him in the balls, I could scratch his eyes out. But honestly, I was terrified. C was very strong and had a boiling temper. I’ve witnessed the dents he put in various doors in the kitchen. So I jumped into the only survival mode I knew, and I just let go.

I quickly adopted the mentality of “the quicker I just let it happen, the quicker it’ll all be over”. And he raped me.

This pattern had been going on for a little while when people started to talk. Friends and other co-workers were noticing us emerging from desolate areas, clothes a mess. The gossip train had come a chugging, and suddenly we were a hot topic. I was so sick inside. I wanted to tell people what was really happening. Surely someone would believe me, right? I see him attempt to flirt with other girls, and smack their butts, and do other piggish, unwarranted gestures. But I was scared. I didn’t think saying anything would get anywhere due to his status in the company. Also, I had a reputation for being wild, which some managers knew about. As far as I was concerned, I was doomed. And I had brought it upon myself. I felt I probably deserved it. My mental health was already in varying lows, with low self-esteem, so this abuse was only making me worse off.

On top of being afraid to say something, I was embarrassed. It was very humiliating to be over-powered and used. I was trying to hold onto every ounce of pride and dignity I could muster. And I revisited my survival mode many more times while he had his way with me. Forget dating. I tried to date, but every time he put his hands on me, I felt like I was getting filth on me, and thus my love interest shouldn’t touch me. I pushed people away.

Breaking Point

New Year’s Eve 2001. The country club held an annual gala. Hundreds of fancy people eating fancy food, drinking fancy drinks, dancing to fancy music, wearing fancy attire. Also a mandatory work night for all staff. The event was taking place in the center of the building, in the Grand Ballroom, the largest of the rooms. All managers on duty, with walkie talkies. Every person in that building was in the Grand Ballroom, leaving all other areas of the building dark and vacant. Something that most wouldn’t even care about, but caused severe anxiety for me. I knew I would end up in one of these dark corners at some point that night.

I remember feeling particularly depressed this New Year’s. My bipolar was spiraling and I occasionally self-harmed. I was a student at the community college, and I had made some new friends there. These friends were giving me a new light, and were actually making me feel better. We had fun together. And we had plans to bring the new year in together that night, once I was off work.

C was more aggressive than usual that night. He caught me the second I was released from my shift. The liquor stench radiated from his nasty mouth. At this point, I knew it was close to 11:00, and I had to meet my friends. He took his time. He was loud and cocky. I wanted to scream so badly, but I knew all bodies were in the Grand Ballroom with fancy champagne and fancy mini-cakes. I just remember feeling so weak and exhausted. I attempted to get in touch with my inner self and make a New Year’s resolution. But I couldn’t even do that.

At this point, I just shut down mentally. I heard the muffled sound of a countdown and the “Happy New Year!” I was too numb to be disappointed that I’d missed my plans.

That night I dragged my body into my bedroom. And into the drawer where I kept my medications. And I took them all. Every last pill.

I curled up in bed beside my mother and just cried. My body was shaking. I wanted nothing more than to just disappear. This is the suicide attempt that landed me in the psychiatric hospital. That was also, by some miracle, the last time C touched me. I never told anybody about this. Until recently.

Demons Came a Knockin

A few days ago I logged into my Facebook to feed my social media addiction and post some new photos of the cutest baby ever. My mood somewhat chipper, and nowhere deep. Until I hit my notifications and there he was. The monster who used to drag me to dark rooms and press his super strong manhood onto my teenage body. That fucking asshole had the audacity to request permission into my life. My sacred, blessing-filled life! There was no way in hell I would ever allow him to smear his filth anywhere near my world again. I left it alone for a minute until I was collected enough to write him a private message:

