There is a stress-meter that lists all the high-stress situations of Western life. At the top is ‘death of a spouse’. Next most stressful is moving house.
People with bipolar disorder usually need to be careful of high-stress situations. While bipolar disorder is not a stress-related illness, when the stress mounts up we may not cope as well as the next person.
I’m moving house at the moment, so I thought I’d share these ten tips for staying well while moving.
1. Plan early if possible. Look for a new place so you get the feel of prices.
2. See your doctor and tell him or her you’re about to move house and ask for any tips or changes to medications.
3. Sort, pack and throw away early. Do a room at a time, packing all the things you won’t need for the next few weeks.
4. Attend to your normal feelings of grief, loss, lost opportunities and expectations. Use CBT or pray your way through. These are normal emotions and do not on their own represent oncoming illness. You can expect these feelings to come in two waves: when you first decide or are told you must move; and then around moving day.
5. Have two ceremonies. The first is a farewell and letting-go ceremony. Christians can use some prayers from the prayer book, or you can write you own ceremony. The second will be a blessing on your new home, and your life in your new neighborhood. You can mark these ceremonies with farewell and housewarming parties too.
6. Act to prevent homelessness. With a friend, brainstorm all the possibilities for your new home and then follow up by investigating locations, prices, and how much space you might have. Go to the local housing service if there is one, and introduce yourself, explaining you’re not homeless but you fear that this is what might happen. That way, if you can’t find a place before the deadline, at least they know you and can help in a timely way.
7. Prepare your children for a new home. Start talking about the need to move house as soon as you know the move is on. But don’t expect them to be enthusiastic! Children experience grief and loss just the same as adults. Matter-of-factly tell them whatever you know is certain. If there is a lot of uncertainty, say if you haven’t decided where to move to, let the children know that, and tell them what options you are considering. Ask for their input. During the time before the move, occasionally ask the children what they are looking forward to, and what they will miss. Point out the good parts that the children may have overlooked, and keep them focussed on the benefits of both the old home and the new one.
8. If you are heartbroken from a relationship breakup, as well as having to move house and having bipolar, do not underestimate the bipolar. Either see your doctor or another professional for counseling and mood-monitoring. Treat your health as paramount, and religiously refrain from speaking or thinking badly about your former partner: this is ancient advice that is primarily good for you.
9. Have a garage or balcony sale to help fund the move and get rid of unwanted things.
10. Keep your body clock ticking by sticking to a routine of bed and getting-up times in the period before and after the move.
I have to get back to the packing as I just finished my garage sale and I have set myself a quota of two tea chests a day. Good luck in your move!