As the flu season quickly approaches, you may want to consider taking steps to prepare for the chance of getting sick.
Those with bipolar disorder often have a lot more to think about when it comes to the flu, because illness and pain can be triggers for bipolar symptoms and episodes.
It is bad enough being sick, but being severely depressed, delusional, or having hallucinations on top of it can make it very difficult not only to take care of oneself, but also to take care of kids or other family members who might also be sick at the same time.
This year I am doing what I can to prepare in advance for the bipolar flu whirlwind. These are just a couple of measures I am taking to (hopefully) make my life a little easier when the flu finally does hit, and my mood goes wild with it.
1. Consider getting a flu shot
I know this can be something of a controversial topic, but I’ve personally never had a problem with getting a flu shot (and I used to have a very weak immune system). Many insurance companies will cover the cost of a flu shot completely, but if you don’t have insurance you might want to consider if you need to spend the $30 or so cost. If you live in an urban area, take public transportation frequently, work at a job with a lot of customer interaction, or have a lot of interaction with children or the elderly (who tend to be sick more often) it is probably a good idea to get the shot. In my experience, taking the extra precaution to potentially avoid sickness and bipolar symptoms is worth it.
2. Stock up on cold and flu remedies
If the time comes and you do indeed find yourself to be sick, having medicine available when it happens will not only keep you from having to go out when potentially symptomatic but prompt treatment of your flu symptoms could also keep you from having those bipolar symptoms altogether.
3. Have an emergency back up person
No matter if you live alone or with others, it is a good idea to have an emergency back up person who you can call if things start to get out of hand. This could be a friend or family member who you trust to help take care of things if you are rendered unable to.
4. Keep an emergency contact list handy
Having a list with your medication dosages and doctor’s phone numbers available to a helper (in case you can’t access it yourself) can help in a pinch if things start looking bad, both on the flu and bipolar ends. You may also want to discuss with your emergency person your emergency room of choice (if there are several in your area) ahead of time.
5. Take care of yourself
Pushing yourself too hard or getting too stressed out can really open yourself up for illness (both the flu and bipolar symptoms), so taking care of yourself and knowing when to spend a little time relaxing can make a big difference!
This year, I hope you are able to avoid illness and bipolar symptoms triggered by illness as much a possible, but where you can’t avoid it… prepare for it!