• Welcome! It’s great to see you.

    If you'd like to talk with people who know what it's like

    Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

Advice on rebuilding life post bipolar.

HLon99

HLon99

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
709
Location
London, UK
Hi,

As some of you may already know, I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder last year, having struggled with my mental health since 2019. Its been a long and arduous process of trial and error with meds, changing psychiatrists, chasing down doctor. But at last, I am stable and well and have been so for the last few months. Feeling a lot more positive and I'm ready to start getting back up on my feet.

Due to my mental health, I had to drop out of university, and for the past 2 years my life has pretty much been put on hold. I have watched my friends and peers carry on with their lives as usual; graduating, getting jobs and living life. At times, it was painful to see this as I have been feeling alone and isolated, constantly trailing behind. However, in recent months I have made peace with this and have decided to live life one step at a time.

I am setting myself short-medium term goals which I am working on and have seen reasonable success. Back in december, I reapplied to uni and have already got my offers back. I pretty much decided which one I'm going to and am excited to get back into education. I've been studying and revising in preparation.

Although I know I'm doing the right thing and I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic about this upcoming oppurtunity, but I'm constantly overshadowed by thoughts that at any time, my illness may return and my life will once again fall apart. I read that Bipolar disorder has a 40% recurrance rate in the first 3 years of treatment. This is a haunting thought that is always at the back of my mind. I want to do well and do right by myself and the people close to me, but I am in a state where I cannot make any firm commitmants. I am willing to accept that a relapse is just part the parcel of living with this illness. However, if and when it does happen, I want to be better prepared to deal with it, so that I can cut the problem at its root and prevent it from derailing my life. A friend of my mother's who is also bipolar managed to build a sucessful career and family despite it and this is what I aim to do in time.

Sorry for the long post. In short; I want to learn how to roll with the punches that this illness deals. Any advice from people who have made it out the other end?
 
Ghost_Owl

Ghost_Owl

Well-known member
Forum Guide
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
1,233
Location
U.K
Mitigation. Once you have accepted this is an illness that can strike at random with no good reason. Sometimes feeling like Aliens showed up by your bed one night and decided to run 'human emotion experiments,' for a several months. You just kind of adapt to that uncertainty, by becoming aware of signs and triggers. For me I kinda view it like epilepsy, so I have safety plans in place for myself. But those are unique to me. But if I am going to fall I can at least soften that landing and not take others down with me so much. That though takes self awareness of what is a symptom of a mood shift. I strongly recommend a mood diary and mood tracker. As well as getting loved ones on board of spotting symptoms and mirroring them back to you. Because otherwise you may not notice. Lastly be dedicated with sleep hygiene if you can. This has major effects on how at risk of an episode you can be. Even if you are feeling wired you have to shut yourself down. Progressive muscle relaxation has been my main means of forcing myself to sleep when instead I want to write 4 books all at once. If you practice it enough like a bed time routine it becomes its own que to sleep. It's hard to maintain but the link of sleep and episodes is well established.
 
HLon99

HLon99

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
709
Location
London, UK
Mitigation. Once you have accepted this is an illness that can strike at random with no good reason. Sometimes feeling like Aliens showed up by your bed one night and decided to run 'human emotion experiments,' for a several months. You just kind of adapt to that uncertainty, by becoming aware of signs and triggers. For me I kinda view it like epilepsy, so I have safety plans in place for myself. But those are unique to me. But if I am going to fall I can at least soften that landing and not take others down with me so much. That though takes self awareness of what is a symptom of a mood shift. I strongly recommend a mood diary and mood tracker. As well as getting loved ones on board of spotting symptoms and mirroring them back to you. Because otherwise you may not notice. Lastly be dedicated with sleep hygiene if you can. This has major effects on how at risk of an episode you can be. Even if you are feeling wired you have to shut yourself down. Progressive muscle relaxation has been my main means of forcing myself to sleep when instead I want to write 4 books all at once. If you practice it enough like a bed time routine it becomes its own que to sleep. It's hard to maintain but the link of sleep and episodes is well established.
Thank you for your post ghostowl, very helpful. I have installed an app on my phone called emoods which tracks dialy changes in mood. I have been lazy with it these past few months, it can be a bit of a chore sometimes, but I'll make it a goal to fill it out every day now. Hopefully, it will act as an early warning system.

