Does Bipolar Get Better? Long-Term Tips for Managing and Coping with Bipolar Disorder
In most cases, bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. While symptoms can go into remission, they often come back. But with these tips, you can live a full and fulfilling life. That’s why treatment and long-term care are so important—they can help you manage the symptoms and cope with your bipolar disorder.
There are illnesses and conditions that go away: broken legs heal; colds run their course and eventually go away, leaving only their fading memory. Then there are lifelong conditions, ones that impact your life either through the routine of care or the reality of constant symptoms. These are conditions that affect how you live your life on a daily basis.
Mental health disorders like bipolar disorder are in a middle ground. Bipolar doesn’t just go away on its own, and people living with it don’t “get better” the way someone gets over a cold. But the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be managed. It can be coped with. You can live with bipolar and still live a normal life with care, with attention, and with the power of therapy.
It’s misguided to ask if bipolar gets better. There is no cure. But you are not powerless. By understanding the disorder, its impact on your life, and how to manage it, you can live the life you deserve. It won’t ever fade away into just a memory, but it doesn’t have to be the entire story of your life.
Understanding “Remission” in Bipolar Disorder
Mental disorders can be difficult to understand. There is a natural human tendency to use metaphors for other illnesses, such as cancer. That’s why, when people talk about bipolar disorder’s symptoms not being present, they often talk about “remission.”
But that can be misleading. Symptoms aren’t going in “remission” in terms of fading away and possibly being eradicated. It’s more metaphorically accurate to say they are dormant, like a volcano. That’s why the question “does bipolar get better?” is so problematic. It implies there is a cure, and that not “getting better” is somehow a failure—which is unfair and inaccurate. What you can do is learn to live with it by understanding how it works and taking positive steps toward symptom management.
Here are a few tips to help you manage bipolar, instead of letting it manage you.
Tips For Living With Bipolar Disorder
There’s no one way to live with bipolar; there is no magic one-size-fits-all solution. But here are a few things to practice.
- Be aware of your symptoms. When a manic or depressive episode comes out of “remission,” there are signs. Knowing what these signs are can help you understand when you are entering a period of mania or depression so you can take proactive steps to manage it.
- Know your triggers. For some people, financial stress can trigger bipolar episodes. For others, triggers may include personal challenges, lack of sleep, or even the changing of the seasons. Knowing what triggers you can help you avoid them if possible, or be better prepared for what is coming if not.
- Be careful with diet and health. Alcohol, drugs, heavy food, and other unhealthy substances can often trigger a depressive or manic episode. If you have bipolar disorder, it is important to take care of yourself physically to protect your mental health.
- Know your warning signs. Have you stopped showering? Are you making impulsive purchases? Do you feel more irritated than usual, or can’t stop talking? Do you always feel tired? These are the warning signs of an episode. Your particular mix of warning signs is unique to you. Know them.
- Have a group. You’re not in this alone. Educate your friends and family on what they should be on the lookout for. Your family members can learn how to live with bipolar disorder in the same way that you do, which will be better both for you and for them in the long run.
- Listen to your group. This is one of the hardest steps. But it’s important to learn to trust people when they tell you that you’re exhibiting your warning signs and symptoms.
- Create an emergency plan. Create a written plan with the medicine you need to take, the food you need to eat, the people you need to talk to, and more. You might be able to follow it if you have concrete examples. More importantly, it can help friends and family understand exactly what they need to do to help.
None of these are exactly “easy”. They are long-term plans that require constant monitoring and prep. And that can be hard when suffering from bipolar disorder. But there is one thing that can help you get to the point where you can follow them: therapy.
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The Benefits of Long-Term Residential Therapy
To manage bipolar disorder, you have to understand it. You have to understand what triggers episodes, and you have to understand how to avoid them. You have to understand how the disorder manifests itself in your unique life. You have to understand yourself.
That’s not easy. But it can be done. Long-term residential therapy with dedicated medical professionals can help you overcome the reluctance to self-examine. It can help you identify why certain behaviors or stressors impact you. It can help you figure out what external and internal factors are the cause of manic or depressive episodes.
This isn’t easy. It’s the work of a lifetime. But in the same way that people with diabetes can manage symptoms throughout a lifetime, you can do the same. Bipolar disorder is a condition. It isn’t a judgment, nor is it a sentence. It just is.
That’s not to say it will go away. And it doesn’t mean that you’ll always be able to avoid your triggers or be completely free of your symptoms. But you can position yourself to live your best life, manage episodes, and not let bipolar create the outline of your life. Your story isn’t confined to the pages of a medical textbook. It’s up to you to write it. You’re in control of your own healing journey—and you can begin that journey whenever you like by calling a residential treatment center to take your first steps.
BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders, co-occurring substance use disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.