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Episode · 4 years ago

Mental Health Holiday Survival Guide, Bipolar Style

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

John Emotions reveals a few of the things that help keep him balanced through the holidays; routines, volunteering, and healthy distractions. Join us on Twitter @BipolarStyle #bipolarstyle for mental health chats throughout the season.

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Welcome back to bipolar style, the podcast for bipolar people and those who love them. Join US online at bi polar stylecom Johnny motion. All Right, thanks and welcome back to bipolar style. I'm johnny emotions. I'll be your host for the next fifteen or twenty minutes. This particular episode I've called the Mental Health Holiday Survival Guide bipolar style. So today we're going to talk about the three main things that helped me through the holidays, and those would be routines, volunteerism and things that are distractions, basically like recreation and entertainment. Ideas for the bipolar person. And what makes a bipolar person any different than a regular person? Well, obviously it's the reins of emotions, in the intensity and the sensitivity of our moods. Okay, cool, good enough, but that also means we have other things built into our schedule, like medication and doctor appointments and things like that. Before I get too far into this episode, I just want to say I am out on the road today. I figured it would be fun to come out record a podcast out in public. So I'm down near the waterfront in a town called Martinez, California. It's along the San Francisco Bay. So you hear that there's some trains in the background and lots of shore birds and waterfowl and whatnot, lots of people roaming around and even some crazy drunk people now and then. If there are any interruptions, and it's because I'm out in public, but sound sounds pretty good anyhow. So this is what we're going to focus on for today, the Mental Health Holiday Survival Guide bipolar style. And if you haven't been tuning in, I just want to thank the past three guests we've had for really helping boost the downloads of the show. Their appearances, I think, hopefully help what they're working on. So, within the case of Jason, he's promoting his movie Donovan, and in the case of Diane, she's got her book the birth of a new brain, on bipolar depression for, I'm sorry, for Postpartum Bipolar Depression. And last week we had becky from that B word podcast which focuses on borderline and bipolar disorder, among lots of other interesting things. So those three folks all have bipolar disorder. Thanks. Thanks. That's really great. I have the timer on my computer telling what time things is, so it's A. It's five o'clock, Great Soun's going down. It's beautiful anyway. Point being, the last three high functioning bipolar people, I guess I should call them, were excellent. I appreciate having them on the show and I look forward to having other guests with bipolar disorder on in the future because I think it's really inspiring when you're really down and on the depressive side of bipolar and you just can't get out of bed and don't know what you're going to do with yourself forever, like anymore for any other day in life, it's kind of Nice to hear that that people are doing it sometimes. I know sometimes it might feel like that's rubbing salt into your wounds, but for most folks, when you're down, it is nice to know that even these are even those of us that are kind of doing stuff right now, we have down moments that are equally as low as yours might being out. I know it doesn't feel that way, but it happens. Well,...

...let's get to the kind of three general ideas I have. I guess it's kind of an outline for how I have learned how to get through the holidays. I'm not saying these will work for everybody. Not share any of them will work for you, but they do work for me and if they are new to you, maybe worth trying out. Some of the s are going to be really obvious. Some of them might just be good reminders. Okay, so the First Section. One of the more important things to a person with bipolar disorder are the routines. So it's it's kind of hard bad because when we change the clock backs and then we get hit with Thanksgiving and then all the religious holidays in December, it's kind of overwhelming. Society is really busy focused on these things that are intended to throw routine off with tradition. It's like tradition in some ways competes with routine, especially for people that don't necessarily have many traditions. And most importantly on these routines would be your medication. So right now, go over, get in your bag, pull out your meds, get out your little Pale divider thing and start doing the math. Do you have enough meds to get through the upcoming holidays? So I guess in this case this is mid November. Do you have enough meds to get through Thanksgiving and then through the December holidays, whichever one your family or friends celebrate. The issue here isn't so much you forgetting as maybe it just runs out and either the nurse or the administrator, the assistant or the doctor are now on vacation, because everybody has their own life and those folks all need a break as well and they're out doing their own things. So sometimes, if you hadn't thought a head and you didn't get enough meds to get through the holiday, you might get unduly stressed out. So please, if you hear this and you take medication, go double check and make sure you've got enough meds to get through the holidays or and have a plan to get through, you know, the rest of the year, because it's just holiday stacked on top of holiday, and that's one of the routines that I think helps keep you balanced and functional. So if you're taking medication, lock that down. In addition to MED's the next most important thing doctors always hit you with this too, is sleep. How is your sleep? What's your sleep schedule like? Are you getting eight hours of sleep? Yes? No, okay. Well, all these Christmas parties, eating lots of sugar, drinking alcohol late at night, all these things are out to destroy your sleeping routine and you got to kind of watch for that. So protect your sleep schedule to the best you can. Use a calendar. If people invite you to parties and events throughout the holidays that conflict with your ability to get home and get to sleep on time, just say no. Tell them you've got a previous engagement. You don't have to tell them it's bed, you just tell them you've got a previous engagement. I'm sorry, thanks for inviting me. That's so lovely. If I can do anything to help, let me know, but I've got something to do. I've got to crawl into my dark room under my weighted blanket and relax. So that's okay. That's your schedule. You don't have to commit to other people's parties. You'll get pulled in every direction. I know you want to be nice. You're a kind person, right. You want to say yes. You want to be the most social person you can be given the situation. So like, Oh,...

...yeah, cool, okay, I think I can go to that person's party. But look, look at the calendar. If it starts at thirty at night, it's going to be late. You're going to get home, it's going to be midnight before you're in bed. The next day is going to be whack. So just consider all these things, okay, and then obviously that leads to your diets. You know, kind of keep that in mind. I'm not a huge, like regimented diet kind of Guy Myself, but sold on the fact that a healthy diet is good for your brain and that sugar in pretty much every form is bad for us. I love sugar. I love chocolate, jelly beans, but I mean what, any kind of sugar? Just give me sugar, I love it. But as I've grown up, I've learned that most things already have sugar in it, carbohydrates and whatnot. So I tried to eat as little direct sugar as possible, as little refine sugar, and when I do I try to appreciate it a lot. I sit and savor it. I don't rush through a whole bag. Usually. Sometimes it happens whatever, but point being, I'm not a teetotaler on the sweets, because I don't want to be that freak, and neither do I superindulge all the time, every day, all day. I guess I'm just saying eat bad food and moderation if you must, but keep in mind that you had a diet before the holiday and you have a schedule, so, you know, try to stick to it. These aren't your holidays. Sure you would like to participate in the tradition, but I would say one of your main goals is to remain balanced throughout these, you know, quote unquote, turbulent times. So stick into your keeping your meds on schedule, keeping your sleep on schedule and your diet on schedule are three great ways to stay ahead of the game. Another thing that you should remember to do is to exercise, especially if you are already exercising, keep doing it. I know it's darker now. That really sucks because I ride my bicycle to and from work pretty often and now it's a lot more dangerous and it's colder and it's kind of miserable. But once I finish the ride, I feel like I really accomplish something, and in fact I did. I burned off a bunch of calories and kept my joints from from stiffening and becoming old and all that. You know, just keep the body moving. I'm not gonna, you know, say go start learn how to run a marathon just because you ain't Thanksgiving dinner. That doesn't make any sense to me. What does make sense is if that you already walk a few blocks each evening as part of your schedule, don't stop that because the family and the friends are visiting from out of town. And if you're out of town yourself, if you're the one that's visiting somewhere else, then you know, get a map or use your google maps or something on your phone and go take an adventurous walk in a new neighborhood. If you're normal routine is walking, you get the example, if you normally ride a bike, you know find a way to do that. Keep up the exercise. It's a great part of your routine. Wholeheartedly encourage that piece. And then the last routine, it's kind of the big picture routine, would be these annual traditions. If you are so fortunate to have family or friends that are close by and are able to get together over extra days off where nobody has to focus on school or work, then you're blessed. You Know, count and counter your blessings. You're fortunate to have that and embrace those traditions. Make sure you fit that routine into the other parts of your routine, kind of like a big clock with all the different gears and different sizes of things moved around back there. But so you've got some kind of Daytoday, routines you need to keep up. But now, if you've got those locked in and you feel comfortable about it, focus on the big scale traditions, because I think those are really what make life matter, being able to get together with your family and friends that you...

