Stage 2: Getting Help
Once you and those around you are aware of mental and physical changes, the next stage is to get help in order prevent relapse. I often find it’s this stage that can be stretched out, when what you really need is your prevention plan to be implemented immediately.
My community psychiatric nurses have not always been effective. I have had a few prevention plans written but not enforced when necessary, which is the most critical part.
Many plans say to speak up to your doctors or community psychiatric team whenever you feel concern. Some say to maybe go straight to your psychiatrist. The main objective is to go and see a medical health professional and it is better if you know them and they know your past history, as relationship building is key in the management of bipolar. The more someone knows who you are and how you act ‘normally’ the better understanding they have of any mood or behavioural changes.
I have used mood charts to assist previously, taking them with me on appointments to show my progress. Google ‘bipolar mood charts’ to see a variety of examples, and there are also mood mapping apps available.
I would always recommend seeing a health professional with someone who can vouch for your behaviour when you are stable and also who can concur with your recent struggles.
In my opinion, mental health management should always be driven from the patient perspective. At the end of the day, I am my own expert and there is no one that knows me better than me.
However, I can now stand back and accept that my opinions are not always coming from a ‘balanced’ point of view, particularly in mania when my big ideas, loud opinions and impulsive behaviour can be very forceful and one-sided.
Someone who cares for you will have a unique voice and will be able to realize your behaviour from another perspective and whether another opinion is something you want or not, it will undoubtedly help in the long run.
Honesty Is Best
Honesty really is best. However, I will say it should be mindful as I have been on the receiving end of people who speak their mind to the point it is very hurtful and lays guilt on an already vulnerable mind.
Honesty should always be from a caring perspective, and accompanied by a hug, a touch to the hand, something that reassures that they will be looked after and get help. We must be sensitive to that person who is ultimately, in distress.
Your Help Should Be Tailored to You
The next steps consist of what is personal to you. Maybe you need regular doctor appointments, a medication review, psychiatrist appointment, talking therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy or maybe even just a rest. Maybe you have undergone a stressful or traumatic experience and need additional support.
You need to take responsibility for your own care, or you will lean towards relapse. The bottom line is there are many reasons why we need additional support – it’s whatever life throws at you!