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Exercise and Bipolar Disorder

I work out at the gym 4-5 days a week and folks I can't recommend exercise enough for bipolar disorder. Truly! I feel good about myself. I come home and work on the sites, am doing more at home, watch some movies, etc. Feeling happy and contented and the only thing I could come up with to discuss is to work past feeling like a survivor and getting in touch with our authentic self. 

Well, that didn't last. Just when I usually come to this point where I actually being to "forget" that I have mental health disorders I get "taps on my shoulder" reminding me. No, they aren't big like they used to be and I can manage them fine now. In fact they seem like a pebble compared to where I used to live many years ago. 

Just as soon as I feel some stress in my life my "mixed states" of my bipolar disorder begin to emerge. What are mixed states? Well, first of all, there are many types of bipolar disorder. People experience this disorder in many different ways and this is how I experience it. I don't experience just mania and then depression. It has changed. I have them both at the same time somehow. One second I am feeling like breaking things and screaming at Tim feeling really anxious and the next I am crying at something dumb on TV and saying I am "so sorry" to Tim and I "don't know why you put up with me" then back to yelling at him and then slamming a door and crying. 

What do I do when this happens? I let my prescriber know what is happening and she directs me medicine wise. 

Let me let you in on a little secret I learned and I am telling you the exact truth.

This has happened too many times. Remember you and I are different so it may not work for you. 

First and foremost I ALWAYS follow my prescriber's instructions for my medications. This is vital!!! However there have been times where I have been in horrible, horrible manias and I don't have to tell those of you who have experience those what those are like. I also recommend this to those of you who have BPD and are in a rage. 

First, you must be safe enough to leave the house. If not, do this at home somehow. 

In my situation I belong to the YMCA - the local gym. I exercise regularly. They have a special low fee for people who don't have much money. I know, I have mentioned this before but it merits a lot of attention.

When I feel mania of any kind, I exercise. There have been times at night I have been bad enough where I have put my sweats on and asked my husband to drive me to the Y and I have felt bad enough I have just ridden the lifecycle there. I have a walkman which really helps me keep peddling and now I really enjoy exercising.

Stop exercising if you feel weak, dizzy, faint, etc. Check with your Dr. first to make sure it is ok to be on an exercise program. 

After just the bit above my mania goes way down. But that's me. 

I began an exercise program WAY overweight after NO exercise in 5 years so I know you can get started too. Your self-esteem on the first day will go sky high and it will stay that way.

If you are at home and you don't belong to a gym, walk. Walk around your neighborhood. I do not recommend this at night however even in the best of neighborhoods. Dancing at home won't do it from what I have read.

Buy a videotape of something you would enjoy. Aerobics, step aerobics, etc., etc. Don't be afraid to sweat. That is the whole idea. When you are manic and you are fully medicated and you have done everything else, put on your video and to work and think of yourself as someone who has a job to do, not as a victim. I am not promising a rose garden but it has made a major difference for me.

Plus your focus while you are manic will be on the video rather than on destructive things. Remember, you must be safe to be able to do this. If you are not safe then you need to call your Dr. or your therapist right away!!

Exercise really helps my mania and anxiety. Give it a try.

The next thing is to do the things that calm you down. Stress triggers my episodes so I have to try and do those things to "de-stress" myself. Working on the websites, if it is simple work is a de-stressor - especially graphics; playing card games on the computer; talking with a trusted friend about my stressors; taking a hot bath; sitting in the sauna at the Y; working out; eating out; reading a relaxing book; doing those things that pamper myself, etc. If you can afford it, pay for a massage. I have yet to try that.

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