You really can't. You need help from others.
I used to think that I could manage the mood swings by myself. You know - I'm strong and capable and mood swings are a solvable problem, so once I developed the proper systems to manage being manic depressive, this would take care of itself.
Mind you, I wouldn't get rid of the mood swings - I'd just have systems that kept the mood swings in check while I went about my life. If you have asthma or diabetes or any other chronic disease, you'd know what I mean.
So yes, I can develop the systems I need. In fact, I'm pretty good at it.
Unfortunately, the problem with this mindset is depression.
Depression prevents you from doing anything. Anything. You might want to do stuff; you might know that you need to get something done; but you just can't. Even if you want to. Some part of you mind slides over making sure it gets done, or you end up with an intense fear / desire to not do it. Or you forget, even though one minute ago you knew it was important.
In fact, this is so pervasive, so critical, that to me this is the defining aspect of depression. Things can't get done. The negative feelings about yourself, the panic attacks, the feeling that you are a failure - they are all there, but they are secondary and pale in comparison in terms of defining what depression is.
So you can have the best, most perfect, most robust systems in the world for dealing with mood swings, but if you can't use them because you are depressed, they are pretty useless.
Note this has nothing to do with your strength of character or willpower or common sense. If you are depressed, no amount of will power is going to get you to do something.
What do you do?
Your systems have to include other people, so that when you can't get yourself moving again, others can step in and help you out.
In the posting on Friday, I'll describe how I've involved my parents and friends, but for now remember this - you need others. Partners, parents, siblings, aunts, friends, roommates - you need to get them involved in helping you.
It's not an admission of failure or weakness. It's just common sense.
In reply to:
Yes, us bipolar persons can live on our own. In fact, I do.
The real issue isn’t whether we are competent to look after ourselves. We more or less are – BUT what we need is someone looking in on us to make sure we are doing well, and daily check-ins are best.
There may be a some of us who get sufficiently depressed /suicidal or manic that living by ourselves may not be a good idea. But I would suspect these would be the minority rather than the average bipolar person.
I am asking myself can a bipolar live on its own?
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