How to Practice Bipolar Coping Skills

Recently I have been talking about bipolar coping skills. Really, I talk about bipolar coping skills all the time. Recently, though, there have been two:

  1. Using logic to deal with bipolar emotions
  2. Breaking bipolar emotional chains

In both cases, I argue that these techniques can help you in your everyday life. These coping skills are things that you can apply every day (pretty much all day) to try to dampen some of the overwhelmingness that is bipolar disorder.

However, practicing bipolar coping skills is a bit of an art. Sure, you could try to use them every moment of the day, and if that works for you, then great, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I would suggest that’s not the best way to go about practicing bipolar coping skills.

Bipolar Coping Skills – Watching Your Thoughts, Emotions and Actions

There are many bipolar coping skills out there but let’s just say you are focusing on the above two. Pretty much all bipolar coping skills, including the above, require that you watch your emotions in order to do something to cope with them. So start there. Start your journey to use bipolar coping skills with just watching your emotions, thoughts and actions as you have them. Believe me, that’s a lot of work in and of itself and takes practice before it becomes a habit. It’s hard to see an emotion and not be overwhelmed by it.

Seeing the Bipolar Emotional Chain

Once you have some practice at just looking at your thoughts, feelings and actions, then it’s time to sit down and think about the emotional chains. What emotions led to what thoughts, led to what actions? How do all the pieces fit together? Why, exactly, did I act the way I did?

You have to be able to put together what you’ve seen in order to be able to stop it.

Practicing bipolar coping skills is a bit of an art. Seeing your own thoughts, actions and emotions as a chain and dealing with them logically are coping skills work practicing.

Is What I Felt, Did, Thought, Reasonable?

And then, once you’ve determined what you’ve seen, and how those things relate, you need to view them objectively and decide whether that was reasonable. Certainly some of your emotional chains will be. Others won’t. Others will be entirely inflated and dictated by bipolar.

This is where the logic comes in. What could be your logical response the next time you start to feel, think or act the same way? What would be something you could tell yourself to stop you in your tracks? What would be a logical way of looking at the situation? How can you acknowledge your feelings without being controlled by them?

How to Practice Bipolar Coping Skills

So, when trying to practice these two coping skills, break the practice down into small steps you can manage.

  1. Learn to watch your own emotions, thoughts and actions. Try to be objective and non-judgemental.
  2. Put what you’ve seen into the order of an emotional chain so that you can see what feeling, thought or action led to others.
  3. Determine if your chains are reasonable or are likely being skewed by bipolar disorder.
  4. Decide what logical responses would be in your given circumstances.
  5. Form scripts in your mind (even write them down) that you can tell yourself when you start to see the chain emerging again.

Take your time and work through the above steps on your own time. The bipolar is always going to be there so you can take all the time you need. None of this is easy so give yourself a break if all does not go according to plan.

And be gentle with yourself. Coping skills aren’t magic and aren’t going to turn your life around at the flick of a wand. They just are what they are: tools. It’s like building a house. Just because you know how to hammer a nail doesn’t mean the house suddenly appears – but you do need to have that skill for any hope of building that house.

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  1. Pingback: Links to useful info | Bipolar(s) Supporting Bipolars aka BSB

  2. Fear is one of the indicators of an oncoming episode or unwanted personal behavior.
    The choice to intervene belongs to no one else. Acting to overcome the outcome
    of a potentially uncomfortable experience is often avoided in favor of the initial novelty
    of the event. Choosing to be ‘you’ or being acceptable to most is interesting with
    consequences. If you can live with yourself please do.

    This is a personal opinion based on my experiences only.

  3. I really think that this is advice that can be used as much or as little depending on the person. Not everyone with bipolar thinks as intricately as you do Natasha, or me, and I think I have a very different mindset to yours, hence our differences of opinion previously.l
    At the moment I have been basically ‘good’ and no bouts of depression have got to me for back-to-back days since November. That is a long spell and a lot of the stuff that worked for me rose organically from just getting on with life and reflecting just every so often. Mind you, I have had 17 years of knowing deep down I have a condition and 16 of those 17 being officially diagnosed… although some think I have type 1 and others type 2. A big help for me, and I’ll be a stuck record admittedly is that I think that the average person with the condition here in England is much more likely to get a good support system, or at least a basic one, than someone in the States.
    Ever since my last breakdown I have had much more education on what to do and how to pace myself. If the result is that I have a medicore career by conventional standards than that is fine, as I fear being well-known enough that my paranoid take on things would go on overdrive. Anyway I liked this article as a piece of writing in itself, and I’m sure certain people will make some good use of it. I have just coped in a certain way, and maybe a handful of people are doing anything remotely similar to me.

    • You’re right about on thing, Martin. You not only will not get much of a support system in the U.S. You’ll get virtually nothing. Healthcare like justice in the U.S. is paid for and the sicker you are the more you must pay. Of course the sickest have no resources hence no help. The U.S. doesn’t care about the sick. it only is good far starting wars now.

  4. Natasha, I fear I learned to use reflection etc. too well and now it is hindering. I also thing if you don’t use it with any M.I. and a lot you are doomed.