There are many ways that I’ve tried to cope with having bipolar disorder, as I’m sure you have as well.

 

One of the most basic ways I’ve discovered as a basic coping strategy to deal with bipolar disorder is the Serenity Prayer:

 

            God, grant me the serenity

            To accept the things I cannot change

            The courage to change the things I can

            And the wisdom to know the difference.

 

It doesn’t matter whether you are “religious” or not, the prayer still works. 

 

I was so tired of the ups and downs of the mood swings, that I would’ve given anything just for one day without them – just one day of “serenity.”  So I could relate to the first line of the prayer.

 

In addition to medication, therapy, and support group meetings, I still needed something more to help me feel “balanced” from the excessive mood swings I was still experiencing in the beginning.

 

In any 12-Step Program, they call it a Higher Power, and that works for some people, but for me it was just simpler to call him God.

 

So I asked God “to accept the things I cannot change.”  That was really hard for me, because I was asking Him to help me accept the fact that I had bipolar disorder, and I didn’t want to do that.  I just did not want to have bipolar disorder, if you want to know the truth.

 

The fact that I was told that I had a disorder for which there was no cure, and for which I would have to take medication the rest of my life…that I would have to live with these mood swings for the rest of my life…that I would never be “normal”…well, this was definitely one of those things I could not change, no matter how much I wanted to.  I had NO power over bipolar disorder and the fact that I had it and always would.

 

“The courage to change the things I can.”  There is only one thing I do have power over, and that is myself.  My decisions.  My choices.  I needed courage, all right, to face up to the disorder, and do the things I had to do to get to stability.  I had to take my medications, see the doctor, therapist, and psychiatrist regularly, go to a support group, take care of myself, learn as much as I could about bipolar disorder, etc.  It was like taking on a second job!  But it was my choice.

 

I became proactive in my own recovery.  That was my choice.  It was the only thing I could change.

 

“And the wisdom to know the difference.”  That was the tough part.  Because sometimes I still try to play God in my own life.  Sometimes I still don’t get this line of the prayer right.  But if I just do the little bit that I can do, one day at a time, and let God do the rest, I find that my stress level is much lower, my stability is much higher, and overall, my life is much better, in spite of the fact that I have bipolar disorder.

 

I have used a lot of different coping strategies in my strive for stability with bipolar disorder; however, this very simple prayer has kept me stable for a long time.