World Bipolar Day in Self-Isolation during a Pandemic

Today is World Bipolar Day, March 30. Last summer, I had an acute mania after years of not having one. I fell into a six month depression after that, which was why my blogging was sparse. Through therapy and a medication adjustment, I recovered once again. My story is over twenty years old and I’ve covered it on here a lot. I’m not going to rehash it here. The two most important lessons I learned was gratitude and being flexible in the face of tough circumstances.

The current Coronavirus pandemic is hard for us all. We all have to learn to adjust to new circumstances, perhaps uncomfortable, uncertain, and scary. For, us bipolars, flexibility and adjusting to a new way of life can be trying. I’ve compiled some tips for staying stable in uncertain times.

Research the facts with trusted news sources and web sites. There is a lot of information and misinformation out there. Some good ones are National Public Radio, The Mighty, the Guardian, National Institute of Health, National Institute of Medicine, the New York Times digital edition.

Pay attention to your body physically and emotionally. What do you need most? Eat good foods for you. There are a lot of cooking classes on the Great Courses (not a sponsor) and on Youtube where you can learn to cook during this time.

Most importantly, as my friend Glennon says, Do not feel you have to do/make things perfectly. Rest. Relax. Just enjoy what you are doing in the moment whether that be blogging, writing, cooking, playing guitar, binge watching etc…Too often, us bipolars feel we have to be perfect before we can share or get opportunities. We need to disuage ourselves of this notion and just be. Inspiration will come if we get quiet and go deep within ourselves.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many therapists, including my own, are holding sessions on Skype or by phone. While it isn’t a substitute, it works to be able to get stress out. There is also (not a sponsor).

Find appropriate ways to express your anxiety. Don’t blast someone in their email or yell into your phone at them. Instead, use your anxious moments to go within and find out why you really are anxious. Ask yourself questions in a journal. Writing helps ease the anxiety. And, remember you don’t have to have perfect writing and hand writing to journal. Write in an old notebook or on a cocktail napkin.

Get Deep. Write a poem about the metaphors you see in this current situation. Wax philosophical. Look up some philosophers on Google and quote them on your wall or in your journal.

Be clean. This one is a no brainer but I have to say it. Wash your hands often and don’t touch your face. Clean counters and surfaces frequently.

Since we are all self-isolating, try your hand at self-portrait photography, even if it is just with your phone.

Stay away from binging on sugar and caffeine. Sure, a little is ok as a treat. But us bipolars must watch what we put into our bodies. Snacking is ok on good foods but make sure you don’t eat everything in your home in one day.

Limit social media and screen time. Get out and get some exercise using social distancing guidelines.

Binge on podcasts. Some faves of mine are Unlocking Us, Brene Brown’s new one, Dear Young Rocker, On Being, Self-care Sunday, Mental Illness Happy Hour, the Moth. If you would like to recommend one, please share in the comments.

Happy World Bipolar Day!

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