Here is what to do when your bipolar disorder ‘hits you like a tsunami’ and makes you feel as if you can’t go on.
Here is what I do when the bipolar disorder hits me like a tsunami and I feel I can’t go on:
1. I remind myself that bipolar disorder is an episodic illness and mood swings always end.
I remind myself that I have been sick before and I will be sick again. In this moment, I am simply ill and it will stop eventually. Bipolar disorder IS NOT PERMANENT.
2. I ask for help from a health care professional even if I can hardly move.
This may be a text message saying, “I’m sick today.” Often, it means writing my therapist. She always knows what to do. We have worked together for many years. If you are sick right now and DON’T have a therapist or doctor to talk to, call a crisis line. They WORK. They are meant for YOU. Use them.
Here is some advice I hope can help during a time of crisis:
3. Praise yourself for being on this website.
By coming here, you have taken the first step to getting better. I have been so sick that I could only lie in the floor in a fetal position crying, but I’m still here. Over time, I built my skills. Maybe you are building skills now. Each time you try something and it works, it becomes a part of your management plan.
4. Do something active even if it feels like you can’t.
I write about this in Get it Done When You’re Depressed. I started to get better when I realized that lying in a fetal position was what my brain chemistry was making me do. It was not ME! I learned to stand up. Then, I learned to walk. Then I learned to get active even when sick. I took the picture of my mom’s back yard on a very tough day. We can create beauty even when the mood swings are raging.
5. Plan now for future mood swings.
Having a plan in place for when you get sick like this is key. My books outline the plan I use. This wonderful website has an enormous body of work that you can use immediately to get help. Click on the blog link and look up the authors. They all have stories of how they manage this illness. WE ALL GET SICK just like you. No one on this website is cured. We are no different from you, we just happen to write.
You may be sick in this moment, but your next moment can feel better.
Julie A. Fast is the author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, Get It Done When You’re Depressed, and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder. She is a columnist and blogger for bp Magazine, and she won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lilly Reintegration Achievement Award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for ShareCare, a site created by Dr. Oz and Oprah. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals, including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists, and general practitioners, on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis, and Depression." You can find more about her work at JulieFast.com and BipolarHappens.com.
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