Monday, March 7, 2011

So I was told I have Bipolar Disorder... Now What???

The first 5 things you should do once a doctor tells you have bipolar disorder.

1. Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor
2. Seek out therapy to work through the stress in your life and coping with the illness
3. Find a support group and support system
4. Eat healthy and try to exercise at least 3 days a week
5. Educate yourself with books and online material

Hearing those words is not easy and it can be overwhelming to you and others around you.  Probably the first thing a Psychiatrist will do is prescribe medication that will help stabilize your moods. As I said before everyone is different so the medicines you are prescribed will be different than other people with bipolar disorder. Also note a lot of medications have side effects and you will need to work closely with your doctor to work out the best combination for you. I still have to change up medications and normally do so on a yearly basis. Your treatment plan does change throughout the years. Your Psychiatrist will probably refer you to a therapist that will give you tools to better cope with stress in your life and your illness. Stress can play a huge factor in causing mood changes so it is important to find ways to help control that as much as you can.

After you are taking your meds, seeking therapy, and you are feeling better you will want to find a support group. Support groups can be found online or you can go to meetings each week. NAMI found at is a good place to start because they normally have local chapters in an area close to you. Your Psychiatrist can also refer you to a good support group in your area. I think having a support group is key to having the best shot at surviving bipolar disorder. I am very blessed because I not only have a good peer support group but my family and friends are very supportive. You will also want to find a person in your support group, a close friend or a family member that will act as your main support person in your life. I refer to these people as buddies. My main support person is my husband. He helps me monitor my mood swings, knows my treatment plan, and knows how to help me the best when my moods do change. Relationships with someone with bipolar disorder will be addressed in a later blog because living with someone that has bipolar disorder can be a challenge unless you have the right tools.

Diet and exercise are other key ingredients to treatment. I will admit I love junk food and not eating healthy. The truth is that is does affect your mood and certain foods should be avoided. The Mood Cure, found at is an excellent book that I follow often. Keep in mind though that having Bipolar Disorder does mean you need to keep taking your medicine. So please never listen to a book or another person other than your doctor to stop taking your prescribe medications. The book highlights certain foods
 that are helpful and harmful so that is what I follow. The last advice I have for you today is to encourage you to read books and look up material online about the illness. Education of yourself and others is key to surviving with bipolar disorder.

1 comment:

  1. I was just diagnosed on Tuesday. I've suspected for years but age 31 I finally have a name for this issue. It's not making me feel better, in fact, knowing that I have a mental "illness" makes me feel worse. My cutting is more than usual, as is my drinking and drug abuse. Its all part of the coping mechanism issues I've faced since I was a teenager. Knowing is doing nothing and w/out health insurance there seems to be no affordable. treatment. I hate this.