Living Successfully With Bipolar Disorder


How are you doing?

Today I have a challenge for you!

I’m just curious.

Answer this question:

What does “living successfully with bipolar disorder” mean?

Ok, I’ll even give you a hint, but then you’ll have to scroll down for my answer!

It’s a combination of two things, for starters. Can you guess? (scroll down for another hint)

They begin with M and T.

(scroll down)

Ok, the first one is medication.

(scroll down for the second one)

The second one is treatment.

Those are only the top two things to living successfully with bipolar disorder, though.

There are more elements to stability than that, and I talk about them in my courses:







But let’s go over some of what it takes for living successfully with bipolar disorder.

To me, it’s when taking medication, going to all appointments (doctor, therapist, psychiatrist), following a treatment plan, etc., all becomes a lifestyle instead of a chore.

It’s when you have a positive attitude instead of a negative one – where you have totally accepted bipolar disorder instead of resenting it (since there’s nothing you can do about it anyway).

It’s when you have mastered the disorder instead of it mastering you.

I also think living successfully with bipolar disorder involves setting realistic goals (short-term and long-term) and then achieving them.

And since we’re talking about success, obviously, I think I need to throw in here that we’re talking about how each person has to define their own success.

For someone in a bipolar depressive episode, success might mean just getting out of bed that day.

But I’m talking about a different kind of success.

A bigger success with bipolar disorder.

And the things you need to do to get there.

The long-term goal would be stability.

The short-term goals might be:

1. Take medication every day

2. Go to all appointments (doctor,

psychiatrist, therapist)

3. Stick to a good sleep schedule

4. Eat a healthy diet

5. Exercise

6. Be productive

Then, say, being productive might be working at a job, starting a home-based business, taking a

course at your local college, having a hobby, volunteering, etc.

And, say, as far as exercising goes, you may need to have an even shorter-term goal of starting

off slowly and building up.

Then ask yourself, what is your definition of success with bipolar disorder?

Is it NO episodes? Because that isn’t realistic – as long as you have bipolar disorder, you will

have episodes.

The goal here is to have FEWER episodes.

Which, if you do the right thing, will happen.

Is it management of the disorder so that you can live a “normal” life?

YES! That would be a good, realistic definition of success with bipolar disorder, because it means that you are stable.

And that should be your long-term goal.

What does “living successfully with bipolar disorder” mean to YOU?

  1. Dave…..One thing you forgot to mention in your list of short term goals…(ALL EXCELLENT ADVICE of course..) is making sure you surround yourself with emotionally HEALTHY individuals…meaning STABLE individuals for your support system..easier said than done sometimes…thanks for all you do!!!

  2. Dear Davy How Are You Hope Your Feeling Fine……..
    Goals Mmmmm sometimes a think people are just kidding them
    selfs a think its just something for them to focus on to give them reason to carry on in this astranged world. Or is it just my negitive thinking.
    Take Care Linda x

  3. “Living successfully” means managing your bipolar instead of it being the MAJOR part of your life. For now, I’m stable on my meds, and visits to mental health professionals, along with a good treatment plan. I’m living a “normal” life – except for the specter of “mental illness” that is characterized by the bipolar.

    As well as I’m getting along, there remains, in the back of my mind, the feeling that the bipolar WILL creep up on me when I least expect it. Like now – with my dizziness (the MRI was normal) – I may need a change in meds. I have been advised to see another psychiatrist to go over my meds and see if there are any changes that can be made. I have reached a fork in the road: if my meds ARE changed, there’s the possibility of an episode. If they are not changed, then I’ll remain dizzy. Quite a choice, eh??

    I feel like I’m “on the edge” right now, and am puzzled by how all this will turn out. Like you, I cannot AFFORD to go into a full-blown manic episode, either financially or lifestyle-wise. There are choices to be made here – and I don’t think I’m of the mind to make the RIGHT ones.

