Stay Well, Even When It's Boring


It’s hard being well. It’s hard to continue to take the same medication, day in and day out. It’s hard to “keep your nose clean,” and stay out of trouble. It gets boring.

Living with bipolar disorder is much like walking a tight rope. Too much “fun” and I’m manic; too much “down in the doldrums,” and I’m in depression. God forbid I have an emotion that is human because it will be analyzed to pieces by myself, my husband and my doctor.

Staying out of trouble gets hard to do when you’re bipolar. Many people, myself included, get an adrenaline rush like no other from the heights of mania. Giving that up for stability sometimes looks like a poor choice. You can feel as if you’ve lost your creativity, your “spark,” your muchness, to quote the Mad Hatter.

So what’s a person to do when boredom strikes, and it starts looking like a good idea to “poke the bear,” as some would say? The biggest thing I do is talk to someone. That’s the number one most important thing you can do when you start thinking stirring up trouble would be a good idea. Talk to a trusted family member, your therapist, your psych or even a member of the clergy, if you’re so inclined.

Be sure to use your emergency contingency plan. I’ve had to make one every time I’ve been discharged from a psych ward, and they all look similar. It details what behaviors I exhibit when I’m starting to relapse, who to contact first and things I can do to prevent my state from deteriorating further.

The next thing you should do is actually use those coping skills that are talked about so frequently. For example, I color. I find something to clean. I pull out my Cricut and create something new. I write. I do something, anything, to keep my hands and mind busy.

I certainly don’t ruminate. Those voices in my head love trouble. They thrive on it. If I listen to them, then I’m headed for disaster. I suppose the most important thing of all that I do is not quit my medications. If you’re doing well, but you’re bored with being well, then quitting your meds is one of the worst things you can do for your continuing recovery.

Boredom is OK. In today’s world, we’re taught boredom is the worst possible punishment you can give a person, and we must be entertained at all times. However, this is not true. Sit with the boredom for a little while. This is super dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)-ish, but let the boredom flow through you like a wave. Acknowledge it is there, and then let it pass on by. Don’t hold on to it, but don’t push it away either. Soon the bored feeling will pass, and you’ll be eternally grateful you stayed true to the course of recovery.

If none of this works, then you may well be struggling and need a med adjustment or a new approach in therapy. However, you’ll be ahead of the curve by being able to recognize a trigger for you.

I’m not going to lie, allowing myself to be bored sucks. I hate it. I don’t like feeling like I need to stir up problems for entertainment. I know myself though, and knowing is half the battle, right? It’s hard to admit when you’re struggling. At least, it is for me. Don’t be like me, who has too much pride to ask for help sometimes. Be yourself, a person who has learned from my mistakes.

Image via Thinkstock.

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