“Be prepared.” The Scout motto is a handy one—and something to think about as Sunday, March 8, approaches.
That’s when Daylight Saving Time (DST)—the annual spring ritual of advancing our clocks one hour so that darkness falls later each day—can interfere with our circadian rhythms and moods. (Although it will be just a regular Sunday for Hawaii and Arizona, who don’t observe DST.)
The transition to a new time often disrupts sleep patterns and can trigger a mood episode. Seasonal mood shifts affect 50 percent of people living with bipolar, so if you struggle with this transition, you’re not alone. Others, too, notice an increase in intrusive thoughts, have difficulty concentrating, or feel more irritable than usual. For some reason, shifting our schedules ahead has more of an impact.
According to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, when we live in places with fewer sunny days in the winter months—think Anchorage, AK; Seattle, WA; and Portland, OR—we may be at higher risk for devastating mood disruptions.
Since our bodies crave light, darker mornings can be challenging to manage. This is because when light enters the eye, it activates a nerve pathway leading to the hypothalamus, a small but important part of the brain that plays a role in sleep cycles, emotions, and other essential functions.
It serves us well to remember that this transition is just that—a temporary phase, something to get through, with planning and preparation.
Think of it this way: “In a few weeks, if we intervene carefully and effectively, things will settle down,” says Elizabeth Brondolo, PhD. “We will have weathered another storm. We can gain hope and a sense of control.”
In the meantime, take action. One of the most effective strategies for dealing with DST is to maintain a regular routine of when we go to bed and get up, when we focus on work, when we have meals, and when we exercise. Anything that disrupts our rhythms, especially sleep, raises the risk of a mood episode.
Advises bp Magazine columnist Melvin G. McInnis, MD, FRCPsych: “Consider taking a personal day the Monday following the spring time change to ‘chill,’ read, go for a walk, or just be good to yourself, avoiding stress and alcohol (or other substances) as much as possible.” Read more >>
A memoir interspersed with original translations of Rumi’s poetry by mental health advocate, award-winning author, and bp Magazine columnist Melody Moezzi
Rumi’s inspiring poems have been called ecstatic, mystical, and devotional. To bp Magazine columnist Melody Moezzi, they became a lifeline. In The Rumi Prescription, follow her path of discovery as she translates Rumi’s works to gain wisdom and insight in the face of depression, anxiety, anger, fear, and other everyday challenges we all face—especially when living with bipolar. With the help of her father, a lifelong Rumi fan, Melody immerses herself in Rumi’s rich poetry and discovers an ancient prescription for modern life. Her book offers a road map for living with intention and ease, even in the face of a serious mental health condition, and embracing love at every turn in these divided and chaotic times. Learn more >>
My episodes seem to come out of nowhere when I ignore everyday triggers and find it hard to admit that—even as a proud “supermom”—I sometimes need backup. Finding a signal for support has made a big difference.
By Jessica Whitaker
Well, here we go again. Most of us with bipolar know this phrase all too well. That dreadful feeling of knowing you are in the process of going through another high, or another low—both equally exhausting. It’s a good thing we are fighters because, dang, even though some days feel like they are going to be impossible to get through, somehow, we still get through them.
But what about the not-so-hard days? What about the day-to-day “stuff” that no one ever imagines being complicated when they hear the word bipolar? It may be hard for someone without this diagnosis to understand; and, at times, it can be even harder for the one with bipolar to articulate what they are going through. But I’ve discovered that one of the hardest parts of living with this brain-based illness is the day-to-day management of small triggers. My “stuff.” Read more >>