How to lead a quality life with bipolar disorder*?

How to lead a quality life with bipolar disorder?

Alpinetum Julijana, Slovenia

I was asked to write a few lines for a Slovene daily newspaper last week, so I thought I could expand on this subject in my blog. Those who have read my self help book about my experience with mental illness already know the sequence that worked for me:
1. Accept the fact that you have bipolar disorder (or any other mental illness).
2. Find a psychiatrist that you feel you can build a good doctor-patient-relationship with and listen to him/her.
3. Separate your mental illness symptoms from your personality traits.
4. Leave the bio-chemical aspect of your illness to your psychiatrist and the prescribed medication while you work on your self-image and your ways of thinking.
From there on, in my opinion, the answer to two different questions: 1. ‘How to lead a quality life with bipolar disorder?’ and ‘How to lead a quality life without the bipolar disorder?’ is more or less the same.
Our minds need daily exercise, just like our bodies need exercise, daily hygiene and healthy food. There are always some old memories that need to have feelings of hurt and resentment removed from them. There are people from our past and our present that can be forgiven, but of course also told that they should stop hurting us. (See Blogs on relationships.) We all have some thinking patterns we can get rid of. (See for example the blog My tendency to worry is really an onion.)
I have worked with the books of Louise Hay and with the Phyllis Krystal Method, but there are many others. The important thing is to pick one and take it seriously. Some people tend to collect certificates of seminars attended like one would collect stamps. What really counts is daily practice. No one is going to give ‘daily showers’ to our minds unless we do it ourselves. Other people can only teach us various methods.
The only additional matter for mental health consumers is that we have to consult our psychiatrist before trying any of the mental work methods. In general the brain has to be stabilized enough in order to be able to do the exercises. If I were hallucinating for example, it would be totally impossible for me to distinguish between my hallucinations and the imagery I would try to do according to a book or a seminar. But once my psychiatrist has managed to find the right medication for me and has given me a green light to meditate, I have the same work to do as all other people. I believe that only a regularly cleaned mind can lead us to healthy relationships, bring us in contact with our true self and make us calm and satisfied.
Thus, in my opinion, we are all in the same boat: the mentally healthy and the mental health consumers. Let’s join forces for a better tomorrow.

*My correct diagnosis is ‘schizoaffective disorder – bipolar type’, which is a mixture of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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