I have got my family on board with me and they have been very supportive these past few months. There was a time that I would hide my illness from them as I didn't want to be a burden, but we have agreed that going forward I will keep them in the loop about everything. I have also made the decision to go to uni in my home town to be close to them, should things turn south. The only problem is that they are often in and out of the country, my dad is away for work and my mum leaves periodically to look after my grandmother. I they will have my back and come to my aid should things get really bad, but with covid restrictions on travel, I'm not sure whether that will be practical in the foreseeable future.

Sleep has always been a difficult one for me. I was never a sound sleeper, even before the bipolar. Its certainly something that I have to work on. I'll look into the muscle relaxation technique. Got any other tips on managing sleep?
 
Ghost_Owl

Ghost_Owl

Well-known member
Forum Guide
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
1,233
Location
U.K
Sounds like you are doing all you can. If you are determined about sleep I suggest looking up sleep hygiene information. Certain foods make it harder, screens do something to keep us alert as well.


 
K

keith74

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
Messages
318
Location
Canada
Although I know I'm doing the right thing and I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic about this upcoming oppurtunity, but I'm constantly overshadowed by thoughts that at any time, my illness may return and my life will once again fall apart. I read that Bipolar disorder has a 40% recurrance rate in the first 3 years of treatment. This is a haunting thought that is always at the back of my mind.
From what I understand, that statistic regarding a relapse is mostly because it takes people many years to find a medication and treatment that works for them. It takes many people several years just to accept their diagnosis, which is a big part of getting better. I know that you have done your best to educate yourself and find the right combination of meds and therapy that work best for you. Because you are so on top of it, I really am optimistic that it is going to work out for you.
 
HLon99

HLon99

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
709
Location
London, UK
From what I understand, that statistic regarding a relapse is mostly because it takes people many years to find a medication and treatment that works for them. It takes many people several years just to accept their diagnosis, which is a big part of getting better. I know that you have done your best to educate yourself and find the right combination of meds and therapy that work best for you. Because you are so on top of it, I really am optimistic that it is going to work out for you.
Wow, I did not know that. That's actually pretty reassuring. Thank you.
 
K

keith74

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
Messages
318
Location
Canada
Wow, I did not know that. That's actually pretty reassuring. Thank you.
My wife was officially diagnosed over 20 years ago. It was only recently she came to fully accept her diagnosis, that medications are essential, and that she needs to always be mindful of her diagnosis. Even then there is still a lot more she can do to educate herself and stay on top of it. My hope is that one day she can get to the level of awareness that you have now.
 
HLon99

HLon99

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
709
Location
London, UK
My wife was officially diagnosed over 20 years ago. It was only recently she came to fully accept her diagnosis, that medications are essential, and that she needs to always be mindful of her diagnosis. Even then there is still a lot more she can do to educate herself and stay on top of it. My hope is that one day she can get to the level of awareness that you have now.
Ha, I appreciate the compliment, but I'm not always on top of my mental health. Swallowing pills every morning is easy, making concrete changes in your life is the hard part. I've found new drive to take care of my body and mind more often since the turn of the new year, but before then I spent much of my days laying on my backside unemployed, watching TV rather than exercising and reading and looking for work for the most part of 1 1/2 years. My awareness only comes from what I read on the internet when I first got sick and started obsessively reaserching my illness. But reading can only go so far, now is the time for action. There's no instruction manual for life, you have to figure what works for you adn stick to it. My only hope is that I will be able to consistantly apply myself and avoid the ill reminders of my past habits when I start to get my life back on track.

She's lucky you know, because she has a job and she has you. The ones that get well, stay well and make it out the other end in one piece are those like her.
 
Wishbone

Wishbone

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
653
Location
England
I liked Ghost Owl's post as it is much of what I was going to say. The key to having an illness is accepting that you've got it and to MANAGE it. Nobody else can manage it, only you. Keeping yourself ticking over without putting too much onto your plate is probably a wise way to go about things. It can be easy to get into something because you're feeling pretty good and then take on something else and something else and before you know it that elastic band you've been stretching goes ping and your world turns upside down. This may mean that you have to accept that you may need to live life at 80% or something in order to keep yourself well. All the best with uni.
 
K

keith74

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
Messages
318
Location
Canada
Ha, I appreciate the compliment, but I'm not always on top of my mental health. Swallowing pills every morning is easy, making concrete changes in your life is the hard part. I've found new drive to take care of my body and mind more often since the turn of the new year, but before then I spent much of my days laying on my backside unemployed, watching TV rather than exercising and reading and looking for work for the most part of 1 1/2 years. My awareness only comes from what I read on the internet when I first got sick and started obsessively reaserching my illness. But reading can only go so far, now is the time for action. There's no instruction manual for life, you have to figure what works for you adn stick to it. My only hope is that I will be able to consistantly apply myself and avoid the ill reminders of my past habits when I start to get my life back on track.

