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Staying Positive in the Face of Bipolar

Updated on July 29, 2016

Positivity and What Shrinks It

Positivity is like currency. When bad things happen, you can apply some positivity, and the situation seems to improve. As long as your positivity is high, you are able to go on living life without any interruption, no matter what struggles come your way.

Unfortunately, there are some situations that seem to zap the positivity from your being. Some of the most common positivity-shrinkers are:

  • Negative people in your social network or conflicted relationships.
  • Increased financial stress.
  • Lack of power and control over your environment.
  • Drugs and alcohol use.
  • New or chronic medical health issues.
  • New or chronic mental health issues.

As long as your positivity is high, you are able to go on living life without any interruption, no matter what struggles come your way.

Bipolar's Effect on Positivity

Even worse are some conditions that seem to affect positivity in a multidimensional way. Take bipolar disorder for example.

The illness is rooted in mental health, but over time, it can negatively influence all aspects of your like, especially the ones listed above. Bipolar disorder can:

  • Disrupt your relationships.
  • Increase financial problems due to overspending.
  • Diminish your power and control as your thoughts and behaviors are heavily impact by the disorder.
  • Make substance abuse more appealing as a means of self-medication.
  • Exacerbate medical issues through lack of self-care and medical consistency.

Surely bipolar disorder is a formidable foe when it comes to conditions that can leave your positivity lifeless and wilted like a forgotten houseplant, but this does not mean the situation is hopeless.

Life with bipolar disorder, like any other condition, can be improved with a focus on positivity maintenance and positivity enhancing.

Life with bipolar disorder, like any other condition, can be improved with a focus on positivity maintenance and positivity enhancing.
Life with bipolar disorder, like any other condition, can be improved with a focus on positivity maintenance and positivity enhancing.

Modify Your Self-Talk

Whether your bipolar disorder is old or new, the way you view it will have a major bearing on the power it wields. Is it an unstoppable force in your mind that distributes its unrelenting negatively? Can it be tamed? Is it permanent or temporary?

The answers you provide to these questions begin to shape your self-talk on the subject. Self-talk is the constant dialogue you have with yourself during each day.

It may seem automatic as it goes unnoticed most of the time, but it is always present. Self-talk helps to manage your feelings; if you ruminate about negatives in the world, you will feel more depressed. If you worry a lot, you will feel more anxious, and so on.

Bipolar attempts to hold your self-talk hostage. It will insert more negative thoughts during periods of depression, just as it will insert more impulsive and reckless thoughts during periods of mania.

Listening to these bipolar-fueled thoughts will zap your positivity instantly, but the consequences will grow over time like a snowball effect picking up momentum with each negative thought.

How Do You Stay Positive?

When your positivity is diminished, how do you get it back?

  • 14% Positive thinking!
  • 29% Doing enjoyable activities
  • 23% Going to see my therapist
  • 34% Turning to a loved one
35 people have voted in this poll.
Bipolar attempts to hold your self-talk hostage. It will insert more negative thoughts during periods of depression, just as it will insert more impulsive and reckless thoughts during periods of mania.
Bipolar attempts to hold your self-talk hostage. It will insert more negative thoughts during periods of depression, just as it will insert more impulsive and reckless thoughts during periods of mania.

Just because you think or feel something, it does not make it true.

Be on the Lookout

As the person devoted to preserving your positivity, it is your job to notice and challenge these negative thinking patterns. Be on the lookout for:

  • Labeling yourself in negative terms like strange, wrong, bad, or stupid.
  • Overgeneralizing one event — just because one thing didn’t go your way does not mean nothing ever goes your way.
  • Believing you can predict the outcome to be negative.
  • Taking responsibility for unwanted results that you had nothing to do with.

These are just a few examples of cognitive distortions, which are flawed ways of thinking produced by bipolar disorder.

Cognitive distortions are a great example of a valuable notion: just because you think or feel something, it does not make it true.

Remember thoughts and feelings are flexible aspects based on your current perceptions. If bipolar disorder distorts your perceptions, your thoughts and feelings may be inaccurate as a result.

Inaccurate thoughts must be confronted, but this is a complex situation because the inaccurate thoughts will be hard to identify.

To simplify the decision-making process, consider the end results of these thoughts. Thoughts that leave you feeling optimistic and hopeful should be added whenever possible, while thoughts that end with negativity need to go.

This can be uncomfortable for people who frequently refer to pessimism as realism. With bipolar disorder, fact can be impossible to separate from fiction.

Rather than focusing on right versus wrong, focus on positivity versus negativity.

Combatting Feelings of Depression and Loneliness

Put Positivity Into Practice

Learning about the battle between positivity and negativity is valuable, but it will not change your views alone. To succeed, action must be taken. Follow these simple tips to stay positive:

  • Take the lead. Rather than waiting for negative thoughts to enter your brain, be preventative by listing positive aspects of yourself, the people in your life, and the world around you. Repetition and consistency will be needed here to counteract the automatic self-talk fueled by cognitive distortions.
  • Gain some education. Bipolar disorder can carry a very negative impression to those unfamiliar with the condition, but experts who deal with the disorder daily know it can be well managed with the proper treatment. Adding information from objective, professional sources can put your fears (a primary positivity-zapper) to rest.
  • Involve others. Solid supports in your life are invaluable and irreplaceable. Be sure to seek out the people who are understanding and helpful, instead of settling for just anyone available. Friends can help by building your confidence and giving you some much-needed praise during the low times. They also can push you out of ruts you have worn yourself into by encouraging new activities and opportunities, which will shift your focus towards a hopeful future.
  • Be aware of too much positivity. When depression begins to swing towards signs of mania, you must proceed with caution, since it can be confused for positivity. Any characteristic can create problems when in excess — positivity is no different. Mania may seem like a desirable change after a period of depression, but it is associated with many unwanted outcomes. If you find your self-esteem and mood become too elevated, it may be the influence of mania. Be sure to follow up with your treatment team.

Rather than focusing on right versus wrong, focus on positivity versus negativity.

Thoughts that leave you feeling optimistic and hopeful should be added whenever possible, while thoughts that end with negativity need to go.
Thoughts that leave you feeling optimistic and hopeful should be added whenever possible, while thoughts that end with negativity need to go.

In Summary

  • Positivity has a way of helping us get through bad situations. But sometimes, our positivity is diminished so much it can be difficult to get it back.
  • Fear not, it just takes some strategy and elbow grease!
  • Bipolar disorder has a way of shrinking positivity, but if you focus on enhancing and maintaining a positive mindset, you'll find you lead a happier life.
  • Monitoring your self-talk is extremely important — if you're always thinking negatively during depressed episodes, it'll just sink you further into depression.
  • You must learn not only how to decrease negativity in your life, but also how to add positivity.
  • Take the lead by preemptively listing positive things about yourself and the world around you before negative thoughts have a chance to enter your brain.
  • Seek out education about your disorder from professionals so you can rid yourself of negative perceptions of bipolar disorder.
  • Seek out loved ones for support, and have them help you shift your focus to a hopeful future.
  • Be cautious of too much positivity, as this could actually be a sign of mania.

Keeping Positive With Bipolar, in Conclusion

Positivity does not come naturally when so many factors are working to shrink it. You must work to strengthen it daily, and if you are successful, you will be compensated with a life that seems more rewarding than anything you have had before.

Written by Eric Patterson

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