Bipolarlife Newsletter February 2018

issue 101  (our 9th year)

February 2018

Bipolar Life Victoria

Upcoming Support Groups Meetings

click group location for further information

click group location for further information


Bipolar Support Group – Ballarat


A new bipolar support group has opened at Ballarat and the first meeting was held on Monday 5th February 2018. Meetings are held fortnightly on the first and third Mondays (7:00pm) at the Eastwood Leasure Complex, 20 Eastwood St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350.

We discuss experiences, coping strategies and other related issues in a confidential environment. Attendance is free and no need to book, just come along.


Staying Motivated

By David Railton – Medical News Today

Motivation can be a problematic part of modern life for many of us.

There are all kinds of aspects of our work and personal lives that we feel require motivation, and it is common for people to struggle to maintain the momentum of motivation.

Feeling unmotivated can come with unpleasant feelings of guilt, stagnation, or laziness. On the other hand, feeling motivated might create a sense of energy, purpose, and well-being.

In this article, we look at how staying motivated can help with five health-related aspects of modern life: exercise, eating well, being sociable, dealing with negativity, and also coping during the winter months.

1. How to stay motivated to exercise

A good way to stay motivated to exercise is to not rely too heavily on one certain exercise regimen. By varying your training styles you will be able to stay focused for longer, which may help you to achieve your exercise goals faster.

In addition, introducing a wider variety of training programs into your exercise routine will boost your overall fitness; your body will be unable to adapt to the training intensity of one particular program.

See exercise as a luxury, not a chore. If your mindset interprets exercise as a chore, you will find it difficult to have anything other than negative associations with it.

Try to make exercise a part of your daily routine; if exercise is simply another thing that you have to accomplish during your day, then this may help to relieve those negative, chore-like impressions.

Remember that exercise is pleasurable and rewarding. When we exercise, our bodies produce chemicals called endorphins that both dampen down feelings of pain and trigger feelings of euphoria. Some athletes even report feeling a “high” after long periods of exercise.

Working out does not have to be a punishing, solitary exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest surrounding yourself with like-minded people who have the same health goals — be it working out with friends or joining a class.

Seeing how committed other people are to exercising can be inspiring, and by exercising socially, you can help to motivate each other.

2. How to stay motivated during winter

Staying motivated at anything during the cold season can be challenging. It is harder to exercise, eat healthfully, socialize, and keep your spirits up.

These tips from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association on how to stay motivated during winter might give you that much-needed little boost to get going in winter.

Before exercising, use stretches to warm up your muscles. This is important because cold weather constricts muscles. For best results, hold your leg, arm, and calf stretches for 30 seconds each.

If running or walking is your favored method of exercise, remember that you can still do this during winter, but you have to make sure that you wear winter-appropriate clothing.

Even shoveling snow can be a great winter workout — if you live in an area that snows heavily this time of year, at least. To avoid injuring your back, neck, or shoulders, ensure that you stand with your feet and shoulders facing the shovel. Start slowly at first and then work on building up endurance.

3. How to stay motivated to eat well

Anybody attempting to lose weight knows that sticking to a diet can be hellishly difficult, but there are some simple tips that make it easier to stay motivated. The CDC, for instance, suggest an approach that they refer to as “Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce.”

In this model, the CDC suggest creating a food diary that includes notes reflecting on how you felt when you decided to eat. Highlight any habits on your list that could lead you to overeat, such as feeling tired or stressed, but also note any good eating habits, such as eating fruit for dessert or drinking fat-free milk.

By having a list of reasons other than hunger that trigger you to overeat, you can begin to work on avoiding these situations or replacing unhealthful habits with new, healthful ones.

For instance, if you find that you eat when you feel bored or anxious, you might try to replace this behavior by eating only when you are truly hungry.

The final step in “Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce” is to work everyday at reinforcing these habits. This takes time, so do not be too hard on yourself. Remember: this is simply a tactic to motivate yourself rather than to change all of your eating habits overnight.

4. How to stay motivated to be more sociable

As well as helping to maintain good mental health, being sociable has some less obvious benefits. For instance, a 2011 study found that the “odds of surviving stroke appear to be much better for seniors” living in sociable neighborhoods.

Staying sociable can improve your mental and physical health.

Likewise, a study that we reported on last year suggested that social interaction might even positively impact chemotherapy’s efficacy among people with cancer.

However, being sociable is not always easy; those living with anxiety or depression find socializing very difficult.

Plus, even the most gregarious of us can often struggle to make that extra effort to socialize if we have fallen into a comfortable habit of spending time at home.

