Bipolar Thoughts

Summer Fun

Here is a list of top five of ways to beat the summertime blues!

  1. Avoid Swimming, anywhere, beach or pool, family friends or strangers!
  2. Avoid BBQs! Eating too much, drinking too much, avoid it all!
  3. Avoid Bonfires! Staying up late can get you down!
  4. Avoid Dating! (s)he may want to go to any of the things mentioned above! Plus, summertime is the most common time for being manic! So maybe your summer love has some extra juice in there from being up. Avoid the inevitable crash!
  5. Avoid Concerts, Bars, Clubs, Breweries, Live Music, Art, or anything that provides mind altering substances and couples them with ideas that challenge you!

Well obviously, that was a fake list because I hate that shit.

But the realities are, those five items, in some way or the other, will be mentioned in dozens of lists being doled out to Bipolar people in the coming weeks. They won’t phrase it the way I did, and they will disguise it, but it is what they are saying.

Here is how they will phrase it: avoid drinking, avoid eating too much, maintain normal sleep, don’t place yourself into stressful situations, be aware of your cycling, being up is more common and more dangerous. But that is the same thing right?

And while for some people in some circumstances need to avoid stuff like this, but maybe it isn’t the best advice for all of us. I am not a fan of the one size fits all approach that is so visible in so many arenas, but especially mental health. Just avoid everything that is a trigger all the time forever! It’s like teaching abstinence to 16 year olds. Not very effective in my book. Not in my experience.

For me, I want to understand why I have a difficulty with something and work around it, by either turning away from it or incorporating a healthy use of it into my life.

You are all aware that sometimes I drink too much, and maybe that is a problem for me. But I am working on it, being more controlled, and I think I have had success. It might end up that one day I cut alcohol out of my life, but I don’t feel that I am there yet.

You are all also aware that sometimes I abuse my prescriptions (and my wife’s… hello muscle relaxers), and this has been a problem for me in the past, and is something I have tried to cut out of my life. Unfortunately, the pill I have the most issue with is one of the most helpful pills in my life. So I have to have a strategy to use it in a safe manner. And I have been very good at this lately.

Obviously I don’t exercise or eat well enough. This has been a near life-long problem for me. And it is something I have made several attempts at correcting and I need to do a better job.

Sleep is something that I have basically learned to deal with. I sleep pretty well for a guy with a toddler, I can’t complain. But obviously there are nights when it just isn’t happening for whatever reason. And this used to be a big issue for me. If I didn’t sleep, I wouldn’t go to work, or I would skip class. If I didn’t sleep I would be moody, or start drinking, oddly enough. But I have really developed the ability to let it be what it is and try to mitigate any mood complications as fast as possible. I know that staying up for 30+ hours is something I can’t do anymore, I will become wildly depressed. I know that I cannot sustain less than 5 hours a sleep for more than a handful of days in a row, maybe a week straight, I will become wildly depressed. But if I am getting close to 7 a night, I’m good with that. It works for me now.

And all of these things fall under the umbrella of being aware of my cycling. The better understanding I have of where my mood is and my latest trends, the more I can remove danger. Sleeping less is easier to deal with when I am not depressed already. Drinking isn’t an issue when everything is okay, pills don’t seduce me when I’m content. Having the motivation to eat well, exercise, and manage my sleep is a piece of cake when I feel normal.

The real struggle is avoiding the obvious risk.

Sometimes with bipolar, mood swings sneak up on you and where you were last week, or yesterday, or maybe even a couple hours ago doesn’t really tell you where you are now, let alone in the near future. So a night can turn south quickly. And it is this reason alone that the advice from these “help” columns can be so draconian. Don’t drink ever because what if your mood shifts while you are drinking, which happens to be something that is known to shift moods on bipolars.

I get that, I do. But the likelihood of that happening is frankly pretty rare for me. And I would rather learn how to steer myself out of the situation once I am on that path then to avoid the path completely.

Assuming I can learn that skill, of course.