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

  4. My boyfriend has been feeling down for 2 months now and has turned his back on me, wanting to sort out everything by himself. He still has all my love and support. I am sad not to have him with me right now, though I think if I let him be he will come back. He keeps his appointments and takes his meds, but he does not feel like being productive at the moment. I am hoping his psych will change or adjust his meds, as I don’t think he is on the right cocktail. Some side effects have screwed up our relationship. He has lost all interest in sex and most other sort of fun. My cats entertained him the other night and cheered him up a little. They are great little therapists. My hands seemed to be tied right now and there is little I can do for him.
    SUZANNE, I wonder if your dizziness could be caused by low blood pressure. I’m going through a lot of menopausal stuff right now, including mood swings. I’m not on bipolar meds or any other meds, but recently I have had a lot of dizzy spells and cold shivers. My doctor tells me that is caused by low blood pressure and my blood pressure is often low. We don’t really know what to do to put the blood pressure up a bit or what is causing it to be low. I had a lot of tests done, which were all negative. I suppose stress and relationship problems don’t help.

  5. Dear Dave, I have been getting and reading your emails for about 2 months now I think. I am the supporting link in our bipolar world. I have been doing this for about 25 yrs now. When it all began it was an absolute nightmare. The first manic episode lasted 3 months and ended at a state facility in which I ended up having to get a court order to have the patient moved to another private facility. Any way I have often thought I should write a book. At present we are doing so-so. Problem is my spouse is medicated and has been for the duration but has not been in therapy for over 18 years. Right now he is a little on the down side. Me..wel I have to be honest…I am getting worn down. I have been a good supporter and have had to be the bad guy sometimes, you know tough love and all that. But lately I am having trouble seeing the rewards. i am feeling very alone in this in the fact that I have no support. I want him to be well and do you know I just realized , I want him to be happy….he has no joy , and I live with that and I don’t like it. Any suggestions?

  6. To JEWELS: I feel so badly for you that the joy has gone out of your life after all the years you’ve spent as a loyal supporter to your husband. I suggest you get OUT and find a hobby or volunteer – ANYTHING to get you out of the house and be surrounded by positive, upbeat people who can help your negative attitude. Of COURSE it’s hard being a supporter – that’s one thing Dave relays in his blog. You’ve “paid your dues,” now it’s YOUR turn to find happiness. If you are a spiritual person, you can find others who share your beliefs, or just pray about your future, and listen to the “still, small voice” that answers. I commend you for staying with your husband, but sweetheart, you need a LIFE, too. Look at some of the discussions on Dave’s blog for Supporters finding relief from the everyday struggle to keep things together. You deserve a GOOD life, now, and it’s ALL up to you to recapture your OWN happiness. Good luck, and may God smile on you.

  7. I would say that you left out the L for lifestyle… a lot of the things you suggest are lifestyle changes such as getting into healthy sleep routines. medication will only get you so far.

  8. Hey Dave, and all bipolars, and family out there, I have been on medication and was diagnosed with bipolar about two years and a half ago, and I must say that it really is difficult for me to accept this condition, i do have a therapist who is TRYING to help, loved ones alike, and for some reason I have always felt like bipolar is just a matter of mental manipulation, I know sounds a little naive, but I have a hard time coping with the fact that I must be on medication for the duration of my life to be happy, and just do things that make me go out of my way from just being average. I mean, I take my medication regularly and I try to visit my therapist regularly but I still have a hard time being happy, keeping a job, and feeling hopeful about tomorrow, I mean there are factors that you mentioned Dave about living successfully with bipolar that I can still apply, such as keeping a healthy diet and other things, like believing in my therapists work. I guess I am just a little prideful in accepting myself in society knowing that I have bipolar to deal with. But I think that to live successfully with bipolar means accepting yourself around people that don’t have the condition and feeling as common as they are and preforming comfortably yet fairly to yourself. In essence if anybody else as felt this way, please feel free to share advice and suggestions, Thanks.

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