It’s a matter of time

Last Updated: 22 Oct 2020

Over the years, I’ve found that seeing myself in a more healthy light and focusing on wellness-oriented behaviors have stood the test of time.

Time is a unique phenomenon. We all have an equal amount of it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s easily wasted if not properly managed. It can fly, stand still, and play tricks on us.

With bipolar, time is particularly relevant. It can take a decade to get the right diagnosis and years to find the right medication mix—assuming you find a doctor who is taking new patients and accepts your insurance.

For me, handling routine daily activities can take a ton of time. Accomplishing more complex tasks can be overwhelming. And because my mood fluctuates so frequently, predicting how I’ll feel day to day is difficult—only time will tell!

I periodically face phases of severe depression that seem to never end. Sometimes I might spend hours in an anxious, agitated state. Mania can make me lose track of time altogether. I occasionally wonder if I can take another minute!

Fortunately, working on this piece gave me time to reflect. (I hope reading it does the same for you.) I realized that I can put time on my side if I contemplate what’s happened in the past, adjust my thinking in the present, and look for better days ahead.

For example, it did take me a while to locate my first doctor … however, I was able to maintain that partnership for two decades. The time I spent early on ended up saving me considerably more downtime later.

Coming up with the right medications was time consuming. At one point I grew discouraged, so my doctor sent me to a psychopharmacologist (a medication management specialist) to help. By being persistent, we finally found the right Rx formula, which made the wait worthwhile!

 I was in therapy just about every week for a decade (I had many issues to confront!). While I initially sought a quick fix, I soon realized that I needed to be patient and devote time to the process.

Those years of therapy paid off! I was able to nix much of my negative self-talk and adopt a more positive perspective. I started paying closer attention to known triggers, which helps me keep stress at bay. I try to exercise regularly, eat nutritiously, and sleep soundly. That’s all time well spent!

Also, I now permit myself to put off till tomorrow what might overwhelm me today. Giving myself a break is not a cop-out; it’s positive procrastination. Stepping back, remaining calm, and being mindful all help offset what could be a major setback.

Time may not heal all, but learning to use it wisely has helped me minimize mania and diminish depression. I’ve found that seeing myself in a more healthy light and focusing on wellness-oriented behaviors have stood the test of time.

Let’s look at six more “timely” thoughts:

1. Getting up at the same time every day helps keep your biorhythms in sync.

2. Filling your time with productive activities helps avoid filling your mind with unproductive thoughts.

3. Take time each day to make a mental note of a worthwhile accomplishment.

4. Time may not stand still, but sometimes we need to relax and do just that.

5. When did you last acknowledge the progress you’ve made over time?

6. Going through a tough time makes you tougher.

When it comes to battling bipolar, “patience is a virtue”; however, time is still “of the essence.” After all, we’re talking about a serious brain disorder, which begs a number of questions:

  • When will insurance companies offer true parity?
  • When will more affordable medications, with fewer side effects, be available?
  • When will stigma end?
  • When will we find a cure?

Let’s hope these changes come sooner than later. It’s just a matter of time.

Printed as “Mind Over Mood: It’s a Matter of Time,” Spring 2020

About the author
Stephen Propst, is president of DBSA Metro Atlanta. He is a public speaker and a coach/consultant focusing on living successfully with conditions like bipolar. Stephen can be reached at

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