Living With Bipolar Disorder: 7 Ways It Affects My Life
Living with Bipolar Disorder since my diagnosis in 2002 has been a journey of highs and lows with the odd five-year spell of stability. I have experienced delusions, a psychotic episode, depression, mania, hypomania and rapid cycling, not forgetting stress and anxiety.
At the time of writing, I am 48 years old, and to be honest, I have no idea what it is like to feel like the “normal me” anymore. In hindsight, I already had the emergings of bipolar when puberty hit all those years ago, but at the time, it was put down to a rebellious spirit, and boy was I rebellious and for no good reason at the time.
Although, I now know it was me living with bipolar disorder from an early age. I know many others experience bipolar disorder, and I thought I would write an article on the seven ways it affects my life and how I try and combat it.
Hopefully, the article will give you some idea of how I cope. Maybe some of my experiences will help you or point you in another direction which will ultimately help you deal with the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Living With Bipolar Disorder
I’ll cover the essentials in life, from sleep to food and earning money to relationships, plus other ways to affect me.
Working with Bipolar Disorder
I am pretty much unemployable; I know some people can work and others with bipolar who cannot. I fall in between them both; I cannot work for an employer as I am too unreliable and could be off work for months with a bout of severe depression or a manic episode. Even though I would produce a huge amount of work with the latter, the quality would not be a concern for me, it would be full throttle, and everything I am producing is the gold standard. On the other hand, in a manic phase, I am superb in everything I do, or so I believe.
I would struggle with criticism; as in a hypomanic state of mind, I could see a little of the other person’s opinion; in a manic state, it would lead to rage, I have trouble controlling my temper at times. I would never hurt anyone, but it is usually internalised, which is when I may self-harm. However, I have not done this for over a decade, thankfully.
So you see, working for someone is nigh on impossible for me, hence my reason for being a writer. I can work at my own pace, take on jobs when I am feeling stable, knock countless articles out when I’m hypomanic for others, and if I am depressed, I take a back seat as I cannot do anything.
Living with bipolar disorder is a rollercoaster ride, one in which you can’t get off.
Sleeping with Bipolar
Since I discovered Melatonin, sleep has been a blessing; however, before finding my sleep elixir, I would be awake for 36 or 48 hours and then sleep for 12. So it was not conducive to my health. In fact, a lack of sleep is often the cause of triggering a hypomanic state.
I tried sleeping tablets, allergy relief tablets; I tried alcohol every night many years ago. But to no avail, and then by chance someone suggested to me Melatonin, and I haven’t looked back it has been a godsend.
You see, when people with bipolar develop insomnia, it can trigger all types of mood changes, even the average person without bipolar experiences these changes but magnify them by ten, and you may get some idea of how it feels. Except that if I have triggered a hypomanic state, I feel great, full of beans, but really I’m starting to be out of control.
Hence why sleep is so vitally important; if you are bipolar and reading this, and you haven’t tried melatonin, then I highly recommend giving it a go. It tells your body it is sleep time; it is not a sleeping tablet, and for me, I have no sleep hangover in the morning. Half an hour after taking a melatonin melt, I’m in bed.
I have to keep a regular bedtime as even the slightest upset to it can affect my mood. I am a real party pooper now, early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise, as the old saying goes.
[AF] I get my Melatonin from Piping Rock; if you click this link, it will take you to their website, and they deliver to many countries. Plus, they are great value for money if you are on a tight budget like me.
Food and Bipolar
In a previous article, I wrote about how I eat like a bear. Living with bipolar disorder means I have to be creative with how I do things, and eating like a bear is one way I manage my body.
Although, when I am hypo, I don’t tend to eat much, and when I’m depressed, I’m more likely to eat more; however, I stick to the foods I know will benefit me.
It is important to me to listen to my body as I can’t always trust my brain, so I take probiotics to help with the gut and brain connection; you can read more about this in my article on anxiety gut health.
I also never overfill my belly as it can cause me to become depressed; I’ve no idea why, it just does, so I cannot go out to eat in restaurants, not only do I dislike eating in front of strangers, but I have to stick to a routine with food. Otherwise, it can affect my mood. In fact, I have to stick to a routine with most things; otherwise, I could trigger an episode.
