Bipolar disorder Pendulum: stories and information Self Isolating with Bipolar Disorder & Living with Someone with Covid-19 I should preface this by saying if you have concerns about the coronavirus you should, in the first instance, follow the NHS's advice. I'm fearful of getting the coronavirus. I never eat fruit, I don’t eat lunch, last time I had flu I really suffered and was wiped out for 2 weeks following which I got Bronchitis and post viral fatigue for a further 2 weeks. In fact I’ve had Bronchitis 2 years in a row. I also smoke a moderate amount. I don’t consider myself the picture of health even though I am only 44. I also have a particular fear of not being able to breathe. Then there is the bipolar Disorder. I have suffered a major Depressive episode in Spring every year for over 25 years and this year with self management and a new medication was/am determined to break history. Even if I get Covid-19 and am fortunate to not get it too badly, being run down might trigger my mood. So I was struggling with anxiety about this National Crisis as it was. I wanted to self isolate til it was over, pull my daughter out of school. I’ve manically bought everything we need to live for about 2-3 months. Not I hasten to add striping shops bare to deny others, travelling to 5 supermarkets in a day to buy 2 items here or there to keep it fair. So I thought we were all set. And then my daughter caught it. She woke 2 days ago with a cough. I knew you needed to self isolate with a cough or fever so I initiated that process. At this point I wasn’t entirely convinced she had it as she seemed OK. I was just happy I could legally pull her out of school for a week. But quickly I could see that her immune system was under attack by something. All she does is sleep. She sleeps in. She goes back to bed (which she has never done even when sick before) and she’ll put a programme on the TV and fall asleep and miss it. In the past when she has been sick she sleeps a lot and lets he body do its work of fighting it off. But this is fatigue to a new level. I subsequently read on the WHO that fatigue is one of the forgotten symptoms of coronavirus. You just want to lay down. This was confirmed when I phoned 111. A clinician called me back and made an extensive assessment. They aren’t doing any more tests due to the number of requests unless you are hospitalised. But I am to act as if she has the virus and she has given me emergency advice and practical management tips. My anxiety has gone through the roof. I’m not especially worried about my daughter. I pray I am not deluded on that. She has not deteriorated in the 2 days that have passed thankfully and she is only experiencing mild symptoms. Being asleep most of the time she is not aware. The anxiety is that Covid-19 is in my home! I’m now trying not to catch something that is right beside me present in the one that I love. On top of that I am trying to keep my anxiety down to prevent mental health relapse and further to this look at the self isolation can be managed to prevent mental health relapse. I’ve got on top of it a little in terms of having some strategies and started following a plan. The anxiety is still present but at times it is reducing when I follow my plan. I thought I would share how I am managing my day for those who are self isolating whether alone of with someone else. In addition to this I’ve added a few tips on managing hygiene when sharing a home with someone with Covid-19. I’ve divided my day into 4 areas of focus: Purposeful Activity Distraction Activity Maintaining Mental Health Maintaining Physical Health First Purposeful Activity I find this crosses over into distraction activity but is productive in nature and gives a sense of achievement and mastery. Getting things done gives a great sense of satisfaction and focusing on a task is a great way to focus less on repetitive thoughts or checking of news and social media about the virus. Things I have currently on my list are: Write article on self-isolation Proof read article on self-management Organise kitchen to accommodate supplies Filing-paper and organise computer files Washing But it can’t be all jobs. We need fun stuff to do, to relax. It’s not motivating to only have household tasks. Which brings us to Distraction Activity Things I currently have on my list are: Watch a movie Find a new series Reading Mental Health Mindfulness I have never got on with mindfulness, but I am focusing on micro-mindfulness activities like 60 second focus on breathing. Eating meditation where I eat and focus only on that rathe than using phone or tv at the same time. Just trying to be present. Even when I have a cigarette, sitting on my balcony and listening for the birds rather than scrolling the phone. Affirmations/Visualisation Recently I have been walking a lot in the forest. I’m really missing it as it’s been really aiding my mental health. I am trying to sit and take myself there since I cannot go. I have also been using affirmations where I have turned my fears into positive statements for example “I’m anxious” has become “I am at Peace” “I feel contented” and so whilst doing the visualisation I try to fill myself with these positive feelings. You will be able to make up your own and have your own special place to visualise. Journalling I haven’t tried this yet but I will because I know from previous situations that it works. I decided to write this piece instead of a journal this morning haha. Limiting media exposure This is really difficult. However if you are following this plan it will become a natural course of events. Keeping it real When your thoughts spiral, reminding yourself that 80% of people suffer only mild symptoms and recover well at home. Keep grounded, what do I want to do next. Rest I’m taking naps. It’s a great opportunity to rest and relax and it’s good for your immune system to be well rested. Physical Health Try to make healthy meals even if you don’t feel like it. Boost your system with even a little bit more fruit and vegetables. Try not to smoke too much. Do some stretching. Walking on the spot. Running on the spot (not on my list but might suit some) Again not on my list but if you are super motivated maybe an exercise video or something from YouTube. Supplements I am taking vitamin C three times a day and a multi-vitamin. Impossible to get from supermarkets now but often available in health food stores and independent pharmacies (a bit late I realise if you are already in isolation but maybe someone could pick some up for you). Living with someone with Covid-19 It’s really scary. You want to love them and care from them and you want to protect yourself. Simple guidelines: Stay 2 metres away Do not touch them, hug them, kiss them Wash your hands if you do e.g to take temperature or give emergency hug to a child Wash your hands if you touch anything they have touched e.g clearing their food bowls or tissues. Encourage them to clear their own tissues If they cough (into elbow), stand clear and encourage them to apply handgel if they can’t get up to wash hands Regularly clean surfaces Use antibacterial wipes or any cleaning product you have to frequently wipes door handles, taps, toilet flush Clean the toilet seat and lid after they have used it Use a separate toilet roll Thoroughly wash cutlery and crockery These suggestions are not exhaustive so please feel free to add your own in the comment. These are just the ones that I have come across so far. Similarly the management of isolation is intended as a starting guide to help reduce any anxiety you may have and help you take charge and self manage the best way you can in difficult circumstances. Again it is just a something for you to tweak to your own circumstances if you are feeling a little overwhelmed as I was 2 days ago. As an additional comment, don’t overwhelm yourself with the list. You have time on your hands so if you don’t feel like doing something, do something else. The main thing is to keep doing something, a balance of things on the list to reduce the anxiety. It definitely shouldn’t feel like a chore. Yesterday I did one thing from each section and had a nap. Find a pace works for you. The key is to do enough so as not to feed depression or anxiety but not to do so much that you start to trigger mania. It should be balanced enough that you can stick to your normal eating and sleeping routines. But this is just something we have to get through and protect ourselves, not something that has to be done perfectly. Wishing you wellness and safety.