“I hate having bipolar, it’s awesome!”
In my office, you can see a sign with the above statement. The symptoms that come with bipolar can feel both awesome and terrible, depending on your current mood state.
It is possible to live successfully with bipolar, tapping into the gifts it brings and meeting its challenges.
Let me introduce you to a few people with different challenges as they live being bipolar.
Ryan rode a roller coaster with a high climb and a fast drop.
While hospitalized for an intense manic episode, Ryan was recently diagnosed with Bipolar 1. If you picture a roller coaster that goes extremely high before making a steep drop going low to the ground, then you have a clear picture of Bipolar 1.
Ryan is new to the roller coaster ride, and he is unsure about what to expect regarding treatment.
While hospitalized, he learned about lifestyle choices, daily routines and rhythms, and the importance of coping tools. His doctors prescribed a medication regimen to help manage his mood states. They also encouraged him to seek regular therapy once released.
Ryan is still getting used to being on the medication, and he is unsure how he feels about it, not to mention his concern about potential side effects. He was told one of the medications could take five weeks or more to be effective and was advised to be patient. He isn’t feeling patient!
Once home, Ryan tried to get back into a daily routine and found it difficult to manage cleaning up some of the wreckage created when he was in the worst of a manic episode. Relationships need to be repaired. Debt from buying rounds at the bar and going on a shopping spree must be addressed.
After trying to tough it out on his own for a few weeks, he decided to reach out for help. This is where I entered Ryan’s life.
Together, Ryan and I came up with a plan for staying on top of lifestyle choices, learning emotional regulation tools, tracking mood states, and building a support network.
Most importantly, we addressed ways for him to tap into his strengths, so he could make the best decisions regarding his medication and his feelings about having a bipolar diagnosis.
Ryan has learned to take charge of his wellness and now has a plan in place for dealing with future challenges.
Tara’s roller coaster is a slow easy climb – to a steep drop.
Tara was diagnosed with Bipolar II more than 15 years ago. Her roller coaster looks like a mild climb before making a steep drop. She’s been riding her roller coaster a long time; and for most of the time, she has learned how to stay in a zone of wellness.
Tara has learned that part of her toolbox is going to therapy when she feels her routines and motivation start to slip. Through mood tracking, she’s learned to tell when a depressive state is about to start. Through therapy, we created a plan to minimize its effects.
Tara also has learned that not all of her challenges are related to having bipolar. Rather, some are the result of her life and dealing with the after-effects of previous traumatic experiences. In a couple of cases, her experiences coincided with a depressive mood state. Others weren’t related to bipolar.
When addressing these experiences in therapy, Tara and I agreed to state when one of us believes bipolar may or may not be contributing to a challenge.
Focusing on the whole person, not just the bipolar, has freed up space to heal past hurts and to rethink previous patterns. Tara is thriving and living a life she loves.
When it’s someone you love…
Sam’s adult daughter has bipolar, and he is scared for her. He wants to know how to support her, but the more he tries to help or offer advice, the more she gets angry or pulls away.
When Sam came to therapy, he was confused, sad, and even a little angry. Together, we explored his fears for his daughter. We discussed when his ‘helping’ wasn’t helping, how to ask her what she needed from him in terms of support, and how to set appropriate boundaries.
With improved communication skills and a better understanding of bipolar, over time Sam and his daughter were able to build a closer relationship. Sam has learned to trust her willingness to reach out for what she needs. He also has realized that he needs support as well.
As a result, Sam is also enjoying closer relationships with his other family members and friends.
You can learn how to handle your bipolar diagnosis, too.
Each of these individuals has discovered how to harness their strengths and thrive while dealing with the challenges that bipolar brings. You can, too.
Give me a call today at (512) 773-2924, and let’s discover how together.