Thursday, December 24, 2009

You Have the Power

Change the channel.  But you never know what's going to be on the other channel until you give it a try.  Don't worry, it's not your fault if the TV guide is wrong.  But you have to change the channel to find new shows, just like in life.  If you stay on the same channel all of the time, you're missing opportunities.

Are you afraid to change the channel?  How many channels does your TV have?

Don't change the channel unless you are absolutely sure you will like what's on that channel..... Is that possible?

There are a lot of things in life you don't have control over, but you do have the power to change the channel. And you don't even need a remote.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Physical Problems can cause Mental Illness

The connection between physical ailments, such as viruses, and mental illness, is a topic I'm always interested in.

The January/February 2010 Scientific American Mind magazine has two short articles about this connection:

- An article about strep throat causing OCD like symptoms in children.  This is called "pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with strep," abbreviated PANDAS.  Now researchers have induced PANDAS in mice.

- An article about bodily inflammation (for example, from arthritis) causing greater memory loss in Alzheimer's patients compared to those without inflammation.  The memory loss is even worse if the patient also has an infection.  This might suggest that there is also an immune response going on in the brain, which causes mental problems.  

The article says that in healthy brains, this might just cause us to "feel under the weather"...... What about in Bipolar brains?  Perhaps viruses really do trigger depressive or manic episodes?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lithium Orotate

I used to take Lithium Carbonate, which is the prescription form of lithium, commonly prescribed for Bipolar Disorder.  I took it for over a year, and then I began getting a tremor from it.  

I decided to try Lithium Orotate.  To my surprise, this has been working as well as the Lithium Carbonate.  Except I don't have the tremor side effect.  

I don't notice any side effects with Lithium Orotate.  I do notice problems if I don't take it though, so I take it regularly.  I take it as seriously as I would take a prescribed medication.  

It doesn't make me feel drugged, or less motivated, or less creative, or anything negative. It just makes me feel normal.  Oh, I still occasionally have Bipolar Disorder related mood problems, but certainly not as severe as without the lithium.  Lithium orotate is not a cure, but it comes close.  It reduces many of my symptoms of both mania and depression.

I buy the 120 mg dosage (containing 4.8mg of elemental lithium) by Advanced Research.  For awhile I was only taking 3 pills day, but I now I take 4 pills a day.  I take 2 pills in the morning and 2 in the evening.  It is hard to figure out the correct dosage. I think it has to do with individual differences and perhaps how much you weigh.  Some people only take one or two pills a day.  Best to consult your doctor.

I buy this Lithium Orotate from  If you haven't shopped at iherb before, you can get a $5 coupon for your first order by using this referral code: LIN282 

There isn't any scientific proof that Lithium Orotate really works.  Doing some internet searching, I've actually found more links about how it doesn't work than about how it does.  However, there are many positive reviews on iherb.  

By the way, it is also sold under the brand name Serenity

Wikipedia does have a useful summary of it here.  It has also been used to treat alcoholism, aggression, and more.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is it Mental or Physical?

That's often the question that comes after I say to my love (or he says to me), "I don't feel good."

Sometimes, it is hard to tell.

Nausea caused by anxiety.  Or nausea causing anxiety?

Feeling depressed because of being worn down by a cold.   Or just happening to have a cold and being depressed at the same time.

Can cold viruses cause depression or other mental changes?  I don't know... Sometimes I think so.  But it has been pointed out to me that people don't usually feel good when they are sick.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Creating Crisis

Feeling frustrated. Making a bigger deal out of something than it really is. Escalating. Repeating your problem, your worry, exaggerating it, raising your voice, trying to get other people to pay attention. Trying to get other people to also be upset. Getting them to join in.  Trying to get them to feel how you feel.  Because you don't feel good.  Seriously.

People turn something into a crisis that doesn't have to be a crisis.  You may be tempted to do it yourself. To cause a fit, or to escalate a worry, to draw people in, to get a response, to get something to happen.

Don't do it.  It's better just to slow down and pause and say, “I feel ___.”  [Fill in with the emotion.]  So many times, those simple words have turned my day around.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What do you like to do?

I've been keeping a list of the things I do lately that give me that warm, fuzzy feeling, or that excited accomplished feeling, or that content I-could-do-this-all-day feeling.

