Will I always have bipolar?

Kelly Davis, Mental Health America

There is no “cure” for bipolar disorder; however, being diagnosed does not mean your life is over. It does not mean the things you have struggled with will define the rest of your life. It does not mean you will not be able to do the things you care about. In fact, there isn’t a way to guarantee how it will continue to impact your life specifically.

Some people struggle for a short period of time and go on to experience limited depression and mania. Some experience long periods without mania or depression. Some have more frequent ups and downs. It looks different for different people.

And, just like anything else, there are limited things you can control. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder means that you are at risk for periods of depression and periods of mania. This was not your fault and there is nothing you can do about the things that led up to your diagnosis. Within your control are the ways to cope and strategize moving forward. This means:

  • Learn your triggers. Think about the things that lead up to your experiences with mania or depression. It can be drug or alcohol use, overworking, relationships, or any number of things. Take time to notice whatever may contribute to your mood. Eliminate unnecessary stressors or find coping strategies for ones you can’t or don’t want to eliminate.

  • Explore what works for you. Therapy, medication, diet, exercise, yoga, and art are among the things that people find helpful in their recovery. While people can offer advice and input about what has worked for them, it’s important to discover what combination of things are best for you.

  • Learn your warning signs. In hindsight, people can often see the things leading up to depression or mania. They might notice changes in their sleep, social lives, behaviors, and thoughts. Write them down or work with those in your support network to think about some signs that may indicate you are struggling. Noticing your warning signs can help you identify when it’s time to increase or change whatever you’re doing.

  • Reach out when you need to. Whether you are noticing warning signs or just need more help, continue to reach out to friends, family, professionals, or support when you need to.

  • Find things that you enjoy! Bipolar disorder does not have to be the only thing in your life! Find things you enjoy, projects you want to work on, careers you may want to pursue, relationships and friendships that are important to you, topics you want to learn more about, etc. Plenty of people are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and live full, meaningful lives. You can too.

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