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What is Bipolar Disorder ?

Applying real-world approaches to staying positive and healthy.

July 04, 2018

As Published in PSYCHOLOGY TODAY Grant Writes: "According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition which affects 2.8% of the U.S. population in any given year, and over the course of a lifetime affects 4.4% of people. Approximately 83% of people will have very severe symptoms, and an addition 17% will have moderately severe symptoms. Rates of bipolar disorder are similar for men and women, and bipolar disorder is most commonly diagnosed in the mid 20s, within a broad range of age of onset.

Bipolar disorder is a complex illness, with seemingly contradictory symptoms from severe depression to extreme euphoria and agitation (“mania”), and everything in between including low-grade manic episodes called "hypomanic" episodes and combined depression and mania, called "mixed" episodes. There are several sub-types of bipolar disorder, and it is considered to be a condition requiring long-term management. Many with bipolar disorder have difficulty accessing effective diagnosis and treatment, leading to further suffering for themselves and those close to them. Bipolar disorder is often complicated by the presence of other psychiatric conditions, including anxiety disorders, ADHD, and substance use disorders, exacerbating the situation."


How Positive Thinking Changed Bipolar Disorder For Me

by: Carley Cooper

Journaling has given me the tools I need to gather important information. Healthy food and exercise have helped improve the physical part of me. But what about my mind? Being whole and healthy involves 3 aspects; body, mind, and soul. If any one of those is unhealthy, the whole package is flawed.

Negative Thinking is Hurtful Positive thinking is healthy for all aspects of our being. My past lead me to develop negative thinking patterns very early in my life. I didn’t know I was thinking negatively. When I realized that I needed to change my thinking patterns it felt like a massive sized task; and it was. I learned early on that thinking positive isn’t something that comes natural to everyone. Negative thinking not only hurts others around us, but it hurts ourselves as well, and it can have a huge impact on the progress of mental illness.

It Can Be Overcome!  In the beginning I got advice from others who said things like “just focus on the nice things.” However, it’s not that simple. That kind of advice ranks down there with telling a depressed person to “just snap out of it.” It just doesn’t work that way. If the ‘operating system’ that your brain functions on is negative, than first responses will be negative. To have basic instinct and first responses be positive reactions, thinking patterns have to be changed. Your brain’s ‘operating system’ has to be wiped out and new updated ‘software’ has to be installed. This takes work. A lot of work, time, and dedication, but I assure you it’s worth every minute.

When I first started out with the goal of changing my thinking patterns, I researched the topic and read anything I could get my hands on. The one thing that kept popping up was ‘Positive Affirmations.’ The more I read, the more fascinated I became. If you keep repeating things to yourself, eventually you start to believe them. Repeating positive statements become natural first-reactions if you tell yourself often enough.

Reprogramming is Easy to Do I started with positive affirmations written on index cards. It didn’t take long and it started to work. Every morning I read through my stack. I also had a book of positive quotations, and made a point of reading several pages from it each day. Then, I surrounded myself with positive things and people. I stopped watching a lot of TV, which I find to be a negative thing. I started hanging out with people who seem to be naturally happy most of the time. Now, several years later, I have people telling me all the time that they like how positive I am. I’m told that I am an inspiration. It’s wonderful to hear these things. Not only do they help keep me motivated to continue on this path, but I also know that my ‘reprogramming’ is working. As such, Bipolar Disorder in my brain is not disabling anymore. I am on the path of starting a new career. I’ve built a good life for myself that I like. I am productive. I’m capable of living alone, where as in the past I wasn’t. I needed someone to take care of me.

Positive thinking has helped me greatly. Write them down on index cards. Another idea that I have tried is to write them over photos on your computer. Then load those photos onto your smart phone. You can flip through the photos reading the positive statements each day no matter where you are; standing in line at the grocery store, riding the bus, waiting in the doctor’s office... anywhere you are and have a few minutes to spare, use it as ‘programming time.’ My doctor gave me a prescription once and written on it, instead of medication was “You can’t think yourself into a new way of acting. You have to act yourself into a new way of thinking.”

Here are Some of my Favorite Positive Affirmations. 

General: 1. Today is a very happy day. I choose to rejoice 2. I am confident 3. I am beautiful inside and outside 4. I am worthy of love 5. I am a positive thinker 6. I am happy 7. I am free of anger and resentment 8. I forgive (person’s name who you want to forgive) for (the offense that they did / said to you) 9. For singles: I am fulfilled as a single woman / man 10. I am at peace with my past 11. I am sexy 12. I love working out 13. I am strong 14. I am independent 15. I was made for more 16. It’s OK to say ‘No’ to others requests when I feel they are crossing my personal boundaries  17. I am at peace with my past 18. When socializing, I enjoy lots of conversation and I have lots of worthy stuff to contribute to the conversation 19. I love working out 20. I love living a healthy life style 21. I have happy memories 22. I am honest 23. I am loyal 24. I am at peace with those I love including those who love me in ways other than how I would like them to 25. I am patient

Bipolar / Mental Health Specific: 1. I am excited, happy, and anxious to go to work every day 2. I will not make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions 3. I am not Bipolar Disorder. I have Bipolar Disorder 4. It’s Ok that I have Bipolar Disorder  5. I have nothing to be embarrassed about 6. I will share the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder because it helps to kill stigma 7. When I am tempted I will either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation 8. I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but rather to define the parameters of my freedom 9. When I am considering compromise I will think past this moment and ask myself “How will I feel about this choice tomorrow morning?” 10. No matter what happens I am fine

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