Managing Mental Health Takes More Than Just Meds

image credit: Mariah Aro Sharp @mightymooseart

A bipolar, body-positive bread enthusiast with a fucked-up pretty much healed ankle and a history of disordered eating, continues to try to figure shit out.


Prescription meds are part of my daily routine. I start my day with three. I end it with four. I take two in the middle. This cocktail of meds, regardless of how much I hate them, keep me functioning like a mostly normal human being.

But sometimes even the meds aren’t enough.

Some days I cry a lot. Some days I want to sleep all day. Some days I can’t sleep at all. The meds are vital, but without the other stuff, they simply aren’t enough.

Because I don’t like the way the meds make me feel, every time I take them it feels like a victory.

Good job, me! Took my meds!

This approach isn’t the most sound though. Taking meds feels like such a hurdle, that I stop there.

Welp, I’ve taken my meds, so I don’t have to do anything else.

I don’t know the exact psychology behind this, but I know I’m not alone. Maybe it’s because mentally ill (particularly bipolar folks) people are notoriously not med compliant; once you’ve gone over that hurdle, you’ve climbed your daily Everest. You feel owed a break.

Maybe it’s laziness or maybe I just don’t feel like I deserve to do things for myself. There’s a lot of that in mental illness, too. As screwed up humans, we have been convinced that we should feel grateful to A. get to be part of humankind and B. be alive at all.

In ideal circumstances, which is rare but does happen, I do all of the following things for myself. Most of the time I do one or two or three at least. However many you can do, good on you.

Once I’ve downed those meds I...

1. Make sure I eat good food and drink lots of water.

Good food is not always the food that I want. I want cake but I know sugar makes me feel like shit. Sometimes I eat cake anyway, but protein serves me better in the long run.

This is a tricky affair because it would be easy to fall into disordered BS. But I don’t deprive myself a thing I want, I just remind myself that once I started listening to my body and practicing intuitive eating, I was able to identify things that my body (and brain) doesn’t like.

Water is a thing I can never talk enough about. This has made the single largest difference in my life.

Feeling shitty physically is not a good place to start if you happen to feel shitty mentally.
 

You Might Also Like: On Loving A Person With Mental Illness


2. Sleep.

And lots of it.

If I’m tired, I go to bed. If I can’t go to bed (because kids or work or whatever), I go to bed at the soonest available time.

And quality sleep via…

3. Take melatonin.

This is a must for me. It’s not a must for everyone, but as soon as I lay down, my brain starts up. Melatonin doesn’t put the brakes on my brain entirely, but it helps a lot.

And…

4. Sleep on good sheets.

Never underestimate the power of good sheets.

Linen is great if you’re a hot sleeper. If you have the budget, these from West Elm are great.

In the absence of several hundred dollars to spend on sheets, these from Target are pretty sweet.

5. A cooling pad.

I have night sweats, but I also can’t sleep without a blanket. My body needs the weight of a blanket, so that's inconvienent. 

I’m an enigma.

I have this small version and a larger one as well.

Again, being in bed is not enough, I need good sleep.

6. B12.

Now, I know that most of the time vitamins just give you expensive pee. I don’t take a multi; my diet covers that, but I do take a few select supplements.

This one is a must. A couple of sprays with my morning meds and a couple midday. (I know the reviews here say they have mold issues, not in my case and I’ve had three bottles.)

7. D3.

I take these gummies. They do not taste gross.

A lot of folks are Vitamin D deficient. Bet you didn’t know that. Know what else I bet you didn’t know? Vitamin D helps with depression.

Recommended dose of these is two per day. But I take four, and I’m not dead. I feel pretty good.

8. Quietude.

No, not LITERALLY quietude (though that would be helpful), this homeopathic remedy called Quietude.

People say homeopathic remedies don’t work, but that’s a lie (or I’m very easily fooled). I like this stuff a lot. It’s for bedtime, but I also take it when I’m like FREAKING OUT.

Rescue Remedy is also good for moments of freaking out.

9. Therapy.

Obviously.

Yeah, it’s paying someone to listen to me, but it’s really helpful. It’s also really nice to have someone tell you that you’re a good person, when you feel like you aren’t.

It’s important to take your meds, everyday and all of them, but it’s also important that you remember that you have needs beyond meds.

Take care of you.



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