The Bipolar Woman’s Survival Guide for the New Year

1. An adventure list.

Write down five places within a six-hour drive that you would like to explore. Get out your planner and write down weekend dates that you can tackle these adventures. Invite friends (OK, our one friend) on these adventures so they’ll hold you to getting out and seeing the world. Write down two places outside that radius and plan out a way to make one of them happen. Put it in your planner and start saving to make it happen.

2. This week, call one relative who feeds your life or once did.

Rekindle those vibes and check in with them. Who are we kidding: we don’t know how many days we have or how we will feel next Friday, let alone tomorrow. Don’t ask for anything, just catch up. Do the listening, not the talking. Show them you are interested in what is going on with their lives. No matter what they say, don’t interrupt, compete or compare. Sympathize if they’re struggling; encourage if they’re well.

3. Name one thing you will do to get healthier this year.

Exercise, eat healthier, practice yoga, walk once a week, join a gym and go once a week. Psych meds make many of us gain weight. Fight back and get those endorphins going. You’d be amazed at how great it feels to just try.

4. Name one new hobby you’d like to try.

Do you have a smartphone? Take up phone photography. Create an Instagram full of your adventures or workouts. Create a digital scrapbook of your days. Fascinated with GPS? Try geocaching. Grow your own herbs. Do an internet search of hobbies and see what appeals to you.

5. Have an open mind.

Things might not go as you wish and that’s OK. We are adaptive creatures, so adapt and make gelato out of that mess and stick fresh mint from your new herb garden on top.

On a more serious note:

6. If your condition requires medication, put your meds in labeled holders and take them.

Sometimes you lose track, especially when holidays hit us like a tornado. Get back into your routines. Download an app that will remind you. If your life seems out of sync, it might be because you’ve neglected your medication routine.

7. Update your emergency plan and inform two loved ones about it.

My emergency plan includes my preferred hospital, my psychiatrist’s name, his phone number, a copy of my insurance card, my one bill that isn’t automatic and how to pay it, a current list of my medications and dosages, and a list of who I’d like called if I have to go in for a time. It also includes things I do or say that signal I’m past the point of fixing myself and I need help. (I also have a bundle of puzzle books, coloring books and a novel ready to go if I do go have to go in.)

8. Be honest with yourself and take care, you’re worth it.

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