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How Positive Thinking Changed Bipolar Disorder for Me

Carley Cooper

This is the third article in, what’s turned out to be, a series on How Bipolar Disorder has Been Changed for Me. If you haven’t read the first two they are:

1. How Journaling has Changed Bipolar Disorder for Me
2. How Food has Changed Bipolar Disorder for Me

Journaling has given me the tools I need to gather important information. Healthy food and exercise have helped improve the physical part of me. But what about my mind? Being whole and healthy involves 3 aspects; body, mind, and soul. If any one of those is unhealthy, the whole package is flawed.

Negative Thinking is Hurtful
Positive thinking is healthy for all aspects of our being. My past lead me to develop negative thinking patterns very early in my life. I didn’t know I was thinking negatively. When I realized that I needed to change my thinking patterns it felt like a massive sized task; and it was. I learned early on that thinking positive isn’t something that comes natural to everyone. Negative thinking not only hurts others around us, but it hurts ourselves as well, and it can have a huge impact on the progress of mental illness.

It Can Be Overcome! 
In the beginning I got advice from others who said things like “just focus on the nice things.” However, it’s not that simple. That kind of advice ranks down there with telling a depressed person to “just snap out of it.” It just doesn’t work that way. If the ‘operating system’ that your brain functions on is negative, than first responses will be negative. To have basic instinct and first responses be positive reactions, thinking patterns have to be changed. Your brain’s ‘operating system’ has to be wiped out and new updated ‘software’ has to be installed. This takes work. A lot of work, time, and dedication, but I assure you it’s worth every minute.

When I first started out with the goal of changing my thinking patterns, I researched the topic and read anything I could get my hands on. The one thing that kept popping up was ‘Positive Affirmations.’ The more I read, the more fascinated I became. If you keep repeating things to yourself, eventually you start to believe them. Repeating positive statements become natural first-reactions if you tell yourself often enough.

Reprogramming is Easy to Do
I started with positive affirmations written on index cards. It didn’t take long and it started to work. Every morning I read through my stack. I also had a book of positive quotations, and made a point of reading several pages from it each day. Then, I surrounded myself with positive things and people. I stopped watching a lot of TV, which I find to be a negative thing. I started hanging out with people who seem to be naturally happy most of the time. Now, several years later, I have people telling me all the time that they like how positive I am. I’m told that I am an inspiration. It’s wonderful to hear these things. Not only do they help keep me motivated to continue on this path, but I also know that my ‘reprogramming’ is working. As such, Bipolar Disorder in my brain is not disabling anymore. I am on the path of starting a new career. I’ve built a good life for myself that I like. I am productive. I’m capable of living alone, where as in the past I wasn’t. I needed someone to take care of me.

Positive thinking has helped me greatly. Write them down on index cards. Another idea that I have tried is to write them over photos on your computer. Then load those photos onto your smart phone. You can flip through the photos reading the positive statements each day no matter where you are; standing in line at the grocery store, riding the bus, waiting in the doctor’s office... anywhere you are and have a few minutes to spare, use it as ‘programming time.’ My doctor gave me a prescription once and written on it, instead of medication was “You can’t think yourself into a new way of acting. You have to act yourself into a new way of thinking.”

Here are Some of my Favorite Positive Affirmations. 

1. Today is a very happy day. I choose to rejoice
2. I am confident
3. I am beautiful inside and outside
4. I am worthy of love
5. I am a positive thinker
6. I am happy
7. I am free of anger and resentment
8. I forgive (person’s name who you want to forgive) for (the offense that they did / said to you)
9. For singles: I am fulfilled as a single woman / man
10. I am at peace with my past
11. I am sexy
12. I love working out
13. I am strong
14. I am independent
15. I was made for more
16. It’s OK to say ‘No’ to others requests when I feel they are crossing my personal boundaries 
17. I am at peace with my past
18. When socializing, I enjoy lots of conversation and I have lots of worthy stuff to contribute to the conversation
19. I love working out
20. I love living a healthy life style
21. I have happy memories
22. I am honest
23. I am loyal
24. I am at peace with those I love including those who love me in ways other than how I would like them to
25. I am patient

Bipolar / Mental Health Specific:
1. I am excited, happy, and anxious to go to work every day
2. I will not make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions
3. I am not Bipolar Disorder. I have Bipolar Disorder
4. It’s Ok that I have Bipolar Disorder 
5. I have nothing to be embarrassed about
6. I will share the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder because it helps to kill stigma
7. When I am tempted I will either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation
8. I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but rather to define the parameters of my freedom
9. When I am considering compromise I will think past this moment and ask myself “How will I feel about this choice tomorrow morning?”
10. No matter what happens I am fine

1. I know I can depend on God to save me
2. God loves me just as I am
3. I have overcome all my trials in life, and will continue to do so with God’s help
4. I will keep my faith in God for all my needs and desires 
5. I am strong and I can get through anything with God’s help
6. Jesus loves me
7. God’s grace is enough
8. Relax – God has a great plan for my life
9. God does not waste anything
10. God will not lead me to anything that I cannot get through

by Carley Cooper; Blog Websites: CarleyCooper.comWorship Melodies and Tin Roof Sundae. Also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.


Have you had to take medication as well or as the new programming been enough? I've started taking a medication called Depakote that is gradually being increased to a maintenance dose. I have to say it's doing a number on me. I feel like the bipolar is getting worse tight now. Any additional advice is much appreciated.

Hi Bob,

If you think your symptoms are getting worse, tell your doctor and he might change the dosage or switch to a new medication. You might also want to try therapy in addition to the medication. You can learn more about therapy, other treatment options, and more helpful information in our book, Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder. You can request a free pdf here:

If you need help with anything else email Heather at

Hi bob

I can relate your not alone.
I too have been taking lamotrigine and I feel like its had no effect on me its been almost 3 months. I'm still really depressed with thoughts of suicide n harm to myself. I take bupropion as well and klonopin. I've been trying different meds like crazy and it gets discouraging. While I'm hoping for some type of relief all I get is more horrible episodes. It makes me want to give up. I still can't leave my house unless I'm absolutely forced to, n going outdoors when you aren't ready especially in the city with groups of people you have to pass through. Its mortifying. I have no friends, no support system. Other ailments that I have doesn't make my life any easier. I'm an amputee due to pediatric cancer.

I constantly feel misunderstood. I feel like no one wants to be around me because it's difficult to deal with me! this bipolar disorder. I have no life, no skills, no interest in anything. I feel so lost and trapped. I just want to feel free. I'm a prisoner of my own mind. I need the cycle to end.

We can imagine how tough this must be for you. We are deeply concerned about you and we want you to know that help is available to get you through this. If you are in a crisis, please call this number which is a crisis line with listeners trained to help you: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), as we are not a crisis center. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting START to 741-741. For a list of international crisis centers visit this page:

If you are not in a crisis and would like someone to talk to online, we recommend the It’s a free, anonymous online chat with a trained listener.

Hi, I recently got diagnosed with bi polar disorder and its been roughing dealing with it
Currently I am in a depressive episode and its really hard to remember things and have a normal train of thought and understanding I have a lot of anxiety and cannot even leave the house one of the medications I was given was lamortrigine and I feel like its not working..what can I do to better my memory and normal thinking?

I think it's wonderful you wrote this blog. I'm suffering with bipolar disorder. It's hard for me to go to work and communicate on a normal level. I am going to try to use your advice and stay positive while trying to reprogram my brain because there's a lot of negativity in there. Thank you again for writing this!

:) thank you

I thought I was bipolar, depressed, anxious, blah blah, you name it I thought it. I took medications which helped at first, maybe because I wanted them to help so bad. Eventually these medications hurt me and made me more depressed and dependent. What changed my life wasn't a single moment. It was a never ending quest to improve and one day that improvement started. Thats it! I literally started to improve and not just research. I listened to motivational videos, meditated, and worked out everyday. No more sugar and fast food and cut TV out and monitor the conversations my brain heard. The biggest thing I did was to find a dream to chase. No day is perfect, but everyday is a day closer to my ultimate dreams which has removed all mental issues I had created and I have now empowered myself. I control my life. I write my story. Nothing or no-one will write it for me.

I can sometimes be in a good mood with no bad thoughts and the depression just hits me. I believe it's the chemicals in my brain. Can I talk myself out of one of these episodes?

I overdosed in 2012, just couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve been on countless meds and they work for a little while then they stop and down the rabbit whole I go again. I’ve tried everything I’m at a loss

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