The facilitator of my Saturday morning DBSA group handed me a pair of documents which I have put into a notebook where I can grab it quickly. The instruction at the very top says “POST ON YOUR REFRIGERATOR”. That’s not a bad place for it as long as you are not in the habit of ignoring what you put on your refrigerator.
I do not intend these as instruments of torture. If you’re a family member who is here to find ways to “control” your afflicted loved one, please take a NAMI course and develop your listening skills before you even read these two documents. (It is fair play to print them out and leave them where your loved one can find them, say on the refrigerator….)
Bipolars, depressives, and schizoaffectives will find these very helpful when they find themselves in episode. Do not use these as a substitute for medication. Do not think they represent the last word. If a piece of wise advice does not appear on the list, don’t suppose that it isn’t worth following.
Because there is so much more information about coping with depression than with mania, I have put the mania up first:
What to Do When You Are Getting Manic
Get help before things get out of hand.
Use your support system. Let them know how you are feeling. Talk for as long as needed with supportive friends, expressing all emotions that come up.
Stay at home or in familiar surroundings. Steer clear of stimulating environments such as bars or dances.
Reduce the stress in your environment. Steer clear of stressful people.
Write down a list of things to do for the day and stick to it.
Regulate your activities to avoid over stimulation. Restrict yourself to activities that are quiet and soothing, i.e. a long slow walk; a long, warm bath; a relaxing swim; sit for a while in a steam room or hot tub; listen to quiet music; read a soothing book; watch a nature show on TV.
Keep a list of things you can do to use up excess energy like wash the floor, weed the garden, painting, clean the closets, etc., but make sure they are not over stimulating.
Practice relaxation techniques several times during the day.
Avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Eat regular meals. Do not skip meals. Do not eat too much of any one thing.
Do not make any major decisions. Put them off until you feel calmer.
Do not commit yourself to extra activities.
Avoid spending money. Give your credit cards and money to a trusted support person.
Stop what you are doing regularly, bring your focus to yourself, and ask yourself how you are doing. Keep your mind focused on what you are doing. Don’t allow your thoughts to ramble or become obsessive.
If all of your relaxation techniques are not working to put you to sleep, and you are not sleeping, get help from a doctor right away. Loss of sleep exacerbates mania.
If you are not sleeping or are uncontrollably agitated, see a doctor right away.