Author: Jasper James
Naturally, when I think of the first day of school, I experience anxiety and extreme nervousness.
One of the tricks I like to use is mindfulness to get me through my anxiety. I simply take the “butterflies in my stomach” feeling and ramp it up to excitement, because they feel somewhat related in my body. My anxiety goes away. My butterflies leave my body until I’m radiating with a smile. It somehow works for me. Did you know simply smiling will produce endorphins in your brain (feel-good hormones that get immediately released into your bloodstream)? (Li, 2014)
Being bipolar, anxiety tends to linger longer than it should – days, weeks, or months due to episodes. I become overly paranoid that I’ll fall into an episode again and ruin my good grade streak. I become even more anxious. It’s like a stack of pancakes getting higher and higher and I’m trying to eat them as fast as I can to catch up so the tower of pancakes doesn’t fall over and break. I prepare for the school year by knowing this stack of pancakes can fall over, but it will be challenging to watch.
From my years of experience being bipolar, I’ve found that one must not be afraid of regimented things such as school, studying, regular exercise, sleep, eating three meals a day, etc. because it keeps us grounded. I prepare for the school year and my bipolar Disorder’s ups and downs by maintaining a schedule. bipolar disorder is based in irregularity and what I find helpful is a regular schedule.
Another thing I like to do before the school year starts is celebrate. I like to celebrate the first day of a new beginning. I like to wear my best outfit that makes me look dashing. I also prepare my favorite meal the night before.
I always find it important to find a “safe space” or “safe person” for me to be or go to when things get bad. I experience crying spells, sensory overload, psychotic symptoms, and other symptoms related to my disorder. This “safe person” should be someone that understands your disorder and will help. My safe place/person was established by developing good relationships with teachers from the beginning of the school year. I found that the best relationships were with psychology teachers as they often understood bipolar Disorder.
Before entering any type of tumultuous adventure like a school year, it’s important to have a team to back you up. The team can include faculty, friends, counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, parent, lover, etc. Explain to these individuals that you will be entering a new phase in your life that may be stressful for you. Explain that stress can trigger emotional imbalances in your mental health. As an individual that experiences rage, it is sometimes hard to find help when you most need it. Make sure you’ve got an army behind you to fight with and fight for.
Li, Ding. “What’s The Science Behind A Smie.” Voices Magazine, British Council , 2014, www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/famelab-whats-science-behind-smile.