A routine is essential when living with bipolar disorder; although I only discovered this in the past five years, I could have saved myself a lot of upset if I had known previously.
Social Life and a Mood Disorder
My social life is non-existent; obviously, Covid hasn’t helped, but my social activities were at an all-time low even before the pandemic hit. The closest thing I got to be social was a weekly occupational therapy course I was attending. But I’m OK with it; I don’t need to be social and go out galavanting; I’ve been there and done that in my youth.
I much prefer having one to one social interaction as I have trouble following multiple conversations anyway. I see family and friends; although they cannot just pop round, they have to give me prior warning; otherwise, it will stress me out because it will interfere with my routine.
Finding your social life balance is key, I know I will not be attending parties anymore because it will affect my mood and my mental health stability is a priority to me. It has to be because if I don’t look after my mood, it can cost me my life.
Stress and Anxiety
I get stressed and anxious quite quickly nowadays; on the one hand, I’m calm in an emergency, but for day to day life, it is a complete minefield for me. It can take just one thing going wrong with my routine to change my mood. However, another of my discoveries is CBD oil which has taken the edge off of my stressors.
For instance, the other day, I received a letter saying a form I had sent had not arrived, and it was an important form; instantly, I became stressed and anxious, and I got on the phone to call them to say, are they sure. Could I get through to them by phone? But, no, I was on hold for about three hours in total, which nearly drove me to the point of “madness” with their inane music and every minute a voice telling me they were sorry, but all their operators were busy.
Needless to say, my anxiety was high, and the world was caving in for me. So I took five drops of CBD oil, and within ten minutes, I felt calmer; my brain then thought I’d send them the copies of the form priority post, and then I’ll know they have got there.
You see, a calm mind solves problems, and an anxious mind creates them.
Relationships – Falling in Love Quickly and Out of it Quickly
Ah, love, the ultimate goal for most people is finding our true love. I have found my true love many times. The problem is I fall in love too quickly; bipolar disorder can make this happen; it is as though I am wearing my heart on my sleeve.
Living with bipolar disorder has created numerous problems for me when it comes to relationships as I love too quick, then when I have that person in my life, I fall out of love. It is the same with other things, items I must have and then I have them, then they no longer become important to me.
It may take several months for this to happen or a few years, but it happens, so now I am staying single. I did try joining a dating site. I wrote an article on it. But it is not for me.
I do dislike this side of me as I never know what my feelings truly are. Do I really love them? It feels as though they mean the world to me, but if they do one thing wrong, maybe two, there is a switch that goes off in my brain, and it instantly turns the love off.
I’m not sure I will ever find the right partner, and for the time being, I should stay single because I haven’t got the energy to think about someone else, and that is not fair on them. But, I’m OK with this; living with bipolar disorder has taught me one thing of benefit, how to be OK in my own company.
Spirituality – Finding, Losing and Finding God
I am a Christian, but it is not easy with bipolar disorder; some of the medication I take actually takes away God. I don’t know how but it stops me from feeling like He is there. As a believer, there is a feeling, a sense, the Holy Spirit which resides in you. However, my tablets cut me off from this, and so I lose the connection. It is like an intermittent wifi signal.
So I believe in God, but because of my whims and fancies with bipolar, I am prone to other explanations and the like regarding spiritual life.
At the moment, I am into aliens and the possibility of them altering our DNA, in conjunction with my belief in God, which makes for a very confused spiritual standing. So I try not to focus on it too much as it sends my head in a spin.
I am not sure how others living with bipolar disorder face the spiritual dilemma and if their medication can take God away, but I am fairly certain I am not the only one; it’s just that I haven’t found another yet.
In a nutshell, the above is my life; it is set by a routine of my own devising as my mental well-being is the most important thing to me. I have a good support network with family and friends, although I don’t think a single one has read my mental health blog, or they haven’t told me, either way, my aim here is to help those with mental issues by my experience, and if I help just one person then it has been worth it.
If you would like to comment, please do so below, and if any of my posts on the website have helped you, I would love for you to let me know.
Peace & Blessings