Opening Post

Consistency is the Key

Life is all about change. There was a time in my life when change itself was enough to throw me into manic episode after manic episode because I was so ill-prepared to cope with those changes. However, with time and therapy, and learning how to manage my bipolar disorder, I have been able to deal with change.

The key to dealing with the changes that have occurred in my life has come through one word: consistency. It has also been one of the biggest keys to learning how to deal with my bipolar disorder in general.

The mania of bipolar disorder used to rule my life. In fact, bipolar mania at one point used to be the rule rather than the exception in my life, and my life was in continual chaos! Things were totally out of control for me – this was right before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Thankfully, with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the subsequent medications, my life eventually began to become more controlled, and eventually the mania subsided. However, I still had to deal with depression from time to time.

That’s where consistency came in. One of the things I learned was that I would have ups and downs in life – that was just a part of living. Even people who don’t have bipolar disorder have to deal with that. But I had to learn that not every “bad” day meant the beginning of a bipolar depressive episode.

I had to learn to look at things in perspective. In other words, to look at that “bad” day as part of the whole week. I had to ask myself if that day was part of a pattern, or just an isolated incident. If it was just a bad day, well, that was ok – everybody has them, and it was ok for me to have one, too. “This too shall pass” became my way of getting through those days. I learned to wait them out and not to overreact to them; in other words, not to make myself even more depressed because of that one day.

After awhile, my behavior as a whole became more consistent. I began doing those things that were under my control to do to manage my bipolar disorder (instead of it managing me, like it had been previously).

I took my medications religiously, and without complaint. I knew that I needed them to remain stable and out of episodes. I went to see my psychiatrist and therapist on a regular basis and did what they told me to do. I kept to a good sleep schedule, getting 9 hours of sleep every night, going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each morning. I ate a good diet, staying away from sweets and fatty foods, and definitely didn’t drink alcohol. And I exercised three times a week.

There was a routine to my life, and relatively little stress in it, as I had found that stress was one of my triggers to a bipolar episode. By doing these things consistently, I was able to avoid bipolar episodes and remain stable for a long time.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,


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Opening Post

Keep On Keepin’ On

Well, we survived the move without either of us going into a manic episode, which is great news, don’t you think?

I LOVE my new house! It’s a log cabin house, with exposed rafters and hardwood floors and everything. It’s so “country” looking, and I feel so at home in it. I feel so at peace.

So everything is in its place, and all the hassle has died down. So now what?

What do you do when you’re coming down from some big event and now things are quiet?

What do you do when things are just going along and nothing special is happening?

First of all, you praise the Lord that there are no crises in your life at the moment!

Then you just keep on keepin’ on.

That’s right. You just keep going. You do what’s in front of you to do.

You don’t look for trouble. The Bible says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Today has enough troubles of its own.”

You take care of what needs to be taken care of today. You take care of yourself and your bipolar disorder.

An old Amish saying is “Do ye next thing.” I really abide by that, because it’s like saying, “Do one thing at a time,” and most times that’s all I can handle, otherwise I will get overwhelmed.

And when I get overwhelmed, I will either shut down and get depressed…

Or I will get triggered into a manic episode.

And neither one of those is a good option for me.

So I am grateful for those periods when things are just going along with no crises in sight. I’m glad when things are peaceful.

Aren’t you?

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

I Hope I NEVER Have to Do This Again!

I just got done moving into a new house, and I sincerely hope I NEVER have to do this again! What am I saying, just got done? I’m not sure I’m EVER gonna be done!

I had gotten the kitchen all put together, but then my husband brought a whole nother load over, and everything was a mess again! Boxes everywhere, with just a path to the kitchen.

We’ve had to eat out, because I can’t even find my baking pans or dishes. But I’ve got plenty of silverware!

I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s ever gone through a major move, but I feel like it. I’ve only moved a mile and a half from my last house, but this move is as bad as when I moved all the way from FL to TN!

We lost two bookshelves and my computer desk in the move – they fell apart when we went to move them. They were just particleboard anyway, so I guess we really couldn’t expect much. So now I’m typing this on a table. Oh well, at least I had the table to do it on.

And one pane of glass broke out of my china cabinet, but my father-in-law says he can replace it. So I’m not crying over that.

But the thing that really surprises me most of all is that I’m keeping so calm through this whole thing. I mean, I’m stressed because it’s a major move and all, but I’m not stressed out. You know what I mean?

I’m exhausted, but I’m getting enough sleep. When my head hits the pillow at night, I am out like a light. And I sleep like a rock! That’s because I keep going from morning to night. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the manic going from morning to night.

