Understand your reasons for wanting to control your bipolar condition. If you want to keep motivated to make progress you’ll need a very good reason when the going gets tough.
Sticking to any new routine can be hard. It takes dedication and commitment but how do you keep it up when you’re feeling low and don’t have the energy or when you’re flying high and having the time of your life? It’s easy to forget why you should be doing something (like exercise) or why you should not do something (like having many late nights) when your mind is all over the place.
When I first started controlling my bipolar I had huge issues motivating myself to do what I knew I should be doing. A turning point came when I was sitting up until 3am one morning watching TV. I knew I should have been in bed a long time before but couldn’t seem to get off the couch. The next day my wife was angry and said if I wasn’t able to stick to my in-bed-at-a-reasonable-time routine that I didn’t care about her. At first that just made me angry and I ranted on about how she didn’t understand my condition. The more I thought about it though the more I came to see it from her side also.
Your main reason for wanting to continue getting well needs to be very strong, you’ll need it when you want to give up or are tempted to take short cuts and, trust me, this will be often. Print it out and put it on your wall if needs be so you can be reminded as often as possible.
These are some of the reasons for wanting to be the best that I can and these are the things that push me to keep on trying. Typically I only remember the first two but by adding the others to my wellness plan I can remind myself every so often.
1. I do it for my wife and children. Of all the things I hate about my condition it’s the way I treat my family that I dislike the most. I can be the nicest, friendliest person in the world but I can also mean and nasty. In the last 8 years or so the nasty side has come out more and more and is present in both my ups and downs. So for anything that’s hard, like exercise, sticking to a bedtime routine or practising mindfulness, I try to remember what the effect will be when I go back into an up or down state and how that will affect my family.
2. I do it for myself. I find the emotional fluctuations exhausting. I rapid cycle and have few stable periods. It’s difficult to maintain a solid work pace, it’s difficult to maintain relationships and I just want to feel like I’m making steps forward instead of backwards. I want to be the best version of myself that I can be.
Here are some of the other reasons, in no particular order, maybe you have similar reasons or try to think of some that will get you out of bed on a cold morning to exercise.
3. Feeling depressed sucks, I’d do anything not to feel like that.
4. Hypomania is exhausing and, although I really enjoy the highs sometimes, I’m much better all round when I’m more consistent.
5. I enjoy being a productive member of society and making a contribution. I do this much more effectively if I’m stable.
6. I want to move forward in life, not stagnate or feel like I’m moving backwards. I want to able to try new things and keep up until I’ve mastered them, not give up after a half hearted attempt.
7. I really don’t like the fuzzy feeling in my head, it feels like there’s cotton wool inside most of the time. When I’m more stable I feel less like this.
8. I want to have better relationships with people and make stronger friendships. I find it hard to stick to plans often when I’m not stable. When down I don’t make any and when up I make too many.
9. So I can be more like the person I want to be; calm, thoughtful and kind
10. To improve my self worth and self image. Minimising my depressive episodes and controlling my highs has helped a lot with this.
11. So I can feel like I’m part of the world and share the secret of life instead of looking in or pretending that I’m enjoying it.
12. To be able to take joy from the small things in life like spending quality time with my family, a sunset or a walk in nature. It’s sometimes easier in hypomania but when down I really struggle to take pleasure in anything.