After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was forced to re-evaluate my overall health. If you read my other content, then you know how I blame my excessive lifestyle as a contributing factor for my bipolar. In my teens, I did drugs and drank almost every week.
Even though it’s stated how drugs and alcohol can’t cause bipolar disorder, both are known to worsen the symptoms. Harsher symptoms will impact your life more by attracting negative energy your way. I know this because, over the years, I’ve stopped using drugs, limited my alcohol, and workout 3-4 times per week. This has helped me stay positive and get a grip on my bipolar symptoms. The power of a healthy lifestyle should never be underestimated and doctors tell you to start exercising as your first line of defense against manic and depressive episodes.
In general, exercise can dramatically improve your mental state. The psychological benefits of exercise on depression have long been studied, and doctors have concluded –
“When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.
The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.” – webmd.com
Awesome #8 – I’m Proactive About My Overall Health
Understanding the power of exercise and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle in connection to bipolar disorder is tough. I mean, where do I start…right? So, I decided to split my journey into three phases – early teens, after being diagnosed with bipolar, and present time.
I was very reckless during this time. Overspending, drinking 3-4 times per week and smoking marijuana every day. This period stands out a lot more now because I can compare it to how I’m feeling right now. For example, around this time I was 17 years old and remember how I started to first notice the mood swings. I didn’t seek help for another three years but remember how I would have highs (mania) and lows (depression). Because I was drinking and doing drugs almost every day, I blamed my mood swings on my lifestyle. The reason I didn’t stop was that I didn’t know the seriousness. I believed when I would stop the excessive drug and alcohol use, the mood swings would stop too.
Around this time, I noticed how I would take things seriously, held a lot of hate, anger, and negative energy. Things would bother me a lot and now that I think about it, this feeling would trigger a manic episode.
After Being Diagnosis with Bipolar
In 2000, I saw the doctor for the first time and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At this point, I started to take things more seriously. I stopped doing drugs and tried to cut down my drinking. However, this was more difficult than I thought because of my surroundings. The reason bipolar disorder pushed me to stop using drugs and drinking was that I was diagnosed with a condition with NO permanent cure. With bipolar disorder, you find ways to manage it and reduce the symptoms. One way is to cut down those things which triggered an episode.
In my early teens, I thought if I stop drinking and doing drugs, it would cure my mood swings. But since bipolar disorder has NO permanent cure, stopping them, was NOT guarantee I would get better. I knew I had to simply stop those things which made my condition worse. Around this time, I started running twice a week, stopped smoking marijuana, and cut down my drinking. But, here’s what I learned,
A healthy lifestyle is more than what you’re doing physically. It’s about what you start doing spiritually too. For example, stopping my drug use, cutting down alcohol, and eating well didn’t help control my mood swings completely. But, learning how to live in the now, attracting positive energy, and mentally staying aware has helped me more than anything else.
The best thing I’ve done for myself is taking the time to read blogs and books on mental health. One day, while reading, I learned about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. For those of you not aware, it’s therapy based on how you handle your surroundings and situations. Basically, if you can train your mind to view a situation as positive then you can reduce the amount of anxiety and stress upon yourself. As you’re probably aware by now, both anxiety and stress can trigger episodes in people with bipolar disorder. Reducing both will help long-term. So, I incorporated reading on mindfulness and started to practice meditation daily. In a nutshell, here’s what I focus on –
- Staying positive
- Eating healthy
- Running 2 miles 3-4 times per week
- Lifting weights 2 times per week
- Reading every day on self-improvement, business, motivational, and success
- Now more drugs – period.
- Limit alcohol consumption to 3 drinks when going out. But, I’ve limited going out to twice a month.
- Blogging – this helps clear my mind and communicate my thoughts
- Sleeping 6-8 hours per night
Now that you know how I stay proactive in terms of my health, here’s some things to consider…
Bipolar disorder has NO cure and you need to be proactive in bettering yourself. By now, you should have a clear indication of what events cause stress, anxiety, and trigger episodes. If you don’t, then start keeping track by writing your thoughts in your journal. Here’s the thing,
A huge part of managing bipolar disorder needs to do with your overall physical and mental health. For example, keeping an eye on what you eat, how often you exercise, and getting enough sleep. We know how a poor sleeping schedule can worsen the symptoms of bipolar.
From my early teens to now (the present), I have learned a lot. I went from someone who didn’t care about my physical and mental health, to someone who takes overall health very seriously. I have 17+ years of experience and can compare two extremes – not exercising, and exercising almost every day.
Staying proactive about my overall health has made a huge difference. I have this natural high when leaving the gym, and it forces me to make other changes in my life too. I take pride in how I look, who I hang around with, and how I make others feel. When I feel good, I want everyone else feeling good too.
Before I was diagnosed, I never step foot in a gym, but now I’m there almost every day. This change can be attributed to the fact that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s safe to say, bipolar disorder has made me more proactive about my overall health…now that’s awesome!