I've came across this article on http://www.bphope.com and there were some useful insights for me in it. Hope you'll benefit from it too.
Peace and wellness.
By Stephen Propst
Living with bipolar disorder is certainly no light matter. After working diligently to achieve stability, having depression or mania resurface can be very disconcerting, discouraging, and deflating. It’s easy to look at having a relapse only in the negative sense, but there’s an upside too!
The severity of a relapse—defined as “a deterioration in health after a temporary improvement”—can vary. You may be able to take action yourself, like looking to loved ones for help. Sometimes, however, the situation calls for contacting your doctor, having your medications adjusted, or perhaps considering hospitalization.
Regardless, when you have a relapse, you have a choice: You can say, “Oh no, not again”; or you can say, “Here’s a real learning opportunity.” Working through a relapse can actually be enlightening, educational, and empowering. A relapse gives you cause to:
Relax and breathe.
Battling bipolar can get stressful. Having a relapse signals that it’s time to step back and take a deep breath. Whenever I sense an impending manic episode, I try to do what it takes to remain calm and keep my composure. For example, I meditate, to keep my mind from racing, or I exercise, to expend energy productively.
Reassert your control.
No one can ultimately be in charge of your recovery but you! A relapse means it’s reality-check time: To what extent are you in control? Can you handle matters on your own, or do you need to reach out to your doctor or therapist for help?
Remember the progress you have made.
A relapse is a temporary event. For me, recalling past successes and then focusing on better days to come helps see me through.
Rework the steps.
A relapse points out the need to go back to basics and use strategies that have proven effective in the past. If you don’t have a wellness plan in place to rely on, now is the time to start developing one.
Replace unhealthy habits.
A relapse can be a clue that destructive tendencies have re-emerged. In my case, when deep depression returns, poor eating habits resurface. I have to focus on meeting my nutritional needs with substance, not unhealthy snacking.
Reform negative thoughts.
Letting destructive thoughts dominate your thinking diminishes recovery. A relapse can suggest that you may need to check your inner voice and “positively” retrain your brain. A good therapist can help you address self-talk that may be sabotaging your recovery.
Recharge your battery.
A relapse often indicates the need for re-energizing your efforts to stay on track to recovery. Simply finding a new doctor or therapist can be a boost. For me, attending a support group often provides just the needed push.
A relapse may be a wake-up call that you’ve turned your back on trusted relationships. If so, make an effort to reconnect with the people who have formerly supported you and who can be there for you in the future.
Relinquish false pride.
There was a time when I thought having a relapse meant that I had failed. I’ve since learned to not be so prideful and to take short setbacks in stride. Having a relapse reminds me that I’m not perfect and that it’s okay to make mistakes.
Rekindle your flame.
Having a relapse doesn’t mean you give up. Instead, it’s a reminder to fan the flames of hope and do what it takes to cope. Try spending more time with friends or doing something you find fulfilling.
Indeed, when a relapse occurs, it’s not the end of the world. It’s an opportunity to acquire more insight and awareness about your needs, strengths, vulnerabilities, and capabilities. It’s a chance to gain greater control over bipolar, move on with recovery, and get on with life.
Stephen Propst, a former chair of DBSA, is a public speaker and a coach/consultant focusing on living successfully with conditions like bipolar. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.