Bipolar? Creative Ways to Cope


How’s it going?

Everybody has problems.

Some people see their problems as big ones, and some see them as small ones.

Some people see problems as an everyday thing we just need to deal with.

I heard a negative person say that problems are “a reality that ruins my day.”

Yet a positive person said, “Problems are opportunities in disguise.”

Some people just complain about their problems, while other people do something about their problems.

The point is, we all have problems.

We just differ in the way we approach them and in the way we solve them.

Like take bipolar disorder, for example.

People with the disorder tell me their biggest problem is not with taking their medications.

It’s not with going to all their appointments.

It’s not with sleeping right, exercising, or eating a healthy diet.

It’s not even with dealing with the stigma associated with bipolar disorder.

The biggest problem that people with bipolar disorder tell me that they have is coping with having
the disorder itself.

Sometimes it feels like the disorder has taken over their whole lives.

Even when they’re not in an episode they live in fear of when the next episode is going to come.

In my courses/systems, I talk about this, but I also say that if you’re prepared for it in advance, you don’t have to live with this fear.




But I asked some people to give me suggestions on creative ways to cope with bipolar disorder, and here are a few suggestions:

1. Have a pet
A dog or cat gives you unconditional
love. even just petting them can
soothe your nerves when you feel
stressed out. And they’re always
so happy to see you when you get
home (whether you’ve been gone
5 days or only 5 minutes!). How
can you be depressed when you’ve
got a pet?

2. Crossword Puzzles
Doing Crossword Puzzles or
Word Find Puzzles help you to
focus and keep those distracting
thoughts to a minimum. You also
feel a sense of accomplishment
when you’ve finished one. It’s
best to do the easy ones (at least
at first) so you don’t feel
overwhelmed or get too
frustrated, which would be
defeating the purpose. Be
careful, though, because these
can be addicting!

3. Coloring
I know this sounds like “baby
stuff” and yes, this is the same
coloring we did as kids, but many
people with bipolar disorder
have found coloring to be very
therapeutic. It keeps stress
levels to a minimum, helps you
focus and concentrate, and brings
out your creativity at the same

4. Doing Puzzles
This is very good for focus and
concentration for people with
racing thoughts. You may want
to start with a fewer piece puzzle
at first, however, so that you don’t
get frustrated or overwhelmed.
Remember to work the outside
pieces first (and the corners)!

5. Music or Art
If you have talent in either of
these two areas (or even if
you don’t!), many people have
found it to be helpful to them
to do this – if for nothing else
than just to keep their fingers
busy. Some people find that
just listening to some quiet
music to be soothing and
calm their stress as well.
These are just some suggestions to help with coping with bipolar disorder.

Can you think of some more?

What are some creative things that you do to cope?

I’d love to hear them.

  1. I crochet baby blankets for needy pregnant teenagers. It is relaxing and its volunteer work with no time commitment!

  2. David I have been getting your emails for quit a while. Its my ex boyfriend…he lived with me for 2 years and never knew the problem. He does not live with me anymore. But we still talk. Or we talk when he is in good spirits or not even sure which spirits he is in. Problem is he got married out of convience. He says he still loves me and i know i love him. I know now he has a problem. He does not acknowledge it. He just thinks he is messed up. question is,,, i have never said anything about getting diagnosed..should i? He wants a divorce at times and at times he wants to come back to me…i would gladly help him i know there is hope. Should i let him continue to hurt me…is it worth it. is there really help?

  3. David, thank you for the daily emails — they are helping me understand the disorder much better and helping me be a good support system for my daughter.

  4. Good Advice David!!
    Although these are not used by just people with bipolar…I use several of these on a daily basis and I am a supporter of a loved one with bipolar. I have used several of these my whole life.
    Just recently my fiance (who is bipolar) mentioned that I must be so bored and it was all his fault because he was a worthless boyfriend that couldn’t take me out to do anything and that’s why I spent so much time coloring and doing my puzzles. I tried explaining to him that I have always loved coloring and working on puzzle books…they relax me. I am a happy 43 years old and one of my many enjoyable relaxing moments is laying across my bed with my colors spread out and at least 4 of my color books. Try it people…you’ll find it to be very relaxing and WoW you’ll love the finished product. 🙂
    There are times I’ll go months without coloring but I do try to relax my mind on a nightly basis by doing something that calms my thoughts….everyone needs it.
    I wish everyone out there the luck in finding those few simple things in life that will also calm their thoughts.
    God Bless

