Lauren’s Wellness List

Signs of Depression and Mania and How to Help Me

I made this list for my housemates. It helps them to understand where I am and how to help without pissing me off.  Everyone should make one for their family or significant other!

This list specifies my limits and preferences in accepting help to manage my bipolar disorder. It is intended to help my amazing housemates determine when I need help and the type of help I prefer when specific symptoms are present.

I am able to manage my illness when I’m doing the following:

  • Sleeping regularly: 7 to 9 hours per night.
  • Attending work (beginning at 9am).
  • Seeing my counselor once every 2 weeks.
  • Communicating with others without arguing.
  • Participating in community activities/duties.
  • Holding up my responsibilities to work and my community.
  • Taking my medication.

You should be concerned when you notice any of the following symptoms of Depression:

  • Sleeping more than 10 hours per night.
  • I’m missing work or going in late without a reason.
  • I’m complaining a lot more than usual…about work/health/relationships.
  • You notice me napping after work or spending a lot of time in my room instead of participating in house activities.
  • I am unable to fulfill my duties (dishes, cleaning).
  • My room is a mess and I don’t care about cleaning it.
  • I’m not showering as much as I normally would.
  • I’m not wearing makeup for a few days in a row.
  • I’m drinking a lot more caffeine than usual.
  • I am extremely negative (I’m sorry. Help me to see the good or bring up a happy memory we’ve had.)

What to do when I’m Depressed (the above symptoms consistently for a week or more):

  • Ask me how I’m doing.
  • GET ME OUT OF BED….no matter what excuse I come up with.
  • Do not try to convince me that I’m depressed…this will make me more depressed.
  • Spend more time with me and encourage me to participate/go out.
  • Help me get to the gym…no matter how much I bitch and whine.

You should be concerned when you notice any of the following symptoms of Hypomania or Mania:

  • I’m not sleeping at least 7 hours per day.
  • I’m complaining about insomnia or waking up multiples times per night.
  • I’m shopping much more and buying impulsively (things I don’t need….or things I will not need for a long time….like buying a bathing suit in January OR thrifting more than 1 day in a row).
  • I’m much more interested in sex or engaging in risky behavior (like hitting on 42-year-olds).
  • I’m talking super-fast and you can’t understand me. My thoughts seem like a ping pong ball. I interrupt the conversation and always have something to add (even if I don’t know what I’m talking about).
  • I’m much more critical and irritable than normal. (If I am not relaxed while cooking…that is a big sign)
  • I have lots of plans and neither the time nor resources to execute them.
  • I am wearing a lot of makeup and wearing clothes that don’t match/wild outfits.
  • I’m buying and smoking cigarettes.
  • I’m cooking a lot more than normal. (Ex. Cooking two meals in one night)
  • I’m unable to fulfill my duties as a housemate (Ex. Not doing chores)

What to do when I’m Hypomanic or Manic (the above symptoms consistently for a week or more):

  • Go thrifting with me and encourage me to only buy a few things.
  • Offer to hide my credit card from me.
  • Listen to calming music, meditate or do another relaxing activity with me.
  • Help me to take a few breaths and calm down.
  • Discourage me from listening to electronic music.
  • Discourage me from drinking caffeine.
  • Humor me when I want to do something during the week, but offer a toned-down version. (Ex. I want to go to the bar on a Tuesday….You should say “let’s go see that new movie instead”).
  • Take me to the gym to burn off some energy.
  • Be patient (I am sorry that I’m being an irritable bitch, but right now I can’t see it…I am completely convinced I’m acting normal).

The following is a contract of sorts, so they know what they’re getting themselves into.

What I Need From You

  • Acceptance without judging. If you are confused why I am acting a certain way please ask before you assume something.
  • Trust me. I never lie to you guys. It’s true sometimes I avoid topics, but if you ask me a direct question I will always be completely candid with you all.
  • Treat me normally. I know it’s hard to watch out for me and not tip-toe around me, but I would greatly appreciate it.
  • Please be conscious of how you bring up conflicts/things you want to talk about. If I am irritable bringing something up might trigger an unnecessary argument. Or if I’m a little depressed, bringing up how not-well I’ve been doing lately is not the right timing. Prepare me for it.
  • Educate yourselves. I have a lot of books about Bipolar II and a few have chapters on how to help someone with Bipolar disorder. Please take the time to do this.
  • Commitment. It’s not going to be easy if you guys really want to support me through this. I know it’s hard on you to wake me up every morning (when I’m depressed) or to be aware of my moods.
  • Always ask. If you have any questions about how I’m acting/bipolar II in general I can find a relevant chapter in a book/resource to help.
  • Do not make me feel weak. Help me to feel powerful. Calling me out on things I should be doing with a negative twist could be damaging to any progress I am making. Please be encouraging and understand everything has to be accomplished in baby steps.
  • Think about me, not just my diagnosis. The last thing I want is for all our conversations to be about how I’m doing or how my mood is today. You can help me by just spending time with me and doing activities we both enjoy.
Leave a comment

7 Comments

  1. bpshielsy

     /  April 7, 2012

    Hi Lauren,

    How have your housemates responded to this. I thinks it’s really good you’re able to be so open about your bipolar.

    Reply
    • It is really hard to say. They have been overall more supportive and less judgmental since I made them this list, but I have no idea if they are looking at it frequently or what.

      In some cases, they are more aware of the signs that I’m going downhill. After a few packages showed up from ebay one of my housemates said, “I thought you got rid of your credit card.” I did, but it was still connected to my pay pal. So she encouraged me to take it off of there and kept asking me about it until I did it. It really helped having someone to stop my self destructive behaviors.

      Reply
  2. strugglingwithbipolar

     /  April 13, 2012

    I find this very helpful. Knowing your warning signs and telling others how they can help you is quite effective. My husband takes my credit cards from me when I become hypomanic. It makes a HUGE difference.

    Reply
  3. I like this .. it’s weird how many of the things in your lists I can identify with .. except for the makeup and wild outfits! Your depression list is nearly identical to my symptoms.

    Reply
  4. MANagING maNIA

     /  May 16, 2012

    I have been working on an assignment from my therapist, and came across this. Guess what? This is the assignment! Well…my lists, not yours. But the same idea. Awesome template. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Awesome! I actually got the idea from “Bipolar for Dummies” but changed the format a bit. Feel free to use it!

      Reply

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