I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m an insomniac. However, the Clozapine I take at night helps me fall asleep with 20 minutes, I just don’t stay asleep. I wake up at least twice every night. It would be nice to sleep through the night, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. My mind is always running extremely fast. It goes from one thought, to the next, and so on. I never catch a break; I never get a moment of peace from my own brain. This happens when I’m manic, depressed, and even when I’m not experiencing an episode.
There are many aspects in life that affect my ability to sleep. These aspects include keeping a routine, medications, my anxiety level, and my honesty. Keeping a routine is important, but it’s something that I’m not very good at. I almost never go to bed at the same time every night. I pretty much go to sleep whenever I feel like it, so that isn’t very helpful. Several of my medications, including Lithium and Tegretol XR, can cause insomnia in patients. I’m sure this worsens my ability to sleep. My anxiety level is high quite often. Even when it’s not high, I deal with anxiety on a regular basis, especially when I’m outside of my home. For me, it’s important to remain honesty. I have a hard time living with myself if I’m not honest. I truly believe that honesty is the best policy; it’s important that when we interact with others, you should treat them the way you want to be treated.
There are many reasons why I could struggle with insomnia. I wonder if this is something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. When I was a young child, I would fall asleep anywhere. Now, I have to force myself to fall asleep. And to make matters even worse, I tend to have nightmares when I finally do fall asleep. My husband says that he can tell when I’m having a bad dream because I talk very loudly in my sleep and I’m constantly tossing and turning. When I wake up, I don’t always remember my dream/nightmare, but I do remember feeling terrified. I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help get rid of these nightmares.
I leave tomorrow to go back home. I’m both saddened and excited at the same time. I don’t want to leave my mom and other family members; however, I miss my husband, his (my) family, my dog, and my routine. I’m close with my husband’s family, I feel like they are my family, not just my in-laws. I’ll be home tomorrow night. My husband is picking me up from the airport and I can’t wait to see him.
I have lots to do today so I can go back home tomorrow. I’m anxious because I have so much to do and I’m not sure if I can get it all done, but I’ll do my best. I wrote my to-do list last night. Besides writing my blog, I have to email my doctor, wash my hair, do laundry, pack, try to go see my grandma once more, go to the local farmer’s market, and look for secondary health insurance. I also have a few things to help my mom with, while I’m still here. I know it sounds obvious to wash my hair, but it’s such a huge task because it’s so long that I feel it’s worthy of being on my to-do list. I can tie my hair in a knot, like a bun, and it stays up. I’ve been meaning to look at secondary health insurance, it might help to have something in addition to my primary insurance. I figured I would do it while I’m here so my mom can help me figure it out. Sometimes, I just get overwhelmed and can’t figure out how to do even the simplest of things.
I got so many other things done already this past week and was able to visit with so many people. I met with two family friends yesterday and was able to catch up with them. I had a great visit with both of them. My brother and his awesome wife invited me over for dinner last night. I’m honored that they would invite me, and we had a great time. I love how happy they are together.
Now, I just have to get moving so I can get all of these things done on my list. I can’t put off washing my hair, laundry, or packing any longer.
Maintaining routines is extremely helpful to me; it is a great way to help manage bipolar disorder. Routines require ideas, plans, and action; these things keep us active and help us to feel good when we accomplish our daily tasks. I know I should follow my routine more strictly by keeping to a regular sleep schedule and eating on a regular schedule, but those things are very difficult for me to regulate.
The routine that I do keep may not be as structured as it should be, but it works for me. First of all, I go to the same stores that I always go to when I run errands, even if they are further away or more expensive. I do that because I’m comfortable going to stores I know. I like to write in the mornings and evenings. I take the dog for a walk late at night; he has a reflective harness for our safety. I also try to run errands during the day before the stores get busy. Then I can do household chores later in the day. Every night, I write a to-do list for the following day. As I complete my tasks the next day, I cross them off my list. My to-do lists allow me to create a plan for the next day that I can take action on and complete.
I try to keep my routine flexible so that it’s easier when I have major changes. It’s more like a plan or structure instead of a strict routine. I’m not good with change, most of us aren’t. When I keep a very strict routine, I have a hard time when it comes to seeing family and friends. My flexible routine allows me to manage my life while still being able to get together with others, even at the last minute. I know it would be beneficial if I went to bed at the same time every night and ate at the same time every day. These are things that I can work on. Everybody is different, and everyone has different needs.