She's lucky you know, because she has a job and she has you. The ones that get well, stay well and make it out the other end in one piece are those like her.
I commend you on changing your lifestyle in short time. That is really really hard and for many people, it takes years and years to really do it. And being consistent with your meds is not as easy as you think for most. And most of all you clearly do you research which is great and shows initiative. Notice how it is me on this site asking questions and not my wife. She still does not have as an interest in learning everything about her illness as I do (I wish she did). I think some of it has to do with constantly reminding her that she indeed has an illness (but she has come a long way in accepting her diagnosis). You are doing a great job and please keep it up. I'll give one tip that has helped my wife (when she remembers to use it) - don't forget to give yourself a break now and then instead of trying to always grind it out. If that means taking a semester off to rest, do it. It took my wife longer to get through uni than others because of it but the key thing is that she got through it. That is all that counts.
 
HLon99

HLon99

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
709
Location
London, UK
I commend you on changing your lifestyle in short time. That is really really hard and for many people, it takes years and years to really do it. And being consistent with your meds is not as easy as you think for most. And most of all you clearly do you research which is great and shows initiative. Notice how it is me on this site asking questions and not my wife. She still does not have as an interest in learning everything about her illness as I do (I wish she did). I think some of it has to do with constantly reminding her that she indeed has an illness (but she has come a long way in accepting her diagnosis). You are doing a great job and please keep it up. I'll give one tip that has helped my wife (when she remembers to use it) - don't forget to give yourself a break now and then instead of trying to always grind it out. If that means taking a semester off to rest, do it. It took my wife longer to get through uni than others because of it but the key thing is that she got through it. That is all that counts.
Believe me, I had no interest in becoming an amateur psychiatrist either prior to my condition, but its just something I feel that I have to do in order to make informed choices about my treatment. Experience has shown me that not all doctors always proffesional and have their patients best interests in mind so its worth staying vigilant. But its understandable, not many people want to think about this stuff. Acceptance is the first step so that's good, education is just as important. It shouldn't all be on you, and maybe when she's in the right frame of mind then tell her that you need her to pull her own weight in this. There are some useful pamphlets on the Mayo clinic website about bipolar which is a good place to start.

I appreciate the encouragement and I'll bear in mind about giving myself plenty of down time. Its hard because I got used to being at a high level of functioning all my life, but I realise the game has changed now. If absolutely necissary, I will take a semester out, but I don't want to let it come to that. The mistake that I made was being in denial about my mental health during my first episode and its one that I do not intend on repeating. Should something happen in the future I will make sure I cut the problem at the root. The advantage of staying in my hometown is that I can always go home when I feel unwell, call my psychiatrist, work from home for a few weeks and go back when I feel better. I have a gameplan now and if I stick to it, I'm sure i'll be ok. I don't feel any shame about dropping out and starting from a new page, its a perfectly normal thing to do but I am really intent on finishing my degree one way or another.
 
B

Beachgirl71

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
16
Location
United States
I am so excited for your new educational journey! You've been given a lot of good advice here. I wanted to let you know that I have to take Trazadone at night to help me sleep. I've never been able to turn my brain off at night or stay asleep for more than a few hours. This med has really helped. If school becomes challenging, just take a step back. I was manic while I was in graduate school and had to take a semester off, but I went back and finished my degree. You can do it!

I've been hesitant over the years to involve my family in my bipolar. I was afraid they would think I was crazy and unable to handle my life. That has changed over time, but my main source of support has been from 2 very good friends. They have always been able to tell when my moods change and help me catch it early. Take good care of yourself and listen to your body.
 
HLon99

HLon99

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
709
Location
London, UK
I am so excited for your new educational journey! You've been given a lot of good advice here. I wanted to let you know that I have to take Trazadone at night to help me sleep. I've never been able to turn my brain off at night or stay asleep for more than a few hours. This med has really helped. If school becomes challenging, just take a step back. I was manic while I was in graduate school and had to take a semester off, but I went back and finished my degree. You can do it!

