Do we really want to believe how imperfect our lives are!
Appreciating the physiological impact of bipolar disorder
How we can keep day-to-day stress in check
- A good day starts with good sleep: Anybody who is deprived of a restful sleep the night before will be more prone to stress the next day. For those who suffer from the vagaries of bipolar disorder, that is especially true. Missing even night's sleep can precipitate a manic episode. Sleep is virtually at par with medicine in bipolar disorder. Some things which many have found useful to improve sleep are - avoiding television late in the evening, getting mentally prepared to end the day and its activities as night approaches, spending time in the sun during the day hours, exercise in the earlier part of the day, avoiding a heavy supper, and avoiding caffeine late in the day. I am not a fan of medication-induced sleep. Natural sleep is real; much more restorative. Surely, you have discovered ways to sleep better at night and things that hamper good sleep. I also empathize with you, if all the good intentions still result in sleepless nights. Sometimes, it is troublesome past memories that keep us awake, but we can do something about that too.
- Avoiding perfectionism: In a few other places on this blog, I have used the word perfectionism. It is one of my favorites. I find myself still battling with this tendency even after many years and many reminders. The strange thing is, perfectionism never brought happiness, contentment, or even lasting improvement. At best, in personal performance it has been a short-sighted strategy and definitely detrimental to self and relationships in the long run. Giving up perfectionism is much harder than it seems, because to the bipolar mind it gives a false sense of security.
- A generally positive outlook toward people: If you asked someone, what tends to annoy them often, what is the typical response? Including myself, I would probably think of some annoying tendency or habit on the part of a friend or family member. Only later might I even consider some of my own annoying flaw. While most of us wouldn't go so far as to hating other people, we do tend to drift toward negativity in our attitude. Then, we might even feel guilty for feeling that way. It is the right thing to have love for others. It is also healthy. We can't just wake up one fine morning and say, "Okay, I am going to be loving toward people." If we have harbored prejudices, or have been victims of injustices and hurt, giving up the pain can be very hard. We need reason to feel differently toward people and to change our outlook. Those reasons need to be so strong and convincing that they can sustain a positive outlook when it is challenged. And it will be challenged. One reason at least is, that holding on to negativity further damages us emotionally (and even physically) and prevents us from forming new and meaningful relationships. Basically, it makes everyday life more stressful.
- One day at a time: How many times have we heard this superb advice? Yet, admittedly how often do we need to be reminded of the same? Within a 24-hour day, we can only handle so much. Why then are we bent on cramming into that 24-hour day, anxiety fit for many days! We deplete ourselves of energy and joy. We might also end up not being able to do what we otherwise might have done in a more relaxed frame of mind. It is true that, we can add to our daily anxiety through bad habits such as procrastination or the tendency to be lazy. Let's try to work on those bad habits and tendencies rather than adding to them the habit of needless worrying. If in bipolar disorder, anxiety is becoming a major issue despite cognitive training, it can really even be due to the effect of certain medications. I once took Quetiapine Fumarate (U.S. trade name, Seroquel) and it caused Restless Leg Syndrome! On another occasion I was prescribed Clonazepam, and it stopped my legs from moving uncontrollably. The power of chemical agents used to treat bipolar disorder should never be underestimated. Vigilance on the part of patients and family members is crucial.
- Slow down: Life has become fast...too fast! Sometimes we don't even feel that we have time to think before reacting. Sometimes we even forget to breathe slow and deep. Let's slow down!
- Hope: If despite all our good intentions and hard work our day still ends up being a disaster, hardly going as planned, what will keep us going? That thing is hope. Unlike popular belief, hope is neither wishful thinking nor is it gullibility. Real hope is based on reliable foundation. Real hope is based on truth. For example, when a person prays, he should rightly be able to hope that his prayer is being heard; that he is not merely talking to wind. But how would he have such hope or confidence unless he has examined the reasons for such hope? Or another example is, when people say that it will turn out alright in the end, what do they base it on? Is it nothing more than an assumption? An assumption - good or bad - is just that, an assumption. To be truly satisfied, an intelligent human being needs evidence. I found such evidence in the Bible. It deserves honest, unbiased examination like any other source of information. I hope, you would be inclined someday to do so for yourself.