Firstly, I have Bipolar and was diagnosed when I was about thirty-nine maybe forty. I am forty-nine now and manage it well considering the challenges I have faced. I have never been hospitalised or harmed myself or anyone else physically. I was in the Navy as a young guy in my late teens and early twenties. This experience started out as a big adventure. I got through recruit training with no issues and was selected for submarine training. I was passing everything with little effort. However, my drinking started to increase and my sleeplessness was catching up with me. My behaviour started to become erratic and unpredictable. I ended up going AWOL, Away Without Leave, twice and was assaulted and hospitalised as a result of injuries in two very short periods of time. The hospitalisation was not psychiatric. This all went unnoticed in terms of mental health issues. I even saw Navy physiologist before I got out after these bad episodes; now recognising with much-lived experience as Bipolar now in hindsight.
“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.”
I was done with military life in my early twenties. What happen till I got diagnosed at nearly forty years of age. I still worked and had a family, but I had some tough times. My moods and at times illogical behaviour was hard for everyone. Thankfully I survived and managed to get treatment finally. This is a long story and certainly no room in this short blog, however, I am giving out some general advice based on my lived experience.
Advice from my lived experience.
- If you are not sleeping please see a medical professional about ways to manage this better. Sleep or lack of it, can be a sign of poor mental health and even mental illness.
- Diet is vital in order for the body to run at it full potential. Poor nutrition can exasperate mental illness or create poor mental health.
- Obviously, many substances including alcohol will not help. This Includes smoking cigarettes and cannabis. You need to live clean of any type of stimulant, including sugar and caffeine, it goes without saying that mind altering drugs will drastically reduce your chances of managing your mental health well.
For me, intellectual stimulation and walking have helped. I have found writing very therapeutic and healing. You need to find the things that give your life meaning and put your energy into those things. I am a believer in God and exploring my inner life, or another way to put this, looking to my heart has helped me immensely. Having an excellent psychiatrist and being well supported by your loved ones is vital. Finlay, take your medication properly and only as directed always.
I love written prayers and here is one use regularly. Love Scott
Major Life Transition
Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organise myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.
Claiborne, Shane. Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (pp. 552-553).