Considering that the last one year of my life has whizzed by in a flurry of parties, hangovers, panic attacks, vegetating phases and so on… the first thing the doc asked me to do is get STRUCTURE. A word I hate. But having tried it for a while now, I must say it helps a bit.
You need not force yourself into one. I, for example, continued vegetating for over 2 weeks after being told to get structure. I continued junking but gave up smoking up cold turkey. People with extreme bipolar run the risk of developing schizophrenia with continuous usage of drugs like weed and marijuana. Since the psychotic episodes seemed to have started, I didnt dilly dally about quitting it. However alcohol, emotional eating, vegetating like a couch potato arent things I could let go off that easily.
I stopped thinking till I myself felt like getting up and doing something. Baby steps. Started with wanting to cook on one day and went on to exercising and cleaning up. Sharing this as an achievement with someone who will understand and appreciate the effort really helps.
So, Step 1 is get a structure in place.
And Step 2 is to follow this continuously for a min period of 8 weeks (the avg time it takes for the brain to register and convert something into an effortless activity) until it becomes a ROUTINE.
The structure one needs is:
- A designated time to bed and to wake up
- Healthy diet
- Avoiding alcohol and drug abuse (abuse, not necessarily abstinence)
- A full or part time job to keep oneself occupied
- Avoiding jobs or tasks that aggravate symptoms. For eg: theatre or voice overs for a person like me (requires one to unnecessarily deal with emotions, even though fake)
Get this basic structure in place and then the second layer of problems can be tackled. Until then touching any topic will just lead to an epic outburst.
All the best!