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Vital Methods for Managing Bipolar

by Laura on October 17th, 2013

How can you manage bipolar? Is it possible, or are you doomed for a life in and out of hospitals, or medicated to the point of numbness?

I’m so pleased to have Becky writing a super open and honest post about how she and her family deal with her bipolar-ness. I asked her:

How do you keep yourself in check? Since you said that you are cycling into either mild or less-than-mild depression and mania each month, how do you catch yourself? Keep yourself from getting to the point where you might need to be hospitalized? How, if at all, does your family and husband help?

Welcome, Becky!

Finding the right doctor

Again, you are full of such great and important questions! The first question of how I keep myself in check has a very simple two-part answer. The other questions are a little more complicated.

Number one is my psychiatrist who I endearingly refer to as Dr. Crazy. I don’t mean to brag, but my psychiatrist is kind of a rock star. Okay, fine, I’m going to brag a little (a lot).

Dr. Crazy is a special kind of doctor/rock star.

Not the real doctor. Photo Credit

He does his own therapy to more deeply understand in which ways my crazy pills are “working” and not “working.” He is a little mad scientist often tweaking medications and always trying to come up with a new and better solution. And his tweaks have a magic way of working. Depression? Tweak. Mania? Tweak. Tweak. Mixed episode? Tweak. Tweak. Tweak.

He also comes with a really great 24-hour guarantee. If I call him at 3:00am he will answer. If I call him at 11:59pm, on New Year’s Eve, he will answer.

There is not a clock in his office either. I am not booted out with the typical, “I can see you are having a really hard time right now, but we are out of time for today. Please take a Kleenex on your way out and I’ll see you for exactly sixty-minutes next week,” but rather a session is over when everything has been resolved. My record shortest visit: 20 minutes. My record longest visit: 2 ½ hours. Yes, this man is a serious medical rock star.

Number two are my medications which I endearingly refer to as my crazy pills. I have mentioned before they saved my life. Truthfully, they continue to save my life.

If Dr. Crazy is a rock star, my crazy pills are superheroes.

Lifelong pill popping isn’t mandatory for everyone, but for the love of Apollo, it sure is for me. Without them I am dreaming of razor blades to my wrists. Or I am shelling out $2000 to a psychic to clear my black for love. (Yeah, I did that Once Upon a Mania. Oops.) In case it’s not clear, those are not desirable situations and crazy pills can eliminate them or at least get them under control. Let’s just make it simple and say without them I’m bat shit crazy.

Staying out of the psych ward

Moving on to your next really great question about how I catch myself and avoid the hospital. Well, first of all, I don’t always catch myself. Occasionally, an episode comes full-force out of the blue and (Bam!) punches me in the gut. But I can usually feel it coming on as a slow slipping off of or a steadily climbing up the precarious cliff of sanity. This means calling Dr. Crazy (like immediately) and taking whatever pill/pills he recommends. Medication is quite effective in emergencies.

I have not been hospitalized. But again, it’s thanks to my rock star psychiatrist. When he thought I needed to go to the hospital he gave me two choices: he would immediately call an ambulance or I could sit in his waiting room for eight hours taking pills every so often until I was “under control.” This has happened more than once and I am absolutely in love with the fact my doctor is willing to keep me under his strict care instead of just shipping me off to the hospital. Of course there is nothing wrong with the hospital. I knew it would be a safe place when I so desperately needed a safe haven. But I. Did. Not. Want. To. Go. And ends up Dr. Crazy’s waiting room is a safe haven too. How’s that for bragging?!

My family and husband try damn hard to be as supportive as possible. But in all honestly, they don’t always know quite how or perhaps even get sick of being my lifeboat. That’s a really difficult and scary truth of bipolar disorder or any mental illness. Often we are in it alone. Frankly, we can flat out be too much. At least I can be with my almost constant ups and downs. My endless changing moods are exhausting, and not just to me, but to all the people I adore as well.

