I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a year ago. I have always had trouble with depression and anxiety, but not to the point where it effected my life in any major way.
After having an acute attack of mania, though, everything changed. After a week of not being able to sleep or eat, I finally got help from my family, and checked myself into the hospital. They quickly diagnosed me with bipolar 1 disorder.
What is bipolar disorder? It is also known as manic depressive disorder, and the sufferer goes through bouts of mania and depression, and sometimes mixed episodes where there are syptoms of both. If the symptoms get really bad, some manic depressives even suffer from psychosis, especially during acute mania. Unfortunately, I was one one the unlucky ones. My psychotic break lasted several weeks, and it wasn't something I ever want to rrepeat. While I won't go ito my own experience, at least not in this article, I will say that if you stay on your meds, it's a lot more likely you won't have a relapse.
How do you deal with bipolar disorder? You take it one day at a time. Work with your doctors to find the best medication, or combination of medications. There are many mood stablizers, anti-depressives, and anti-psychotics to work with. I am currently on a combination of Abilify, which works as both an anti-psychotic and a mood stablizer, and Celexa, an anti-depressant. If something isn't working for you, or there are too many unpleasant side effects, tell your doctor. He will usually keep working with you to find some combination that you can live with. None of these drugs will ever make you feel "normal" again. You might feel tired, spacey, gain weight, or develop other side effects. Yet you will most likely be able to function on the right medication.
Getting enough sleep is really important, especially if you are prone to mania or psychosis. Try to go to bed and get up every day at the same time. With many of the medications causing tiredness, this usually isn't a big problem. Sometimes these meds even cause too much sleep. But if you are dealing with bipolar without meds, getting enough sleep is essential. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and illegal drugs as much as possible. Eat a healthy diet. Some of these meds can cause you to gain weight, so watch out about overeating. My last bit of advice is to keep a routine during the day. If you have to, keep a list of everything you need to do.
Bipolar disorder can be a lonely business. Sometimes you simply don't want to deal with people. Try to get as much support as you can from close friends, family, your doctors, and support groups. My best advice of all is to simply get out of the house and enjoy yourself. Even if you don't want to. It really does help.