Author: Lisa Graas
•5/30/2007 02:05:00 PM
Attaining Mental Health

You've heard it too many times. Bipolar Disorder is "incurable". Indeed, it is true that there is no cure for this horrible illness, however there are a lot of things you can do to help yourself cope with the illness and to make life a bit more fulfilling. I'd like to give you some tips but first it would probably be best to give you a brief overview of my symptoms:

Here is a very basic overview. I have "mixed episode" bipolar which means that I have some depression symptoms and some manic symptoms at the same time. Sometimes I have paranoid delusions. I have been diagnosed with both panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As you can see, I have a lot to deal with. Indeed, on a daily basis it is difficult for me to function beyond the basics. I do far better, though, when I utilize certain coping skills. Here are just a few:

1) Take your medications according to your doctor's directions. Never believe that you know better than he does because I can promise you that you do not, even if you are a doctor yourself. Listen to your doctor and follow orders.

2)Call your doctor if you are having problems functioning or if you are exhibiting behavior that is radically different from the way you are normally. Also call if you suspect that you are having side effects.

3)Find out where you need to go in case of an emergency. I have been to the hospital's emergency room several times due to suicidal thoughts. There is a crisis unit locally where I can stay for a minimum of four days and be seen by a doctor each day. Take care of yourself!! Seek medical help if necessary, especially if you are suicidal. Mentally healthy people do NOT consider suicide, so if the thought crosses your mind, be on guard and know where to go for help.

4) Join a support group. Ask your doctor to help you find one or join one online. The link for our Bipolar Catholic support group is in the links section, but you don't have to be bipolar OR Catholic to join as long as you respect the rules.

5)Educate your family and friends. It's not necessary for you to make them experts on the details of your illness. Just let them know what sort of behaviors they might see in you and let them know what to do in case that happens. If possible, have one close friend to confide in. Find one or two people who are willing to do things like provide transportation or accompany you to Mass if necessary. Don't miss the Sacraments. You need the grace.

6)Be honest with others and be honest with yourself. It is especially important that you remember to be honest to yourself because there are so many incidents throughout the day when we need to take that to heart.

7)ALWAYS SEEK WELLNESS!! Do not give in and give up!! Be ready to analyze your situation at a moment's notice. Don't let anything get in the way of your wellness, especially if it's a change that you can make yourself. I cannot stress this rule enough, that you should always be seeking wellness.

8) Read the Lives of the Saints. The link to the Patron Saints Index is in the links section. Remember that the Saints are almost invariably known only by their faith in the face of suffering.

I'm sure there are more coping skills but these are the most important ones to me. I hope they can be of help to you, too.
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