My solution when depressed, mind you, is not one I recommend but how I have often learned to cope. I pretend. I’m talking serious Academy Award acting to alleviate the burden or not completely exhaust my nearest and dearests.

Basically, I withdrawal. Living with this madness is so horribly lonesome when trying to do it on our own, but being a burden or a “party pooper” seems worse. Is it? Probably not. But it’s still something I greatly fear – that people will…leave me…because no one wants to hang out with the crazy, depressed, party pooper. For a girl with abandonment issues that’s a biggie in the scary department.

I am still learning how to reach out when my strength has vanished. I often feel if I share the depth of my feelings and accept a hug I will completely crumble apart. Often, pretending and withdrawing is the only way I can hold it together. I retreat to my “Bipolar Fall Out Shelter,” as I call it, which is actually the guest bedroom and cry and write with a deep aching to vanish. Writing really helps me.

Although I have not mastered it quite yet, myself, we crazy kids need to reach out to and accept support. When I am too terrified to reach out to my family, husband, or friends, luckily I have Dr. Crazy. That’s why doctors are so important. Nothing is too much for Dr. Crazy. He offers immense amounts of support, tools for navigating a bipolar world, and is that rescue boat when I need it most – when I am caught, alone, lost at sea. He signed up for this job because he wanted to have that role. And he is there when I am slipping down from or climbing up that precarious edge of sanity.

But on the other end of the spectrum, being manic is a totally different story. Everyone loves a manic girl! Fun, exuberant, charming, luminous, brilliant, funny, fearless.

My family and friends often don’t mention my manias but rather enjoy the ride. Probably because it’s such a relief to not have to deal with my depressions and, once again, see me as “the real Becky.”

“The Becky” my husband fell in love with.

“The Becky” my friends adore.

“The Becky” my mother calls “a breath of fresh air.”

Even though, in reality, those aren’t “the real Becky” either. This truth can be really hard to swallow.

Overall, I realize how lucky I am. I know all doctors aren’t as accessible as Dr. Crazy. I’ve gone to a dozen and a half of them. But I never quit looking and eventually found Dr. Crazy. We have been “doing the work together” for seven years. And because of it I am still here.

How did your family respond to your hospitalization and breakdown? Did you find the doctors to be helpful in the way you needed them to be at the time?

 *  *  *  *  *

Catch up on our previous conversations here:

Becky Johnson is a creative nonfiction writer, playwright, and artist who creates art from what normal people call garbage. She blogs about something doctors call bipolar disorder that she calls being good old-fashioned crazy. She wakes up ridiculously early to watch the sunrise and has a personal mission to float in fifty different bodies of water. As a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, she thinks nothing beats sharing the healing joy of a good jelly-belly-laugh.

She lives with her husband in Annapolis, Maryland, where she is living her mantra to “Celebrate Your Crazy,” and writing her first book.


From → Mental Health

  1. Cathy permalink

    Very good post and insight on Becky’s part. I have been a psychiatric nurse for many years now and see so many clients with no family support and who are resistant to medications and treatment. Those are the clients I worry about every day. It did my heart good to read this and see someone who is using good coping skills along with medication to have a better life. Because that is what it is all about, having a better quality of life. Thank you Roy Ackerman for tweeting this to me. :-)

  2. Wonderful. I think Becky's experience and advice can be boiled down like so: 1) Find a good doc. 2) Stay on your meds under the supervision of that good doc. Thanks to both of you for sharing so generously.

  3. You get many Vital Methods for Managing Bipolar but the effective one is here because I search a lot on it and not get any effective method. But this method give you some worth and you easily done it.

  4. David James permalink

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  5. Simon permalink

    Love is the actual positive things. Its element is totally dependent on the positive side. But we have observed to the different people. According to… They feel mental sickness. They cannot survive in their own society after love.

  6. Patricson permalink

    Your post is incredible, these vital methods for managing bipolar are very useful, thank you. Also I recommend to visit this site about health

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