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LIVING WITH BIPOLAR: LIFE, LOVE, ACCEPTANCE & SUPPORT

As long as I stick to my routine and remember my morning self-care, I have a great day. When I deviate from what I know is important, my emotions can get the best of me.  

If you have been following this blog, you already know that I live with mental illness, and sometimes the struggle is real. When you have bipolar, you have your highs and lows – much of the time in a recurring loop.  I wasn’t having a good few days, and I knew that could trigger a bipolar episode. 

But something happened that made me feel like I AM doing well. 

I went to see my counselor. I knew I needed to go, but I wasn’t looking forward to it because I knew I was going to unload on so many things that I really didn’t want to get into. But when I did get into it, I experienced the incredible feeling that I already knew what to do. I knew what the triggers were, and these triggers could be quashed if was consistent with my self-care routine.   

The other morning, I was on the treadmill at the gym. I felt pretty good, and I had to fly out of town that day. I kept telling myself, “You’ve got to do what works best for you.” 

What works best for me might not work best for someone else, but what works for me is a routine - you start the day off right.  

When I was walking out of the gym, there were two people at the front desk. I paused as I passed by and knocked on the counter. I said, “Hey – good morning. Hope you guys have a great day.” They stopped, looked at me and said, “Hey – you too.” 

Sometimes it’s the little things like that that make a huge difference – when you acknowledge other people and are not so caught up in your thoughts, what you’ve got to do and where you’ve got to be…  

In my counseling session, I felt like – if I’m not working, being productive or getting content out there, I’m falling behind. I had this feeling that I needed to be perfect, and that’s so not the message that I share – because perfection doesn’t exist. 

You can work hard because you love what you’re doing, and I think that’s me and who I am – but then I’m falling into what I lecture about. Where is your time-out, Jeff?  

The message I’m wanting to share with you right now is simply this: You already know what you need to do – and excuse me if you don’t agree with this. I think most everything comes back to how you react or respond to situations. Everything comes back to your mindset and your stress level. You don’t have to be a person that lives with mental illness to understand what I’m saying. You could have high stress today. Something could have happened to upend your day. It could be anything.  

You and I already know what to do.  

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That is the first place of awareness - the first place of acknowledging, but the thing is that you have got to choose to do something about it.  

Part of my awareness was realizing that I didn’t have to work so hard to be perfect and try to save the world. I can’t save the world. I can only plant seeds. That’s it. I’m a teacher.   

I need to take the time that puts me in a position to be the best me that I can be, doing what I love. This includes taking the time for self-care – my walk, my yoga, my breathing. I’m learning to cook for myself instead of just always going out to eat. I’m doing more of a keto approach – low-carb, more high protein and no more white flour.  I’m doing almond flour. I’m enjoying that, but I need to take more time for that.  

My wife is dealing with a medical condition. I have got to stop thinking so much about me and start thinking about how can I be more empathetic and of service to her. 

That’s the thing: You and I know what to do,  but the question is this – are you doing what you know needs to be done? If you’re not, why not? 

What are your excuses? What is holding you back? What do you need to do starting today – this minute? 

What I’m really learning to do and be consistent with are my to-do notes. I’m using a productivity app called Trello, and I have a to-do for today and tomorrow, and so on. If I don’t complete an item today, I carry it over to tomorrow’s list. There’s an ongoing list of everything I need to do, but if I don’t get something done, that’s OK. We don’t get everything done… 

But are you organized? In the Marine Corps we asked, “Are you squared away?” Are you on top of it? Are you prepared? Are you avoiding, procrastinating, or are you facing life head-on? Being organized is something I know that really benefits me.  

Sometimes I make notes about what I need to do while I am on the treadmill at the gym.  

Another thing I am really realizing as a man with bipolar: I’m better off staying off social media because some things just bother the heck out of me.  

I’m unfollowing people and so many things. If it’s negative, I’m unfollowing. If it triggers an emotion, I’m unfollowing. If it’s not positive, upbeat and supportive and encouraging – I’m unfollowing.  

I don’t even want to do email anymore. I’m done. You can’t read emotion in an email message.  I deal with so many clients in mental health – and many of them want to avoid or otherwise fail to address something in this way or another in that way. It makes me wonder why they are hiring me in the first place.  

So I get caught up wanting to jump through the screen and scissor-kick this person in the mouth and be like, “You’re part of the problem.” 

 At 48 years old, I’m kind of becoming really set in my ways. I’m learning so much about myself and reacting versus responding. I’m learning where I work well and where I don’t work well. I’m learning that I have this place in the world, and it’s best to know my role and stay there.

One of the things I we all need to work on is not to give so much of a fudge about other people’s opinions – because I think the more you care about the people who bring you down, the more that shows how insecure you are. 

At 48 years old, I don’t really think that I’m insecure. I think I am really comfortable with who I am and what I do. But you know what? I’m still trying to grow and learn – and that, man – I really love that. 

Lose your ego every day. Open your heart. Grow. Learn. Trust in the people around you. 

If you are in pain or struggling – let somebody know. Reach out to that trusted person and tell them about it.  

Remember this: It’s OK to be vulnerable.  

Lose your ego. Be more real.  

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could learn to accept people more and judge people less? 

Jeff Yalden is a youth motivational speaker on teen leadership, teen mental health, suicide, and suicide prevention, having worked with teens and school communities for more than two decades. Click HERE for more information.  

To order Jeff’s Amazon bestseller, Teen Suicide: The “Why” Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic, go HERE.  

To book Jeff to speak at your event, call Betty at 800-948-9289.