Bi Polar Disorder and Self Management

I have not blogged much over the last 9-12 months which makes it glaringly obvious that I have not had my finger on the pulse, especially where my Bi Polar mood swings are concerned.

I became ill at Christmas 2016 and descended into a mire of depression immediately. I had felt well for months. In fact I had felt supremely well for months. Sound familiar? During the hypomanic phase which can last for a considerable time I am extremely productive and experience ‘flow’ but eventually this becomes more than a healthy state of mind and can gain momentum leading to lack of insight, rash decisions and can send your life spiralling out of control. Only it doesn’t go out of control in your mind. You still think your life is normal and you are well while everyone around you is muttering behind your back that …

‘something has to be done’.

My family and my partner tried to alert the medics but without success something that the Psychiatrist found appalling. I eventually wrote a letter to my GP asking for a referral. My psych then always visits me at home for good reason – I am at the stage when I can’t leave the house. He then returns in a few weeks after which appointments are made at the nearby cottage hospital.

In the letter I said the family had been refused access to the Psychiatrist and to the GP. We now have a procedure in place which, in future, will ensure that family do get to express their concerns. Changing my GP is also on my to do list!

I had been on a Living With Bi Polar course not once but a second time as a refresher, but could only present him with a small piece of paper with four ideas of how to get well. Drink more water, go to the shops for a few things etc.

There is nothing on here about doing something you enjoy, he said.

Of course, when depressed, we no longer enjoy anything, so all our hobbies are now forgotten or our brains cannot cope with the challenge or necessary concentration.

Leaving me with a list of about 9 things to do on an action plan, he departed saying he would be back in three weeks. After all recovery has to come from me and I know that. I was to do relaxation exercises three times a day on the floor or more often when sitting in a chair. I was to get back to yoga, using my CD and go for walks, extending the distance each day. I was to review the course material from the Bi Polar management course and he stressed it is all about self management. By this I know that we should do the opposite ie if we feel high and energetic we should do yoga, go to bed early, read, calm ourselves down, cut down on activities rather than increase them. When depressed and unable to move out of the bedroom we should get up, move about and go out in the fresh air. We should exercise.

In reality I exercise and go out a lot when I am high. I socialise extensively and talk a lot. I make plans. In fact, what I should do is socialise less, listen to music so I do not talk so much, watch romantic films to keep me seated on the sofa. When low I sink beneath the duvet and do very little s

In Depressive Illness, The Curse of the Strong, Dr Tim Cantopher provides many ideas for helping us work through our depression. One idea he gives is to refrain from supermarket shopping which may be overwhelming but to go to the corner shop and buy a few items, a trip which is more manageable.
Dr Cantopher describes the build up to depression as likened to a thermostat which overheats. Those of us with Bi Polar do not make the chemicals in the brain which stop us overdoing things. We cannot regulate our brains which is why we continue to talk fast, go out to much, take on too many activities and commitments when our brain is about to fuse whereas those without this mood disorder will actually release chemicals which stop them before it is too late.

This was heartening to me as I have always blamed myself. However, it is still up to me to manage the condition.

Sleep, relaxation, keeping occupied, attention to diet, exercise and mindfulness all contribute to managing the condition.

Over the next few weeks I compiled my own manual using the course materials, the internet, blogs on mental health, library books, self help books and leaflets from Mind. I did my own research. As a writer it was good to have a writing project that centred on my mental illness. However, we are all individual and the condition is unique to us. We all respond differently and I have found that each episode is slightly different and requires some fine tuning. For example, sometimes puzzles can keep me occupied as I work my way out of the mire. In another episode the puzzles irritate me and I find another way, perhaps writing a diary or listening to music.

Next time I descend into deep depression the family and my partner know to push my manual in front of me and tell me to read it. In the book I have simplified all the advice and information that is out in the public domain.
In my next post I will explain how I achieved this, what the manual contains and provide an overview of strategies to help stay on an even keel.

Do let me know of your experiences with mental illness so we can share information for all those affected.

Di Castle

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.

Her debut, Grandma’s Poetry Book, is available by post via dcastle32@talktalk.net or on her website http://www.dicastle.co.uk .
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’.

SHOULD I WEAR FLORAL and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving, By Di Castle and illustrated by Denise Horn.
You can follow her on twitter @dinahcas and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Di-Castle-Writer/266866193324409parted16formation o


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