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  • Bipolar and Me: Setting the Example

    TW: discussion of Bipolar and one brief mention of suicidal thoughts.

    My “down time” is, literally, my down time. My depression tends to affect me the most when I have nothing planned or any way to use my time constructively. I can’t just sit and watch a show, escapism like that never works for me. I feel the constant need to always be doing something productive, or at least something. My biggest fear is being bored. If I am bored, I am left alone with the thoughts and reflections of my traumas or subconscious suicidal and existential thoughts I tend to forget are there. This also comes from the hypomanic episodes i get.

    Having bipolar disorder, I feel extreme highs and the extreme lows, making my down time, a time where I’m desperate to have an extreme high. I’m on medication now to help regulate it. It hasn’t fully started to consistently keep me stable, as I just recently started to take it more frequently. Right now, it is the summer before my senior year, so I don’t have classes. Instead, I fill my schedule with my part time job and work for the ‘zines I contribute to. A productive use of my time. However, when I have a day off work, the fear of being bored kicks in. On these days I tend to disrespect the value of my time and I allow others to, as well.

    FOMO (fear of missing out, its a legit thing!), as well as jealousy, gets the best of me and I usually start tapping through snapchat stories. I then realize how fun it would be to hang out with someone in that moment. My manic episode tends to start about here. I feel as if I need to hang out with someone, and I need it now. Usually, later in the day, the same friends whose stories I have watched hit me up and tell me they are picking me up. Which is good, right? I’m distracted now, I’m having fun, I’m not alone with my thoughts. The only downfall is now I have set the example of disrespecting my worth and value of time.

    As I mentioned previously, I have a full schedule. I work every possible day. Don’t get me wrong, spontaneously hanging out with friends is good fun, in theory! Some of my best memories have come from that. I then come to realize I wasn’t included as part of their original plan, instead only being invited to hang out as a convenient afterthought.

    I cannot let my mania convince me that I must spend time with someone. Just because everyone is around my neighborhood and they think of me, does not mean it was their first thought to hang out with me. I am one of the best people to hang out with. That is a gift that needs to be valued. I only have a limited amount of time. That is a circumstance that needs to be respected. I am worth being a first thought. My time is not going to revolve around my friend’s convenience. If you want to spend time with me, plan and stick to the plan. Respect me and value my time.

    By setting the example of how to value myself and my time, I have started organising and planning out my days. I bullet journal to do this. Or, if time is limited, I keep track of what I do the day before in this same journal and see what else I could/need to do the rest of the week. I follow my schedule; although I still think spontaneity is important and vital, but in a healthy way.

    If I know I have a day off coming up, I ask my friends in advance if they would like to hang out and plan it. If no one is available, I try to plan to do something creative (doing something creative keeps my mind going in a more relaxed way). Because I have set this example and standard for myself, my friends have started following it as well. They still keep me on my toes for adventure which I love, but now as their first thought rather than their convenience.

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    Lila Souza
    Lila Souza

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