While I haven’t experienced a manic episode due to Bipolar Disorder in over a year and am being properly treated for it now, I wanted to write a letter to myself if I am one day in that place again.
Even if I don’t experience it again, I think it’s a therapeutic way to talk to my past self who didn’t have the skills, hindsight or wellness like she does now. This is definitely what I would have told myself if I could have back then. I wish I had this writing when I was struggling.
For anyone who may write a letter like this to themselves the next time they may be unwell, I recommend putting your letter in a “crisis box” or “coping skills box” you have access to at home.
I put my letter in my coping skills box, which has squishy toys, grounding stones, my supports phone numbers, a list of coping skills, DBT skills, a notebook and pen, and a glitter calming jar. I think it’s so important to have something like that on hand in the off chance I end up struggling a lot again.
You may not want to read this, but I hope you’ll try. You may read this a hundred times in a heightened state trying to figure out what it means, but it only has one meaning: this is to help you and be your guide if you ever feel unwell again.
You may not be feeling like yourself right now. And that’s ok. You have Bipolar Disorder and while you are being treated for it and have felt better for some time now, you may be experiencing a manic episode right now. This doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. You will come down from this soon.
You may worry people are out to get you. That isn’t true. Your mind can go to a dark place when it’s unwell, but I want you to know that you are safe. You have an illness that can make the world look very frightening, but it isn’t always that way because you can’t see clearly right now. You will see more clearly soon.
You haven’t done anything wrong. Of course you’ve made mistakes – we all do. But you haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this or to be in this bad headspace. You deserve wellness and stability and peace. You will feel better soon.
You are loved by your family and friends. Other people understand what you’ve gone through and what you’re going through.
Stay close to the people who echo these sentiments. If you are hospitalized, stay close to the staff who listen to you with patience and care.
I know it may be difficult to follow your own inner voice and intuition right now; it gets muddled and lost when you’re not feeling well. Trust that it will slowly but surely come back when you come back.
Don’t be embarrassed about how you acted before when you do return to yourself. You did the best with what you had. If you’re not yourself, you can’t help that. You are not your lows. You are not your manic episodes. It takes time, treatment and the right medications to come out of this.
Take good care of yourself. Shower. Rest. Draw. Color. Change your clothes. Pay attention to how you feel. You may be having grandiose thoughts; that isn’t who you are. You may be feeling like you’re crawling out of your skin; you will feel better soon. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Be patient with yourself. This process may feel frustrating or upsetting. That makes sense.
Practice your DBT skills like TIP if you feel anxious. Hold a smooth stone in your hand or wrap yourself up in blankets for comfort. Rip up paper if you’re angry. Be around people or talk to others or self soothe if you feel sad.
It makes sense if this is too much to take in right now. You will return to yourself soon. This too shall pass.