When you have bipolar disorder, your moods may seem like they are never stable. You either feel up or down (or sometimes both at once), but you rarely feel as if you fall into an "in-between" mood or have any sense of stability. This mental health disorder can be difficult to manage even in the best of circumstances. However, if you live in a rural area, it can feel even more difficult. Dealing with a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder in a rural area does come with its fair share of challenges. Get to know some of the ways that you can better deal with and manage your bipolar disorder while living in a rural area. Then, you can be sure that you are doing everything you can to protect and manage your mental health going forward.
Cultivate a Strong Support System
First and foremost, you need support when you have a mental illness like bipolar disorder. You need people in your life that know the signs and symptoms of mood episodes and can be there for you, whether you just need a person to help you get out of bed when you are depressed, or get you to a doctor when you are manic. While you may not be able to get together a large support system in a rural area, that does not mean that is will not be strong.
If you have one or two close friends or family members in the area that can check in on you regularly and help you when you are struggling, that is more than enough. Be careful, of course, who you let into your support system. Rural areas can sometimes stigmatize mental health disorders more than urban communities. Because of this, you may not want everyone in your area to know about your bipolar disorder. Choose people you know you can trust to keep quiet about your mental illness if you do not want to deal with other people's perceptions of your illness.
One of the most difficult aspects of being in a rural area and having bipolar disorder is that there is often a lack of good psychiatric care in the area. Many rural areas are lucky to even have one psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner in the area. Because of this, you may want to consider the option of telepsychiatry.
Telepsychiatry allows you to connect with high-quality psychiatrists via video chat or telephone calls. You can set up regular appointments for medication management and the like through telepsychiatry services, for example. That way, you get the same routine psychiatric care you would get in an urban area without having to travel a great distance to get to a face-to-face psychiatric appointment. Many rural hospitals and health clinics have the resources to facilitate such appointments for you and can help you get started.
Now that you know some of the steps to take when you are struggling with bipolar disorder in a rural area, you can start taking steps to manage your condition right away.