In January this year I suffered a serious relapse. I had been managing my Bi Polar Disorder well but looking back I was seriously hypomanic for most of 2016 dipping occasionally and taking some days ‘off’ unwinding sotospeak but just before Christmas I began falling out with people, became stressed and tearful. I still did not see what was happening but hopefully, since going on an Early Warning Signs course, I shall recognise what is happening and take action earlier in future.
When my psychiatrist visited me at home he was surprised that the two Living with Bi Polar Courses that I had attended had not resulted in me managing the disorder more effectively. He told me to revise the course material. I did this and came up with the idea of making a personal manual.
The first two pages list what I have to do to stay well. Requested by Swanage Depression Support Group after I shared my list. I have edited it somewhat and added extra items.
MY STAYING WELL PLAN
- Accept the phase when you need to lie in bed most of the morning. Your brain needs to rest. This prevents further stimulation.
- Read the first few pages of Depressive Illness, the Curse of the Strong, Dr Tim Cantopher. An excellent understanding of the true meaning of depression.
- Note Dr Cantopher’s point that something has to change if you are to stay well and not relapse. People relapse as they have not made changes to their routine, action or behaviour which may have been maladaptive
- Put on Smooth radio or Classic FM
- Keep off the computer for a while and, if you cannot bear it and are frightened you will have to give it up altogether, remember you will come back to it.
- Play CDs, dance, use party CDs
- Play relaxing music in the background when writing or reading.
- Use lavender oil and massage temples and neck each night
- Keep occupied
- Do some tidying every day
- Do some clearing out every day, just one shelf or a drawer. One small step
- Drink more water
- Eat healthy food. Cut out junk.
- Use 3.75 Zopiclone and if necessary take 7.5mg and then reduce after one month. 8 hours sleep minimum is essential for Bi Polar Disorder
- Shop each day for a few things. Use the local corner shop if the larger store is overwhelming
- Don’t spend unnecessary money. WAIT
- Walk each day. Once and then later go out twice. Increase the distance each time
- Use a relaxation tape, 3 times a day on the floor if anxiety is crippling
- Do yoga. Arrange for a lift to a class if you cannot drive. Use the yoga CD if you cannot go out.
- Practise deep breathing all the time, when waiting in shop queue or watching tv.
- Do puzzles, crosswords.
- Don’t read the news in newspapers. Look for the funny comment columns or the letters page.
- Read self help books to revise relaxation, stress reduction and get positive ideas.
- Watch tv on catch up, not live, If attention is poor you can watch a short part at a time.
- Do NOT watch the news while anxious or depressed
- Go to bed 11-11.30 Read for half an hour after tablets
- Visit the library and sit with a book, just feel the warmth, feel the nearness of the company and the ambience of books around you.
- Use the internet for following mental health blogs and self help. Look at the MIND site and read what people have written. Contribute your own positive idea which will make you feel good.
- Print out anything useful and put in your Getting Better file.
- Face up to Finance. Instead of regretting overspending, look at your accounts. It may not be as bad as you think.
- Write a diary of what you have done each day.
- Keep a notebook/diary of thoughts, feelings, actions, what you did each day and write helpful things down.
- Write down 3 things you want to do tomorrow
- Write down 3 positive things that happened today.
- Sort out some books you no longer want and take them to Oxfam
- Make notes from previous courses, reduce them and put them in the Manual
- Do something you have not done before
- Use Power Work Out DVD (Keep Fit) £1.50 on Ebay
- As you feel better start to speak to people when you are out.
- Go for Reflexology
- If you are a writer (I am) ease the block by reading through some work on the computer and start editing small parts. The creative urge will return.
- Use the idea of the Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron). Write 3 pages each morning of the first thing that comes to mind, even rubbish. Free association. Do not try to write something serious until you have emptied your mind first.
- Visit the Library 2-3 times a week, take a few books out and return those that do not appeal. Stick with those you like after the first three pages. Try to sit down to read several times a day.
- Start to listen to talking radio when you feel up to it eg Woman’s Hour and other discussion programmes. Use catch up for the periods you could not bear the inner noise of talking radio.
Remember that eventually you will get back to some semblance of normality (as it applies to you) and you might even begin to write a helpful mental health blog such as this one.
Please comment and add your ideas to this staying well list.
Di Castle has Bi Polar Disorder and has struggled to manage the symptoms over the years. Self Management is the key and she hopes her posts on this blog will help others. She welcomes feedback.
This poetry collection spans sixteen years capturing the experience of a first-time grandmother on her sometimes wobbly journey in her new role. It includes many facets of unmissable moments and childhood milestones, some humorous and others more poignant, even sad. Such treasured times can easily be forgotten so the book acts as a nostalgic memoir. Touching and funny in turn, readers will be reminded of the joys of witnessing childhood development and the effect o n their own lives. Even those yet to reach grandparenthood including fathers, aunties and primary school children have already enjoyed reading this book. Grandma’s Poetry Book makes an ideal gift for new grandparents, birthdays, Christmas and Mothers’ Day and many readers have returned to buy more copies for friends and relations. Each poem has its own laugh-out-loud illustration by an artist who has been likened to E H Sheppard.
Some comments have included ‘Pam Ayres meets Winnie the Pooh’, ‘made me laugh, made me cry’, ‘charming book’ and ‘every grandparent should have one’.
OUT SOON SHOULD I WEAR FLORAL and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving, By Di Castle and illustrated by Denise Horn.
You can follow me on twitter @dinahcas and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Di-Castle-Writer/266866193324409