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Self-Care Techniques That Ease My Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

The house is finally quiet as my wife and I discuss Black men who suffered from depression. It’s a conversation that’s been all over the news lately. I ask her: “Do you feel like I keep you up-to-date on how I’m doing? Especially when things get bad?” She thinks for a moment. Then replies, “Yes and no. I feel like I never really know when things are bad for you until you’ve come out of it and you share how hard it was.”

I knew she was right. Even before my bipolar diagnosis, the uncertainty, the way mental illness upended our lives, I was always good at masking. I’ve learned to put on an encouraged, determined face as the oldest sibling, the new dad, and the strong friend.

But it’s done more hurt than good recently. My most recent battle with mental illness almost took a dark turn towards the end of 2022.

Work had been piling up for months, I wasn’t getting quality sleep, and I felt like I was beyond burnout. Earlier that year, my psychiatrist had commended me for identifying healthy routines that worked well for me, and for practicing self-care to ease my bipolar symptoms.

But I’d gotten off-track. Life became too much. I don’t know about you, but it’s never easy to be honest with myself when I find myself in a tight space, unable to breathe, unable to dig myself out. That’s where I was and my symptoms were in full effect: easily frustrated, lack of sleep, bouts of anger, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It dampened our holiday trips and activities, and had me feeling a little ashamed. Self-care felt impossible because I became overwhelmed with the thought of it. Between commuting, getting food on the table, and trying to be present with my family, I wasn’t taking enough “me time” to feel balanced.

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