I sometimes travel with a friend who has Type 1 Bipolar Disorder.
She is normally stable, but when she experiences mania, it is severe and requires hospitalization.
We traveled to the state of Florida in the USA. This involved a time change.
About a week into the trip, she experienced full mania.
The mental health "treatment" she received in the hospital and clinic in the Florida Keys was absolutely atrocious. In my opinion, it was inhumane. The doctor who ran the mental health clinic was not even able to make a proper diagnosis. He claimed that she had multiple personalities and that one of those personalities happened to have Bipolar Disorder. Complete rubbish.
During "treatment" in the Florida Keys, she received so many medications at such high doses that she now suffers from permanent Tardive Dyskinesia.
What follows is what I learned from that experience that may help you.
I recommend speaking with your psychiatrist, therapist, and primary doctor about traveling.
I believe time shifts can contribute to causing mania episodes. Also, nausea from traveling can result in vomiting medication. Furthermore, overbooked schedules can create stress.
Sufficient sleep is paramount for anyone with Bipolar Disorder. I recommend planning very loose and flexible schedules during travel. That way, there is no pressure to wake up before receiving sufficient sleep.
I also recommend asking your doctors for sleep-inducing medications that are compatible with your medication regime. Your doctors may recommend medications such as Seroquel, Temazepam, Trazodone, or Zolpidem. Whatever they prescribe, try them before you leave. That way, you will understand if it works and any side effects.
Your doctors may also be able to prescribe anti-nausea medications (such as Ondansetron) to help prevent any travel-induced nausea. Haldol is also known to help with nausea, and is sometimes used to help with Bipolar Disorder. Again, try any medications before you leave.
You may also find that bringing relaxing music with you will help. Guided meditations be very useful as well. I recommend starting the practice before you travel.
Some essential items to bring with you:
- Earplugs. Find a brand that works for you, and try them at home before you travel.
- Headphones. To listen to music and/or guided meditations.
- Sleep mask. Find one that works for you, and try it before you travel. I recommend ones that that have little "pods" that don't touch your eyelids.
- Water bottle. Note that you will likely have to empty it at security checkpoints. Stay hydrated at the appropriate level. Some psychotropic medications such as Lithium require that you not be under or over hydrated. If you take such a medication, talk with your doctors for details. One strategy could be to start monitoring your fluid intake now, so you can match that level on your trip.
Since they speak a language in Australia that you speak as well, perhaps you can find support groups there. You can attend just for fun, or if you want support with any challenges.
I do not know legal requirements, but I've never heard of any that require that you disclose your illnesses to airlines unless it would affect the health or safety of others. Regardless, if you feel that it will help you in some way, you can voluntarily provide the information. Given your illnesses, it would certainly be a reasonable accommodation to request early boarding or an aisle (or window) seat.
In addition to being prepared, I recommend taking it easy. Keep things loose and flexible. Don't set lofty goals that your trip needs to be perfect. Just going is a huge accomplishment (I'm very happy for you!). Your health is the most important thing, so I recommend making it your priority. Take it slow, take it easy, and have some fun! I'm cheering for you! :-)