You have some nerve sending me a friend request. After the shit you used to pull on me when I was barely 18 years old. I hate you and I think you are a disgusting piece of shit. You forced yourself on me. More than once. Of course you knew I couldn’t say anything because your mommy was a manager & you were a hot shot cook. I was just a dumb little banquet server with a wild reputation. Nobody would ever believe me. I’d lose my job before you would ever get in trouble. And you knew it. Do you know the last time you forced me to have sex with you- on New Year’s, in an empty banquet room- I went home and tried to kill myself. I overdosed because of you. I ended up in the hospital. And still- I couldn’t say anything. I just had to go along with whatever everyone else said about us. In reality I hated you. You made me feel like shit. I thought it was my fault. You knew you could prey on me & you did. I know you did this shit to others too. You tried to make it out like it was consensual, but it never was. I just had to shut up & take it because you were stronger than me. I would never touch you voluntarily. You are a pathetic waste of flesh. I hope I never have to see you again. My life is amazing now. I’m doing great & I’m happy. So help me god, if we ever cross paths, you will regret ever laying a hand on me.

I know this was a long and harrowing story. But I felt I needed to share my experience. I am so much stronger in many ways than I used to be. It’s oddly cathartic to have sent that message to him. He has not written back. I don’t even care if he does. He can’t hurt me anymore than he already has. There are too many precious things in my life now. I truly hate him.

Also, if you are EVER in a position where somebody is forcing them self on you, or making you uncomfortable, please tell somebody. I was very sick mentally, and became lost. Don’t lose yourself. Speak up about sexual assault.

Thanks for listening.

When Obstacles Mock Your Progress

Responsibilities can be a pain. Especially those that directly pertain to treating my bipolar disorder. When I actually do focus and commit to handling something of importance, I feel like I’m on top of things for once. Then on occasion, just when you think the stars are aligned, and you’re coming out ahead, stupid annoyances create stubborn roadblocks to your personal victory. Where am I going with this? Okay, it started yesterday when I attempted to connect with Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing lab, to inquire about Lithium level testing (I usually go to my doctor’s office, but that is no longer feasible). I wanted a price in case my crappy insurance didn’t cover it. Alright, easy enough. I had already put off testing for a week too long and it is getting close to my next appointment, so I took the initiative (meaning- my wife didn’t have to get on my ass), and I called first thing in the morning. Line was busy. No problem, I’ll call back in a bit. Line still busy. Damn, maybe there is something wrong with their phone. I waited an hour and a half, then called again. Ring ring ring- answering machine. Really? Waited another half hour and called back. This time a woman answered. I explained what I needed. She literally told me that she was busy with a patient and that I needed to call back in 10-15 minutes. Now, having worked customer service for several years, I know professional etiquette would have been to take my info and call me back. But whatever. I was in control of this. At this point, I had been at work, in my office, alone. I knew my boss would be here shortly and since I am not out with my bipolar at work, I was really hoping to resolve this without providing him any of my personal business. For safe measure, I gave the woman 20 minutes before I dialed again. Ring ring ring- line busy. Fucking really? Needless to say, I never connected with the lab. And it made me a little anxious because I tend to put off important phone calls, appointment scheduling, and paperwork deadlines. I was nervous that if I didn’t do it yesterday, I wouldn’t do it at all. Damn roadblocks.

Okay, with a fresh mindset, I came to work this morning, and since I was alone, it was safe to call Quest and take care of business already. Ring ring ring- BUSY! I couldn’t believe it. Again I waited about 20 minutes, and yep- still busy. I was now getting angry, but talked myself into taking the proactive route. I Googled other Quest locations, in the hopes that maybe I was just lucky enough to get the incompetent lab office, and even though it was the most convenient location for me, perhaps someone else be of assistance. I called another office and wouldn’t you believe I let that phone ring until the office answering machine picked up. Unbelievable. At this point I gave up. It takes a great deal of effort for me to remember to stay on top of these things, and when the other party can’t get their own situation figured out, it creates problems for me. The bigger problem is that I’ve been trying to connect with them for two days, and I still need to have my blood work done. In a way, my health is being compromised because a company cannot do their job. The only option that could get me anywhere is if I just go down to the lab tomorrow, in person. I hope I don’t need an appointment, because if I do, I have a feeling I may show them how quickly my moods really can swing!

