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Bipolar Disorder and Exercise

Does Exercise Help with Bipolar Disorder?

Everyone knows that exercise is good for your health.  It is a no-brainer, and it is repeated so often that you have probably gotten tired of it.  I know I should do some physical activity. It is good for my heart, my bones… blah, blah, blah.

Bipolar DepressionOn the other hand, aside from needing to exercise because I am getting old and tired – the idea, that exercise might be good for my Bipolar Disorder, might just motivate me to do it.
Nothing else has.

A research study conducted in 2012 showed that exercise may have positive benefits for people with Bipolar Disorder.  I should have thought of that – but I didn’t (probably because I am bipolar and tend to ignore obvious things that might help me).

When asked – I have given advice to those who have depression (major depressive disorder, clinical depression, situational depression – or even bipolar depression).  What I tell those people is in addition to taking their meds, they should get up.  Get out of bed, get outside, and get some exercise – even if it is just around the kitchen.  Exercise increases the blood supply to your brain and helps to rise your energy levels – even if you don’t want to, it will do you some good.

Bipolar Disorder ShadowI give that advice to people when they are depressed, but I am not usually depressed.  My disorder tends toward mania or at least a mixed mood state.  So I don’t think about the need to increase my energy level.

Evidence has shown that exercise has some positive effects for people with Bipolar Disorder – even those that are not depressed.  In addition to the obvious health benefits, it can help to regulate your mood levels and “bring structure to chaos”.

As “bipolar“, we are often subject to disorderDisordered mind, disordered days, disordered environment.  One of the biggest tools for a bipolar patient to get and keep their body and mind regulated is the establishment of a schedule.

Go to bed at bedtime (and not at 2 am when you fall asleep in front of the TV). Get up in the morning, go to work on time, eat on a schedule – and take your meds when you should.
Establishing a routine does, in fact, help to keep from extreme ups and downs.

Exercise can be a big part of this – and physically reinforce a schedule on your body – that then affects your brain.  Just like getting up at the same time and going to sleep at the same time helps to establish a normal circadian rhythmexercise can reinforce that in a big way.

There are other benefits to exercise as well.  Physical activity naturally increases blood flow to the brain, which gives it the best chance of functioning at optimum level. It also helps to “clear out the cobwebs” that can be especially important if you are teetering on the edge.
Bipolar ExerciseExercise can increase your self-esteem that may have taken many blows in the past.  It can also increase social activity – that is apparently good for you, even if you don’t like people.  I don’t.

In my opinion, the biggest benefit may be “getting in touch” with your body.  When you exercise, you are more likely to stay within yourself.  One of the greatest problems in people with any mental disorder, and one of the reasons why people abuse drugs or perform any other risky behavior is the inability to be comfortable within your skin.  If you are exercising, you don’t really have a choice; you have to stay there.  Over time, you feel better about yourself, you feel more comfortable there, and you learn what is and isn’t “normal” within your body.

Perhaps this can lead you to better response when something is going amiss – when you may be slipping into disorder.

I tend to disregard the advice given by those who are not bipolar experts… either those with Bipolar Disorder or those who know the disease intimately, but this advice looks pretty solid to me.

Exercise and take your medicines!

Melissa Lind

Bipolar Disorder and Exercise as text to speech article

(Mental health video for blind and partially sighted people)

If You Have Got BPD You Are Hurting Right Now

Recovery and Roadblocks with Borderline Personality Disorder, Part II

So, when we left our hero (me) last week, I had been dumped by my girlfriend, was incredibly depressed, got on a dating site, found four smoking hot ladies who wanted to meet me within a week, had another friend who wanted to introduce me to her smoking hot friend that’s ten years younger than me, and managed to pull off the Holy Grail of masculine seduction: I got the phone number for a stripper while she was working!

So no problems, right?  WRONG.  It’s a very, very big problem. If I was capable of casual sex, I’d have been in hog heaven, especially with the stripper girl (they really are as good in bed as you think they are).

But for me, sex is about love.  And love, REAL love, takes time.

Borderline Personality DisorderSee, I had been in a committed, stable and loving relationship for three years.  Sure, it was long distance, but this woman really cared about me (still does) and I really cared about her (still do).  But rather than heal from the break, I immediately set out to “fill the void she left.”  But here’s the kicker.  That hole in me?  That was there long before she left.  Chances are, it’s part of the reason why she left to begin with.

But that hole hurts so much when it’s empty, you just gotta fill it.  Well, hooking up with any of those women would be just as effective as slapping a Hello Kitty Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound.

You see, I don’t know any of those women from the dating site.  I’ve never met my friend’s friend in person.  And after having been married to an exotic dancer once before, I know better than to get involved with another one.  I have no reason to love any of those women.  But within a week of meeting any of them, I’d have slept with them (I’m attractive, charming… and manipulative), and I would have made up a reason to instantly be in love with any one of them.

I’ve done it before, well, with every woman I’ve ever been with except this last one.  That one took time.  The relationship developed slowly.  If she wasn’t the right woman for me (something I’m still not prepared to admit), then I at least went about things the right way with her.

Remember that I promised news about my Borderline Personality Disorder that shocks even me?  Well here it is:

I shut down my dating site account.  And some of you guys out there are going to think I’m the dumbest man on earth, but I deleted the stripper’s phone number, too.  Sorry, ladies.  It’s not that I’m not interested.  It’s that I’m too interested.  Not in you, but in filling the hole.

And right now, I’m poison, baby.  Which, in a sick sort of way, makes me even sexier to some women.  Chances are, they’ll stumble across this blog for the same reasons you’re reading it and I’m writing it.  Because women who dig the damaged guys are probably damaged themselves.  Like attracts like, remember?

All hooking up with someone this soon after a breakup would do would be to continue the cycle.  You gotta hurt to heal, and in my case, it means I have to be alone.  And that absolutely terrifies me.  But I’m gonna do it.  I don’t feel like a “whole person” right now, but I realize, at least on an intellectual level, that no other person can “complete” me.  Only I can complete myself.

Now, I just gotta figure out a way to make my heart believe what my brain has known all along.

So if you’ve got BPD, chances are you’re hurting right now.  Just know you’re not the only one.  You got me, kiddies.  I’m right there in the trenches with you.  I know it’s cold comfort, but it’s all I can offer at the moment.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his mental health related articles)