  5. My sister is the one who struggles with this, and she has found that drawing, and knitting, and or crochet needle work has also been helpful for her, but she rarely if ever finishes a project once she has started it. She has done that for many years, and the home she lives in is full of such things. She also has colored and written countless letters that don’t get mailed. Her room is full of paper, notebooks, stationary, coloring books, pens, crayons, art pads, and yarn and needles or crochet hooks as well as boxes of kleenex. She also has a teddy bear collection which decorate the top of her dresser. So she has much to keep her occupied, plus a good number of books which she has trouble reading but she does try. Currently though she is going through a stressful time, with our mother being in the hospital, from having had bone surgery, she has fallen, twice, in two months time, and it is not easy for her, but she has been able to help my mom earlier on, before I had to arrive and help with the housechores, and get things re-organized. I will probably have to go up there again, but hopefully things will work out a bit before I have to return. She also has a speech stroke, and that is to be worked on as well as the acute rehab for walking once again. So there is a lot going on, and I don’t live close to them. It will require a plane flight to get there in good time and stay ? until other arrangements can be made. So that is what is happening with my sister and my family situation.

  6. Other means:
    If you have a library of CD,s or books in shelves, try to re-do how they’ve been stocked. It may not only help to clean up accumulated dust, but over the months or years they’ve been there, you might be interested again to listen to these music and reading these books. It creates creativity in the sense that your mindset is up-to-date.
    For those who have little children around the house, sitting with them on their plays, watch children’s videos, or TV programs, outdoor plays by the backyard will enhance your creativity of being in the set of minds.

    It worked for me!

  7. When I am stressed I have done housework. That has helped me to overcome the stress. Also, walking has helped me.

  8. Dear Dave,
    Im a supporter:
    I walk preferably bush walking or I dig the garden Im hopeless at planting but Im great digging and I read heaps Ive also re entered a learning institution to sdo my accounting degree part time (I had to start doing some good stuff for me) When Rachel was in hospital with BP Igot caught up in despair and negativity for a while and sort of got marooned on Negative island for a while and I found comfort listening to negative voices – then that got all sort of boring and I knew I had to get off of there: So I set my mind its like retraining , at first its very hard every time I felt myself regressing I would mentally stop the thought from progressing by distracting myself by -reading or walking or writing letters or ringing my son up to ask after his family and talk to my other grandchildren, everytime I felt myself drifting back to Negative Island I would go out for an invigorating walk , I would scrub out my apartment I would race round a park with my grandchildren and stop to marvel at a beautiful old tree or a fantastic old homestead or admire someones well kept and beautiful flowergarden , I learn’t that I had to retrain my mind to perceive the beauty out there and it takes time and patience and vigilance.

  9. Hi David,

    Firstly a few words of thanks for your message and suggestions, which I have found very helpful.

    I read through your latest tips on creative ways to cope and found that I am doing just about all of them. My particular favourite method is through Art, with my own brand of abstract expressionism and occasional variations on classical works. These I combine together on a number of web sites, mostly for my own entertainment, but I also write a blog where I post them when I need to make up for not having written anything for a while.

    I attend a couple of Art Classes each week, one as part of the “Towards Independence” initiative by my local authority and the other run by an advocacy group for people with mental health problems. As everyone there is in the same boat, people do tend to be able to get on with their work in a calm and supportive atmosphere, away from stigma and the worries of fitting in with a more mainstream group of people who do not understand the problems faced.

    Writing is also helpful, although it may be “triggering” if one chooses an autobiographical subject, so caution must be exercised. My Art is almost entirely inspired by the conflicts I have faced and so, to cope, I spend a lot of time considering what I will paint and the impact it will have before committing to canvas. This helps as a means of focussing and interpreting my experiences, releasing my impressions once in a safe space within a set time frame. Whilst the work is drying, I then have time to reflect after my 60 to 90 minutes of concentrated outpouring and I then return home with a clearer attitude and greater insight.

    For important issues, a set time and space is important; having a notebook and pen to hand at all times is helpful in working through thoughts for later deeper analysis, as well as to fill in the odd dull moments when prey to distraction.

    Kind regards,


  10. When I was on morphine for pain after wisdom teeth extraction in the hospital, I couldn’t read or do anything that required focus. So – YES – I colored!! At the time, my friends/family thought I was regressing, but it was so much FUN!! And – I stayed within the lines!! Now, I’m so busy on the computer, I can’t/don’t find the time to color – but maybe that’s the next BIG THING for me…

    I also do the crossword puzzles in the STAR magazine. Because I don’t have the concentration to read long novels – the meds I’m on work against that – I read the “rag mags” because they’re “simple” and don’t require much deep thought 🙂 One of the crosswords in STAR is celebrity-oriented; the other one is VERY hard. I enjoy doing them both, and set aside special time before I go to bed to do the puzzles. Sometimes, the hard ones keep me UP at night, but I just sleep later in the morning.

