Planning for Recovery from Bipolar
I recently came across a great account from a man living with Bipolar Disorder, Steven Propst. In an insightful and direct way, he describes what recovery has looked like for him and helpful steps in finding it for yourself. By examining the importance of accepting his diagnosis, gathering information to cope with his ups and downs, finding the right medication, developing a WRAP plan, and taking action to stop putting his life on hold, Steven Propst summarizes his path of recovery (http://www.bphope.com/bipolar-recovery-face-facts/ ).
In my work as a therapist, I have seen many patients benefit from the work he describes. I think approaching one’s diagnosis from a place of acceptance and finding ways to move forward in one’s life can be very challenging. Especially, after a recent diagnosis I see many struggle with grief and trauma related to their past manic episode. Finding support and a safe place to process related emotions, whether it is with a therapist, support group, or close support system, has been invaluable to some that I have worked with.
Additionally, finding tools that work specifically for you to cope with ups and downs is essential. The WRAP plan is a great way to individualize and solidify steps to support oneself. WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan and is a tool to plan for both wellness and preventing a crisis. It thoroughly helps outline steps you can take in your everyday life to support your well being in addition to identifying warning signs leading up to crises and ways to respond to prevent hospitalization.
Another tool I find especially helpful when working with clients to re-engage in their lives (as Mr. Propst put’s it “getting to it”) are SMART goals. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, realist and time-limited goals. Often setting goals for oneself can feel overwhelming. This can cause anxiety that acts as a barrier to getting started. By setting small achievable goals within a specific time frame, I have found clients are better able to take actionable steps. For example, if my goal is to start exercising again that could feel very daunting and could mean many different things. Does that mean going to the gym for hours every day? Or running a 5k every Saturday? Instead if I were to start small and specific and made the goal of going to 2 yoga classes in the next week on Monday and Friday, the task would feel more achievable to me.
Ultimately, finding tools that work for you and hearing from others about the tools they have found most valuable can be helpful in the recovery process. To connect further with other people blogging about their experience with Bipolar Disorder, check out the list of Heathline’s list of top 13 Bipolar Disorder Blogs: http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/best-blogs-of-the-year#1