I went six years between my first (2007) and second (2013) hospitalizations. I pride myself on that. I was hospitalized for a third time in 2014. Through my three hospitalizations and three IOPs (Intensive Outpatient Therapy) I've met people on their 10th or 15th hospitalization. Some people are chronically unemployed or on disability. Their illness dictates the course for their life.
It doesn't necessarily have to be this way.
To make sure I stay stable and highly functioning, I do a number of things:
- For the past seven years, I've seen my therapist every three weeks and my psychiatrist every three months.
- I'm a compliant patient; I take my medicine faithfully and go to all follow-up appointments.
- I make time for leisure (reading, hanging out with friends, going out to eat, getting massages, shopping, watching TV, etc.).
- For the past year I've been getting acupuncture regularly. I'm trying to balance out my reliance on Western medicine with more holistic practices.
- I'm protective of my sleep. Not getting enough sleep can trigger depression or mania.
- I exercise two to four days per week. There are numerous health benefits gained from exercise.
- I try to eat healthy. I can definitely do a better job at this. I saw a nutritionist this summer and have made the dietary changes she suggested.
- I try to minimize my stress triggers. Keeping up with all of the paperwork for my job usually takes a toll on me. So I try to manage my procrastination. I don't always succeed at this. But I'm trying.
A stable life is highly doable. You have to take stock of your life and shape one you'd be proud and happy to live. It is a lot of work. But what in life isn't?