Where to find support for dealing with Bipolar Disorder in USA?

Bipolar Support
Throughout my whole life I always felt different. My mood swings, especially as a teenager, were more extreme than the average teenage rebellion. If a boyfriend broke up with me I would get so depressed I'd contemplate suicide. On the flip side, sometimes I'd be so elated that I did not care about consequences and make very poor decisions.

My extreme mood swings continued well into my adulthood. In my 30s I experienced a difficult divorce which lended to an increase in extreme mood swings and unsavory behavior. My use of alcohol and prescription medication increased ten-fold. Under the influence and during manic times I would leave my new husband and daughter for a couple of days to do drugs with other men.

I eventually attempted suicide and informed my ex-husband, the father of my son, of my intentions. Not long after this incident I was served with legal papers stating that I would only have supervised visitation with my son as a result of my erratic behavior. I immediately sought out a therapist who immediately recognized that I was manic and referred me to a psychiatrist.

Mania is described as feeling high or an overly happy or outgoing mood or extreme irritability. The manic person may talk very fast, be easily distracted, overly restless, sleep little, have unrealistic beliefs, and/or experience impulsive behavior.

After a 2-month wait, I finally saw the psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder and referred me to an intensive outpatient program. For six weeks, five days a week I attended therapy groups, was stabilized on new medication and graduated a totally different person. The program essentially saved my life. I learned in these groups about bipolar disorder, anxiety attacks and how to cope with these things in a healthy way.

As part of my recovery process, I learned to identify life goals, understand the power of positive self talk, finding the right balance of medications, talk therapy, peer support and lifestyle changes.

Setting Goals

What motivates me?
What interests me?
What would I do more if I could?
What do I want?
What do I care about?
Where do I want my life to go?
What brings me joy?
What are my dreams and hopes?

Positive Self-Talk

1. Write affirmations positive statements about you
2. Accept compliments and reject put-downs
3. Build trusting relationships with people who support you
4. Clarify your values, i.e., identify things that are important to you
5. Decide on changes you want, and then make them.
6. Get motivated by involving yourself in activities that are consistent with your values.
7. Set goals that are realistic and achievable
8. Take risks to change and grow.
9. Develop a personal achievement portfolio to show your accomplishments
10. Accept yourself and like who you are.

Talk Therapy

There are many types of talk therapy that can help you address issues in your life and learn new ways to cope with your illness. Talk therapy can help you to:

1. understand you illness
2. overcome fears or insecurities
3. cope with stress
4. make sense of past traumatic experiences
5. separate your true personality from the mood swings caused by your illness
6. identify triggers that may worsen the symptoms
7. establish a stable routing
8. develop a plan for coping with a crisis
9. End destructive habits such as drinking, using drugs, overspending or risky sex.

Peer Support

Support from people who understand your illness is another important part of recovery. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) offers both in-person and online support groups. Visit www.dbsalliance.org for more information. DBSA also offers more than 700 peer-run support groups. On the DBSA website, you can also read stories and watch videos by your peers describing their experiences in search for wellness with Bipolar Disorder.

Additional resources

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency, that helps people pay for health care. Visit www.cms.org. Locate affordable healthcare in your area by visiting the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website at http://bphc.hrsa.gov for a nationwide database of clinics to obtain low or no-cost healthcare. The National Institution of Mental Health offers clinical trials for those afflicted with Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses. Visit www.nimh.nih.gov/health/trials.

After a year-long journey through therapy and self-discovery, I regained unsupervised custody of my son. I am now sober and living a health lifestyle as a result of continued therapy and medication.

Written by : Kelly Adams Dennis, United States(USA)

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice