I stumbled across a Pinterest post that struck a chord. First, let’s get the basics down:
• Yes. I’m diagnosed with Bipolar.
• Yes. My bipolar is paired with depression, anxiety, and OCD.
• No. I do not use my diagnosis as an excuse, but rather as a challenge to change the discussion around mental illness. It’s not a taboo subject. Do not be ashamed. And don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Another unfortunate addition to my diagnosis is extreme fatigue (check out this article at healthyplace.com on dealing with fatigue and bipolar) And when I say extreme, I mean ever-present, all-consuming, and at times, debilitating exhaustion.
I’ve lived with these symptoms for a while now, and each day I seem to get a better grip on what I personally need. But, the fatigue has always been a sticking point for me. I mean, I’m already battling the other symptoms of bipolar, depression, anxiety, and OCD, and I have to deal with being so tired I don’t have the energy to get out of bed TO battle these demons… really?
Or sometimes it’s more like “Come on Holly, you’re a thirty-something, and you need a nap?” and then that all-familiar phrase that elicits epic cringing: “Can’t you just push through?”
NO. No, I cannot just push through. That phrase deserves an entire blog post itself. But, today I’m sticking with the fatigue topic.
What I found extremely intriguing about this Pinterest post, was for a person like me who battles bipolar fatigue, the day can be broken up into ‘functioning’ hours (where I’m at my best, not manic, but focused, with a clear head) and ‘non-functioning’ hours (where I’ve taken a nose dive into the fatigue that plagues me… I can’t think clearly, react, or focus well).
Here are the key thoughts:
1. Strive for progress, not perfection. Don’t put the pressure on myself to all of a sudden be able to get through an entire day without fatigue. Set realistic expectations by knowing when my functional hours are, and how to use them.
2. Respect my functional hours. Don’t waste those hours, get up, get going, and use them wisely.
3. Plan accordingly. It seems obvious, but when I’m going through the motions, it’s easy to forget to plan (my OCD does offer the benefit of making list after list after list…) my toughest tasks (work, projects, creativity, appointments) during my functional hours, and save the lighter tasks (chores, writing, reading, existing) for the non-functional hours.
4. Again. Progress, not perfection. Prioritizing is key for me to utilize my time most efficiently, and so I don’t get overwhelmed with a mounting to-do list. This detracts my attention from caring for myself first and foremost.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If it gets to be too much, reach out. Delegation and sharing the load helps in so many ways. It also takes some of the things on my shoulders away so that I can focus on my mental stability, and fighting each day.
6. This may be the golden nugget for me. During my non-functional hours – it’s okay to be kind to myself and accept that I need rest and recoup time. It’s not time to beat myself up, it’s time to cast off into nap-land and enjoy every second. PS. I know a lot of research says not to nap during the day because it messes up aspects of my sleep cycle and melatonin production, but, for ME… it works.
*I am in no way medically-certified. This reflection is my own opinion of how I battle my mental illness. It’s meant for relating and sharing knowledge, not medical advice. If you feel you need help, I encourage you to contact your health care professional immediately.
This is not a diagnosis to be ashamed of, but to use to share experiences, learn, and keep fighting as a community.
After analyzing my patterns each day, my functional hours are 7.00AM-4.30PM, and 7.00-12.00AM, leaving 4.30PM-7.00PM as my non-functional hours, and time for my precious and most glorious naps.
I’d like to hear from you (if you’re comfortable sharing) – when are your functional and non-functional hours? Do you struggle with accepting the need for rest? Leave you comments below and like or share if you gained something from this post.