The clearest thing I remember the psychiatrist saying to me when I was diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder in 2012 was 'you MUST keep stress levels down'. Easier said than done as we all know, but it's something that I've taken with me and tried to live by ever since, although almost impossible at times with a busy life, two very energetic young boys and recently, an even more energetic puppy!
Yet I think we would all agree that the psychiatrist has a very valid point. The impact of stress on us all in the modern world is huge and can lead to all sorts of problems with physical and mental health. The bipolar episodes I'd been experiencing on a virtually non-stop cycle for at least 2 years when I saw this psychiatrist were in no small part linked to stress – work stress, family stress and a lot of relationship problems that had been ongoing for a few years, thankfully now resolved. I was mentally burnt out, totally exhausted and very frightened about what was happening to me and from what I have read since my diagnosis, bipolar and stress have a very common - and strong - link.
In trying to take the psychiatrist's advice on board since that time, I have learnt that I have to do certain things in order to keep well, whilst I cannot do other things now.
Getting enough sleep and fresh air, good diet, medication at the right time and watching alcohol intake are all a must (boring at times – the 20 year-old party girl of the past would be horrified!) whereas very late nights or drinking-only nights out are a no-no now, it's just not worth the fall out for the next few days. Of course it all slips now and then (and it's bliss to relinquish that control sometimes, like on holiday!) but on the whole, life stays happier, calmer and more stable trying to stick with what I know helps.
And on the subject of saying no, it's another thing I've learnt can be a powerful tool in stress management and reduction, but I'm sure that's another blog!!
A Moodscope member.