...hadn't seen in a while and reminisce, I mean whatever. The capitalist bit about giving the gifts, I guess, is Nice, especially if you're a child and you like open presents and things like that. All good, not going to bag on that too much. But you know, I think the reality is what people really love about the holidays is that one it's one more opportunity to be with your loved ones, to be with your friends. Whether or not you're able to make things work and leave that that occasion with a perfect memory, who knows, but it is nice to have that opportunity once a year and it's great to bond with fellow humans, and so one of those annual traditions that I kind of got into. It's a lot of fun is volunteering. There have been many times at the holidays where I found myself without anybody close to hang out with during Thanksgiving or Christmas, and the one I like to do was go to St Anthony's dining all in San Francisco and help serve food to people even less fortunate than I was. So while I had no people, those folks had no people and no shelter. So just kind of I don't know how to explain that, but it feels just rewarding. And the reason I said don how to explain it because it sounds weird like, HMM, you volunteer and you help people worse off than you. Does that make you feel better? Because it makes you feel bigger. I never really thought of it, but yeah, I don't know it, but it does feel good to help people and people are genuinely grateful when you're handing them food because it's good food and I don't know, it just worked out, but they're that's one way to do it. Right about now, you're probably a little late if you live in a big city and you're trying to hook up with one of the main charities, because they have lots of volunteers kind of sign it up starting about August. But if you live in a main city, look up the local charity and see if they need help delivering food, serving food cleaning up. They always need help cleaning up. Nobody likes that part because there's no glory in it, right, but they definitely need help. It's one of the UNSUNG hero jobs of the Christmas holidays. And the NEAT thing is when you volunteer like that you just doing it without any expectation. You just you have to do it with the best intention and with no expectation of giving, I mean of getting anything in return, and that's what makes it feel so good, because you actually do get a lot in return and you never know, you there's no way to know what that will be. It's unexpected and you do get something in return, but you just cannot go in expecting anything. That's the whole nature of voluntary and right is just going out and giving that yourself and see what happens. So it's kind of neat in the KARMIC way of the universe. Some of the other things I like to do deliver food for the local food bank. Oh here, here's something really cool too. I've done this both in school and as an adult out of school, is reading two old people or my favorite, reading two kids that are locked up in juvenile hall. So a lot of times you can go to the local juvenile hall and ask if you're able to read to them. I used to read to the kids in the local Juven a hall through the loudspeaker at nighttime, after lights would go out and they would be locked in their cages. I would read them stories and I thought it was great because I remembered it when I was a kid locked up in the cage once and I'm like yeah, I'll just give back a little bit. So that's a really neat thing. A lot of people don't realize. If you like to read, a lot of times you have pretty good leeway on what kind of stories you get to pick to read to these folks and just go for it. So that's another fun thing. Or even something as direct as just, you know, wrapping gifts at the local toy drive. They always need help with things like that. If you're handy, if you're crafty, go down and wrap some gifts. So those are just some things that I've done in the past. There's a tons of things. There's a...

