As many of you know, I came out as living with bipolar disorder on my podcast episode #17, It was an extremely raw and vulnerable episode and the feedback allowed me to connect with so many of you on a deeper and more authentic level.
That being said, my story does not stop with its summary. I live and breathe bipolar disorder – even on the days where I feel perfectly fine – and have come to learn a thing or two about how to manage a mental illness on a daily level.
Yesterday, I had one of those treacherous days where I felt like I could lose it all; it was difficult to function, it was difficult to take action, my thoughts went so low so fast it scared me, I couldn’t do anything but just lay there contemplating how bipolar was going to take over my life for good this time.
It might sound dramatic but that’s because it is. I shot down so fast it felt like my own world was collapsing in front of my eyes. Why? There are triggers we can go through but the point is: nothing happened in my life that was proportionate to my depressive reactions.
I just naturally go there. And there is this super dark, fucked up place.
However, I also got out of it (not totally out of the woods but I am now confident that I can function and get my work done – there is still a trickle of depression and anxiety but it is manageable today).
I employ a few tools and methods to pull myself out of the quicksand – and while at times, these methods seem impossible, I shoot to accomplish just one and then renegotiate with my mind if I can accomplish the next. Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.
1. I force myself to get out of the house.
Whether it’s grocery shopping, going to a coffeeshop to read or write, or going to the gym (major extra points!), forcing myself out of my house (especially because I work from home) is SO KEY to forcing myself out of my thoughts. Just pick one minor activity and GET MOVING. This distracts you, transplants you into a normal environment, and pulls you out of your head. The gym is always the best because it forces you to expend all that negative energy – but if you can’t make it to the gym, start smaller: running an errand, meeting a friend for coffee, taking your dog on a walk, etc.
2. I express gratitude.
If you follow me along on Instagram, you know expressing gratitude is my favorite tool in my tool box. I write down 3-5 things I am grateful for or say them out loud (don’t just think them) and truly reflect on each one. There is so much to be grateful for that this practice will immediately remind you of all the good things in life to feel better about.
3. I tell someone I am suffering.
Sometimes just letting someone in on what’s going on allows me to feel less alone. It also gets whatever I am feeling out – as if I just unloaded some emotional baggage. Also, if you are feeling that low it is important that someone in your inner circle knows just in case bigger action needs to be taken.
4. I clean my house.
Well, I don’t do this every time but I know that my mind feels better when my house is clutter-free. My house’s level of organization directly effects my mood. In that sense, I try to keep it as clean as possible and if I can’t get out of my house that day, I’ll force myself to do just a little bit of cleaning. Giving your apartment that extra bit of love and care will take you out of your mind and into the real world.
5. I read and write.
Reading and writing has been my medium from the start. Reading helps me escape and tune out the world – like meditation – while writing helps me etch it out of me. This combo is one of my favorites and I retreat back to them often. Both are efficient and inspirational tools to use when I need a little bit of mental clearing.
Tools for a rainy day when the rain pours often are best to be strengthened and used. I discipline myself and give myself no other choice than picking from this list to get myself moving again. And it always works.
My bipolar ebbs and flows but my tools are my grounding force.