    I have bilateral neuropathy in my legs (makes them feel like they’re “asleep”) caused by Lithium, so I don’t walk as much as I’d like. I picked my condo precisely because it was within 5 blocks of our Historic Downtown Mall, and I could walk for exercise or to the bank or drug store. Now – I get to walk occasionally when my boyfriend comes up, and we want to have a special night on the Mall…I’m afraid to walk it at night, though. There have been assaults in the area, making it unsafe for a single woman to walk after dark.

    ALL of your suggestions are GREAT Dave. Just pick something that doesn’t overwhelm you in the beginning that would turn you “off” on it, and GO FOR IT!!

    BIG HUGS to all bipolar survivors and those who love us. May God bless you real good. I pray for my country.

  11. I too do most of whats on your list. I think whatever you
    have an interest in can distact. Just do it or them.
    at night when trying to sleep and mind is going 100 mph
    i first listen (not watch) some calming tv i,e, animal
    planet or any channel in a bit of a monotone. The best
    thing is to pray. I pray alot, going to church really helps to relax anxiety. But praying, watercolor painting,
    pets, puzzles,sodoku, scooter riding, and visualization seem to make up MY list of the most helpful coping things to do or have. Get your own just get them. Amen and
    God bless you and all

  12. Hi Dave The way i cope with bipolar disoreder is watching movies going to the movie theather, Music, heavey metal concerts watching trains and model trains

  13. Hello Dave,
    Thank you for all your message’s about bipolar. They help me to better understand what I am going through.

    I enjoy taken pictures it can be of anything. You can use your digital camera or those throw away kinds. It’s just fun to go out and snap away You never know what you may find in the pictures.

    By the way I do enjoy coloring and doing puzzles. Their is a good web site to that has puzzles on line.

    I have found POGO is a good place to play many games.

    I hope this will be of some good news to others to help them.

    Take Care and Keep all these great messages comming my way.

    Candy Kay

  14. YO CHORE…… I sit reading cosmo girl after an hour session ov dot to dot. 🙂

  15. We all do different things. My boyfriend has many talents. He paints, writes, makes jewellery, sculptures and can sing. Only if he does all of these in 1 night it means he is starting an episode! He is also good at fixing appliances and working things out. I write, paint and make clothes. When I’m stressed I get inventive with my cooking, or do housework and cleaning. We both enjoy gardening, too, though of course the weather doesn’t always co-operate.

    Crosswords would only get me more stressed, they can give you headache. I do computer puzzle games like Tetris and Frozen Bubble – they’re quite addictive.

    Just a month ago my boyfriend started a new therapy on advice from his psych. He went quite mad at the therapist when she gave him colouring books and swore at her. There was no way he was going to do that! I understand why. Some of the nurses in the psych ward treated their patients like babies. He wants to move on and be independent, not go back to primary school. He and the therapist came to an agreement, that he can draw, paint or write whatever he wants for the sessions. I agree that the therapy will be much more effective when you do something you enjoy. For the last week he has been in a depressive mini episode – just beginning to improve slightly along with the weather.

    Dave, I totally agree with you about pets. They are the best therapists. My boyfriend lives in a flat and can’t have dogs or cats there, but may get something like a guinea pig or something small. My cat died 3 months ago, I will be getting a new cat shortly and I know who will be coming over playing with it a lot.

  16. Dear Dave et al,
    My name is Lynn and I’m an alcoholic. [I also live w/Bipolar II Depression.] A.A. offers me many opportunities for service: Working the ‘Hotline’ phones, sponsoring newercomers, secretarying mtgs., are just a few ways I give service. These ways make me feel useful and give me a sense of belonging. I DO, however, appreciate the daily reading of your emails, and save them for future reference. This helps keep my mania in check, and lifts my depression symptoms. Thanks for letting me share.

  17. P.S. I also have 2 cats, and have planted my 3rd consecutive summer garden, both of which help to keep me busy and grounded. They are great for my spiritual growth, as well.

  18. These are all good things for the family in dealing with the grief of dealing with a bipolar family member. When you finally realize they are not getting “better” or not going to do the things necessary to be “stable”. Lots of grief.

  19. I do the daily jumble words from the newspaper with my daughter- who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years ago…I can tell how she is feeling by the quickness and the accuracy that she can finish these word puzzles. I definitely know that this small task really helps her in her daily activities!We both enjoy it!

  20. I have always found excercise of some sort to be a good way of getting out of my “moods.” Whenever I get irritated or overwhelmed, I try to take a “time-out” and do some deep breathing exercises. Also, I like to take walks. It could be just across the alley to the convenience store and back or it could be the mile or so I have to take to and from work, but I always somehow seem to be able to calm myself during these walks.

  21. Another great post! All of those things work for me. The only one I can add is walking, and walking and more walking….
    Wendy Love

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