...volunteer organization called tap root, tap root tap root dot org, I believe, and if you're a creative type like graphic designer, layout artists, web illustrator or whatnot, they will match you with nonprofits that could use your volunteer skills. So that's another way to go if you're more into that route. So anyway, volunteer. So keep your routines, maybe add some volunteerism. And then the last bit is kind of obvious, but I'll just give you some of my ideas that have worked for me, and that's just distractions. Honestly, their distractions recreation, entertainment. Now I've tried to cover a range of things here because I've been poor and I've had money, and I know people with bipolar disorder run the gamut, you know, we're across the spectrum. Some of US have zero money in the bank and Oh money to people, and some of us have a bunch of money. So I've kind of try to keep these low costs as much as possible, just because who wants to spend money if you don't have to write? Hey, so here's a read through my notes here. Okay, laugh. That's a good one yet watch live comedy. If you live in a any kind of, you know, medium to large city, there's comedy clubs. They do a fairly good job, if you're able to get out of the house, that is, you know if you're locked in the bedroom that you know this isn't going to work for you. But if you're able to get out, comedy clubs a pretty good risk. The reasonably cheap. Unfortunately, they usually charge mandatory like drink tickets at the door, so you have to buy water for ten dollars a bottle or something ridiculous, or or alcohol. If you don't drink. It's I don't it's kind of whack. Anyway, if you like live comedy, go see a major comic that you've seen on TV come perform in your local town. That's fun. It's also on neat because a lot of local I'm sorry, it's also neat because a lot of touring comics also have podcast. So since you're listening to this podcast, there's a good chance a local or national or international comic that might come to a local club by you has a podcast and then you can start easily listening to that person through podcast. So yeah, live comedies great. I've beene watch Netflix. They're pretty good about putting up a new comic every Friday. Usually they got a new stand up, one hour stand up. That's great. And of course, my favorite kind of series on Netflix is called lady dynamite. Of course it's about a lady with bipolar disorder and I think it depicts the mania, the mannic side of bipolar in awesome, like accurate way, kind of Feliny, kind of just wag super energetic, way over the top, what did I just see? Kind of thing, but when you live inside of a bipolar mind, that is kind of how life is. By the end of the episode you're like what it is you see? That's kind of Howiday in a bipolar person's life is, you know, it's what, what was that day all about? Crazy, all right. So yeah, definitely check out Netflix. They've got some cool stuff, stranger things. Is Really Fun. If you haven't seen that. If you don't have Netflix, that's like you can get a free trial and I think it's maybe less than ten dollars a month. Find Somebody with the credit card, borrow somebody's password, you know, get on there, turn it on, put it on your your IPAD, or your TV wherever, just to check that out. It's a good way to spend a few hours. You might not be the best way, but again, remember, these are distractions, not this isn't like a learning time or anything. This is just something to keep your mind off of the severe, deep dark tsunami that might envelope you if you realize that you're in the holidays and you're detached from society. So again, these are distractions. Netflix binging...

...not bad distraction. Then there's, of course, live music. Live music can be really expensive, but it can also be free. So around the holidays look for town squares. Your local city center will often have free musical fairs. Again, if you're able to get out of the house, that's a free, safe way to get amongst people. You can kind of walk around and leave when you feel uncomfortable. You know it might only be five or ten minutes, but hey, at least you got out and you did something and in a way you can kind of prove to yourself like, oh, yeah, that's why I don't participate in the holidays, or yeah, this is why I love the holidays. Either way, getting out and checking out some live music can all. It's always a great thing. We just went to a fire victims benefit concert. That was great. saw some bands I had never seen before and some bands that I had loved, so that was excellent. Love that. Another favorite of mine are nature documentaries, because there's no judgment going on there. I don't have to think about anything. The animals don't judge anybody, they just eat each other or not. That's us. So lots of nature documentaries, dysfunctional holiday comedy movies. Those make me laugh. slapstick. I think the dysfunctional part makes me laugh because it's nice to know that other people's lives are more screwed up than mine, especially when framed in the comedy context. So I always look for those dysfunctional like, you know, Christmas vacation or whatnot, stuff like that. Sports events, tons of sports. Is always happening in America over the holidays. Again, kind of expensive, but that definitely take your mind off of things if that's your team, man, because it's like three hours of just going Gaga. So if you're into sports and you have a way to get to a game in person, I've got a friend with tickets or a box seats something. Let them take you if they ask say yes or even put it on social media. Just say, Hey, I've never been to a sports game. Does anybody have tickets you want to take? Me See see if anybody does. It's pretty fun and I definitely recommended at least once if you haven't done it at all. A little closer to home, you might try board games. Those are awesome. I get a lot of card games to player Card Games, so I can always play with if I have one other person, I can always pull out a game and hey, you want to play? So I'm really into all kinds of different games that come and go. Some are super simple beginner types and some are really complex. That my game goobru friend turns beyond to twitter chats. We will, with my little bipolar cabal, put together twitter chat Hashtag. So if you're feeling lost or lonely through any of the holidays, hopefully one of us will be online, because we're around the world and all time zones. That would be nice to be able to help each other through the holidays through a twitter chat. Stay tuned for that Hashtag. And I'm not sure if you know about what they call warm lines. They're not hot lines, like not like. I'm about to jump off the bridge kind of hot line. These are warm lines. Like I'm confused with my life. I'm not sure if anybody likes me. What the Hell's going on? There's there's warm lines, so look up warm lines on the Internet in your area and find somebody to talk to. That's that's a really cool way to spend some time and it's a great distraction. Another time well spent is any DBSA meeting. That stands for depression bipolar support alliance. You got to check that out. Highly encouraged. You can find them at DB s Alliance Dot Org. Again, that stands forward depression bipolar support alliance. DB Essay, is what they're called. Depression bipolar support alliance. To get that all out. In DBS ALLIANCE DOT Org they've got meetings, real life meetings, meetups like meetup dot Org, but with actually people, and they'll meet in your area and it'll make you feel a lot better.

