Practicing these six principles can give you added strength for staying on the road to recovery.
Bipolar is a multifaceted condition that affects the whole person: physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. It impacts virtually every dimension of one’s life. That said, how does a person impacted by a mood disorder go about solving his or her own problems? Well, fortunately, you have the power!
Let me spell out six powerful PERSON-based principles:
Your reality, by which you live your life, is subjective and based on your mental outlook. If you envision a future of doom and gloom, that becomes your reality. Alternatively, if you believe in the possibility of recovery—however you define it—then your thinking helps head you in that direction. The single biggest determinant in redirecting my recovery was learning to see fewer problems and more possibilities. You can make major headway toward wellness by focusing on this principle alone.
For me, empowerment comes from my focus on three endeavors. First, I try to educate myself about how to best manage bipolar, by studying books and researching on the Internet. Second, I equip myself for recovery by, for example, partnering with a competent, caring psychiatrist and a thought-provoking, challenging therapist. Finally, I try to regularly energize my recovery by engaging in activities like volunteering. Doing something for others helps get me out of bed and out of my head, where self-absorption and negative self-talk can be a drain on my brain.
A pivotal step in my recovery was finally accepting the reality of having bipolar. Denying this basic truth delayed my getting better for many years. Initially, I was blind to symptoms, like erratic behavior and delusional thinking, that friends and family were observing. Even after beginning to sense something was wrong, I continued to delay fully taking my condition seriously. When I got real, I started getting better.
When it comes to achieving recovery, taking personal accountability for improving the various aspects of one’s self is key. For example, taking part in therapy (10 years, in my case) can help bolster self-esteem, to which bipolar can deal a heavy blow. Attending peer support groups and being surrounded by others who’ve been there can help positively transform thinking and improve self-confidence. Learning to avoid known triggers increases self-awareness and helps with mood management.
Battling bipolar is no easy task, but you can still take advantage of the choices life gives you. Don’t let opportunities to learn something, try something, or meet someone pass you by. A new insight, a different strategy, or a fresh, friendly face may be just what you need. Be ready to respond when that “chance” email or phone call comes. I’ve found that so-called luck is really preparedness meeting opportunity.
I recently heard about an 80-year-old lady who, after being involved in a car crash, said to her daughter, “I need you to help me.” Although devastated about the accident, the daughter was grateful that her mother, for the first time ever, had acknowledged a need. We all have needs, including those of us living with a mood disorder. Among mine are depending on loved ones for support and on my doctor for professional advice and wisdom. Don’t let pride keep you from recognizing your needs and asking for help when necessary.
Practicing these principles can give you added strength for staying on the road to recovery. When I’m facing an uphill battle, I recall the words of a Jeff and Sheri Easter song: I may not be over the mountain, but I can see the other side. Remember that you possess the power—more than you might realize—to keep forging ahead, even when times are tough. You can start picturing a better tomorrow … today!