I am a massive believer in holistic treatment (treating the person as a whole, including and acknowledging all the contributing factors; physical health, mental health, social circumstance etc) this means that alongside seeing medical professionals, taking medication and following a treatment plan, I find that it’s good to also take care of yourself. It’s important to plan ahead in case of an emergency and make sure that if you were struggling that you knew what to do and how to get yourself through the situation.

A bipolar self-care box

Throughout my years having been in therapy I have learned a range of techniques to deal with being in a crisis. It was suggested to me by one of the psychologists that I have seen to make a physical box so that when I am in crisis I have a designated place to go to help me get myself through. Although this isn’t a crisis solution, when I am having a particularly bad day (whether this be hypomanic or depressed) all of the things in my box are the things that may help me out:


  1. A face mask - For me having some form of skin care routine can be amazingly helpful whether I am hypomanic or depressed. It’s helpful for me to have a skin care routine because it forces me to sit down and relax even for just ten minutes. Furthermore, if I am feeling low taking care of myself is something that I really struggle with and can often end up breaking out because I have spent an extended amount of time in my bed and doing a face mask feels like an easy step towards taking care of myself again.


  1. A good movie - This is something that I find particularly helpful when I am depressed as I often am very fatigued and need to spend a lot of time in bed. Having a pre-chosen movie is really helpful for me because it will be something that I will enjoy, it is low effort and I don’t have to spend lots of time trying to make a decision as I can often find myself struggling to think or make decisions when my mood is low.


  1. A note to self - Sometimes when I am feeling very low I find myself believing that my friends and the people around me find me annoying and wouldn’t want to help me out. Therefore, despite knowing that reaching out to a friend and asking for help might make me feel even a tiny bit better I will refuse on the basis that I believe that they will reject me and it would make me feel worse. In my box I simply have a note that says call [name of friend] so that rather than listening the warring thoughts in my brain I am just reading an instruction from myself when I was in a healthier mind set.


  1. Mindfulness colouring book - At both times of hypomania and depression I have found art to be a particularly good way of expressing myself, and I do have an art book which is often used in these times. However, sometimes I require something that needs less thought, I find colouring is something that is helpful to me both when hypomanic (although staying in the lines is apparently optional) and when depressed (Each piece takes hours to make sure it’s perfect - but that’s okay). I find that colouring is a fantastic task as it can be used both as occupational therapy for a depressive episode, and as a relaxation technique for a hypomanic episode.


  1. A sour lollipop - Although this one sounds a bit weird (and is also probably more specified towards me), I often carry lollies around with me. I struggle quite a lot with anxiety and when I am particularly anxious I dissociate (feeling disconnected from yourself and the world around you). Grounding is a therapeutic technique that helps bring you back to reality, usually using your senses. For me I find taste the most grounding and therefore having a sour lolly can help me ground. When you are dissociating it can be very hard to think and therefore it’s difficult to help yourself so, having one in the emergency box is simple and easy and therefore very helpful when I am dissociating.


  1. Temporary tattoos - When I am hypomanic I quite often get the itch to do something to drastically change my look, in the past this has included cutting and dying my hair, getting piercings and getting tattoos. Although there could be worse things for me to do it’s frustrating that I am making rash decisions that will literally be on my body for the rest of my life. So, my solution to this was to buy a multi-pack of temporary tattoos, this way I can have the appearance of new tattoos without it being a permanent decision, almost like a compromise with myself.


It can be hard to function or make wise decisions when you are in an emergency, it’s difficult to remember the things that you need to do which might help, this is why I decided to make my box. It isn’t a solution to all of my problems, however, it does help me manage until I can get to therapy or talk to someone else. It’s like an emotional first aid kit.


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