Blog: Bipolar and COVID-19

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This pandemic has been, and continues to be, experienced by each of us in different ways. In these unprecedented times, it has become imperative to learn from and support each other in any way we can. I have a diagnosis of bipolar and want to share what I currently do to help with my Mental Health and Wellbeing during this lockdown.

I am the author of the real life talking book ‘Life as a Rollercoaster, the Mayhem of Bipolar’ where I give an honest and candid account of my condition through my own lens, as well as from the viewpoint of those around me who have witnessed my episodes; my family, friends, partner and even my boss. The book aims to educate people and remove the taboo or stigma that is sometimes attached to conditions like bipolar or psychosis. I examine my own episodes, triggers and coping mechanisms, bringing them to life through my true stories throughout the book and translating them into actionable hints and tips to smooth the path for others that may also be suffering.

When news first became known of the current lockdown, my initial concerns were for my mental health and wellbeing and how this would affect my mindset and that of others around me. Too much thinking time, going stir crazy and feeling like a prisoner in my mind and in my home could potentially bring back memories of when I was sectioned in a mental hospital and not able to leave or go out. However, it transpires that this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise as the world is slower now that we are forced to stay put. For me, this new world has more time for reflection, mindfulness, meditation, exercise and self-love. Having these restrictions in place could be perceived as scary by some as there is a lot of time to fill inside your head, with just your thoughts for company. I discovered that managing my thinking and being intentional in where you allow your mind to wander helps to reign in the potential overwhelm and I have developed my own daily plan that I live by to enhance my wellbeing and remain in a positive mindset, helping me to manage my condition.

For example:
• I have set up a weekly planner to ensure I maintain my structure but also to motivate me and keep my mindset positive – this is all in coordination with my work.
• I do a mixture of activities on rotation throughout the week: Sun salutation, dog walking, mediation, Facebook lives, gratitude journaling, mindfulness, gardening, learning a new skill, working on my own website

I received the diagnosis of bipolar at the age of 32 and after living in denial for years. I have now come to terms with it. I now lead a positive and fulfilling life and career, helping others by providing positivity workshops and mental health training in the workplace through my charity Heads2Minds. I deliver Mental Health First Aid Awareness Training online to pay it forward in gratitude as I believe that it is imperative that people are trained and educated to spot the signs/symptoms if someone is struggling, as I once was. This is an issue very close to my heart and I am extremely passionate in ending the stigma and discrimination we still face in today’s world.

With Mental Health Awareness week forthcoming (18-24 May 2020), I am sharing my message to as many people as possible to raise their vibration and give them hope. I want people to talk and not be afraid of who they are. My motto is peace, love and harmony for the world and I believe that you CAN achieve anything if you put your mind to it.

Liz Rotherham
Time to Change Champion