I've been hesitant over the years to involve my family in my bipolar. I was afraid they would think I was crazy and unable to handle my life. That has changed over time, but my main source of support has been from 2 very good friends. They have always been able to tell when my moods change and help me catch it early. Take good care of yourself and listen to your body.
Thanks, that's very kind of you to say. I'm looking forward to it too, although with cautious optimism. I'm still have some trepidations about whether or not I will be able to mentally prepare myself in the upcoming months, but I am trying to do everything in my power to mitigate against any mishaps. I have perhaps 1-2 issues with my psychiatrist that I have to iron out, and I'll feel a lot more confident when I do.

I've been taking my meds regularly and am slowly changing my lifestyle to become healthier on the whole, so hopefully I will be better equiped to deal with any challenges that may come my way. As for the rest, I will hope for the best and leave it to fate and God. I'm ready to use any tools at my disposal to give myself plenty of downtime if things turn south, but I will only take a semester out as a force majeure. I've already taken two years off and I don't think any more time out will be particularly beneficial to me, unless the situation is such that it calls for it.

Its always a good idea to get your family involved with your mental health. Never keep secrets from them, because, assuming they are good decent people, they are the only ones that will have your back. Family is all we have in the end. Its great that you can be open to your friends about your mental health. I wish I could do the same, but unfortunately they are young and still pretty immature about these things. They will most likely be taken aback by it if I disclose it to them and probably regard me as some kind of crazy person. I might tell them eventually, but only when I have my affairs in order, so it will come from a position of strength. For now its on a need to know basis only.
 
J

Jolly

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
Messages
674
Location
United Kingdom
Baby steps. Well done to you and take care of yourself. You seem as if you are doing a great job at sorting things out. Hugs and best wishes x
 
B

Beachgirl71

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
16
Location
United States
Its always a good idea to get your family involved with your mental health. Never keep secrets from them, because, assuming they are good decent people, they are the only ones that will have your back. Family is all we have in the end. Its great that you can be open to your friends about your mental health. I wish I could do the same, but unfortunately they are young and still pretty immature about these things. They will most likely be taken aback by it if I disclose it to them and probably regard me as some kind of crazy person. I might tell them eventually, but only when I have my affairs in order, so it will come from a position of strength. For now its on a need to know basis only.


I agree that family is important, and now that I'm older and my mom, who was my greatest cheerleader, is gone, I am beginning to open up to my dad. He doesn't understand completely, but he is trying. I've been depressed for a couple of months, and New Year's weekend was really hard. I broke down crying on the phone with him. Two days later, I received a vegetarian cookbook in the mail. He had sent it trying to cheer me up. I was so touched. Baby steps, I guess.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
M Advice: Medications for Bipolar Depression Bipolar Forum 12
M My on/off partner has shown all signs of bipolar, and I need help & advice please Bipolar Forum 4
H Marriage advice? Bipolar Forum 83
angel1982 URGENT ADVICE PLEASE IM DESPERATE Bipolar Forum 25
B Trouble functioning. Needing advice and success stories. Bipolar Forum 40
starfoxxy90 Advice need maybe?? Bipolar Forum 4
V Long read: a magma of meds and confusion, need advice or comfort Bipolar Forum 1
A Advice on family drama Bipolar Forum 3
HLon99 Need advice about psychiatrist appointment Bipolar Forum 17
M Bad advice? Bipolar Forum 4
L Need some advice about my bipolar wife. Bipolar Forum 7
S need advice? Bipolar Forum 7
K Need advice on partner going through depressive phase Bipolar Forum 8
A Mother needs some advice. Bipolar Forum 19
Jumo Need advice for bipolar partner's depressive episode Bipolar Forum 1
E What’s the most random/strange advice, cures or coping strategies you have been given Bipolar Forum 17
R Recently Diagnosed with BPD - Advice? Bipolar Forum 2
D I need some advice please Bipolar Forum 15
B Advice Please Bipolar Forum 3
R Med Advice Bipolar Forum 6
B Advice re anxiety meds with bipolar Bipolar Forum 11
S Need advice? Bipolar Forum 26
T I have bi polar and i feel like i can never live a normal life Bipolar Forum 6
MissPink How does your Bipolar affect you in your life? Bipolar Forum 5
HLon99 Feel better, but making no progress in life. Bipolar Forum 12
bluelives911 Untreated bipolar will ruin your life Bipolar Forum 5
B Bipolar in social life Bipolar Forum 11
GaryC123 Hanging On To Life Bipolar Forum 1
HLon99 Getting my life back together after Bipolar Bipolar Forum 7
M Will life ever feel worth living? Is there hope? Bipolar Forum 5
ScreamingMime Should I try dating if Bipolar and PTSD effect my life? Bipolar Forum 15

Similar threads

Top