Negative behaviours are often associated with bipolar mania and hypomania, but their consequences and effects may be painfully felt through out all phases. There is a link between these elated moods and risky behaviours. As sufferers of bipolar disorder we are more likely to become addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, and other things. If you are suffering from bipolar, or living with someone who is, you know these dreadful truths all to well.
So how do we deal with these negative urges when we are not in our right mind? After we recover from our manic moods, how do we live with the things we’ve done?
“Everything that goes up must come down”.
First of all, you must work on managing your stability. Yes, mania and hypomania feel incredibly awesome, but so does cocaine. Sir Isaac Newton said, “Everything that goes up must come down”. It is incredible tempting to hold on to the elated feelings for mania and hypomania, while being deceived at the same time that you are somehow in control of these moods.
I’ve struggled and searched so hard for stability, and when my mood rises, it often hits me by surprise and I find myself completely unaware of how far away from stability these moods are taking me. In fact, it is quite pleasant. Since I suffer from long bouts of depression, a hypomanic stage is quite welcome. The mood creeps in on me slowly, and the first rise in energy has me believing I am finally stabilising and getting well, and who doesn’t want to feel better?
This is what makes manic moods so dangerous: Their unpredictability. Not only is the mood completely unpredictable, but our behaviour becomes quite erratic. Somewhere on our way up, judgement abandons us and we are left without the ability to properly examine our decisions. Yet, it feels good, so we don’t care and we believe that things are just fine.
There is point in there in which we face the fact our mood is on the upswing, but we don’t always have the willpower, or the desire, to seek help when we see this. It is almost inevitable that the pendulum will swing back and forth, so we must be ready for it to go up, but how do we prepare ourselves for this?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
As I am still learning myself, after 20 years, I can only say that you need to develop a good plan for WHEN you go up and for WHEN you go back down. A good support network is so important. Friends, family, and the church are crucial to helping you. It is important to be honest with yourself and with your support network. I myself am over cautious at times, reaching out before I am really desperate for someone.
Yet, this is not always the case, and when I find myself going up too fast or down too low I might not reach out for help. It is important to educate your supporters so that when you close in on yourself or runaway, they will come looking for you. Unfortunately not every has such a support network to rely on, building one is important, but I will go into that another day.
Let Go And Let God
It’s pretty much impossible to have this disorder and not make bad decisions every once in a while, but use these as learning tools not as failures to be ashamed of. Find the point your mind tipped, the thoughts you had, the physical sensations, and how those bad situations came about. You can not change yesterday, but you can learn from it.
Take sometime to journal your successes and your failures. These are the times in which you should set yourself apart for a while and ask God to show you what might be triggering your moods. It’s not essential that you record everything, use this as an exercise to help you gain a better understanding of how your mood swings develop.
To help keep your stability, or in working towards it, it is so important to strengthen your relationship with God. Just as with taking medication and keeping doctors appointments, establishing an intimate relationship with Jesus is one more piece of armour in your defensive support network. As with any relationship, it takes time to build, but the rewards go far beyond dealing with bipolar.
If you don’t know where to start, just start with daily prayer and reading your bible. Life is busy, but 5-10 minutes is easy to carve out of your day. Start small, don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself. Faithfully turn to God and when you are struggling, you will find Him already there waiting for you to come to Him.
Turning Straw Into Gold
There’s always regret in life, and as part of the very nature of bipolar you will feel it much stronger and more viscerally then most. Try not to be overwhelmed by feelings of regret, shame, and anger, instead focus on your next steps. All of us suffer mistakes in life, but those of us with bipolar seem to have a dramatic flair for making said mistakes.
We must be willing to take ownership for our mistakes, only then can we learn from them no matter how painful they are. The mistakes can never be unmade, but we can choose how we are going to handle them. If we can hand over all our feelings to Jesus, God will help us create something amazing with them in our lives.You are more then capable of turning bad decisions into amazing strengths.