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Recovery, BP magazine Fall 2013



7 Tips for Staying on Your Road to Bipolar Recovery
Having a recovery plan helps you maintain wellness. These tips can help “insure” your ability to successfully manage your bipolar now and in he future.

By Stephen Propst

In battling bipolar, do you sometimes feel like you’re driving around in circles? Are you tired of the twists and turns? Would you like to change course for the better? If you want to get on your way to wellness, a little driver’s education can help.
Here are some important insights for staying on the road to recovery:
  • Too many people settle short. Set your sights high, and make the decision to be destined for full recovery. Give yourself ample time. This may be the most important journey you’ll ever take.
  • Accessing competent, compassionate, affordable care is not always easy.Be willing to put forth the effort to find a good psychiatrist who can help you make your recovery trip a success. 
  • Finding the right treatment can be very challenging. Many of us look for that “perfect” pill around the next corner. Instead, be patient and persistent in your search for a reasonable Rx regimen.
  • Bipolar can detrimentally impact a person
    emotionally, behaviorally, and psychologically, leaving you feeling flat, like a blown tire. Focusing on therapy for the mind—as much as you do on medication for the brain—helps repair the damage and keeps the wellness wheels turning.
  • I’ll never have a life again. I can’t do anything right. There’s no hope.
Self-talk sabotages your self-esteem and sidetracks your recovery.
Nix all that negativity! Doing so might be just the jump start you need.
  • Society still doesn’t embrace bipolar as a real but treatable medical condition. I’ve learned that being willing to stand up and speak out emboldens my recovery efforts. Consider sharing your story to drive home the truth and help bring stigma to a much-needed stop. You’ll help yourself in the process.
  • Your car’s alternator keeps the battery fully charged. Exercising regularly, eating nutritiously, and sleeping soundly help recharge you and your recovery. Don’t forget to get regular medical checkups just to make sure all systems are go.
  • If you have car trouble, you can call AAA/CAA. If you run into trouble with your recovery, you can always reach out to family/ friends, contact your doctor, or call 911. There is no shame in asking someone to help point you in the right direction.
Having a reliable road map to recovery helps keep you on the highway to health. Paying attention to these principles helps “insure” your ability to successfully manage bipolar for many miles to come. Safe travels!

More rules of the road
  • Live up to a reasonable set of standards that you establish for yourself, not unreasonable expectations that have been imposed on you by others.
  • Worry less about finding the perfect “guru” and more about a doctor/therapist who cares for and respects you and who emphasizes achieving full recovery, not merely eliminating symptoms.
  • Align yourself with those who are compassionate, not controlling, and who offer constructive support, not destructive sabotage.
  • Ignore backseat drivers who try to steer you in the wrong direction or stall your recovery.
  • Don’t discount what seems to be trivial accomplishments when, in actuality, they may be major steps.
  • Admit that you don’t know all the answers and that you can’t solve all your problems by yourself.
  • Be willing to give yourself more credit and less condemnation.
  • Remember there’s always an alternate route you can take when you think you’ve pursued every possible path.
  • Do something—volunteer, help a friend, etc.—that gets the focus off of you and onto someone else.
  • Be aware of triggers, and avoid what you know magnifies mania or deepens depression.
  • Don’t forget there’s a difference between a temporary detour and a dead end.
  • When it comes to your recovery, you have to be in the driver’s seat.

Printed as “Mind over Mood: The road to recovery”, Fall 2013

Tagged with: Bipolar, fall 2013, recovery, wellness
Has 21 Articles
Stephen Propst, a former chair of DBSA, is a public speaker and a coach/consultant focusing on living successfully with conditions like bipolar. He can be reached at [email protected].

World Mental Health Day 2015



Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) (national headquarters)
Please join us in recognizing World Mental Health Day today. http://bit.ly/1Le3tn9

Mental illness, stigma, media misrepresentations



I am writing in my new book of my introduction to stigma after being diagnosed with depression. Folk dealing with something as simple as situational depression can be met with stigma.
Stigma hurts! Unless you are a member of one of the less fortunate groups in our society you probably know very little about stigma. People of color, ex offenders, and the poverty-stricken know, all too well, the sting of stigma. U. S. News reported on another group that knows very well the pain caused by stigma, the mentally ill.
Do you live with mental illness? Do you have a family member or loved one living with mental illness? If you answer no to these two questions, then, you may have a faulty impression about those living with mental illness and mental illness itself. Most people learn what they know, think they know, I about the mental health challenges of others through media. And that is definitely a faulty source of information about a very serious human issue. Individuals living with mental illness need the most informed support from the community that is possible. Otherwise, their hope for being a fully contributing member of society is severely hampered. Let me share some information about the depiction of individuals living with mental health challenges as portrayed by the media. This depiction feeds the branding aspect of stigma toward the mentally ill.
Studies indicate that mass media is one of the public’s primary sources of information about illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar, and depression.  However, research also suggests that media portrayals of mental illness are negative or inaccurate.  According to Dr. Otto Wahl from Connecticut’s University of Hartford, recent studies show that media depictions of mental illness are outdated and harmful.  Here are a couple of the common, inaccurate and misleading media stereotypes:

​People with mental illnesses are criminal or violent.  Studies show that individuals with mental illness are less likely to commit violent crimes and are actually more likely to be victimized. However, many news sources sensationalize incidents where innocent people are killed by a mentally ill individual.  According to Don Diefenbach, the chair of mass communications at University of North Carolina, Asheville, fictional media also portrays mental illness in skewed ways.  After he analyzed portrayals of psychological disorders on prime time television, he found that characters that had a mental illness were 10 to 20 times more likely to commit a violent crime than someone with a mental illness would be in real life.
People with mental illness look different than others.  Often TV shows or movies will depict the mentally ill as having disheveled hair, rumpled clothes, or wild eyes. This is stereotypical.  The fact is that many people with mental illness shower every day and go to work just like everyone else.  These portrayals often don’t convey that most people with serious mental illnesses are in pain and struggling.
It is well known that education of the public about mental illness is the best tool for stopping stigma. Sadly, the fact remains that there is little, to no, resources directed to engaging the public in any substantive learning experience how about mental illness and the millions living with this health challenge. Until this changes, we can expect more of the same treatment of the mentally ill by society. 

If nothing changes, then, nothing changes.
(research: U.S. News,  How Mental Illness is Misrepresented in the Media)

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