The times I did not have a routine were also the times when my bipolar symptoms were the worst––which is why I prioritize developing (and maintaining) my everyday routine.
Growing up Swiss I learned from a young age the skills of organization, good routine planing and time management. Going into my adult years i’ve learned to really appreciate these cultural traits I have as they really help how I manage having bipolar. I’m very time management orientated and very organized; generally speaking these traits we don’t associate with 20 year old university students.
When I have a routine I am for the most part stable.
For example: At the moment I have 3 days of university, training every afternoon at either 4:30 of 5:30 pm, certain days for work and specific days i can dedicate to study. From the moment I wake up everything is organized – it might seem a bit excessive however for me these learned routines become stabilizers. I can pin point how I feel at a moment of the day and compare how I felt last week. For the most part having these routines keep me busy, doing assignments and studying especially doesn’t give much time to be with my own thoughts if i’m too busy analyzing Karl Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism or trying to get a new personal best on deadlifts that week.
There has been so many times where I have had no routine and given enough time I become severely depressed – more so than manic.
Going back a few years to my last year of high school, I developed such a strict routine that I was able to go into my leaving exams without a single break down. However loosing my routine upon when leaving high school actually lead to my diagnosis as Bipolar II. I had no job and no desire to make anything of myself even though i had been accepted into university – I had no routine so no point. From November to the start of March after finishing high school was one of the hardest times in my journey not because of the depression but because of my diagnosis. I was not expecting to have something knew to my identity thrown at me by someone who said I ‘didn’t act like a depressed person would’. So I was left with no routine and a battle in my mind about who i was. It took a while but studying really makes things better.
With my psychologist we use key things such as studying and training to really make a difference in how I feel and how I manage living with a mental illness. During semesters I am more so much more stable – even if that includes stress – than when I am on holidays as my mind is left unoccupied.
That is not to say that I am perfect when I’m in my routines – we all know how quick episodes can come and how unexpected they can be.
Something I have learned since beginning writing and speaking about my mental health is how different things can be when caring for yourself. Studying makes me feel stable but the stress of it can be too much for other people – it’s about finding what works. Training every day – even though hard and sometimes after a 7 hour day of university I really could just curl up into bed, makes me feel so much happier afterwards. Getting new personal bests, feeling stronger and just the release of endorphins is why I keep doing it.
Sarah is a full time university student studying a double degree in a Bachelor of Communications majoring in social and political science as well as a Bachelor of International Studies. After being misdiagnosed with depression for the duration of her teens, Sarah was diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2015. Currently, Sarah is an active and passionate advocate for the awareness of mental health and the destruction of the stigma surrounding it.
Her passion for communication is a major tool in her bipolar management plan. Coupled with her role as a speaker for mental health groups in Sydney, she hopes that by sharing her story to as many people as possible, it can create a better understanding of the diverse nature of mental health.
To read more of Sarah’s work or to contact her, check out her blog!
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