Preventing Bipolar Relapse – Necessary Adjustments to Daily Life with Bipolar Disorder

So, I have this book called Preventing Bipolar Relapse.

There are tons of tips and tricks in the book and ideas and suggestions of things to do in your daily routine that can help ‘prevent bipolar relapse’. I don’t know that I would say I’m at the point that I’m trying to prevent relapse right now so much as manage my bipolar disorder. But the book is still helpful nonetheless.

There are different types of medications:

  • mood stabilizers
  • sleep medications
  • anti-depressants
  • anti-convulsants
  • anti-psychotics

I take Seroquel, which is an (atypical) anti-psychotic (according to a google search).

There’s also something called non-adherence. It’s not something that I’ve had to deal with yet, but it can look like:

  • not re-/filling a prescription
  • stopping medication during treatment or against doctor recommendation
  • taking more/less of a medication than is prescribed
  • taking a medication with contraindicated substances
  • taking a dose of medication at the wrong time

There are ways to overcome issues that you have with your medication:

  • simplify your medication regimen
  • use reminder strategies
  • reduce your pill burden
  • involve your support system
  • manage side effects
  • always have medication on hand
  • talk to your mental health care providers

There are also things called triggers which can affect your mood.

  • alcohol
  • sleep deprivation
  • caffeine/tobacco
  • irregular daily schedule
  • illicit substances
  • medications
  • missing doses/misusing
  • lack of exercise

There are also triggers which are environmental and circumstantial:

  • excessive stimulation
  • high stress
  • season changes

Major life events:

  • relationship difficulty
  • marriage
  • going off to college
  • death
  • financial difficulties
  • changes in employment
  • moving
  • divorce/break-up
  • birth/illness of a child
  • school/work problems

Mixed states are also something that people with bipolar disorder sometimes encounter. They often feel like agitation or irritability mixed with feelings of sadness

Your sleep can also be affected. Insomnia is a frequent issue:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • worry/frustration about sleep
  • cognitive impairment
  • extreme mood changes/irritability
  • lack of energy/motivation
  • poor performance at school/work
  • tension headaches/stomachaches

Some frequent causes of insomnia:

  • too much activity before bedtime
  • doing other activities in bed other than sleeping
  • using substances that disturb your sleep
  • taking naps

There are ways of beating insomnia:

  • keeping regular hours
  • creating a restful sleep environment
  • making sure you’re in a comfy bed
  • exercise regularly
  • less caffeine
  • don’t overindulge
  • don’t smoke
  • relax before going to bed
  • write away your worries
  • don’t worry in bed

Nutrition is also a big thing when dealing with bipolar disorder. Some things to keep in mind:

  • balance calories
  • enjoy your food but eat less
  • avoid oversized portions
  • eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains
  • make half your plate fruits and veggies
  • switch to low-fat dairy products
  • make half your grains whole grains
  • minimize your intake of solid fats, added sugars, and salt
  • compare sodium in foods
  • drink water instead of sugary drinks

Activity is also a big thing. There are lots of excuses:

  • lack of time
  • lack of energy
  • lack of enjoyment
  • lack of money
  • lack of child care
  • lack of company
  • lack of success
  • bipolar symptoms

However, there are simple ways of increasing your activity level:

  • park further from the door when running errands
  • take the stairs not the elevator
  • longer dog walks
  • walking/marching in place during commercials
  • use out-of-the-way bathroom, copier, or watercooler
  • take 10-15 minute walk breaks every hour or two
  • do errands on foot/bike
  • wash your car yourself
  • learn to do DIY projects at home

When it comes to people, there are different kinds of support:

  • Emotional
  • Group
  • Material
  • Treatment
  • Financial
  • Employer
  • Crisis

When it comes to asking for help, there are seven steps to remember:

  1. Choose whom to ask for help by considering each person’s ability to provide what you need
  2. Do it in a quiet place at a time when you’re not likely to be distracted
  3. Explain your position with statements beginning with “I need” or “I feel”
  4. Be specific about what you need
  5. Give the person the opportunity to ask questions
  6. If the person is willing to help, thank him/her for the offer
    If not, thank him/her for giving it some consideration
  7. Remember to thank the person or people who helped you

The two kind of support that are the most important to me are:

  • Emotional
    • Someone who understand you well, understands bipolar disorder, and will not judge you for needing support. Having someone to call in the middle of the night when you’re feeling anxious or afraid or simply cannot sleep is what having good emotional support looks like.
  • Treatment
    • Encouragement to follow your treatment plan as outlined by your mental health care provider, as well as encouragement to follow the recommendations regarding sleep, nutrition, and activity in the book.

I have a friend who is new to this whole thing and is still trying to get a grasp on it. So I gave them these notes to look over. When they had finished I told them what I wanted/needed from them in terms of support. All I’m asking of them is to be someone to talk to when I need an ear; but if it’s a bad time, or they’re busy, I need them to tell me “not right now” or ask “can we do this later/when I get home?” When it comes to treatment, if they know I had a bad day, just double check with me that I took my meds at night. And also to follow up with me after I have appointments so that they’re aware of any medication changes.

Really, I’m not asking very much of this person. And what I am asking of them can honestly be done completely over text messages when necessary. Obviously seeing them will be needed sometimes, but not on a constant basis.

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