When I was younger, I had a landscaping business. And I really enjoyed doing it, and it helped people who couldn’t do their own lawns, etc. But part of landscaping is cutting back the bushes.
Trimming the dead parts, to make room for new ones. Getting the weeds out of the way. So that, in the end, people could be proud of their yards. Now, the trimming back and getting rid of weeds had to be done on a steady basis, or they would overgrow. Same with the lawns. In other words, without pruning, things get overgrown with the wrong thing. They need constant attention. And the more attention I gave them, the better the result.
Bipolar disorder is like that. First of all, let me say that everybody’s different, and what works for one person might not work for another. So I’m just going to talk in general. But let’s take medication for example. Your loved one might start out on one medication, but it may have some side effects that they don’t like. So what can you do about it? There’s only two things you can do:
1. Deal with the side effects 2. Change medications. Dealing with side effects can be done.
It’s worth it as long as the medication is working for them. But those side effects can be like the thorns on a rosebush – They bother you, but they are necessary. Most side effects, though, can be managed with not too much effort. But medication changes (dose, amount, maybe even a different medication or combination of medications), is like tending to that rosebush. You keep at it until it becomes what you want it to be. Or until it helps your loved one be what they want to be, which is stable.
There are other things your loved one does for their stability. Like see a doctor, psychiatrist, and therapist. And going to those appointments regularly is like landscaping the front of your home – you tend to it, and you do it regularly. Only by regular attention can your loved one get to where they want it (themselves) to be. Starting an entire exercise routine when you’re not used to exercising can be too much. But starting slow and building up to a better routine that works for you, is like tending to the weeds. One thing might not work so well for you, but another one will.
So you discard the old routine and begin a new one, adding and changing as you need to in order to get the result that you want. It’s the same with eating a healthy diet. You try one thing, and it might work, or it might not. But you prune and weed until you find something that does work well for you.
Stability in general is like landscaping your yard. You know what you want it to be like. But it needs tending to, so you do what you have to in order to get stable. Once you reach stability, though, it’s not such a big job as an overgrown garden with weeds. Once your loved one is stable, they may need tweaks here and there, but for the most part, they will have a well-tended “self.”
Well, I have to go!