Happy Bipolar Moment Friday

My bipolar moment came this morning when I accidentally took my PM meds in place of my AM meds. Let’s just say coffee is no match to a healthy dose of Seroquel. Of course the moment I swallowed it, I immediately panicked. I had to to get up and get ready for work. For those of you on Seroquel, you may be able to relate when I say this particular medication makes you extremely groggy and produces a sudden desperation for sleep. It’s great for nighttime. I get a decent 6-8 hours. Not great this morning. Upon my freak out, I darted off to the bathroom and attempted to vomit up the pill. It’s fair to say I could never make it as a bulimic. I literally lack the ability to throw up on the spot. Now I panicked a little more. No disposing of it, surely it has begun to creep into my bloodstream. Wishing for an anecdote, I took my regular morning meds, which consist of Lithium and Abilify. And Adderall. Yes, I am prescribed a low dose of Adderall for co-occurring ADHD. That’s it! I’ll take the stimulant, eat a sandwich, and guzzle some coffee. Still stressed that I would be very late for work and my boss would be displeased with my tardiness, I felt the drowsiness kick in. My only real option was to sleep it off. That’s what I did. And I took the max amount of Adderall I could take, downed some more coffee, made up a convincing excuse for my boss, and slid into the office three hours late. Happy bipolar moment Friday.

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Shamelessly Venting My Spinning Head

Hi everyone. Back to the daily grind, post-Labor Day. A lot has been going on with me lately. For starters, I’m in the process of making a huge decision about my future.  Specifically- grad school. Yikes. My poor mind is being swayed in so many directions with this. The thing is, my undergrad is in mental health, but I’m considering a Masters in Business. Reasons? Simple. While I have an over abundance of education in psychology/mental health, I have never worked in that field. I do, however, have a great deal of experience in business administration, management, and marketing. I’m trying to logically put my (apparent?) talents where they ought to be. This is hard and I’m coming down with an unpleasant case of freak out. AKA anxiety. It’s not just the decision that brings on anxious thinking, but it’s all the paperwork, financial aid, the required GMAT test, and commuting in the snow to a new university.

My anxiety about school isn’t the only thing that’s giving me heart palpitations. As you know, my wife and I have our first baby arriving in three months. While I seem to be doing (surprisingly!) alright with the notion of having a brand new baby to take care of, I’m getting really anxious over the preparation. We are throwing our own baby shower and there is a ton of work involved that we’ve taken on ourselves. Even my wife confessed to me that she is having nightmares about it going awry! While I keep telling myself that it will fall into place, I can’t help but spaz out in my head. Is it a good time to mention that we haven’t started the nursery? We know what we are doing with it, but the plan needs to be executed now. I’m also stressed that we won’t receive the essential items on the baby registry. I’m sick over all of it!

Okay this is beginning to sound like a vent session. I apologize. My next topic to bitch about is the weight I have gained. It’s like since she’s been pregnant, I have expanded as well. It’s giving me more anxiety, especially since I have to find time to work out and I have to say no to the food her preggo self is always trying to feed me. I need to watch that my medications don’t cause me to keep the weight on, since a couple of them have weight gain as a side effect. I hate that my clothes no longer fit and that my appetite is the size of a horse.

I should probably write something constructive after force-feeding my panic button to you. I could probably write how I recommend practicing deep breathing techniques, or saying positive affirmations. Well, as much as I do encourage you to utilize these tools, among others, I am not in the place, mentally, to take my own advice. Shame on me for skipping my Bipolar support group meeting last night, but I had such a migraine and my irritability wouldn’t have fared well for my fellow group members. Perhaps I’ll attend the next one. Perhaps my anxiety will be gone by then. Perhaps I’ll have answers and can calm the fuck down a little bit.

I know millions of people go to graduate school, and billions of people have babies. I know most everyone has gained unwelcome weight at one point. But have these people done it all at once? How about while living with Bipolar Disorder? Life is hard and it’s harder when you have to work harder to locate the coping mechanisms in your brain. It’s important to be mindful of potential Bipolar triggers during periods of high stress. That’s what I’m dealing with. All while going to work, cleaning the house, and attempting to be a good wife.

