Rachel Kelly
Writer, Mental Health Campaigner, Public Speaker

Living with bipolar at 41 – strategies for living with a long term mental illness

Judith Critchley has a passion for life, for mental health and for speaking out. She is a Mental Health Strategic Advisor to employers and employees to foster good mental health in the workplace. Until recently, Judith chaired a Mental Health Employee Group. She is passionate about helping to end the stigma associated with mental health and campaigning for change. Judith is Time To Change Campaign Leader and an Employment Ambassador for Bipolar UK.

Judith shares her daily, weekly strategies for living with this long-term mental health condition.   

Strateg­ies: that work for me and maybe for you?

Work and a routine give me struc­ture. Some­th­ing to get up for: I have two childr­en and I get up for them and use this momen­tum to get going. I am not cur­rent­ly in work at pre­sent so I use the fol­low­ing to keep me well, less an­xi­ous and fac­ing for­ward in life.

Fami­ly - Ac­cept­ing help is im­por­tant for me. I live next door to my parents. I have lived here for 4 years and it works well for us all. They help me with the school runs and childcare and also we share the co­ok­ing and shopp­ing. If I am tired then they pick up the slack.

Talk­ing to my fami­ly and friends: I am very open about my ment­al health now. I can tell them that I am not well and they will li­st­en and pro­vide wel­come con­ver­sa­tion and laughter.Plann­ing good th­ings to look for­ward to: I re­gular­ly schedule to meet up with my partn­er and friends as they make me feel good and they are al­ways there for me.

Spac­ing my diary com­mit­ments so there is time to work rest and play. I check my diary when mak­ing ap­point­ments so that I give myself time to be busy and ac­tive and time to rest.

Write thoughts down in a journ­al - If I feel an­xi­ous, sad, de­pres­sed or happy then I find writ­ing it down helps to get per­spec­tive be­fore mak­ing any de­cis­ions. I find it also helps to let th­ings go.

Music/gigs - Music lifts me and gives me en­er­gy and it can calm me. I like book­ing gigs and know­ing I am going to see live music is ex­hilarating.I have music on in my car, I am a Radio 6 Music fan, and I have an IPod that sends me to sleep.

Piano les­sons - I play the piano. I have a half an hour les­son each week with a love­ly and talen­ted teach­er. I look for­ward to this time as it is just for me.

Life coach - Lois has hel­ped me focus on mov­ing on into my new ment­al health ven­ture. I see her week­ly at pre­sent.

Co­un­sellor - I see her every week, as it is great therapy to dis­cuss the re­cent tur­moil at work and how it has im­pac­ted on my life.

Holis­tic Therap­ist: mas­sages/pam­per - Mel gives me very sooth­ing In­dian Head Mas­sages, pedicures and paints my toe nails bright red.

Food, drink and ex­erc­ise

I enjoy tasty healthy food, co­ok­ing and going out for meals.

I swim a few times a week and I walk often.

I don’t smoke and drink plen­ty of water be­cause I am on Lit­hium

Sleep hy­giene, re­gular be­dtime and arise time, no TV in be­droom, put phone down be­fore be­dtime. Li­st­en to music to get to sleep.

Samaritans 116123. They are al­ways there day and night to li­st­en

Sett­ing up my new ment­al health ven­ture as a Ment­al Health Strategic Ad­visor
Lov­ing Ment­al Health - www.lovingmen­talhealth.wordpress.com
I am speak­ing out about my in­spiration­al Bi­polar Dis­ord­er story and fos­ter­ing good ment­al health prac­tice in the workplace. Check out my blogs.

I hope you find this ar­ticle use­ful and any feed­back or com­ments about how you man­age would be great.
You can email me at judith@lovingmentalhealth.co.uk

I have read a lot about man­ag­ing Bi­polar and it has hel­ped me to look after myself bet­t­er. I find that speak­ing out about my ment­al health and ment­al health in gener­al keeps me well. I want to help oth­ers to feel safe in speak­ing out.

I am also or­ganis­ing my third char­ity curry night in Sep­temb­er for Leicest­er Samaritans and Bi­polar UK who have sup­por­ted me so much re­cent­ly.

So, you can see that I use many strateg­ies to man­age my bi­polar to make my live healthy, fun and in­terest­ing. I would re­com­mend it. My psyc­hiatr­ist says I am a role model to those who have the con­di­tion. It has re­quired a lot of time and ef­fort to get to this point, but it has been worth it.