Right now, I’m visiting my family, so my routines are all messed up. I have lots of things I want to get done, so I made a to-do list as always. Hopefully, that will help me keep some structure in my life while I’m away. I’ve been trying to plan things such as visits with people, but it hasn’t been working very well. Some things have to be left up to chance.
Running errands is a difficult task for me, and it always seems as if the errands are never ending. I’m comfortable in my own home for the most part, but when I leave my house, all of my fears start to take over. One of my biggest fears is having someone I don’t know come up behind me. My anxiety kicks in when I’m in public. I constantly look from side to side and front to back to make sure I’m aware of everything that’s going on around me.
There are certain stores that I hate going into on my own or at all. These stores have bright and fluorescent lighting, narrow aisles, and large display cases right at the entrance. These aspects cause anxiety and make me feel trapped and uncomfortable. I would prefer to go to a store that ends up costing me more money, than go to a store that brings out my anxiety. Even the regular store that I go to can sometimes cause anxiety; it all depends on how many people are there. It’s important for me to plan when I go shopping to avoid the crowds.
I also hate standing in line when it’s time to check out. There always seems to be someone behind me that doesn’t know what personal space means. This isn’t just at grocery stores; it happened to me the other day when I went to buy dog food. I despise going to the mall. I’ve actually only been once in the past year. I wasn’t alone, and despite that, I was still freaking out on the inside. These are some of the reasons why I try to buy as much as I can online.
There are so many things that I struggle to do, inside and outside of my home, which is why it’s important that I have a support system. My husband is great when it comes to helping me feel safe while we’re out. He will walk behind me so I know that he is the only person directly behind me. This especially helps while standing in lines. When I feel trapped in an aisle, I normally freeze, but he helps guide me through the store. He will put his arm around me, hold my hand, or hold onto my belt loop, making me feel more secure and ensuring that I don’t get lost. I can also go in on my own if absolutely necessary as long as I’ve taken Valium. I have progressed over time with the different activities that I’m capable of doing. Hopefully, over time, some of the regular errands I run will become easier for me to do.
Being productive can be an extremely difficult task for those with bipolar disorder depending on their mood. Personally, I have no problem maintaining productivity when I’m manic. In fact, I can’t sit still during manic episodes; I’m always finding something to do. However, staying productive during a depressive episode is one of the most difficult challenges I face; it can even be difficult at times when I’m feeling well. I use the following techniques to help me stay productive and organized:
- I make a to-do list every day. During depressive episodes, I write down some of the smallest tasks such as make the bed, feed the dog, brush my teeth, etc. Writing these things down helps me to see how much I actually get done every day. Once I complete a task, I cross it off my list; this shows me all of the things I’ve done each day.
- When I’m really struggling with depression, I write down some tasks on my to-do list that I’ve already completed and cross them off. Then I can look at my list and feel more productive.
- To-do lists not only help me stay productive, but they also help me remain organized. My mind tends to get easily distracted, so organizational skills are extremely important for me.
- Taking medications regularly is vital. Our doctors prescribe these to us for a good reason; the meds can only really help us if we take them regularly, as prescribed.
- Keeping a regular routine is also extremely important. This includes waking up and going to bed at the same time, showering at the same time, eating at the same times every day, setting aside a specific time each day to call friends or family, and working out at the same time every day are some examples of learning to keep a routine schedule.
- A good night’s sleep is extremely important. It helps us to stay healthy. It’s important to sleep in bed instead of on the couch, and it’s also important in my experience to sleep at least 7 hours. If only I could follow my own advise for this one. Sleeping is something that’s easier said than done, but we can generally be more productive when we’re not tired all day long.
- Exercise helps us feel good, and when we feel good, we are more productive. Walking the dog is a great form of exercise. Sometimes, all I can do is walk around the house, but it’s better than nothing. Sometimes I can do workout videos, but it’s not necessary to push yourself to do that much, as long as you do something.
- Eating healthy is important. This is another one of my struggles. I tend to eat things that are easy to grab; or when I cook it’s generally unhealthy but tasty.
These suggestions are what I use to stay productive and feeling healthy. The to-do lists and taking medications are the things that work the best for me. I know I need to improve with the other healthy habits. They don’t always work, but it’s better when I try. Please remember that these suggestions are just from another person diagnosed with bipolar disorder, none of this information is from a doctor or medical professional.