. Sometimes we need time to reflect
SLEEP AND MENTAL HEALTH ARE TRUE BEDFELLOWS
When it comes to sleep and mental health, this Ben Franklin quote comes to mind:
Early to bed, early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise."
Mr. Franklin said this in the days when modern psychology didn't exist; Sigmund Freud hadn't been born, nor had the American Psychological Association. Yet Ben still knew and promoted the value of a good night's sleep (develop good sleep habits). As it turns out, his adage about the importance of sleep to wellbeing is true and has been proven by modern science.
Sleep plays a vital role in mental health. Adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. When someone's average is less than that, problems begin to occur. Emotional regulation becomes difficult, cognitive functioning diminishes (that "foggy," slowed-down feeling and difficulty completing tasks), memory becomes impaired, and behavior changes. Harvard Medical School warns that there's a strong connection between:
Sleep and mental health are intricately related, and each affects the other. That can make brain-soothing sleep elusive; however, eating well, exercising, using relaxation techniques, and other sleep hygiene practices can help you get those z's and achieve the health, wealth, and wisdom old Ben touted.
If you need a boost during a particularly bad day, try listening to the Bill Withers classic “Lean on Me.” The lyrics boil it down: We all face pain, we all face sorrow, but there might be someone around who lend an ear, a shoulder, a helping hand to get us through the worst of it.
Managing bipolar disorder day-to-day can feel exhausting and sometimes hopeless. It’s a heavy load to carry alone. If you look around, you may realize there are individuals who have helped you carry on.
That help may be large or small, direct or subtle, asked-for or unexpected. It could come from a mental health worker whose warmth and enthusiasm provides invaluable inspiration. It could come from a teacher who offers encouragement at just the right juncture. It could come from a good friend who won’t let you hide away during a depression.
Those are the “Heroes of Hope” featured in bp Magazine’s new Fall 2015 issue. Lisbeth F. is right to describe her friend’s staunch companionship during a severe depressive episode as “a wonderful thing”—the kind of thing it’s important to pause and acknowledge.
(Remember, recognizing the good that drops into our lives—think: gratitude journal—helps feed a positive outlook and defend against depression.)
As the story also notes, Lisbeth wasn’t shy about admitting she could use some help. Like the Bill Withers song says: “No one can fill those of your needs/ That you won’t let show.”
Which brings us to Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day, which is traditionally scheduled for the Thursday of Mental Illness Awareness Week.
In the larger sense, Bipolar Awareness Day is an opportunity to educate others on the signs, symptoms and—perhaps most importantly—the best treatments for ongoing wellness. On a personal level, it may be an occasion to reflect on whether and with whom you might feel comfortable sharing your diagnosis.
Disclosure may not always end well, but there are many cases when reaching out brings surprising rewards. In “Heroes of Hope,” Austin L. describes how an English teacher became a mentor after he’d opened up about some of his challenges in living with bipolar. Click here to read the full story.