Living with bipolar at 41 – strategies for living with a long term mental illness

In Guest Blog by Fiona

Judith Critchley has a passion for life, for mental health and for speaking out. She is a Mental Health Strategic Advisor to employers and employees to foster good mental health in the workplace. Until recently, Judith chaired a Mental Health Employee Group. She is passionate about helping to end the stigma associated with mental health and campaigning for change. Judith is Time To Change Campaign Leader and an Employment Ambassador for Bipolar UK.

Judith shares her daily, weekly strategies for living with this long-term mental health condition.

Strategies: that work for me and maybe for you?

Work and a routine give me structure. Something to get up for: I have two children and I get up for them and use this momentum to get going. I am not currently in work at present so I use the following to keep me well, less anxious and facing forward in life.

Family – Accepting help is important for me. I live next door to my parents. I have lived here for 4 years and it works well for us all. They help me with the school runs and childcare and also we share the cooking and shopping. If I am tired then they pick up the slack.

Talking to my family and friends – I am very open about my mental health now. I can tell them that I am not well and they will listen and provide welcome conversation and laughter.Planning good things to look forward to: I regularly schedule to meet up with my partner and friends as they make me feel good and they are always there for me.

Spacing my diary commitments so there is time to work rest and play. I check my diary when making appointments so that I give myself time to be busy and active and time to rest.

Write thoughts down in a journal – If I feel anxious, sad, depressed or happy then I find writing it down helps to get perspective before making any decisions. I find it also helps to let things go.

Music/gigs – Music lifts me and gives me energy and it can calm me. I like booking gigs and knowing I am going to see live music is exhilarating.I have music on in my car, I am a Radio 6 Music fan, and I have an IPod that sends me to sleep.

Piano lessons – I play the piano. I have a half an hour lesson each week with a lovely and talented teacher. I look forward to this time as it is just for me.

Life coach – Lois has helped me focus on moving on into my new mental health venture. I see her weekly at present.

Counsellor – I see her every week, as it is great therapy to discuss the recent turmoil at work and how it has impacted on my life.

Holistic Therapist -massages/pamper – Mel gives me very soothing Indian Head Massages, pedicures and paints my toe nails bright red.

Food, drink and exercise

“I enjoy tasty healthy food, cooking and going out for meals. I swim a few times a week and I walk often. I don’t smoke and drink plenty of water because I am on Lithium”

Sleep hygiene, regular bedtime and arise time, no TV in bedroom, put phone down before bedtime. Listen to music to get to sleep.

Samaritans 116123. They are always there day and night to listen

Setting up my new mental health venture as a Mental Health Strategic Advisor – Loving Mental
I am speaking out about my inspirational Bipolar Disorder story and fostering good mental health practice in the workplace. Check out my blogs.

I hope you find this article useful and any feedback or comments about how you manage would be great.
You can email me at

I have read a lot about managing Bipolar and it has helped me to look after myself better. I find that speaking out about my mental health and mental health in general keeps me well. I want to help others to feel safe in speaking out.

So, you can see that I use many strategies to manage my bipolar to make my live healthy, fun and interesting. I would recommend it. My psychiatrist says I am a role model to those who have the condition. It has required a lot of time and effort to get to this point, but it has been worth it.

“My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness”

“My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness”