Navigating the Challenges: Living a Full Life With Bipolar Disorder and Depression

Sam Bowman

Everyone wants to live a full life — and everyone also has their own definition of what that means. Everyone also has their own obstacles that they must face throughout life. But overcoming life’s hurdles can add richness and fulfillment to your life that you never before thought possible. As someone living with bipolar disorder, you most likely have your fair share of opportunities to create meaning in your life. Read on to learn how to manage your symptoms and take the steps to a more fulfilling existence, whatever that looks like for you.

Relationship Between Bipolar and Depression

Living with bipolar disorder comes with its own unique set of challenges. Major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder are separate diagnoses, but bipolar disorder typically encompasses some form of depression. Typically, people associate bipolar with intense mood

swings between depression and mania. However, for people living with bipolar and depression, it’s often a bit more complicated than that.

In fact, 13 to 20% of people with clinically present depressive mixed states (DMX) eventually end up being diagnosed with bipolar I or II. These mixed states and other symptoms combine to meet the criteria for these disorders. DMX can be a feature of either type of bipolar, presenting as overlapping depression and hypomanic symptoms. In any case, if you have depression as part of your bipolar disorder, it can impact your day-to-day life in various ways that need attention.

Impacts of Depression and Bipolar on Daily Life

Both depression and bipolar disorder can make daily tasks more challenging. Mania, hypomania, and depression can cause you to:

● Make risky choices with negative consequences;

● Have trouble maintaining healthy relationships;

● Struggle to keep a consistent career;

● Cycle between hobbies;

● Overuse substances;

● Eat too much or too little;

● Oversleep or experience insomnia.

While people living with bipolar can experience normal moods or euthymia, the disorder typically involves persistent periods of depression. There are also cases of unipolar mania that involve no bouts of depression, but depressive episodes are more common in bipolar disorder and come with debilitating effects. Particularly in younger individuals, depression can have physical effects. It’s common to experience gastrointestinal upset, headaches, and body aches. Luckily, you can become aware of patterns in your own life at any age and take steps to mitigate these negative impacts.

Monitoring and Managing Symptoms

The first step to changing your life for the better is to become aware of your patterns. Symptoms of bipolar and depression can come and go throughout your life, as well as become more or less severe. There are also external factors that can contribute to negative symptoms. After tracking your patterns, for example, you may notice the effects of alcohol on your body and brain are exacerbating your bipolar symptoms. For instance, alcohol depletes your serotonin, acting as a depressant. If you’re noticing your depressed moods are increased when consuming alcohol, this is a key indicator to try changing your habits for a better quality of life.

When you are in the moment, it may be hard to realize that what you are going through is attributed to bipolar disorder or depression. However, keeping tabs on how you’re feeling and

keeping a consistent routine can help illuminate these patterns and keep you on the right track to more fulfilling experiences.

To do this, consider the following:

● Keeping a mood journal;

● Maintaining a regular sleep schedule;

● Eating a healthy diet;

● Staying hydrated;

● Monitoring how drugs, alcohol, and stressors affect your body and moods;

● Incorporating exercise into your routine.

These may seem like simple fixes, but they are meant to be incorporated in conjunction with other methods of treatment. When you have a holistic view of your daily life, it will be easier to piece together a plan to create more fulfillment.

Finding Effective Treatment Options

Anyone that has started on their mental wellness journey knows that it is oftentimes full of trial and error. As mentioned above, a combination of approaches can be the key to unlocking your full potential living with bipolar and depression. Mental illnesses like these can often be stigmatized, leading you to think that healing is impossible. However, that’s far from the truth. It’s important to block these negative connotations with bipolar disorder from your mind and remain optimistic about living your fullest version of life.

Furthermore, mental wellness involves more than pills and therapy. It’s important to keep an open mind and try different techniques to see what works for your specific situation. According to Mayo Clinic, depression, and bipolar treatments can look like any combination of:

● Antipsychotic medications;

● Antidepressants;

● Cognitive behavioral therapy;

● Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy;

● Mood stabilizers;

● Substance use treatment;

● Psychoeducation such as learning about bipolar and depression.

Work with a mental health professional to come up with your wellness recovery action plan (WRAP). It’s important to note that you have to put in much effort to get your desired results. Living a full life with bipolar and depression is completely within your grasp.

Leaning on Support and Resources

You may be feeling a certain level of shame or guilt for being diagnosed with bipolar and depression. Acknowledge this and know that it’s normal and healthy, but also know that you can move past this shame with the help of bipolar and depression support groups and resources. Focus on your values in life and work toward them with compassion for yourself. Bipolar and depression are diagnoses, not sentences to an unfulfilling life. Give yourself the same grace you would give your loved ones. With hard work and determination, you can maintain healthy relationships and give yourself the self-care you deserve.

Translate »