I've never kept track before, but since I'd like to find my life passion someday, I thought keeping a list was a good start. I ignore the “but I'm not really good at that” thoughts that pop up in my brain and just plow onwards.

This is a good activity, because it is thought provoking, and generally positive thing to be thinking about.  It's also a small step in the process of finding my life calling, which is really a huge thing that can seem overwhelming.

It is possible to cope with some of those crazy bipolar moods and down depressive thoughts by working on changing oneself.   I've worked on it quite a bit.  Now, when I have a thought that I don't want, I recognize it as a thought that is wrong, and I don't act on it.  Instead, I divert that negative or positive energy into something that I can do.

For example, if you have the desire to do something illegal or unethical (or something that will cause problems for you or your family), and you can recognize that you are having these desires because they are driven by your Bipolar disorder, then you can decide not to act on it, but instead, put that energy into doing something that is 'right.'

It's going to be different for every person, but you have to want to do the right thing out of a deep driven desire to do the right thing, not because it is simply right.  You might find that desire in a relationship with a spouse or a child, or with God, or in your desire not to repeat the past.. But you have to want the change for youself.

I didn't always understand this, and I did things without understanding what kind of person I wanted to be.  Now, I don't do things that aren't “right” because I want to be truthful to myself about what kind of person I am.  I think it does help if you have someone like a partner that you love who you don't want to hurt or disappoint.

This process of doing one thing instead of something else is called sublimation.  I didn't know it was called sublimation until I read this squidoo page, which quotes this definition for sublimate: “To divert the energy associated with (an unacceptable impulse or drive) into a personally and socially acceptable activity.”

Here's my example that I just made up:
Perhaps you liked to steal things from stores.   Perhaps, you decide that you don't want to steal anymore, because you are a really kind, good-hearted person and you want to do good things, not bad things. So you decide that you won't act on those feelings. But instead, you decide you will take that desire to do something and do something positive.  Perhaps instead of stealing, you spend your energy and enthusiasm buying toys to donate to needy children...

I think you have to find something that you really like doing to replace that thing that isn't so good.

If you're depressed, doing something that focuses on another person might be easiest because it takes you away from wallowing in your negative feelings about yourself.  I've found that helping others is one of the things that really makes me happiest.

Or you may find that expressing yourself through art might be the way to cope with your moods.  Or perhaps by excelling in the business or political world.  Staying busy is a good way of coping....

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Get Me Through December

I am wavering between feeling perfectly normal and feeling mildly down.  Yesterday I was sure that I had cured Bipolar disorder.  Today I think it is still hanging around.  Here are some lyrics for this month:

Artist: Alison Krauss
Song: Get Me Through December

Get me through December
A promise I'll remember
Get me through December
So I can start again.

I've been to the mountain left my tracks in the snow
Where souls have been lost and the walking wounded go
I've taken the pain no girl should endure
But faith can move mountains
But faith can move mountains of that I am sure

* Music is one of my favorite treatments for these moods...  Try it if you haven't already :)  You can listen to people who feel the same way as you, or people who feel much happier or sadder :)  The myriad of sounds helps me focus and helps take away anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and all kinds of feelings.  I think it is a great way to relax. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

"It's just tea."

I started drinking Chamomile Tea for anxiety when I was in college.

My friend introduced me to it.  She said that when she was in grade school she would go to the nurse's office and the nurse would make her chamomile tea to help calm her nerves.

I started drinking it and it really did help, although I complained to her that it only worked moderately... she said, "It's just tea."  Like I was expecting too much from it.

It might just be tea, but it is a great way to relax.  Pair it up with some medicine if you need to... Tea is a warm, delicious, and a calming drink.... And something you can share with a friend.

Chamomile tea comes in many flavors and varieties..  Below are a couple of links to some unique flavors. I recommend Celestial Seasonings, Stash, and Tazo brands.  Be warned that some brands taste more like hay than tea, and if you happen to get one of those, please don't give up on tea altogether.. Just try a different brand.

The following are all available on  If you haven't shopped there before, you can get a $5 coupon for your first order by using this referral code: LIN282  That should make your first box of tea practically free.  Iherb also has great prices on supplements.

Celestial Seasonings, Honey Vanilla Chamomile

Celestial Seasonings, Sleepytime Extra, Chamomile Mint Flavor

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Being cohesive is something most of us take for granted.

