Spirituality, Online Support Groups and Journaling for Bipolar Disorder
A multitude of studies have found those who are religious or spiritual live longer, are healthier, recover from illnesses quicker, and are less depressed. Much of this undoubtedly has to do with the support one gets from one’s religious community, as well as the more healthy lifestyles these people tend to lead, not to mention the comfort that belief in a higher power can bring. In addition, the exercises and practices associated with religion and spirituality such as meditation, prayer, and yoga have positive benefits on mental and physical health. Scientists also speculate the immune system and other biological processes may be enhanced by religious or spiritual practice. Finally, don’t rule out pure God-power.
A major study found that online support groups have a positive impact on depression. Face-to-face support groups have a similar benefit. At a support group, you meet people who have walked in your shoes, who have unique insights into the illness that they are all too happy to share and are willing to be with you in a time of crisis. In lieu of a support group, family support and support from trusted friends is crucial.
Another exercise that can help is journaling. Many people with bipolar keep a mood journal or a daily diary of their ups and downs. Mood journals can help you spot patterns to your episodes, as well as a depression or mania in the making.
Learning to cope, day by day, can be achieved over time. You will develop your own personal bag of tricks. These can range from prayer to keeping a journal to taking some time out for yourself to volunteer work. In general, any project that makes it worth your while to get out of bed or any activity that induces you to get out of the house and be with other people should be regarded as beneficial.
If You’re Unable to Cope with the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
What should you do if you’re unable to cope and you’re feeling suicidal or feeling in crisis?
Get help immediately. Treat this as a crisis every bit as life-threatening as a heart attack, which it is. Every year, one million people worldwide die by their own hand, most as a result of depression or bipolar disorder. The true figure is probably many times higher, disguised as death by accident or death by risky behavior. Contact a trusted friend or family member. In the US, the national suicide hotline is 1 800 SUICIDE. Just as someone with a heart attack goes to the emergency room, that is where you should be, unless someone competent has decided you’re not in danger.
You can prepare for a suicidal crisis by having a good support network in place, people you can contact at a moment’s notice. Have a good relationship with your doctor or psychiatrist, as you may need to call him or her in the middle of the night. Commit the national suicide hotline to memory, if you live in the US and have local hotline numbers handy.
Being supportive is one way to help others in a suicidal crisis. Don’t be judgmental. Treat the situation as life-threatening, which it is. Ask if he or she has a plan – this can determine how serious the problem is. If you are in a position to do so, offer to take positive action, such as calling his psychiatrist or driving him to the emergency room.
Bipolar disorder can ruin your life, destroying your relationships and your career. It’s pointless to disregard the full destructive power of bipolar disorder. Because of it some people may have to considerably scale back their expectations in life. On the positive side, you’ve survived one of the most malevolent forces on the planet and you’re a much stronger person as a result, in closer touch with your own humanity and divinity. Please don’t underestimate these gifts and the power you now have to lead an even deeper and more meaningful life, however different it may be from the one you had been pursuing.
Some final thoughts about bipolar disorder are that it may be one of the worst illnesses we know; and, the treatments may leave a lot to be desired, but you’re not powerless. Learn everything you can and apply your knowledge to fighting this illness with everything you’ve got, with every weapon available. Measure personal success on your own terms, not on society’s. Simply living with this illness is a major achievement, so give yourself credit. To those who haven’t sought out help, please do. As imperfect as the treatments are, they offer you an excellent chance of winning back your life. To people still struggling with their treatments, don’t abandon hope. New medications are hitting the market all the time, and we are getting smarter every day about using the current medications and natural treatments. You may be the next beneficiary.