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4 Easy Tips to Manage a Mild Manic Bipolar Episode

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It’s a weeknight and I just called 12 different people. I wasn’t at a phone bank. I was reaching out to loved ones in an effort to both connect and distract myself from… myself. I’m in the second week of terrible sleep, tossing and turning every night, but I’m not tired. Even though it is nighttime, my mind is racing quickly between thoughts about putting in a few extra hours of work to ease the anxiety, doing some creative writing or taking time for myself to recharge my batteries. Relaxation seems like a task to check off in my busy mind.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

So I start dialing as part of a mild manic episode. Unlike depressive episodes, this need to talk is an itch — an itch to share how my work day went, to chat about the latest movie I saw, to just talk away the evening. I’m in no danger of hurting myself; the thoughts are just bursting to get out. Fortunately, I reach one person and we have a short chat that satiates my mind.

If you’re bipolar, this could sound familiar. The ups and downs of bipolar disorder means you go through swings into depression and swings into mania. Manic symptoms for me include anxiety, a huge desire to talk and urges to go shopping.

There are a few things I have found useful in these chatty episodes.

1. Make that call.

In terms of manic episode behavior, the desire to talk is one of my healthier tendencies. I have just learned to do it with consideration for the other person at the end of the line. I begin by asking if they have time to have a conversation with no particular purpose. It’s possible the person on the other line is in the middle of bringing in groceries from the car or getting the kids to bed. If now isn’t a good time, I don’t take it personally. Likewise if they forget to call back. I can always try another friend. Depending on the person, I suggest a time limit for the conversation at the beginning so I don’t get carried away. I also consider the timing. If I’m not sleeping well, it doesn’t mean I have to ruin another person’s slumber. Finally, be prepared to answer questions about your state of mind. If the other person on the line knows and loves you, they may want to pose a few friendly questions about your state. If you call, be prepared to talk!

2. Write it out.

Whether it is by hand or on the computer, writing can be a great way to keep myself busy. I’ve written to-do lists and planned my next day. That practice is actually helpful in putting my mind to rest when I’m feeling worried about work. Other nights I’ve written creatively and just not published it on social media or the other platforms at my disposal. Most things worth publishing are worth editing as well. Occasionally, I will write gratitude emails. It’s a nice gesture and a way to keep my writing focused on the positive.

3. Exercise or go out for a walk.

You’ve probably already heard this from your doctors or on mental health education websites, but it is worth repeating that exercise is one of the best ways to regulate and manage your mental health. If you don’t have time for the gym or funds for a membership, a run outside helps me get that nervous energy out. Sometimes it’s just a walk around the block, but it’s something.

4. Learn a song.

I’m not a musician, but learning to sing along with a favorite song has been a great pick me up. It also helps me feel less alone to learn the lyrics to a song that matches my mood. I imagine it’s great to learn the music as well if you do play an instrument.

The remedies I’m describing are for relatively mild manic episodes. For me, learning coping skills has been as helpful as learning to seek the help of a professional when needed. I’m slowly building my toolbox. Do you have tips for managing your chatty tendencies in a manic episode? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Getty Images photo via millann

Originally published: April 23, 2018
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