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Living with Bipolar Disorder and/or PTSD: Advice for the Newly Diagnosed

by Cassendre Xavier

Recently, someone from one of the groups I participate in requested advise for having been recently diagnosed with both bipolar 2 and posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
Having been diagnosed with both in the early 1990s, I was happy to share what's been helpful to me, and what I wish I had known back then:

* Learn as much as you can about your illness(es), read books, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube, etc. Knowledge truly is power, which you'll learn when you begin treating your symptoms and managing your life as a persun with your particular challenges.

* Practice radical acceptance. It will help you address challenges more expediently and effectively.

* Look into Social Security benefits as soon as it is suggested, whether by a mental health professional, friend, family member or colleague.

* Take your illness(es) seriously. They are serious.

* Learn which aspects of your illness(es) are permanent which are not.

* Don't think you can go it alone, you can't. The more support you can get, the better your life and relationships will be.

* Know that your symptoms affect others, and do what you can to minimize those symptoms for your loved ones as well as for yourself.

* Strive to be and remain in compliance with your treatment, including attending individual and group counseling sessions, taking medications as prescribed, avoiding alcohol and non-prescribed drugs, etc.

* Make good physical health a priority.

* Monitor your sleep patterns, and try to get enough sleep every day.

* Look into mineral supplements for bipolar and PTSD symptom management. Lithium orotate and valerian root are both very helpful, and I have been off psych meds for over two years because of them.

* Maximize your health insurance. You may qualify for twice weekly psychotherapy and additional group sessions, all of which could significantly improve your mental health and progress.

* Prepare for manic episodes and debilitating downs of life by buffering yourself with a strong support system, including sufficient behavioral health appointments, stable home life, friends who "get" you, and/or lots of things to read, listen to, and/or watch that are informational and inspiring about bipolar and PTSD.

* Find something to do that helps someone. Being of service is one of the best ways to feel grounded, connected with others, and strengthened when times are tough emotionally or otherwise.

* Stay positive! Attitude affects everything, including outcome sometimes. It's not easy to stay positive when you're depressed, but if you can do it when you're not depressed, that may carry over a little later on!

* Never underestimate the value and power of writing. It is therapeutic for many. Journal, blog, have pen pals, respond to others' group discussions on FetLife, etc. Just get it out. You'll feel better and may help someone along the way as well!

Recommended resources:

* Bipolar author [Julie A. Fast][http://www.bipolarhappens.com]

* My own "Living with Bipolar" and "Survivor's Corner/PTSD Chronicles" [article series at Wisdom Magazine][http://tinyurl.com/cxwisdom] and [my similar posts on Facebook][https://tinyurl.com/yddfy7y9]

* My "[Affirmations for Survivors" audio series][https://tinyurl.com/y8egfmd3]

Stay well and feel good about yourself and about being alive!

Cassendre Xavier has been writing the "Living with Bipolar Disorder" series at Wisdom Magazine's online edition since January 2016. Cassendre was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 1993, at age 23. She has been a member of Philadelphia's LGBT, polyamorous, and New Age/ancient wisdom spiritual communities since 1991, and from 1996-1999 facilitated Sisters Healing Together, a peer support group for women survivors of incest with a special focus on compulsive overeating, which she also founded, at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. Under her self-assigned spiritual name Amethyste Rah, Cassendre released the popular Affirmations for Survivors guided meditation audio series (“Self-Love” and “Spirituality” in 2007, and “Sexuality” and “Life Skills” are forthcoming). For more information, please visit http://cassEndrExavier.wordpress.com

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