That’s the amazing thing – I’ve been able to keep it together enough to stay out of a manic episode! That’s a God thing, I think. Because I feel peaceful instead of manic, and I really thought I’d go manic with all the chaos and all.

Still, I wouldn’t recommend moving to anyone who absolutely didn’t have to. It’s almost traumatic! Definitely a major thing. I don’t know how I would’ve ever been able to pull it off if it weren’t for my husband working side by side with me. He is a godsend.

Well, if you do have to move, be sure to stay to your sleep schedule, take plenty of breaks, stop to eat regular meals (so you can keep your body’s sugar regulated – you’ll need your strength). Definitely pace yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed. And take things one thing at a time – take it easy – don’t try to do everything at once.

If you do that, your move should go well, and you should be able to avoid a bipolar episode.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

House Hunting

We got a wonderful surprise the other night. Bill’s mom took us out to dinner and delivered some awesome news about a decision she made that would affect Bill and me.

Since Bill’s brother died at Thanksgiving, that meant that the money she was leaving as an inheritance to the two of them would no longer be divided – all of it would now go to Bill.

So she said that rather than waiting till she died, which could be 20 years from now, she would like to see him use the money now.

So she wants us to buy a house and use the inheritance money for a down payment. But here’s the staggering news – the amount of the inheritance is $100,000!!! So that would mean that we wouldn’t have to borrow very much money from the bank at all and our mortgage payments would definitely be lower than what we’re paying in rent now.

Isn’t that awesome? We are so excited. But here’s the thing. We can’t get TOO excited, or our bipolar disorder will suffer. I’m ok, but I’m afraid my husband’s already is.

I caught him still up at 1 in the morning last night when I got up to go to the bathroom. I’m afraid this new house thing is going to keep him up nights, and he needs to get the right amount of sleep so he doesn’t go into a manic episode.

This is a really good thing, tho. And at a point in our lives, where we’re older, and we couldn’t have gotten a house any other way, because we’re both on disability for our bipolar disorder.

I can’t believe how good the Lord is to me. God really does answer prayers. Most of all, I’m grateful for His love for me, but I’m so grateful for the decision Bill’s mom made and for her generosity, that will enable us to buy a house.

We are so enjoying house hunting now. It’s something for us to do together, and it’s so much fun! And we’re not in a hurry, because we’re not on a lease where we’re renting now. So we can take our time and find the perfect house for us. God is SO good!

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Well, I’ve been getting ready for the holidays, and trying to stay stress-free and out of an episode, like I do every year. I’ve also been trying to keep everyone around me from going into an episode as well.

See, my husband’s brother, Mike, died on Black Friday, so everyone around here is still in mourning. His mom has bipolar disorder, and is prone to depressive episodes.

She has been so depressed since Mike died that she hasn’t even gotten out of bed.

But she is going to have the family Christmas dinner at her house this Saturday, so we’re hoping she’ll come round for that, at least.

But in case she doesn’t, my husband and I are going over to her house on Friday to help her cook for Saturday. Even if we have to do all the cooking for Saturday’s meal, she still intends to have everyone over for Christmas Eve. She said even if she doesn’t get out of bed, she still wants everyone to come over.

I don’t know how well this dinner is gonna go over, since everyone is so depressed about Mike and all. I’m trying to keep my husband (who also has bipolar) from being too depressed and, believe me, that isn’t easy.

It’s hard for me to keep my own spirits up when everyone around me is so depressed, but I’m trying.

I just got done wrapping my husband’s Christmas presents and putting them under the tree. That helped me keep in the spirit.

Plus, of course, I’m praying a lot. I mean, a LOT. And that definitely helps. And staying busy helps as well. But not TOO busy. I don’t wanna go the opposite way and go into a manic episode.

Well, here’s to hoping that you have a great holiday this year. I wish you a wonderful Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

Take the Bad Days with the Good

When you have bipolar disorder, you have to take the bad days with the good (which is true for life in general, but especially true when it comes to this disorder).

You can’t take it to the extreme, however. What am I talking about? Well, first of all, you can’t assume that every time you feel bad or are in a bad mood that it means you are in a bipolar depressive episode. Bad days are going to happen, no matter what. They even happen to people who don’t have bipolar disorder.

What I’m saying is that although you still have to be vigilant and watch for triggers, and signs and symptoms of a bipolar episode, you don’t need to assume that every time you feel bad that it’s an episode in the making, either. Remember, bad days are going to happen – it’s just part of the disorder.

