Pearls of Wisdom: Personal Stories of Life-Changing Advice for Managing Moods & Cognitive Challenges

Last Updated: 18 Dec 2020

Individuals living with bipolar share their accounts of when a few wise words made a world of difference in dealing with mania and depression, handling distorted thinking and delusions, releasing self-blame, and more.

life-changing advice bipolar treatment

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Sometimes hearing the right words at the right time can help you find a better path. Sometimes generous counsel becomes a lifeline you reach for when you’re floundering. And sometimes a tidbit of wisdom falls on rocky ground, coming into bloom when conditions finally come together and you’re ready to really hear it—and heed it.

We heard about all those variations when we sent a “shout out” to our online community at, asking about advice that had a crucial influence on your life. A common thread ran through many of your answers: a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor providing vital insight. No wonder psychotherapy is one of the three pillars of bipolar management (along with medication and self-care).

Some of you found guidance online, in inspirational material, or in daily life. One person adopted the slogan “slow is smooth, smooth is fast,” often linked to Navy SEALS, as a reminder that more is not always better—pushing too hard can lead to frustration and burnout instead. Another quoted a frequent reminder of her husband’s: Control what you can and let go of anything else.

In hopes that what helped others can also help you, here are five stories of a moment’s counsel that changed someone’s life for the better.

TAMMY: Protective Procrastination

With 20/20 hindsight, Tammy says the best advice she got about living with bipolar disorder came just after she was diagnosed at age 23.

“I was told to refrain from making any decisions that would significantly impact my life, financial or otherwise, when I was either manic or depressed,” says Tammy, 54.

Those words of wisdom came from the psychiatrist who treated Tammy just after college, but putting them into practice “didn’t come until much later,” she says. In fact, she didn’t stay in treatment for very long, because her parents had a hard time dealing with her diagnosis. [ end of excerpt ]

Printed as “Pearls of Wisdom,” Winter 2021

About the author
Elizabeth Forbes, a veteran reporter and editor, has been overseeing content for esperanza and bp Magazine since 2009.

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