Seven Coping Strategies I Learned After Being Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

Reminder: it’s going to be okay.

You are going to be okay.”

Editor’s Note: This is the last in a three-part article series about healthcare and mental health during COVID-19. This last article will offer solutions to the prior articles and will include brief mentions of a manic episode.

So, you’ve just been diagnosed with a mental disorder. What’s next? When doctors told me that I had Bipolar, I was curious, angry, relieved, and frantic – all at once. For years, that “thing” that I could not explain finally made sense, which describes the relief and curiosity. 

Yet, I was also in the middle of a manic episode, so I was frantic and upset. Why did I have to get Bipolar, I asked myself. Had I not suffered enough? Then, I took some time to reflect further, and I realized I did not “get” anything; it was always there.

The biological factors were there, the trauma (which can sometimes be a trigger) was there, and even the symptoms were there at times. I had just never experienced the mania I felt during the week of April 12.

As I’m recovering from that trying week, I keep telling myself, “You are going to be okay.” This is one of the coping skills that I’ve developed. Using this resource and music from a few of my favorite artists, I will talk about seven of mine.

1. Write letters to yourself

“I tried to drink it away.”

Screenshot: YouTube

Who else remembers that time Solange wrote a letter to her high school self for Teen Vogue? That’s the idea behind this activity. Sunday is great day to reflect, so why not make it intentional?

To avoid drinking it away or putting one in the air, I wrote seven letters to myself, for different moods. If you don’t have the capacity for that, an alternative could be writing down some things you love about yourself, and reviewing them periodically. Especially for those coping with anxiety and insecurity, this can turn into a beautiful pick-me-up.

2. Create a mood wheel™️

“A mood, and I’m moody.

On Mondays, we listen to Meg as we dismantle stigmas. “A mood and I’m moody,” she proudly said on her highly streamed Savage Remix. Could she have been advocating for breaking the stigma against mental health? Potentially. 

Yet, to break the stigma against mental health, we must face the parts of it that are stigmatized. So, one day, I decided to create a “mood wheel.” If you maintain this mood wheel, you can physically “see” how your mood changes throughout the day and week.

3. Start a project

“I’ve been going through, going through things.”

I honestly and truly felt it on a spiritual level when Tems said, “I’ve been going through, going through things.” Judging by what I’ve heard from family members and seen on social media, I know I’m not the only who has had a rough time adjusting to change.

To keep yourself occupied during isolation, I would suggest starting a Quarantine project. This could be as small as cooking a new meal, or as big as taking on a new venture. 

4. Journal/Write poetry

“And when all my strength is gone, in you I hear a song.”

For me, poetry has been a coping method. After deciding I was done with school (for now at least), I kicked it into overdrive, and I never gave myself a chance to Slow Down, something I talked about on the Season 2 Premiere of Rwebel Radio.

​​On the podcast, I said, “I remember graduating twice, but I don’t remember celebrating either one.” Really, my ceremonies were less like celebrations and more like accelerations.

When I kicked my overdrive into overdrive, I began hydroplaning. To minimize the impact of the crash, I write. Wednesday is the best day for this because the week is halfway down, so you have things to say.

​From a glass half-full perspective, the week is also only halfway gone, so you have time to recapture your week. A quick Wednesday freewrite will allow you to release any feeling that does not serve you.

5. Dance or just move around

“We gon’ break the stigma up – Huxtables turn to Obamas.”

Although Teyana is not talking about mental health in the song above, she is advocating for us to challenge stereotypes. For people with mental challenges, this is especially important – being a mover and shaker for yourself. Speaking of which, I want to move any time I hear this song, so I tend to use it to work out. Whether it’s traditional calisthenics or twerk-outs, this song is a perfect exercise vibe.

6. Do some self care

“I do what I what I want; don’t report to nobody.”

When it comes to mental health, doing what you want and reporting to noboby is a message. It is easy to get caught up in the stigma of what mental stability is supposed to look like, but it takes different forms in every person.

So, when you’re low, do some self-care. This could be Netflix and chilling, starting a podcast, making a wedding plan, etc. No matter what self-care looks like to you, do what you want; don’t report to nobody.

7. Remind yourself, “I am not a alone.”

Emeli Sande has reached a level of self-awareness that will take effort and mindfulness. One app I highly recommend for meditation is Headspace, which my previous therapist suggested to me. They offer a free course that takes you through the steps of mindfulness. 

Recovering from a mental breakdown and preventing relapse is tough, so having some coping skills makes it easier. I offered a few in this listicle that I have found helpful, but ultimately, you have to develop a routine that works for you. I know this new diagnosis is scary, so when it gets dark, remember: this too shall pass. ~ℝ

Author

  • Javanna is the editor of "Rwebel Magazine," the architect behind "Rwebel Radio," and the pioneering force of "Xscape." Through her words, Javanna hopes to inspire creativity, passion, and forward-thinking.

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