My newest addiction is Homeland. For those of you who have never heard of it or seen it, the main character, named Carrie and played by Claire Danes, works for the CIA and is bipolar. At the end of Season 1 she has a manic episode followed by a depressive episode, and the season finishes with her needing to seek treatment. At the risk of giving too much away, season 2 opens with her having made adjustments to her life in an effort to stay healthy. She is no longer working for the CIA, but rather is working a job with more stable hours. She is also living with her dad, as opposed to alone in her own apartment.
In the first episode of season 2, she is asked to go on an assignment for the CIA. Her family protests, arguing that “Carrie, you’re just starting to get back on your feet. You’re not ready for this….Regular sleep and meals, avoiding stress, a schedule. These are the things that have been working so well for you. “. In the third episode, this sentiment is repeated when her Dad tells her “Carrie, you have a disease. And in case you’ve forgotten what I know, your doctor has told you a million times sleep is one of the most, if not the most important…You can’t do this to yourself anymore, sweetheart.”
As I watched these episodes, I thought “wow, it’s like they read my mind.” I am not bipolar, but making eating and sleeping a priority is something that my therapist and I have been discussing a lot lately. While it is important to stay busy and do things that give my life a sense of purpose, I get into trouble when I get too busy or don’t stick to a regular eating schedule. If I don’t leave a decent amount of time for meals in my schedule, I tend to cut corners because I think “I don’t want to risk getting nauseated or getting a headache, so I’ll eat a little less in order to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Cutting corners eventually leads to cutting out even more, which sets up a vicious cycle. Same with sleep. When I am not well rested my depression, anxiety, and basically everything else gets much, much worse. So, I know that I need to make these things a priority, but it is hard when pretty much everyone around me seems to be on the go 24/7.