It was one of the things that made me finally embrace the bipolarness of our condition was finding other people that had the same feelings, same situation, same reactions. Like I really was not alone. It wasn't just the thing I read about it wasn't just a diagnosis I heard from a doctor or symptoms I read about on a, you know, medication website and nothing like that. These were really humans that some were on meds, some were not, but I could relate to all of them. So I really credit the DBSA meetings to my survival in many ways. So if you're really stuck and you need a place to go, a lot of them have meetings, you know, twice a week, even so, check that out. The last few things I could think about were like taking a quick trip. If you live near a train line, near a bus line, just leave the driving to somebody else. Just go a few hours outside of your normal area, see the countryside, see new people, eat food at a different restaurant you never been to. Just, you know, just disconnect from your area. You get tweet about it or whatever, but I mean the point is just getting away from your geography, just getting out of your place and seeing the sun from a different angle, I guess, is the best way to put it. So highly recommend taking the quick trip anyway. You know, car, bus, train, bicycle, we are playing whatever you can do. And then the last few things on the distractions and kind of a little more big picture. But you know, if you need a distraction really start a blog, make a podcast. These will suck up a lot of your time, keep you focused and keep you from sliding too deep into depression, because it starts to feel like others rely on you. And with others rely on you, you kind of step up and like okay, I'll go record a podcast, I'll do it. HMM, now I don't feel quite so bad. So having the thing really is important. You can start a social media group if you don't like the ones out there. Start Your own focus on exactly your thing. You know, if it's not exactly bipolar disorder, maybe it's a bipolar disorder and borderline personality plus Ptsd, plus anxiety, plus this, plus that. You know, it could be a lot of different things. But you know, do your own things, start your own thing and have your own project is I guess what I'm saying. Have a project to work on is a great distraction. So I think you know. I don't want to get too carried away in any of these areas and we're kind of pushing up against the time limit. I just just want to say you're not alone through the holidays. There are other ways and other different things that we you could explore without just feeling mired in the in the darkness, alone in your room. Nobody cares. Nobody invited me anywhere. Da Dada, I get it. I totally get that. So I just think back, remember your routines, go get your meds taken care of, think about volunteering somewhere, and also plan for some cool distractions, you know, some recreation and some entertainment. That's the Best I've got, you know, I don't know else how to put it today. I hope that helps you and hope you find me on twitter at bipolar style. I will share all my best resources with you, including my favorite followers and, you know, the cool websites and the things we talked about as well. Thanks for listening and I look forward hearing from you next week. Thanks, take care. Bye. Bye. If you liked what you've heard, subscribe on Apple Podcast by Itunes and join us at my color stylecom. Thanks Bill. It's.

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