I can be a bitch. Especially when manic. Mania can be a difficult thing to manage and when uncontrolled can cause damage to myself and those around me if I’m not careful. For me, mania tends to manifest as agitation and frustration along with making plans to achieve what are sometimes unrealistic goals. After 10 years of dealing with this disorder I have developed a lot of techniques to avoid it. First are medication and therapy but self care is also a key component. Here’s a bit about my current approach:
Lately I’ve been traveling, getting very little sleep, and drinking more coffee than I should. I know that these are triggers for mania and anxiety so I’ve carefully tracked my moods. I use an iPhone app, iMoodJournal (there are several apps that track moods I just prefer this one) which allows me to be aware if I’m suddenly seeing a spike in my mood which would indicate that I’m trending upward to quickly and need to be more attentive to my choices. With that in mind I have worked hard to remember self care but I’ve not been in a particularly conducive space for any of my usual go-to self care activities. This means I’ve had to get a little creative to make sure I don’t trigger a manic episode due to the changes caused by my travels. Hopefully these tricks help you too.
I’ve gone for walks and listened to beautiful music. I’ve played with my beloved niece and nephews. I’ve been very active about remembering to smile. I’ve practiced mindfulness even more than usual, being careful to be present during my activities and interactions with others. I have been active in planning the day’s activities so I know what to be prepared for, something that helps me avoid the ever-present challenge I have with unexpected transitions. I’ve made sure to spend at least five minutes each morning lying in whatever bed I’ve landed in (I’ve been at three different homes in the past 5 days) to appreciate the sounds of the birds and ready myself mentally for the day ahead. I’ve practiced gratitude by intentionally responding to those who bring me something with heartfelt appreciation and I make sure to think of at least one or two things at the end of the day that remind me of a moment or two of positivity.
How do these things keep me from being manic? Well for me they help to ensure I stay centered in the reality around me. I am far less inclined to make big plans and instead am focused on just the day ahead, allowing me to be grateful and honest with myself as I check in with my moods mentally throughout my day. I have found the more I am able to remember to practice self care the more stable I am, allowing me to avoid mania, or at least keep it at a manageable level.
I hope these techniques are things you might be able to add to your day, whether you have bipolar or not they can be helpful. Best of luck and have a great day!