My advice, from experience:
- Allow yourself, wherever possible, to be not well. Some days are like that; in fact many days are like that. But it’s easy to feel guilty handing your day over to something outside your control. If you have a job, it’s even more difficult. But on those not well days, take it easy: watch TV for too long; don’t shower if it’s not essential (and when is it essential?); indulge, mindfully, in your drug of choice later in the day (thanks, I’ll have a kir or white wine).
- Get some sleep. Preferably at night. OK, so this is totally outside our control and I really don’t know what the answer for insomnia is. Mine is chronic and seemingly without reason. It used to be worsened by night-time hypomania but I’m medicated now.
- Speaking of which, always – always – take your meds. Don’t change the dose without consulting your psychiatrist / doctor. Follow your medication programme closely. And if you’re bipolar then why aren’t you on meds?!
- Exercise isn’t the be-all and end-all; sure, a little walk on a sunny day isn’t going to hurt you. I discovered quite recently that too much exercise can trigger hypomania. So before you decide to climb that mountain, take heed to allow plenty of time and be mindful the whole time that you – not your illness – are in charge.
- Treat yourself. Indulge in those treats that ease your moods. Could be music – those old favourite tunes – could be chocolate (tell me about it..), could be a glass of wine (go easy, young fellow!). Don’t let it be anything destructive; hypomania rules that part of you so stand up to it, show it who’s boss. In theory at least.
- If you must buy loads of crap, buy cheap crap. And no, that Harley is definitely not cheap, even if it is cheaper than a yacht. I bought four USB drives the other day, didn’t need any of them but I can handle a £20 hit and they’ll get used eventually. Maybe not in my lifetime, but eventually.
- Do what the Walker Brothers and Edith Piaf told us and have no regrets. Don’t obsess on things. Just learn from things.
- Try not to kill yourself; it leaves a hell of a mess and doesn’t achieve much. It also means you’ve lost.. and you’re not a loser are you?
- Talk about it. Preferably to someone with ears.
- Get a grip. Do what it takes to stay sane. Yes, of course it’s a battle. A daily battle. Focus on the endgame: not the battle but the war. Be who you are.