Unlike other common illnesses which target bodily functions and control, bipolar disorder concerns the brain. It is a mental disorder which affects an individual’s mood, disposition, energy levels, sleep and diet patterns, sexual desire and behavioural tendencies.
It is thus, in many ways, more dangerous and insidious than physical illnesses, many of which have clearly discernible symptoms and short-term effectuality. With bipolar disorder however, the very diagnosis is tricky, as is the subsequent treatment. Thus, it cannot be denied that coping with this condition is rather challenging and requires much medical and human support.
However, it is not impossible to recover and rise above the problems of bipolarity. To deal with its various aspects, one must be well-informed regarding the same.
What to Expect:
Bipolarity is characterized by extremes of emotional experience and behavioural action. Individuals suffering from the condition can expect to be vulnerable to the following:
- Mood episodes whereby either of mania, depression or mixed symptoms are experienced.
- These episodes may last for days and occur with varied frequency and intensity in different cases.
- Certain situations, people or objects may engender a typical yet inappropriately strong reaction in a bipolar individual. These are triggers which may be responsible for the onset of a mood episode.
- During a mood episode, bipolar individuals can be expected to act and speak uncharacteristically/offensively, make ill-advised decisions, and even hallucinate in extreme cases. Thus, the illness does not affect the suffering individual alone, but those in his immediate proximity as well.
- When a mood episode is followed by level mood conditions, an individual may experience embarrassment, shame, guilt or monetary/professional/personal loses, as a consequence of his previous actions.
While these are certain typical conditions associated with bipolarity, different individuals have varied manifestations of the same. The severity, intensity and potential consequences of mood episodes differ from person to person, and thus, there is no homogenous body of causalities, corollaries or experiences to speak of.
Even as bipolarity is not easily diagnosed – in fact in some cases it takes several years for correct diagnosis to be arrived upon – there are many ways of coping with it, once one is cognizant of the illness. The following course of action is recommended for bipolar patients:
- Seeking professional help as soon as possible is of utmost importance. Usually, the services of a psychiatrist as well as psychologist would be best for more effective treatment.
- Consuming the prescribed medication religiously is the cardinal rule. Also, giving the doctor proper feedback regarding the effects and side effects is of great help. This is because different combinations of medicines work for different individuals and with closely monitored reactions to medication, the right one can be arrived at more speedily.
- Attending and participating in therapy sessions with complete devotion is necessary. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions are particularly important for they help induce positive beliefs and also develop coping mechanisms.
- Having family and close friends as a support system also helps. If they have a keen sense of what to expect and what to avoid when interacting with a bipolar individual, usual triggers can be kept at bay.
- Remaining motivated is perhaps the most essential of all habit to adopt. Bipolar individuals need to consciously engage with their condition and remain positive about rising above it. It is only self-belief and purposive action that can ensure that the treatment remains effective in the long run.
What to Avoid:
Bipolar patients need to be careful about their lifestyle and habits to prevent their condition from becoming more severe. Here are some things which need be avoided:
- Alcohol consumption and substance abuse.
- Irregular or inadequate sleep.
- Completely sedentary lifestyle with no exercise or diet control.
- Unnecessary stressors and engaging with unpleasant people/relationships/situations.
As is evident from the above, living with bipolar disorder is not easy. Self-help and support from loved ones is thus extremely vital for countering the illness.