At last, I’ve figured out how to run my life so my bipolar doesn’t run me. Learning to craft my own self-care system was critical.
Stability Takes Time
I am a 49-year-old woman who has lived with bipolar since her diagnosis 17 years ago, and who has finally gained some insight, understanding, and stability—after many years of riding the waves of mania, the ups and downs, the highs and lows. Only now do I have a solid grasp on how to live with bipolar so my bipolar doesn’t run me.
Yes, I am able to maintain myself, as best I can, and meet my own needs. And this helps me to maintain my mental well-being and prioritize my happiness, which is now my top care in the world, along with my family.
I have found that the more I focus on maintaining my own stability in my life, the more this helps with bipolar and my mental stability. It’s true!
Self-Care & Self-Responsibility
I feel it takes a lot just to “run” ourselves (as human beings). What has helped me learn this was understanding the concept of true self-care and taking responsibility for maintaining myself and my life, which had been a juggling act for too long. I really wish I learned this decades ago.
My mental stability is now dependent on having my own self-care practices in place to keep me organized, orderly, energized, comfortable, calm, rested, and meeting my emotional and personal needs and commitments.
I have learned that the more organized I am, the more I am able to be aware of my needs and stay on top of them, too, which alleviates unnecessary stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and—ultimately—running myself to the point of breakdown.
Organizing Myself & Learning My Limits
I’ll admit, organizing myself used to be difficult, and I would find myself amid a mess often, both figuratively and literally. Part of organizing myself required learning my own limits and not taking on more than I could handle, more than I could process. I had to learn to stop myself for my own good.
I operate better in a tidy and organized space, and this is also more comfortable for me and helps my productivity. What I was missing, what took so long to develop, was effective ways to maintain my orderly space and my orderly life.
Self-Care & Creating My Own System
Self-care helped to impress upon me the need to create my own personal system of organization, structure, and routines. I had to cultivate the discipline and self-control to adhere, align, and maintain these personal systems that eventually became my new practices, patterns, and habits for my best mental health.
Slowing Down & Being Gentle with Myself
I also learned to stop pushing myself and operating on a level of “go, go, go!” Slowing myself down was also necessary to maintain my organized self and my calm and comfortable self. This helps me to better manage my emotions and minimize my reactionary defaults, my stress levels, and any emotional upset.
To do this, I had to stop putting pressure on myself, stop being so hard on myself, and stop trying to please everybody. Prioritizing our well-being allows us to be our best self, not in a selfish way, but in a way that allows us to show up at our best for personal commitments, family, and friends.
It’s on Me—But I Don’t Have to Be Perfect
To really be effective, my various life and self-management systems had to be created by me, work for me, and be followed by me—all with my own commitment to maintain these behaviors and habits that help me to remain my best self.
Just a note: I am not overly neat, obsessive about tidiness, or a perfectionist when it comes to maintaining these systems. But I am disciplined and responsible, and I already have recognized the benefits of adding organization to my life.
Organization is necessary for me to maintain my balance and mood—to not let myself slip in any way. And this has permanently shifted my priorities, focus, and awareness. I know my own routines and systems work best for me, and now this is what I know to maintain the rest of my life, as best I can, for my best life.
A New Priority for Being My Best Self
I don’t remember there being an emphasis on organization or being taught to be organized as a child. I mean, I remember that I had to clean my room. But I was never really given a lesson specifically about being an organized person.
As an adult, I wasn’t very organized, which led to a mountain of problems and overwhelm. Now I recognize the importance of these habits—maintaining a routine, having systems, and being proactive—as a component of maintaining my mental well-being and mood stability. This organization keeps me away from that rollercoaster of mania and depression. And what’s great is that I can continue to seek ways to tighten up, improve, and hone my organizational skills to further maximize my ability to simplify, streamline, and run myself more efficiently.
I finally took the time and made the effort to figure out what works best for me and my own way of doing things in life. And now I’m able to operate as if these ways of being are my new form of “autopilot” instead of feeling frazzled or being “all over the place” due to a lack of this organization.
Improving Myself Means Improving My Life
Years ago, I heard the saying “self-improvement is life improvement,” and it stuck with me.
How can I improve upon myself to improve my quality of life?
I think strengthening organization skills is one of the many ways that could benefit our mental health and overall well-being. In part because being well organized has follow-on effects: it helps with our focus, awareness and mindfulness, and it is a time saver—and a “hassle saver,” too.
Self-Determination in Life & with Bipolar Disorder
Today, there are many ways available to us for better running our lives, but it takes finding what works best for you in the sea of choices—and everyone is wanting to tell you what they think is best for you.
Even with my bipolar diagnosis and treatment, what ultimately helped the most was me deciding for myself what is my best way to manage myself. And it takes a concrete system.
This brings to mind a book I read back in 2010 called The Art of Extreme Self-Care. Doesn’t the title alone say it enough? This is where I believe we grow the most and build confidence: by crafting our own ways to care for ourselves, in a masterful, organized, and proactive fashion that cultivates self-responsibility, self-control, and self-love.
Debbie Jacobs is an advocate, writer, and healing specialist living in Alexandria, Virginia. She lived most of her adult life with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, and then was diagnosed with bipolar. She speaks out on how self-improvement is life improvement and believes we all can live happy lives by making positive changes to ourselves. Her influences are Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Les Brown, and Tony Robbins. She does positivity life coaching and is in the process of writing her first book on her healing process of accomplishing positive thinking, positive effective coping skills, and healthy self-esteem—what she calls “freedom and happiness.” She shares her work to motivate, inspire, and help others make positive changes to themselves for their freedom and happiness, too.
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