Bipolar disorder and physical illness collide inside my body on a quasi-regular basis. They bring with them highly agitated symptoms from both sides. The bickering that ensues between the pair is what takes my attention away from writing. This last time I was sick, the laptop sat in a chair without the slightest touch of my fingers for weeks.
The combination of bipolar disorder and physical illnesse stir up a nasty concoction in me every time. For example, depression and coughing collide while mania and fever slam into each other. Or it could be insomnia butting heads with exhaustion. You know the truth. Bipolar or depression and everything in between are not going to take a vacation when you have laryngitis.
The aftermath from the meeting of the two medical giants will generate lots of money shelled out at the pharmacy and a crick in the neck from sleeping on the couch for too long.
Has this ever happened to you? Yes? Well, you are in good company. I am the Queen of bipolar disorder and physical illness clashes. Based on my experiences, I will give you some suggestions on how I survived the unwelcomed meet-up of the mental and the physical sides.
You can be a Survivor
When I come down with something which rubs against my mental illness symptoms in the wrong way, I usually fight hard against sleeping. I lay awake staring at the ceiling. I flip through the pages of a magazine. I read a book I haven’t touched in months. And of course, I play on my phone.
During this entire time, the psychotropic meds sit defiantly untouched while I lay awake all night. Over the years, I discovered two methods that helped me survive the battle between bipolar disorder and physical illness.
Survivor Skill #1 – Get more sleep
When I feel under the weather, like with a cold, I get so tired that I practically collapse into bed from just laying around doing nothing all day. The truth is we all need sleep! However, not everybody gets the right amount of shut-eye. Below is the most up-to-date sleep data for the United States.
- 50% to 80% of the patients in a regular American psychiatric office are sleep deprived;
- Compare this to the 10% to 18% of adults in the general population who experience sleep deprivation
- Sleep deprivation costs the US $411 billion annually.
Getting the correct amount of sleep for a mentally and physically well human being, each night is crucial. If you throw in a mental illness as well as the flu into the mix, the stakes go up. A sleep-deprived person (with any type of illness) driving a car is as impaired to get behind the wheel and stomp on the gas as a person who is driving drunk. This is serious stuff!
The bottom line here is to create an environment that will promote healthy sleep. This is what we call good sleep hygiene. It’s important to establish this level of health in order to function properly throughout the day.
Appropriate sleep hygiene means the following:
- Winding down before you get into the bed;
- Having an set bedtime;
- No interruptions during the night;
- Getting enough sleep; and
- Waking up so that you feel rested.
I am still attempting to achieve good consistent sleep hygiene. In the end, sleeping all the hours and minutes my body needs will, at the very least, assist me with decisions.
These decisions could be determined by the following questions: “How many hours of sleep do I need to get?”, or “Should I take my prescribed medications while I am sick with a stomach virus?”
Survivor Skill #2 – Take your psychotropic medicine
Some of us have a tendency to skip our meds whether healthy or sick. I do take my medicine when I am well most of the time. Although when I am physically sick, I often go down kicking and screaming because I do not want to take my regular psychiatric tablets.
Here is what happens: My mind believes that my body’s mental health will carry on if I press pause on taking the remedy for my mental illness symptoms. With each passing hour to each passing day, my mental acuity tends to suffer greatly.
Every day, I experience varying levels of the following: short bouts odepression, psychosis, mania and little to no ability to stay focused to name a few.
If you take the above symptoms and mix them up real good, give the potion an electric shock, then you will have my high alert bipolar symptoms while contending with a fever, mucus, muscle aches, congestion and pains. Then if I stop taking any of my psychotropic medicines please add a triple shot to that espresso.
But the thing is, when I take all of my meds, my depression is more easily handled by usual treatments. The psychosis is still there, but it is back to its old pattern where I can better manage the paranoia and hallucinations. The mania is deflated for now and tucked away in a drawer until another day. And I can focus better than I did when I was not medicated.
I fulfilled my promise to you, my reader. In this blog post, I told you that from my experiences, getting enough sleep and taking my daily meds are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. These methods are used in order to ease up the time on the sidelines of life as well as the tough symptoms of bipolar and your sinus infection. When I become physically ill while living with a mental illness, it can be a madhouse.
Call to Action
Do you feel a triple dose of your symptoms happening to you whenever you experience mental illness episodes and physical sickness? Please share how you got through that flu, stomach bug, sinus infection or cold. You can either write a comment in the section below or send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
References will be given upon individual requests.
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