Daily Life, Depression, Despair, Fear, Uncategorized

6 ways to keep your mood stable during the COVID-19 pandemic

“… for those who’ve found themselves out of work, house bound or trying to home school kids, the lack of structure can really influence your mood.”

mariska, bipolar mums founder

I don’t think there’s many of us who haven’t been affected in some way by the Covid-19 pandemic.  With many people are struggling with stress and anxiety, it’s more important than ever that we take care of ourselves and each other.

Here’s six things you might find helpful in ensuring your mood doesn’t plummet during this time:

1. Remain in contact with your mental health providers

If you’re struggling, please reach out to your support people.  Don’t leave it until your depression is so bad you can’t get out of bed, or your mania is escalating out of control. If you can’t visit in person, most doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists are providing telehealth appointments. This isn’t a good time to choose to go it alone.

2. Try to ensure you have an adequate supply of medication

Now is a good time to check that you’ve got enough medication, or an up-to-date prescription.  I found myself caught out at the pharmacy with a prescription that was just past its use-by-date and had to wait a week for a new one.  Most mood stabilisers or anti-psychotics shouldn’t be stopped abruptly, so it’s important to have enough.

3. Maintain regular structure within your daily routine

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on most people’s daily routines. I am now working from home and cannot go out except to grocery shop or exercise (within a 5km radius) or get medical help. 

If you’re working from home, it’s a little easier to maintain structure, with zoom meetings and deadlines.  But for those who’ve found themselves out of work, or trying to home school kids, the lack of structure can really influence your mood.

It can help to break up the day into ‘chunks’ – for work, exercising, talking with friends, housework, craft, reading etc.  I find having some structure to the day helpful for both me and my kids. Knowing we all have to be up, fed, dressed and ready for the day by 9am helps to stop that one-off PJ day lasting all week…

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

4. Get enough sleep

We all probably know that healthy sleep habits are an important way of managing our mental health, but how many of us actually take this advice?  I know I’m guilty of staying up too late!

During this pandemic, not having the deadline of making your morning train to work, or getting the kids to school (if you’re in an area where schools have closed) can make it tempting to stay up later watching Netflix and sleep in. 

But research does show that setting a regular time to go to bed and wake up is especially helpful for people with bipolar disorder. 

5.  Don’t set high expectations for yourself

While it’s fun to take up a project or set yourself a goal to learn something new, don’t be too hard on yourself.  It’s ok just to ensure you and your family survive this difficult period. 

If you do take up a new project – don’t do it at full speed until you collapse in exhaustion. The idea is to have fun while you do it!

6. Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t

It’s easy to focus on what we can’t control – which can contribute to feelings of anxiety. I find it helpful to instead focus on the things I can control – like being able to choose when an how I exercise, what meals our family eats or what leisure activities I do. This short video on dealing with loss of control during the pandemic may be helpful to watch.

Daily Life, Depression, Despair, Hope, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Your life matters

For anyone who is struggling with depression at the moment, keep this one thought in your mind: Your life matters. No matter what thoughts are crowding into your mind, please speak back at them that your family does need you and their lives would not be better without you.

If you’ve ever had thoughts that your family doesn’t need you, or would be better off without you, picture yourself being away overseas. Imagine how eager your children would be to talk to you. Imagine how excited they would be to see you when you arrive home. For a child, nothing can take the place of a mother.

Working for an international aid organisation, I often travel to developing countries twice a year. Thankfully, with Skype and Whats App I can see and talk to my kids, even from a rural village in Nepal.

Being away from them for so long, people ask me how they’re coping. I’ve got an incredibly supportive and capable husband and so the answer is usually just fine. Truth be told, without me there my children continue to live their lives. They’re busy with school, soccer, church… and the days fly bye.

But even though they’re physically ok – they still miss me and look forward to me coming home. Although others can meet their needs, they need their mum. Just like I need my mum.

Ignore the lie in your mind that they would be fine – maybe even better off – without you. If it helps, scream “get out of my head you horrible lies!”

Nothing can take the place of you. You are unique. One of a kind.

Do whatever you can to get help when you need it. You and your children need each other.


The hurry disease

“It’s only later – when I look back at how my impatience makes everyone feel rushed and stressed, that I regret not taking the time to slow down for my children.”

mariska, bipolar mum
So many things are missed when you rush through life like I have the tendency to do

I’ll be the first to admit it, sometimes I treat life – and motherhood – as a race.  Recently, my seven year old daughter asked me to play a game with her.  Exhausted after a long day at work, and looking forward to putting my feet up and watching Netflix, I hurried her off to bed instead.

When she dragged her feet, asking me to stand beside her while she brushed her teeth, I told her I’d come up once she was in her pyjamas and ready to be tucked in.

I wasn’t being mean… but I wasn’t being kind either.

Later that night, sitting on the couch, I realised that it wouldn’t have hurt me to spend an extra 20 minutes with my precious daughter.  I could have spent time laughing with her while she brushed her teeth. I could have let her choose the book to read – rather than picking the shortest one I could find.  I could have spent time asking her about her day and listening to her while she prayed for everything she could think of – rather than quickly reeling off a standard goodnight prayer.

Motherhood isn’t always easy.  It’s a constant choice to put someone else’s needs before your own. And sometimes I get it wrong.

I’m the first to admit that I sometimes treat motherhood like a race.  I’m so used to working fast in my workplace that I come home and expect my kids to respond just as quickly as my colleagues.

I hurry them through dinner, then get them to do their homework as quickly as possible.  I shower rather than bathe them (because it’s quicker) and then get them into bed as quickly as possible.

It’s only later – when I look back at how my impatience makes everyone feel rushed and stressed, that I regret not taking the time to slow down for my children.

Tonight, as I tried to tuck my little girl into bed and she jumped on the bed instead, I started to tell her to “hurry up”. But then I caught myself and tickled her instead – much to her delight.   And you know what?  I haven’t missed those 5 minutes at all…

Mariska xx

Do you find yourself rushing through life?  Always hurrying?  What are your tips for slowing down?


You are not alone

You are not alone. The words I most wanted to hear when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I didn’t know any other women with a mental illness, let alone the same condition. Or maybe I did – and they were too scared to say.

Bipolar mums is a safe space. It grew out of a desire to see mums with bipolar disorder not only survive, but thrive. To provide encouragement and hope when life seems tough. To remind ourselves that to those who love us most, we’re not someone with bipolar disorder, we’re just Mum.