Yesterday a page that I follow on Networked Blogs called Bipolar Awareness posed the following question: If someone was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder yesterday and came to you to ask, What should I do? What would I answer?
My first direction to this person would be, find something that helps you cope. Some people have dolls they hold, a worry stone or a talisman of some sort. Some people rub their thumb and forefinger together. I use a couple of things to help quiet my mind. First let me say that I've had years and years of non-coping and acting out. I still live with mania and depression so it's not a cure all.
My coping mechanisms vary but first is music. I find that when I listen to happy music in the mornings it helps me be less manic through out the day. I start my day when I'm feeling either a mania or depression starting by listening to Ricky Martin's The Best Thing About Me Is You. Sometimes I listen to it over and over, thank goodness for iTunes and "repeat 1"
I turn on the iPod when I go to bed (attached to speakers) and listen to Reiki Healing and repeat a song called "Merlin's Magic". I've found that I sleep better and don't wake up after two hours feeling like I need to clean the house!
After a very rough week at work this week, I found that another way to quiet my mind is to close my eyes and imagine a balloon or bubble, (mine's a blue squishy balloon) use your mind to bounce the bubble/baloon up in air, much like when you were a kid and you try not to let the balloon/bubble touch the ground. It was pretty effective.
An important part of treating bipolar is routine. I try to be sure I have a routine for what I need to do through out the day. Gym - 5:30 Work 7:00 Breakfast 8:30 and so on. This helps my brain understand that there are certain places for certain things and I don't have to be panicked because I know what's coming next. Over the past 4 years I've added some rituals to my morning. I start out calling the quarters and then thank the elements for giving me another beautiful day. Just getting in touch with nature has helped me so much.
After my routine is my diet. Lots of foods today have additives and preservatives that have a number of side effects. Headaches, bloating anxiety nothing that I need, I'm almost 75% organic right now and hopefully will see more improvements as I go. There's lots of info on good diets for bipolar patients are available on the web. Be sure to discuss any diet changes with your doctor and watch for conflicts with your medications and foods.
My last suggestion to a newly diagnosed bipolar patient is find someone to talk to. You may feel like you're a big ole nut bag. You're not. You just have a different way of thinking about things. I like to think about it like this. We sparkle. Sometimes we sparkle more than other times. We see vibrant color and hear wonderful music. You can embrace the best parts of this and make it a wonderful part of who you are instead of focusing on the negative.
More often then not... I sparkle.