Bipolar Mate

16 Apr

I noticed that a post about bipolar depression was on my recently read list (I’m suspicious that person was looking for bisexual) and everything has changed since then.  The post was really frustrated and worried and helpless.  So I thought I should write an update.

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Bipolar is still in both Cool and my daily lives.  Each day, we go through mood numbers verbally to check in with each other.  We rate mood, energy, anxiety, irritability, and love.

Mood is from 1 (suicidal) to 10 (manic psychosis).  Luckily, those numbers hang around 5 (average) to 4 (blah) and 6 (feeling real good) mostly.

Energy is ranked from usually 3 (dozing off) to 7 (fidgety, hyped-up, restless).

Anxiety and irritability are ranked 0 (none) to 3 (very bad).

We add our love points for the day (how many hugs, verbal I<3Us, etc).

The whole scale sounds a lot more complicated than it is, and when you do it every day, it goes really fast.  Lately, we’ve been going through our numbers when we do our 1 min wall-sit.

DMB at the Gorge 013

Aside from just keeping tabs better on a day to day basis, we have this binder.  Which has been a real life-saver.  In it, we have the various cycles that a bipolar person can experience:  Mania, depression, anxiety, mixed, flat, etc, etc…  Anything that changes the above numbers and may come with symptoms.  Cool writes each paper, with me contributing input and helping brainstorm.

Here’s an abridged version of what one might look like:

Mania

-everything moves too slow

-half-assing chores

-unfocused/distracted

-selfish

-bigger fashion risks

-more talkative

this usually goes on for 20-ish things that usually happen during Cool’s specific mania.  This is a key point–it’s not just symptoms out of a book.  We’ve paid attention to many manias over time, and noted the things she personally goes through.

And when I start to notice things are off, or symptoms are ramping up, I will tell her to get the binder.  And she will read each thing and say yes or no it’s happening right now.  And I count as she does.  Then at the end, we see the percent.

Exp:  She has 8 symptoms of 24 commonly experienced on her list.  8/24= 33%

Which on a science exam is not a lot, but considering it’s a third of all the symptoms she gets that we could think of, it’s enough to necessitate a medication change, and for sure to employ some strategies.

tail-gating

That’s the 2nd part of each of those pages.  For each page with a list of feelings and behaviors common to Cool’s specific cycling, we have 1 full of strategies known to help her.  These were taken from books, forums, and anywhere else she could find.  The more the better.  Then, it was just about her trying them, practicing them, and sticking with them and adding more until relief of symptoms.

So that might look like:

Depression Help

-watch a comedy

-go for a long walk

-call someone to talk

-wear favorite outfit

-pet the kitties

-play a game

And really, it comes down to medication.  But using the strategies give us both some sense of control and something we can at least try.  And we both think the more she practices the strategies, the more they help her feel better.

haunted-5k-186

So those are two huge things that have made a big difference for Cool’s mental health, my stress levels, and our relationship as a whole.  We are working as a team, and things are going pretty well most of the time.

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