Bipolar & Change: Major Upheavals and Coping
I am writing this a week after the US presidential election. No matter how Americans may have voted, to say it has been an upheaval is an understatement. For many across the country, it is a time of mourning, a sense of grief and deep confusion, even pain and fear. For lots of others, it is a time of celebration, a belief that at last change is on the way for their lives, shoring up dreams lost.
For those of us with bipolar and other mental disorders, a major changing of the guard, even in the best of circumstances, can be a challenge to our stability. After what has been a long, difficult, and ugly campaign season, and now what will be, to say the least, a sensitive presidential transition, it’s possible our ability to manage our moods could prove harder.
In my case, I am on the side of disappointment. So, I’ve been working on not allowing bipolar depression to take hold. I’m allowing myself grief and sadness, but am recognizing those feeling for what they are – they are feelings, which are separate from depression. I am talking to like-minded friends, and we offer one another support. I’ve spent time outside, soaking up sunshine to stave off any depression-chemistry. I walk when I can with the dog. I hug her a bunch. I meditate and stretch my weary body, and twist open my jaw to stop clenching my teeth. I do the same with my hands to keep my fists open as well.
I have empathy for those who opted to choose the other side. For though they may be happy that their candidate won, there is also the chance that they may end up challenged with managing bipolar symptoms as well. The excitement, the push to the finish, and again the long-fought battle, is a classic set-up for mania, or even a drop into depression. My thoughts on controlling a high are the same as always – look for it: are you talking about the results too much, or too fast? Are you buying up too much memorabilia? Are you over-posting on social media? Is your anger or irritability out-sized? Are you just too “bouncy”? I may have been had my candidate won. Breathe. Also meditate. Exercise. Regulate sleep. Get back to a routine. Turn off the TV. Find quiet. Call the doctor if need be.
And it’s it’s important to note that regardless of which way we voted, the storm of bipolar may affect us either way–I know for me, with the rapid cycling type of bipolar II I experience, I may go down for a bit in my current disappointment, then shoot to the stars in some hope that I can change the world. An extremely “bouncy” on fire trampoline of bitterness.
I had a plan in place either way. I am using the plan I noted above. It’s only been two days, and so far, it’s working. Last week was hard, but now is a little bit better. Later, I will take outside action and pursue the things I believe in that can continue to propel us forward – like crushing the stigma against mental illness and the mentally disabled.
Remember, my friends, that you are important. Regardless of how you voted (in the US, anyway), those of us with mental illness are to be respected, valued, honored, and heard.
P.S. This is a post about bipolar/mental illness. This is not a political post. Should you wish to comment, please limit your thoughts to issues relating to our coping with our illness, and our journey. If you are compelled to write on your political beliefs, I urge you to find another forum. Thanks very much!