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Tips on Living with Bipolar Disorder

Advocacy and education seem to go hand in hand. When it comes to Bipolar Disorder, I feel that a part of advocating is to educate people on ways to cope with living with the disorder. So I went ahead and came up with a list of essential things to help live with Bipolar and not against it. And, yeah, some of these things I’m still learning myself.

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Get Present
Try to bring yourself to the present moment. Take a mental note of your surroundings. Look at your current situation. Look at whom you are with. Listen to what you are conversing about. Think about how it makes you feel. Take note of any potential triggers in your situation. Doing this helps with your personal awareness and allows you to gain knowledge of your own patterns.

Education is Key
Learn everything you can about your disorder. All mood disorders have distinct qualifiers and variances. Read about the types of Bipolar. Learn about triggers, mood swings, mania, depression, and what a mixed episode is. Go online or to the library. You can even ask your psychiatrist for recommended literature. The more you know, the more confident you will be and the better you can manage your disorder.

Don’t F**** with Meds
As frustrating as it can be, it is so very important to be consistent with your medication. Often, finding the correct med and the correct dosage can be trial and error, but you have to trust your psychiatrist and communicate with him or her about how you feel on the medication. Also, the number one reason we tend to stop taking our meds is because we “feel better”. I know. I’ve done it. Many times. This is NOT a reason to come off of them!

Routine and Structure
Establishing a routine and finding structure help to maintain stability. This means go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Most of us know BP and insomnia go hand in hand, so committing to a set schedule can really help control that. The same goes for taking meds at the same times each day to stay regulated. It is also recommended to eat your meals, exercise, and do leisure activities all in a set routine. Personally, I eat when I’m hungry and exercise when I feel like it, but hey, that’s why this is all a process, right?

Build Your Support System
This includes your family and friends, your significant other, your therapist, your psychiatrist, and anyone who you feel you can depend on. These should be supportive and caring people who understand your disorder at least enough to be able to contribute to your life in a positive way. Other forms of support are peer support groups, such as DBSA (www.dbsalliance.org) or online support groups such as Bipolar Disorder Connect (www.bipolardisorderconnect.com) and other groups found through Facebook.

Know Thyself
I cannot stress it enough- learn to recognize your triggers. How do you do this? It starts with self-acceptance and accepting the fact that you have Bipolar Disorder. If you’re anything like me, it was (is?) difficult to accept this and acknowledge that it will never actually go away. Once you do cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to claim your diagnosis, you will need to start paying close attention to your mood swings. It helps to have someone observe your moods with you. Pay attention to seasonal changes. I know that I definitely trigger from weather changes and often the seasonal switch puts me right into an episode. Watch all environmental stimuli, such as loud noises, social settings, traffic, and anything that may be out of your normal routine. A big trigger for those with mood disorders is toxic people. I’m not saying to cut off your loved ones, but you need to recognize how others in your life may be affecting your mental health. Learning some coping techniques may be a good idea if there are triggers you may not be able to remove completely. Another factor to pay attention to is your consumption of alcohol or drugs. It is not recommended to use substances because they will affect your brain’s chemicals, as well as any medications you have been prescribed. If you do have a drink, observe how it affects your mood, not just while you are drinking, but for the next few days as well.

Establish Coping Methods
It is important to keep a Bipolar brain healthy. It is also important to establish your own personal methods of coping in order to maintain mood swings and episode triggers. Take your medication as directed by your doctor, maybe consider talking to a therapist, journaling and writing are often helpful, prayer and meditation, artistic endeavors like photography or painting are great options, and of course, exercise is so good for you mentally and physically. During your management, some important elements to practice are goal-setting, positive self-talk and affirmations, practicing good hygiene and self-care, and utilizing your support system and groups.

Have an Emergency Plan
Be prepared in case you do enter into either a depressed or a manic episode. If you are anything like me, you have spun into some epic manias and you know how intense and out of control it can become. Have your psychiatrist’s number on hand, know the names and dosages of all of your medications, have a hospital picked out in case you need to be admitted, and keep open communication with your support system.