You just have to take the bad days with the good when you have bipolar disorder, but just remember that you can get through them. When they come, just tell yourself that this is NOT a bipolar episode, but only a bad day. Then try to be positive, and do something to take your mind off it (which you can usually accomplish by doing positive things).

When you set your mind on positive thinking, positive actions usually follow. First, accept that that this is only a bad feeling, or a bad mood, or a bad (bipolar) day, and not an episode.

Then turn your mind to the positive, like thinking you can get through this, as you have before. Try thinking positive things, like being grateful that you are not, in fact, in a bipolar episode.

Some people even make a Gratitude List, finding that it helps them to turn their mind toward the positive. To do this, take a pen and paper and list ten things for which you are grateful (if you can list more than ten things, all the better). This will help to put you into a more positive frame of mind.

Other people use positive affirmations. These are sayings that you can write down and put in prominent places like mirrors or the refrigerator and look at to remind you to be positive, such as: “I can do this,” or “I can handle anything,” or “I have been here before and made it through, and I will make it through again.” You get the idea.

Positive affirmations can be anything you want them to be. Even “You are loved” is a positive affirmation, and many people use this one effectively.

Then turn your positive attitude into positive action. Do volunteer work and help someone else. Work on your hobby. Do something creative and/or constructive. Try reading something uplifting. Listen to some quiet or inspirational music. Talk to a friend, family member, counselor, or clergy person.

The main thing is to remember that you don’t have to let the bad days get you down. They are only temporary. Remember that the bad feelings will always pass, as will the bad bipolar days. Good days will always return.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

A Simple Trick

I don’t know about you, but one of my bigger problems with dealing with my bipolar disorder – to this day – is organization. Quite frankly, I am one of the most disorganized people you will ever meet.

Maybe you are in the same boat. There’s a trick that I use to help keep my life sane; maybe it will work for you as well.

This trick is as simple as a to-do list. Many people use them as part of their day to day lives, regardless of if they have a mental disorder or not. They can help keep anybody’s life just a little bit saner, and a lot more organized.

To-do lists are meant to be a task list. The problem comes when it’s time to organize the tasks. There are always new tasks being added and what was a priority 5 minutes ago might not be anymore.

I would suggest looking at your to-do list like a nurse looks at triage in an emergency room. You know how they have, say three patients, and the infant with the fever has priority over the person with the cough and the one with the broken bone? But then person number 4 comes in with heart failure and passes them all up.

Sometimes our priorities have to be that way, too. You might start off your day saying that getting diapers is most important, then comes dinner, then if you still have time walking the dog would be nice, too. But then if your child becomes sick, taking them to the doctor outranks the rest. The diapers are still important, but now they will have to wait.

You might keep track of your current priorities on your to-do list by placing numbers beside each item in pencil. If it needs to change, it can be as simple as erasing the old number and putting on a new one.

When you are scheduling, make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself. On one to-do list only put tasks for today, and on another put future tasks. Schedule in breaks when you are able. Remember that your list isn’t absolute. If something needs to change, that’s okay too.

To-do lists have helped me out immensely in dealing with my disorder. Without my list I would forget to refill my medications, to go to the grocery store, or even sometimes to go to work! Hopefully they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

Life is Good

Recently I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car that read, “Life is Good.” I thought about that today and, you know, life can still be good even if you have bipolar disorder, because life is what you make it.

If you have a bad attitude, chances are your life isn’t going to be all diamonds and roses. However, if you have a positive attitude, IN SPITE OF the fact that you have bipolar disorder, you will most likely have a good life.

I’ve had my ups and downs because of my bipolar disorder. Does that mean that life isn’t good for me? NO. It just means that I have temporary problems that need to be solved. I call my psychiatrist’s office for help, because I know it isn’t something I can handle by myself. There was a time when I self-medicated my bipolar symptoms with drugs and alcohol, but I’m not that person any more. Today I ask for help when I need it.

Life is still good, even though I have bipolar disorder.

I have a wonderfully supportive, giving, and loving husband (we just celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary) who really helps me stay stable. He also has bipolar disorder, so he can relate to the down days I get sometimes, and can also give me a reality check when I get a little on the manic side.

I have a beautiful home in which I live, with lots of pictures of family on my bookshelves. I am surrounded by the things I love, and feel so comfy and cozy when I’m home.

My parents are active and healthy, and I talk to my mom every day, even though they live in Florida and I live in Tennessee.

I have a great (older) car that runs and has nothing wrong with it (yes!) and gets me where I need to go.

