Dear Feelings Doctor: I have bipolar disorder, and I really would like some advice on how to calm myself without a lot of attention when things get tricky. Do you have any advice for me? Thanks so much. It's a tough time.
— Steve in Thousand Oaks
Dear Steve: Thank you for writing in, and your question is a really important one. A lot of people focus mainly on medication when discussing bipolar disorder. There are natural, organic things that you can do to help prevent the emotional extremes:
» Take your meds. They will relieve symptoms without changing your personality.
» Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Even an hour or two less can bring on a manic episode.
» Recognize your triggers and enlist others to help you stay calm when these triggers are unavoidable.
» Avoid ups and downs in your diet as well as your life. Don’t drink caffeine (it’s a stimulant) or alcohol (it’s a depressant).
» Get cognitive behavioral therapy. Your mind is powerful and it can be your biggest ally.
» Enjoy yourself, get out and do things that make you happy. Find time to engage in pleasurable, relaxing activities.
Making these things part of your daily routine will help keep that balance in your life that you are looking for. Good luck.
Dear Feelings Doctor: I have been sleeping in the guest room because my boyfriend says that I scream every night and thrash around in my sleep and he gets no rest! Is he serious? I would remember doing something like that, wouldn't I?
— Sleeping Beauty in Hollywood
Dear Sleeping Beauty: It is quite possible that you are experiencing “sleep terrors.”
The symptoms include panicky screams and disorganized behavior, and it is very difficult to wake the person, as they usually have no memory at all of these incidents. Talk to your doctor about this. He or she can recommend something to help you.
Next, rearrange your furniture in your bedroom so you can minimize the possibility of hurting yourself. Also, find a good therapist and discuss possible triggers that may be adding to your situation. Take comfort in knowing that these episodes often decrease with age.
Imagine This ...
are hardly known to their followers.
Next after them are the leaders the people know and admire;
after them, those they fear; after them, those they despise.
To give no trust
is to get no trust.
When the work’s done right,
with no fuss or boasting,
ordinary people say,
Oh, we did it.