At this time of year, it is common to feel “burnt out” following the holiday season. However, as we explained in our article on seasonal affective disorder last November, keeping your social skills sharp in these cold months might help to safeguard against the winter blues.

The Improve Your Social Skills Blog has some great tips for staying motivated to be sociable. The writers outline a simple trick that you can perform yourself: “If you have a choice to be social or non-social, instead make it a choice between two social options.”

“In other words, instead of asking ‘Should I go to that party on Friday night?’ find another social opportunity for Friday night, and choose between those two.”

So, for example, by choosing between seeing a new movie or going to a party, you have subtly removed the “stay home and do not socialize” option from the table.

Let’s say you go to the party. Perhaps the fear has kicked in a little and you begin to feel anxious about talking to people — especially new people. The same trick can be applied here. Instead of thinking, “Do I start a conversation or not?” rephrase it to, “Who do I start a conversation with?”

Sometimes, of course, you need to give yourself some alone time to recharge, but this is a neat trick to motivate yourself to be more sociable.

5. How to stay motivated in difficult times

For all kinds of reasons, sometimes we find ourselves in negative situations, and those situations breed negative thinking that, if left unchecked, can be difficult to overcome, putting our mental health and stability at risk in the process.

Overcoming negative thinking in hard times requires a constant effort to readdress your mindset. If you find yourself in an adverse situation, in order to rebalance the negativity you are experiencing, try to read and listen to only positive information. Find things that inspire and uplift you, and gorge yourself on them.

Surround yourself with positive people and try not to engage in negative conversations. Try to say positive affirmations out loud or write them down as a daily reminder of your goals and where your focus should be.

Make a big deal of your accomplishments. Take the time to celebrate or reward yourself every time you reach a goal. Train yourself to attach value to objects that symbolize your achievements and refer back to these to keep you motivated when you are going through difficult times.

For those of us who live in places that are cold and dark at this time of year, these motivational techniques may be especially useful.

Whether it’s keeping moving, eating healthfully, or conquering stressful feelings, anxiety, and depression, we hope that this article provided you with some new ideas to stay motivated. 


Bipolar Carers Group

Our new Bipolar Carers Support Group meetings are held at South Yarra on the first Tuesday of each month commencing at 7:00pm (except January) – see

Close family and friends (bipolar carers or caregivers) can be a primary source of support for a person with bipolar disorder. Discussions include ways caregivers can take care of themselves, deal with the bipolar disorder and the personal impact it has on them.

Enquiries to
David  9826-1422


Looking for new ways of living well with bipolar?

If you are over 18 and have bipolar disorder you may be eligible to help us trial new, online self-guided interventions designed to improve quality of life in people who experience bipolar. We are comparing two types of interventions that have been created by international experts which both include videos, exercises, tools, forums and an online coach.

To find out if these interventions are helpful, you would also be asked to complete 4 assessments (which include a telephone and online component) over a 6 month period. You will be reimbursed for participation in these assessments.


If you would like more information about the research or would like to participate go to:


How does bipolar II disorder differ from bipolar I disorder?

The main difference between bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder has to do with the intensity of the manic period.

Bipolar I disorder is characterized by at least one episode of mania before or after a hypomanic or major depressive episode. Sometimes, the manic episodes that occur in bipolar I disorder may trigger a psychotic episode where the person disassociates from reality.

People with bipolar II disorder do not experience true manic episodes, where their mood and energy levels are so high that it causes trouble with work and socializing and may cause psychosis. Some individuals with bipolar I disorder have to be hospitalized during periods of mania.

However, this does not make bipolar II disorder less severe than bipolar I disorder. In bipolar II disorder, the depressive episodes are similar to those in bipolar I disorder and cause significant disruption to the person’s daily life for an extended time.


Symptoms of bipolar II disorder include periods of hypomania followed by depressive episodes.

While it can be normal for people to experience periods of feeling upbeat followed by periods of sadness, in people with bipolar disorder, these swings are more extreme.

People experiencing hypomania may notice a combination of the following symptoms:

  • an increase in energy or feeling more agitated
  • feeling more upbeat or wired
  • increased self-confidence
  • decreased need or inability to sleep
  • racing thoughts
  • talking too fast or talking much more than normal
  • a tendency towards reckless behavior, such as spending too much, drinking or using drugs, or risk taking
  • impaired decision making

For these periods to be classified as true hypomanic episodes, they must last for at least 4 days and have at least three of the above symptoms.

People experiencing hypomania may feel very good during these periods, and may not know anything is wrong. However, loved ones watching a person with bipolar II disorder will notice abnormal changes in behavior during hypomanic episodes.

