1. Increase your awareness. The first thing to do is to recognize how much they’re interfering with your daily life, and holding you back from being happy and free.
2.Try to be specific. What is it that worries you about the situation? What is the one thing that terrifies you most?
3. What do…
|—||Joyce Meyer (via onlinecounsellingcollege)|
|—||Nicole Williams (via onlinecounsellingcollege)|
In my last blog I talked about bravely letting some people in your life go, those that are unable to “deal” with your illness. Today I wanted to talk about the people that stick around. Having a support system is imperative to bipolar wellness and that support can come in many ways.
I can’t say enough about good therapists. Sometimes a beautifully bipolar chick just needs some objective advice. The thing about therapists is that you can tell them anything – ANYTHING – and if they haven’t heard it before, they’ve been trained on how to respond to it. But you have to trust them and no, you don’t have to do it right away, but if they are to become a part of your support system trust must be built.
2. Family and Friends
Your family has been there since the get-go. For example, mine knows what I was like before the madness came and they know me now. You’ll find that the friends that stick around through the depressions and the mania are the true friends you had before all the madness started. What is great about close family and friends is they can, for lack of a better phrase, “keep an eye on you.” Sometimes you don’t see the signs that you are slipping into mania or falling into depression, but often times they can. This is a great thing because they can alert you and you can alert your therapist and psychiatrist. And unlike a therapist, they can be “on call” at any time, not just during office hours.
How and when you reveal your mental illness to your partner is another blog post altogether, for this one, we are assuming that he or she knows and loves you. I personally have a great partner. My boyfriend has been in the trenches with me. He is part of the reason why I thrive as much as I do. Like family and friends, a good partner can sense changes in your mood maybe before you can and if you live with your partner they may be able to see shifts in your moods and behaviors before anyone else. Again, the great thing about this is that once you are aware of what is going on you can take steps toward wellness.
Now,you will probably see your psychiatrist least often, but he is an important part of your support system. The closer the relationship you can have with him the better. I don’t mean trading Christmas cards, but you should keep him abreast of your symptoms. Ideally you should be able to get a hold of your psychiatrist in a crisis without having to wait for days or jump through any hoops. The better he knows you and how your illness affects you the better able he will be to treat you and prescribe the appropriate medications.
5. Support Groups
Sometimes it is just nice to find some people who understand, who get it. They’ve been there. They know how it feels and they also know how to help. Support groups come in all shapes and sizes so don’t give up if the first one you try isn’t the right fit. There are people out there just like you and they can help.
Knowing when to commit yourself or a loved one to the hospital to be treated for severe depression can be a very gray area. I wish there were a set of directions much like those when you are in labor: if contractions come within five minutes of each other and last a minute, pack your bags.
Some physicians will make the decision for you, but usually it is up to you. Here are a few guidelines.
1. When you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else.
If you are very suicidal and have gone as far as making plans, you should be in a safe place where you don’t have to rely on sheer willpower. All of us who have experienced severe depression know that willpower eventually caves. The pain is just too intense. Likewise, if you are with young children or other people you could harm in a fit of rage, if you don’t have full control over your emotions, you should admit yourself into the hospital.
2. When you need to be treated aggressively.
You can be treated more aggressively in the hospital because of the close monitoring. Your doctor can change meds — try new combinations, etc. — in a fashion that would take weeks or even months with outpatient care. Because the support staff offers round-the-clock care, any unfavorable medication reactions are caught immediately. This can give your recovery a much-needed jump-start.
3. When you need ECT treatments.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a form of neurostimulation therapy that has a high success rate for treating persons with severe and chronic cases of depression, especially those who have failed to respond to medication and psychotherapy. ECT involves applying electrical pulses to the scalp to induce seizures throughout the brain while a person is under general anesthesia. The procedure is usually performed inpatient because you can recover from the anesthesia in a safe environment and your doctor can closely monitor your progress.
4. When you can’t function.
If you can’t stop sobbing at work, in front of your kids, and have little control over your emotions, in general, you should consider hospitalization. If you can’t eat or sleep, shower or get dressed, the bare minimum tasks of functioning as an independent human being, you may be better off in a place where people can care for you.