Over the course of my bipolar treatment, I have seen major depression that lasted for months on end, a decade of mania, mixed episodes, rapid cycling, and peculiar physical pains without any medical explanations as well as hallucinations. These characteristics of bipolar have been a distraction for me from life as usual. All I could see was the bipolar and not how to work around it or with it.
The bipolar would distract me at various times throughout my day. I would undergo a symptom of the bipolar which would distract me from my life and I would be consumed with thoughts about that symptom. For example, I would experience rapid cycling during the work day which would distract me from my job. I would get obsessed with the rapid cycling and my work performance would slow down. My focus became the rapid cycling and not the techniques I have learned in therapy on how to deal with it when it pops up. When I would go home that evening, my attitude would be negative and I would be drained of energy.
Another example, is having depression over the weekend. The blue mood would distract me and I would be consumed with the depression and unable to do anything but sit on the couch and stare out the window. When I focused on the depression and not on getting out of the pit, I would succumb to it and let it swallow me whole. Needless to say, I was not wonderful to be around.
This obsession with my bipolar has affected me socially, too. I have allowed my issues such as social anxiety keep me away from forming friendships. The obsession with the bipolar has kept me from growing and learning so I can have a wide variety of topics to talk about. This has made it difficult at times to carry on conversations with friends because I do not have a large knowledge base in which to pull topics of conversations from.
Being distracted by the bipolar not only effects my relationships with my friends, but it also effects my relationship with Jesus. This distraction by my bipolar has cost me a closeness that I used to have with Him that I thoroughly enjoyed. Instead of using my time to focus on prayer and praise, I would ruminate on my bipolar symptoms. I stopped spending time with Him alone. What I needed to do instead of obsessing over the symptoms, I needed to go to Jesus and pray to Him about my situation.
When my mind is not yet consumed by the brain disorder and just before it begins to ramp up and begin to consume me, there are a few strategies that help me stay grounded.
- I make sure I am taking all my medicine correctly and at the right times. This is important for treatment. Pill cases are helpful to keep medicine organized. I have three to manage all of my pills. I set alarms to help me remember to take my medicine. If I did not set my alarms, my medicine would not get taken.
- I think back on what I am working on in therapy. Maybe my therapist has given me some kind of tool to help me work through the mixed episodes or to lessen the depression. I will try it. It might not work the first time, but I do not give up.
- I go to God in prayer. I ask for His help to weather the mood storm. He always rides the storm out with me so I will not be alone. Ask. Trust. Believe.
Although these strategies have worked for me in various situations, this is not an exhaustive list. You may have some ideas, too. Please email me at email@example.com with your strategies on how to deal with the bipolar distractions.