Going to School With Bipolar
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that entails the person diagnosed having moods that vary between depression and mania, with the chance for mixed episodes. Bipolar also has the potential for psychosis in some types of the disorder, especially type 1 bipolar.
Having bipolar causes stress for everyone diagnosed, however this stress is likely to be exacerbated if you are in some form of education. High school and college can be difficult at the best of times, but adding in mental illness can bring with it unexpected complications.
For example, you may be affected in the following ways:
- You may have upcoming exams or assignment deadlines that could trigger a mood episode or cause unwanted signs of bipolar.
- You may feel under a lot of pressure from peers and teachers to perform at a certain level or behave a certain way that may lead to extra stress.
- You may be exposed to alcohol and street drugs that heighten the risk of having another episode or making an episode worse.
- You may be keeping your illness a secret and the thought of people finding out may be causing you a great deal of stress.
- You may find balancing your life very difficult, which could be causing a negative impact on your life.
All these factors combined will make for a very stressful situation, and you may find yourself starting to become unwell again. It is important to be prepared for these kinds of situations, and to have plans in place for them.
Ways to Help Yourself
Talk to your tutors and teachers — they are there to help. They may seem unapproachable, but it is likely they will have had training on how to help someone going through a difficult time and they may be able to offer advice or insight.
The more they know, the more flexible they can be in their approach to your work. For example, you may be able to get an extension on an upcoming deadline, or it may explain why a piece of work was not quite your usual standard.
Avoid situations where you may be exposed to drink or drugs. This does not mean stop going out altogether and become a hermit, but rather pick and choose where you go carefully; with bipolar there can be impulsive behavior so it is important to look after yourself.
Taking Time Off
Consider taking a time out. Taking a year, or even more, off from education is nothing to be ashamed of; sometimes you need time to reflect back and start planning for the future.
Taking time off can help you to strengthen your recovery and can give you more time to learn better coping methods for periods of illness.