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How To Live with Bipolar Disorder (From a Guy with Bipolar II)

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By Grant Stenzel, MS Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Bipolar disorder is classified by its high-to-low emotional swings. Emotional regulation is difficult and often impossible during manic and depressive episodes. But it’s not shameful to be bipolar, and it certainly doesn’t mean your life is over if you’re diagnosed.

Personally, I have bipolar II. I live a good and happy life and know how to monitor myself when I need it. And that’s really the key to how to live with bipolar disorder. You need to know what to watch out for and how to regulate your emotional highs and lows.

1. Get good sleep.

Some quality Z’s are one of the major determinants of your mental health. When we treat bipolar disorder here at Stenzel, sleep habits are the first thing we look for. Too little sleep? It’s possible a manic episode is on its way. Too much sleep? It
could be a depressive episode.

Tips for getting good sleep consistently are all over the Internet, but in short: get plenty of exercise, eat good meals and consider banishing screens from the bedroom.

2. And speaking of diet and exercise…

They’re both vital. For exercise, do whatever it is you enjoy. If you can’t stand the treadmill, do some yoga or lift weights. If you need a ball in your hands, join a rec basketball league. A little physical exhaustion has a way of centering you mentally and emotionally.

3. Maintain healthy relationships.

Know who can spot mania or depression before you can? Friends and family. Just tell them, “Hey, if I start doing _________, please tell me so I can talk to my counselor about it.” Good relationships ground you in the best way, and people you love will easily notice when something is a little off. If they speak up, don’t be ashamed! They are your trusted support system and they want to help.

4. Go to counseling.

Another person who knows you and can recognize mania or depression is your therapist. We instantly spot the loss of impulse control, racing thoughts, delusions of grandeur creeping in, less than ideal sleep, and more. If you know those signs and symptoms yourself, you can set up a helpful trigger that says “Okay, I need to see my counselor.”

5. Take medication.

Bipolar people often say they feel numb or zombie-like while on medication. Basically, they have the choice between numbed emotions or fighting mania and depression. Admittedly, it’s not a fun choice to make.

Something else to watch out for: It’s difficult to convince a bipolar who’s manic to take medication. They might say something like “But I’m happy! Everything is getting done.” We certainly want you to be happy, but manic happiness is not sustainable. It won’t last, and the crash is coming.

Bipolar disorder does not define who you are.

There is absolutely no shame in getting a bipolar disorder diagnosis. If you work on knowing yourself and the warning signs of a manic or depressive episode, you can live a good, successful, happy life. Take some time to relax, seek nature, seek healthy relationships and renew yourself.

Need someone to talk to? Stenzel Clinical is filled with expert licensed counselors who are ready to help however they can. Contact us to get matched to your ideal therapist.