When You Don’t Know What to Do Because of Bipolar Disorder

When You Don’t Know What to Do Because of Bipolar Disorder

I’m often caught in the eye of bipolar disorder and I don’t know what to do. This can manifest as not knowing what to do next with treatment, what to write in my next article or even what action I should take next during the day. I just feel lost. Being overwhelmed with bipolar disorder is definitely part of this, but I think bipolar disorder almost zaps the thoughts of what to do next from my brain. I just don’t know what to do.

How Can You Not Know What to Do Because of Bipolar Disorder?

I don’t know why bipolar disorder makes me not know what to do. I don’t know how it does this. So often, though, I’m just left with a void in my brain where ideas and possibilities should live. It’s like options of what to do are right on the tip of my brain but I can’t quite reach them.

I think part of this is anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. If no action gives you pleasure, then how do you find the motivation or desire to do anything? This is a constant problem for me. I think part of long-term anhedonia is great apathy. I don’t care what I do next so I can do anything. Or nothing. It doesn’t matter. I still don’t know why this removes even possibilities from my brain, but it just seems to.

And, of course, not being able to make decisions is also a symptom of depression itself.

The Problem with Not Knowing What to Do Because of Bipolar Disorder

Sometimes I don't know what to do because of bipolar disorder. Here's how I handle it when bipolar causes me to not know what to do.The thing about not knowing what to do in bipolar disorder is I feel frozen so often during the day. Even if I can think of options of what to do, I feel like I can’t choose any of them. None of them are “right.” That’s the depression-related indecision for you.

This is really problematic for functioning. Yes, I am generally considered “high-functioning” with bipolar disorder, but I definitely see functioning problems every day related to this mental illness. And, certainly, when I turn into a rock on my couch because not a single idea of what to do next is in my brain, it impacts what I can get done during the day. I think it would look crazy to someone else, not being able to move for absolutely “no” reason. But that’s really how it is for me. “Frozen” really is the word.

Combatting Not Knowing What to Do Because of Bipolar Disorder

If I don’t know what to do, it’s helpful to talk to someone else who can easily give me options. If I don’t know what to do next with treatment, obviously, my doctor can make a solid recommendation. If I don’t know what to write next, I can go to a list of topics I’ve jotted down previously and see what I can work with. If I don’t know what to do next at all and no one is around, I can write down logical options on a piece of paper. I know that sounds a little basic, but, really, it engages my brain in a different way and forces it to come up with logical solutions. Going back to basics can really help combat the feeling of being overwhelmed. Plus, if you write down options, it’s like a list where you can tick off items and that makes you feel good, too.

I think the key is, when I don’t know what to do next, I need to be insightful enough to know that it’s the bipolar disorder doing that and not me. I need to know that although I feel frozen, really I’m not and I can do something. Maybe I can’t do much. Maybe all I can do is get up and get a glass of water. But that’s okay. Just taking that one step forward is still something. Even moving an inch after feeling like I couldn’t do anything at all is positive. Functioning with bipolar disorder is about baby steps, not giant leaps.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.


Join the conversation → Add yours
Get Your FREE EBook

Get Your FREE EBook

My newsletter contains mental health news and research, speaking engagements and more. By subscribing, you'll get access to a FREE eBook on coping skills.

Thank you for subscribing. Look for an email to complete your subscription.