Natural Remedies for Bipolar Disorder

Lifestyle Changes
Posted by Taylor (Chicago, Il) on 09/30/2010
4 out of 5 stars

I haven't found any food/substance that helps with my bipolar, but a recent lifestyle change has really helped me. My doctor suggested I track my moods daily, which I do, and it helps me notice patterns and when to expect my ups and downs. Each day, write down a description of how you felt and rate your mood, from -10 being the most depressed you've ever felt, to 10 being the most manic you've ever felt. Also, record how much you slept that night, if you drank alcohol or consumed other drugs, and if you had any suicidal thoughts (no mater how fleeting- as we bipolars know, suicidal thoughts can often be... For lack of a better word... Casual, not of much concern. What matters is that your mind for whatever reason thought about suicide, no matter how severe). Keeping track like this has really helped me. Oh ya: THERAPY. It rocks. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy is ok, but I suggest using that therapy in combination with another. CBT can be difficult for bipolar people because we think abstract. Look for a therapist who's been trained in more than just cognitive behavioral. In therapy sessions, it's vitally important to tell the truth. If you are guarded and afraid you'll cry, tell your therapist, and work out a way to communicate; maybe write letters and bring them into therapy. Insist that you just can't tell the truth in normal conversation and you need to find another way. Art therapy is also great; However, I think that therapy should be more that just art therapy. I think art therapy should be used in combination with talk therapy. Also, don't be afraid to tell your therapist that you think they're wrong, or that what their saying isn't helping. They're not perfect, and you need to work as a team. Also, don't be afraid to switch therapists. Trust your gut. Also, I stumbled across an article called The 7Habits of the Highly Productive Bipolar. I've started to follow these more rigidly and it's helping a lot. Exercise and Sleep make a big difference.

-Exercise
-Eat a proper diet
-Incorporate Scheduled Relaxation time into your life
-Have a morning and evening routine
-Learn to be organized
-Don't take yourself too seriously

I have also found that marijuana kicks me into mania. I was in denial for a while because I like smoking and mania can be really fun, inspiring and significant, but weed induced manic episodes ultimately threw off my routine too much and put me behind in the more important things in life. So, rule of thumb... Be wary of the weed. Its ok once in a while, but the mania can last well past the few hours after smoking. It's kept me up all night and into the morning through the next day. In college, it can often be normal to be smoking 1, 2, 3 times a week- that just doesn't work if it makes you manic. Cut back. Once a month. Once every three weeks.

You get the picture. When slipping into a manic episode, I have found the following tips helpful:

-do not write emails, send letters, leave comments online, or call someone you normally wouldn't call because what you'll end up writing/saying is likely to be unusual, and you will regret it once you come down. If you really want to communicate, write it down, save it for later when you cool down. -don't spend money. Don't go near a store, don't look at any online shopping sites. -stay off the internet, in general

-don't go to bars/parties, and do not have sex with anyone that you're not currently in a sexual relationship with. Just go masturbate if the horny takes over. -be wary of driving, cooking, lighting candles, operating machinery... Anything that could burn down your house, cause an accident, etc. Mania leaves you pretty absent-minded. -occupy yourself with doing something you like! Don't fight the episode and try to function normally through it. Take a deep breath, admit that your manic, then go make some art, dance, sing, hang out with a friend, workout, listen to music/audiobook, etc. Similar tips for if you're depressed. Make sure to call a friend for help if you need it. If you're feeling suicidal, call a friend for suicide watch. They can just hang out at your place/you go to theirs and chill. They just need to keep an eye on you is all. I also find that taking a really hot shower or burying myself in lots of blankets and overheating can help quell the depression, like literally sweating it out. I'm considering eating a decent amount of cyanne pepper next time I'm depressed- seeing as it heats and stimulates- to bounce out of depression I feel like one needs some kind of a kick. It's probably a good idea to pick a few friends you can count on and tell them about your condition and how to handle it if you come asking for help. And something many readers might not agree with:

-Take your medication as prescribed

Now I know, no one wants to be taking pharmaceutical mind control drugs- eek!! BUT... I find that with the right medicine, taking a pill can make life a lot less stressful, traumatic, hectic, wild, depressing... Etc. I don't plan to stay on my medicine indefinitely, but I consider medicine a valuable tool to help keep you stable as you learn life skills and find a living situation that works for when you go unmedicated. I view it as the lesser of two evils. Medicine helped clear my mind, helped me in therapy to work out all the demons my mind was plagued with from years of my body kicking me with depressed phases. (self confidence, self hatred, negative attitude, etc. )

BUT.. Its very important to find the RIGHT medicine. Thats where tracking the mood becomes vital. I went through a roulette of antidepressants, anti anxiety and add drugs because I didn't have a clear picture of my own situation. Bipolar people, as a rule of thumb, are NOT supposed to take antidepressants. You can get away with a mix of a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant, but if you don't have a mood stabilizer, the antidepressant can kick you into a crazed, off the charts manic episode. Which happened to me. Not to mention that starting the antidepressant can make you uber depressed and suicidal too. Bottom line: track your moods, be wary of ANYTHING other than a mood stabilizer. ***

Love to all the bipolars out there- they say it's a "disorder", but no one has the right to label you in any way. So forget the negativity. Accept yourself and appreciate the fact that most of the general population will never know the depth of emotion that we do. For all the depression we suffer, a good day means more to us than most. For all the mania, we brim with life and energy unlike most. I consider myself blessed.