Strategies and Self-help

Hello Escritori,

N.B. – Not fasting, have a kind of Ramadan fatigue… will make up in winter insha’Allah.

I recently wrote an article describing the basic pattern of bipolar symptoms called a “Manic episode”. Many neuro-typical people assume that the state of Mania described as a ‘high’ MUST be euphoric.  It’s not.

I have a few friends who are capable of HARNESSING that Manic energy to do really incredible things. They’ve finished complex, eloquent, logical chapters of PhDs in days for example. I’m sure the superhero analogy is not lost here. But just for future reference:

Mania is a state of elevated energy, delusional beliefs (believing things outside the norm and against common sense) and low risk perception. It is simply the state of being so charged with energy that you can’t sleep. If you can’t sleep, you can’t heal, so you do everything you can to tire your body out and sleep but your brain INSISTS that you keep going.

When I am manic, I can’t sleep, my metabolic rate goes up so that I am constantly starving, I write long chains of laterally linked words, become verbally aggressive, delusional, engage in risk taking behaviours, have no inhibitions and suffer a heightened libido/hypersexuality.

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Alongside medicating, obviously, I like to do other things at TRIGGER stage (being far wiser now) to prevent Mania or Depression occurring:

  • If you’ve been indoors too long, get OUT and walk safely. Seek greenery. Breathe deeply. Parks. Gardens. Patios. #LOVE.
  • If outdoors too long, get IN to a safe place and get arty. I like collaging, making greeting cards or jewellery. Something low risk and repetitive. It’s focused occupational therapy. No books/TV, too much stimuli.
  • Drink lots of water. The brain is 75% water. YOUR brain is now under attack or recovering from attack so you need to get that brain tissue hydrated. People with bipolar tend to NEED more water anyway, quite possibly for this reason but remember also that drinking water may DILUTE THE STRENGTH OF YOUR MEDS so moderation is key.
  • Take fish-oil supplements daily. Fish oils are good for the brain. Your Mum probably gave you tuna in exam season right? During and after manic episodes the neuro-receptors at the ends of neurones in the brain (shaped like broccoli florets) get severely damaged. Omega 3, Calamari… etc, work to lubricate those burnt out areas, so that electrical pulses in the brain travel better across synapses: keeping your thought processes intact and on point. Manic thoughts are very erratic and often you can forget what you were talking about mid-sentence.
  • Do talk about your feelings. People feel like superheroes thanks to dopamine, but we often want to SAVE the people we love from the pain of seeing us so vulnerable/out of control. We become expert at hiding. Feelings are facts and facts (like chemical overload) come out as feelings. People need to know how you are, because it is valid data which they can use to help you. Do not shut yourself away from your support system. I did this in my bedroom and my parents simply camped outside the door.
  • Keep super-food snacks everywhere to help stabilise your metabolism. Some people genuinely believe they will DIE if they do not eat and they do feel starved. Things like dates, dried fruit etc, glucose and natural sugars required. Eat healthy in general.
  • Hardest one… Try your best to regulate how many hours sleep you get. In Mania you’re not going to sleep. In Depression, that’s all you want to do. Re-equating like this is very extreme. Try to get as much sleep as you can in terms of continuous hour stretches each night, and try to wake up around the same time. Sleep = Healing.

Hope this helps.

Keep scribbling!

~ Pola ~

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