1. Skills: As I mentioned in my last post, deficits in skills such as communication, decision making, and problem solving can be vulnerabilities that make you more susceptible to being triggered. Learning these and other skills can help you overcome vulnerabilities and stand strong in bipolar disorder.
2. Using substances less: I mentioned in my last post that substances such as alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and caffeine can be strong triggers, and that substance use disorders can be vulnerabilities. Cutting out or minimizing harmful substances can help tremendously.
3. Chemical support: Bipolar disorder has its roots in brain chemistry, so prescription medication is a primary defense for most people. Because this series is aimed at people who are in treatment and relatively stable, I’m making the assumption that most readers take medication.
4. Crisis prevention: A crisis, simply put, is when internal or external difficulties outweigh your current capacity to cope. There may be times when symptoms escalate quickly and you find yourself on the verge of a crisis. Preventing a crisis requires fierce timely intervention, so it’s important to have a plan of attack in place ahead of time.
5. Expecting success: As champion fighters know, attitude is everything. You have to believe you can succeed. That means having confidence that you can manage bipolar disorder and live a full life. Seek inspiration from those who have been successful at fighting bipolar disorder or other challenges.
6. Spirituality: Spiritual practices can help you manage bipolar disorder and build overall resilience. These can include anything that gives you a sense of meaning and helps you see the bigger picture beyond your identification as someone with bipolar disorder.
7. Social connection: Getting support from other people and maintaining social connections provides protection against relapse. It’s good to have a variety of options for social support and connection, such as:
8. Forgiveness: If you have bipolar disorder, you’ve undoubtedly been through your share of difficulties and have probably been hurt along the way. Research shows that the practice of forgiveness is connected with mental health.
9. Undoing the effects of trauma: Many people with bipolar disorder have a history of trauma, and many have a co-occurring diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
10. Lifestyle changes: Based on the list of common triggers I gave in my last post, there might be lifestyle changes you can make as prevention strategies. Here are some examples of things you can do to develop a lifestyle that supports recovery.