Monday, July 23, 2012

Staying Healthy and Avoiding Triggers

It is possible, other than medications, to aid in mood stability. In conjunction with taking your medication(s), psychotherapy, self-management techniques, which I will address later, and avoiding outside triggers, stabilizing your mood is possible. Fortunately coping in society is 100% possible. I personally have discovered and am still discovering healthy ways and self-management techniques to assist with my stability. Additionally, monitoring my sleep is SO important. I need to make sure every night I go to bed on time, and take my initial does of medication at 6:00pm; otherwise, I will sleep until 1:00pm. Clozaril makes me sleep 12-14 hours a night. It SUCKS!!! 

One factor for contributing to relapse is stress. This can be a huge trigger and destabilize. Reducing stress as much as possible really helps. Way in which I do this includes exercising, relaxing, and eating healthy. Some folks find meditation and yoga helps, but I have not tried this before. As I have experienced, there are ups and downs in my life, and I cannot say that it is also easy and that the road had no potholes. However, I do not feel doomed, and shackled for the rest of my life! 

As I have experienced now and in the past that there are “red” flags. For example, my psychiatrist put me on a stimulant for my ADHD. For those that do not know, if a person is Bipolar, prescribed a stimulant, such as Adderall, can cause manic and rapid cycling episodes to occur. Particularly if a person is not stabilized with a mood disorder. I am not a medical doctor, so everything I am saying is based on my experience and personal opinion. 

Some questions I constantly ask to myself: Is my mood stable right now, have I noticed any severe manic or depression symptoms? What trigger my moods, and have I been staying away from these triggers? Can I make sure I can diminish my chances for destabilization? For me personally I self manage by tracking my moods daily, by using a mood chart. This also proves beneficial when I meet with my psychiatrist so that she can see how stable or unstable I have been. Which in turn also helps with adjusts, if needed, with my medication. Another point I would like to make, is if you have a mood disorder, and do not track your mood, think make….do you clearly remember your mood yesterday, the day before, last week. Assessing my behavior and moods has become second nature to me. Sometimes I do get paranoid a little around folks who know I have bipolar disorder. I tend to ask myself when around them, how is my behavior and how am I being perceived. What if I am manic and don’t notice, what if I am depressed and not sociable? These questions are constantly in my head! 

For me, as well, there are questions I am constantly asking myself, to ensure that I am remaining stable. I also ask my friends and family to have these questions in the back of their mind when interacting with me. Some of this includes: Am I talking a lot? Jumping from topic to topic? Not sleeping as much? Sleeping too much? Keep to myself for more? This is only a summary of the questions that arise. Someone times it is harder for me to look in rather than look out at yourself. Thus, making it important those close to you are also monitoring your mood and actions as well. 

Another suggestion that I have found usual, and others too, is building a support network. This includes friends, family, and others diagnosed with a mental illness. For me personally for the first couple of years I found it difficult to rely on my friends and family for support. Not because they were not there for me but because they did not “get it.”  However, I too was just learning about it. 

**Additionally another suggestion is to contact your local Depressive Manic Depressive Association (DMDA) to identify local support groups.

If there is not one in your area, there is a link on this website that provides suggestions and help for starting your own support group. While at first the membership may be low, eventually folks will come out of the woodwork and reach out! Research has shown that individuals diagnosed with a mental illness who have some sort of support network stay healthy and do better. So if it's finding a support group, checking out resources online, as well as online blog or mental illness "talk" forums, there's help out there.

**Bipolar Support Group:
How do you avoid triggers, still healthy, or utilize outside resources?

Bipolar Betty

**These resources I have utilized....I don't have any connection to these websites, I've just suggested them because they have helped me.