Having bipolar disorder brings responsibility. Being diagnosed at the age of twenty-six brought about a fast and steep learning curve at such a young age and I was forced into a situation where not only did I lose my sanity, but I lost my job, my entire bank account diminished, my so called friends scattered, I had no family nearby to help me, and I even had no place to live as my roommates no longer afforded me a key fearing I would sell their furniture over the Christmas holidays. Since that time I nearly fell through the cracks facing homelessness because I didn’t have what I call now – my ‘security net’.
What is my mental health security net? It begins with a plan – a plan to get and be well. I have woven mine over the last few years and it consists of having first and foremost a psychiatric team, both a psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse. Someone who is an expert in medication assignment and adjustments and another who tends to my emotional needs and provides counseling such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Routine is key in my wellness plan and that definitely plays a part in areas such as sleep. No naps and getting up at the same time every day and going to bed at the same time every night. If I am not living by a strict routine, my mood becomes irritable and I feel it for days. Nutrition is important for everyone but for someone with a mental illness it is vital to steer clear of sugar and too much caffeine. It is especially important to drink copious amounts of water, especially if you are taking medication, so as to flush the meds through your system and ensure they are working optimally. Education of your illness for yourself and your loved ones is vital to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone is living in a stigma free environment. I also enjoy peer support groups, I consider them to be extremely therapeutic and find solace in the words of others who have been there and understand where I am coming from.
In the end, if I take all these components and weave them together I will find I have formed a type of net – a security net that ensures my wellness and reassures me that the happenings that took place upon my first breakdown will never overthrow me again. Now I am prepared, secure, and I have a plan for the future and I attest that it has worked me thus far carrying me to a place of safety and reassurance. I trust that I will not fall again, but if I do I know I will always be caught.