There’s an ugly side to bipolar disorder.
Well — actually a lot of ugly sides.
But today I’m diving into the ugliness of obsessive and nearly compulsive self-care. It looks like tightly controlling my sleep schedule, practically forcing myself to take daily meds (I even have a friend who keeps me accountable — I love you, Madyson), and cancelling plans or stepping away when I feel mentally unwell (even if my social side wants it).
Let me break it down for you.
I need an absolute bare minimum of eight hours of sleep each night. When I don’t get eight in, my mind and body feel it, they hurt, they struggle. When I don’t get eight hours, I begin to feel drained and empty and exhausted.
At six or seven-ish hours, I’m grumpy. And at four to five-ish, I start to get manic or hypomanic (hypomanic meaning a less elevated and less intense form of mania). I might start to ramble a bit, I might start to feel a bit unhinged. When I begin to notice these behaviors (at times unnoticeable to others), I put myself in “time out” and try to work by myself or go home to be alone.
Medication is hard and humbling. Taking three different types of medication on a daily basis is hard. Having two more optional medications is also hard. I never thought I would be dependent on medication to feel healthy and well. I’m thankful for a special ~ cocktail ~ that works, but I do feel false shame and embarrassment around it.
Lastly, I often have to throw my social desires out the window. If I’m feeling mentally or emotionally unwell, I heavily consider cancelling plans and stepping away. This is usually to prevent myself from feeling more rambly or more unhinged; it’s a preventative and at times premature measure I like to take for the sake of us all (especially me).
I haven’t talked about this much before.
Sure, I’ve advocated for self-care plenty in this space and on my Instagram. But I haven’t been real and transparent about why self-care is so important to me related to bipolar disorder. Perhaps that’s been a disservice to you and myself, but now I’m acknowledging it and now you know.
So next time your friend who struggles with mental health has to go home early or complains about medication or bails on plans, consider where they are coming from, check in on them, support them.
Ultimately, that’s all anyone wants — empathy, compassion, and support.
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