I have such a great dog, too. Sunshine is great for petting and stroking when I’m feeling down (and even when I’m not!). It’s also nice to be needed. I love that expression, “Someday I hope to be the person that my dog already thinks I am.”

I have friends, and even friends from high school that I keep in touch with on Facebook.

I have three great sons, and they bring such joy to my life. I am so proud of them. I also have three wonderful granddaughters who I love with all my heart.

I have a blessed, blessed relationship with the Lord that carries me though even the hardest times in my life, with the ups and downs of living with bipolar disorder.

And I have a job that I love (I can’t believe I get paid for this) writing for I get to work from home, so there is no real stress.

I may not have everything that I want, but I do have everything that I need, and I am truly grateful for that.

So there it is, folks! All the makings of a good life, tied up with a bow of happiness. IN SPITE OF having bipolar disorder, I am happy. So for those of you who are struggling, please don’t give up hope. This life could be yours, too. Because life really is good, even if you have bipolar disorder.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

It’s Not the Answer That Really Matters

Today I’m having trouble coming up with some moving, intellectual, quotable words of wisdom for you to take away with you that would change your lives for the better!  So, instead, I’m going to use someone else’s words:  “It’s not the answer that really matters, but the search itself that makes us who we are.”  Roberta Croteau said those wonderful, inspiring words.

Why do I say wonderful and inspiring?  Because, as you know, I am not only a person with bipolar disorder myself, but I also support a husband with the disorder.  And this saying has helped me quite a bit.

I’ll tell you why.  I tend to be a perfectionist and, therefore, sometimes I try to wear a big “S” on my chest and play Super-Supporter for my husband.  In fact, sometimes I put his needs before my own.  Then, when I feel so tired, I wonder where all my time and energy went!

So what does this saying mean to me?

“It’s not the answer that really matters…”

Well, to me the answer is the cure for bipolar disorder.  It doesn’t matter to me any more that there is no cure for the disorder.

I’ve accepted the fact that there is no magic pill for my husband that will keep him from occasionally becoming depressed (or even manic, although that rarely happens with him).

So, answer aside, let’s be realistic and work with what we’ve got – the search itself.

To me, the search is the day-to-day living with bipolar disorder.  The bipolar disorder in someone you care about very much.

To live with someone so close to you, as I do my husband, and watch them struggle every day with something they can’t control, is so very difficult.

I know he tries so hard to control his bipolar disorder, but it is still a chemical imbalance, and that part he has no control over.  Those chemicals can fire off any time they want to, and then he experiences those mood swings and, even my “S” can’t help him then.

“…but the search itself that makes us who we are.”

This Friday we will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! But they have been wonderful years. He is not only a wonderful husband, but also a wonderful supporter to me and my bipolar disorder, and I love him even more today than I did 10 years ago.

May you be as happy as we are.

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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Opening Post

One Thing You Can’t Afford

If you have bipolar disorder, there’s one thing you can’t afford – complacency. Complacency is just too darned close to giving up. And giving up, for us, can really do us in. It can mean that the bipolar wins and we lose, and we just can’t let that happen.

Complacency can go from simply ignoring something or not caring all the way to the darkest depression imaginable, and everything in between. And if you don’t think you have control over this, you’re wrong, because you do.

If you feel yourself becoming complacent, notice that you have become complacent, you can do something. Anything. But don’t let it go on. Do something about it. Take control (whether it’s of yourself or of the situation).

You can become complacent just by putting up with something for too long, when you should’ve done something about it. Well, it’s never too late! Do something about it now! Take charge of the situation now! Be empowered – take back your control, and no longer be complacent.

Complacency implies not caring – not caring about what is happening around you and/or to you. Be proactive! Do something about it! CARE about it! Even though you’re starting in the middle, at least you are starting somewhere, and that matters. It will change things.

You can make things better for yourself by coming out of your complacent fog and making a decision to get involved in your own life. Don’t stand for what you have been letting go on any longer – stop it!

You cannot afford to allow complacency to have any hold over your life. YOU need to be in control. YOU need to be proactive. YOU need to be involved. YOU need to make decisions. YOU need to be front and center in your own life.

You can fight this. You CAN do it! Complacency no longer has to have any reign over your life. You no longer have to suffer from that bipolar episode you fell into because of complacency – you can bring yourself out of it. Just try! Just push! Just make the effort! Just take control!

You can change things. You can make a difference. You can take the reins back. You can get back in control of your own life! Just do it!

Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now. 🙂

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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