When people with bipolar II disorder are not in a hypomanic state, they may be in a major depressive state. Symptoms of major depressive episodes include the following:

An inability to sleep may be a symptom of a major depressive episode.

  • feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • loss of interest in activities
  • inability to sleep or sleeping too much
  • decreased energy
  • feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • trouble concentrating or focusing
  • weight gain or weight loss without dieting
  • suicidal thoughts or tendencies

Other signs and symptoms of bipolar II disorder may occur during both periods of hypomania and major depressive episodes. These may include the following:

  • anxiety
  • melancholy
  • rapid cycling between states

Risk factors

There are no known risk factors for bipolar II disorders, although some studies suggest there may be a genetic component.

Having a first-degree relative with bipolar II disorder may increase a person’s chances of being diagnosed with the same or a similar condition.

Bipolar disorder: Signs, symptoms, and diagnosis

Having a better understanding of bipolar disorder can help people access the treatment they need and reduce stigma around this manageable condition.

Bipolar II disorder can be hard to identify and is often misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder because symptoms of hypomanic periods are mild and unrecognized by the inidvidual.

When diagnosing bipolar II disorder, a doctor will do a physical exam and may order some blood tests to rule out physical causes of symptoms.

If a doctor does not find any physical causes for a person’s symptoms, such as a hormonal imbalance, they may do a psychiatric evaluation or refer the person to a psychiatrist for further evaluation.


A psychiatrist often oversees the treatment of bipolar II disorder. Treating bipolar II disorder is generally multifaceted, involving a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Medications to treat bipolar disorder II disorder may include the following:

  • mood stabilizers
  • antipsychotics
  • antidepressants

It may take a doctor some time to find the best combination and dosage of medication. It is important for the person to tell their doctor how the medications affect their mood and if there are any side effects.

Psychotherapy involves counseling services. It is centered on talking through emotions and problems associated with bipolar disorder and other life issues. It may also include behavioral management, such as creating action plans on what to do during mood alterations.

Occasionally, hospitalization or inpatient programs may be required to control depressive episodes or treat concurrent problems, such as alcohol or drug addiction.


Bipolar II disorder is a lifelong disease that may change over time. In some cases, a person may experience a reduction in symptoms as they age.

Many people with bipolar II disorder experience other conditions concurrently. These conditions may complicate or exacerbate bipolar II disorder. Some people with multiple diagnoses may struggle to maintain relationships and employment.

Finding treatment for bipolar II disorder that works for the individual may be a long process of trial and error. A person’s needs may change and evolve over time. With effective treatment, a person may be able to minimize their symptoms.

Therapy can help people with bipolar II disorder deal with hypomania and depressive episodes in constructive ways.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, understanding and avoiding known triggers, and sticking with an effective treatment plan may help make the symptoms of bipolar II disorder manageable.

Our Stories

Mary’s Story

Rather than tell you my story, I thought I’d mention something that came to me a few depressions ago because someone might be able to use it. Maybe other people can suggest other “kindnesses?”

When my house is a total mess and the laundry and dishes are piled up and I am in bed for days … I make believe that someone (me) is sick in bed, and that I am just a friend lending a little hand.

So whenever I get up (drink, bathroom, etc.) I just pick up one thing and put it where it belongs. If I pass laundry, I’ll pick up one thing and put it in the basket. Or if I go to get a drink, I’ll wash one dish and put it away. Or if I have any energy, I’ll sort the laundry (not do it – hey, I’m just helping out here). Maybe later, I’ll do one load (smallest one!).

Anyway, when I start feeling better, things don’t look quite as horrible, and I feel like a friend popped in to help out. Because it made me feel good and “cared for”, I started doing this when I was feeling good. Now, I’ll do teeny parts of a job whenever I feel like it, so when I actually get down to doing the whole job, it’s not quite as bad.

It makes me feel like I did something nice for myself instead of sabotaging myself as I usually do. Sometimes I can actually do a lot of little things to help myself out. But doing this really does give me good feelings toward myself when I actually get down to doing the “real” job. I sort of remember and “thank” myself for the break.


We need you!

If you are between 18 and 60 years of age you may be eligible to take part in important new brain research.

This study is investigating thinking skills and emotion in people with bipolar disorder. It will involve a brain scan and participation in a range of thinking skills. The tests will take place over two 4 hour sessions at the Advanced Technology Centre at Swinburne University, Hawthorn. You will be reimbursed for your time and travel costs.

Further Information: James Karantonis                                03 9214 5628

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