I am sure you are asking yourself "what am I doing here?" Most of us question the validity of this diagnosis. Chances are it's the correct diagnosis. If it isn't, your research will find the answers for you. I would like to share some of the things that I have learned in hopes they help you too.
There are three key elements in the road to a more stable life with this illness. They are: Diet, exercise and spirituality. Medication will be discussed on it's own.
DIET - What you eat makes a huge difference in how your body works. What you put into your body dictates how your body works as well as how well your brain works. Processed food has contributed greatly to the demise of health in our world today.
FOOD TO AVOID - Processed and refined sugar is actually on the list of addictive substances. You would not think it is addictive but it is. Refined sugar adds to your depression.
Other foods that make depression worse are; caffeine, foods high in fat, and starchy food. If you can cut back or cut these foods out of your diet, it will help you a lot.
FOOD THAT HELPS - Sunflower seeds, walnuts and Flax are all high in Omega 3's. I have found that munching on sunflower seeds helps with my brain functions. I also grind up equal parts sunflower seeds, walnuts and flax (seeds or flax meal) together. Add some brown sugar and a bit of sea salt. I put it on my toast and it's awesome.
EXERCISE - It is very important to get exercise every day. You don't have to join a gym to get good exercise. Take the stairs, walk to the mailbox or simply walking around the block will help you to not be so depressed. Exercise increases the endorphins in your brain. If you add fifteen minutes of exercise every day, you will see a difference in your depression levels.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS - Vitamins and minerals are important to your total body health. Food has become so processed that we lose the vitamins and minerals and a supplement helps considerably. If you take a multi-vitamin it will help you. Make sure it is a good brand. Vitamins B12 and B complex help lower your levels of depression. Omega 3's will also help lower your depression levels. When you buy Omega 3 vitamins be sure to get the one that has no taste, trust me you will be glad you did.
I also take Valerian root. It helps keep my anxiety levels down.
SPIRITUALITY - I have found that a daily session of reading and prayer helps me immensely. I am a Christian, so I choose to read the Bible and books that are related. I cannot choose your spiritual path for you, I only hope you will find one. There are many books out there that can help you in this area. I also attend church regularly as part of my process. If you do not attend church or prefer not to, find something to do that will get your mind off your troubles. Here are some ideas: Volunteer. There are many ways to volunteer. Go volunteer serving at a food line for the homeless, a battered women's shelter or go read books for the kid's at the library. Look around you, there are lots of ways to volunteer.
ABOUT MEDICATION -Medication is very important. Medication is necessary for you to achieve some stability in your life. Medication also helps you to work through the issues that make life harder to live with. You will hear me say from time to time that I have had some issues with medication. I see medication as a tool. Anyone who suffers from depression and Bipolar Disorder needs to find what works for you. If you are new to this just learning about the illness, you need to be on medication. I was on medication for thirteen years. The reason I no longer take prescription medication is because my body no longer responds well to it.
It is typical to get frustrated with the side effects of medication. Dry mouth is typical. The side effects of medication are a small price to pay for having a more peaceful life.
Unfortunately it is not possible to live completely free of the effects of Bipolar Disorder. There is a very real chemical imbalance in the brain. If you do not have time, or do not care to really work at getting better, it is simply better to just take the medication.
Counseling with a qualified therapist is very helpful in most cases. I have learned that once I worked through my anger issues, I have been able to handle the Bipolar Disorder much better. I have a theory, I believe there is a third element to Bipolar Disorder. I call it Black Mania, and that is the anger issues that I have had to deal with. It seems that when I get angry is when my rationale mind seems to dissipate. This is not a scientific theory, it is only based on my own experiences.
I hope that this has helped you learn a little bit about living with Bipolar Disorder. It really isn't the end of the world. I have learned that 75% of highly creative people are Bipolar. There is a fun and creative side to us. It is not all bad. My hope and prayer for you is that your life will become a better one. Keep searching for answers.