These days I don't have any problem planning what I am going to do for the day and then going through my list and getting things done.

However, in the depths of my Bipolar, that wasn't always the case.

I remember days when my Bipolar was so bad that just the task of getting ready to leave the house was so difficult that I would get frustrated. I wasn't cohesive. I couldn't hold the thoughts together of what I needed to do before heading out the door.  Of course, that would make me frustrated.

Having a "door list" is good solution for the stuff you don't want to forget, like keys, wallet, glasses, etc.  However, a door list only goes so far... What if you can't remember what you need to do once you leave the house?

The opposite of cohesiveness is being scattered.  Thinking of one thing and then thinking of something else unrelated and having the thoughts come on so fast (or so slow) that is is hard to make sense of them.

Sometimes, it's helpful for me to look back on times when I wasn't doing so well, and be fortunate for how well I really am doing these days.  It's Thanksgiving this week and I am very fortunate for how much progress I have made.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Too Many Days of Happiness?

It seems like I've gone too many days without depression.

I should have had at least a little depression this month.  But the closest I came was feeling overly emotional for one or two days.

I've been drinking green tea, often twice a day.  Eating pecans every other day, or so.  Not getting out to walk as much as usual, though.   Waking up a little bit earlier than normal.  Only sleeping 6 or 6.5 hours instead of my usual 7-8.  I don't feel tired.  I want to keep going and going.  Work excites me.  Life seems so happy.

Music has been sounding great too.

I must be hypomanic.  But I'm just not feeling any of the negative aspects from it, this time.

I've taking my lithium orotate as usual.   No med changes lately.

I guess I'm just feeling happy!  Does that mean that I'm gearing up for a big depressive spell?  Hypomania is always followed by depression.  It's just a question of when.  I'm just hoping that I'm not depressed during my Thanksgiving trip to visit my parents.  I need all of the normality and strength I can get for that, which is certainly going to be stressful.

I just wish I could know ahead of time when I'll be depressed and when I'll be (hypo) manic.  But Bipolar Disorder doesn't work that way.  And on some (hypomanic) days I think that maybe I've cured it for good!  And that I can go on this blog and tell the world about my wonderful, easy cure.  Now that's a dream, or a delusion :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Needing Medication

Needing medication is not a bad thing.  Taking medication is not a weakness.  Actually, knowing when you need it and continuing to take it (even when you don't want to) is actually a strength.

Of course, if the medication is not helping you, or if it is causing side effects that are not acceptable, then continnuuing to seek treatment until you find that the right solution is also a strength.

I sometimes would justify not taking medication by remembering that time in my life when I was doing well without medication. I was proud that I wasn't needing any pills.

However, comparing a time in the past with the present is not an apt comparison because people change.  My brain, my life, my illness, have all changed, and it all continues to change.

Furthermore, I may remember that time in the past as a time during which I was doing well, but my memory is biased.  I was probably having some difficulties, but because I want to remember that good pill-free time, my memory is selective.  I can compare my current achievements to what I had achieved in my life at that point, and I can see that I've made great progress, so why would I want to go back in time, to an illusionary perfect pill-free past?  It probably didn't even exist, except for in my skewed memory.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Anxious Morning

Anxiety is a strange thing. When you haven't felt it in awhile, you tend to forget about it. Life is happy.  At least that's how it is for me.

After an episode of anxiety, normality can feel like bliss.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling like something was wrong.  I continued to feel anxious, for no reason at all.  It was hard to do work.  Time went by slower, because I just wasn't feeling right.  I kept looking at the clock. I just couldn't get into that moment of "flow" that I usually had.

Two things finally helped.  I talked to my love about how I was feeling.  That always helps.  It also reassured me that nothing really was wrong. That it was just an erroneous feeling.

I also finally took something. I have a variety of pills that I've gathered over time that help with anxiety: Magnesium, 5-HTP, Chlortab, SAM-E, and Phenibut were the choices I had. (All are supplements or over-the-counter.)  I chose 5-HTP.  I thought it would make me sleepy, but it didn't. It just relieved my anxiety.  What a relief, too!

It's interesting to note that anti-anxiety medications tend to work differently in the presence of anxiety (or not).
No Anxiety --> Take Pill --> Get Sleepy
Anxiety --> Take Pill --> Anxiety Goes Away
This is just an easy example to show that the result of the medication is dependent on the initial mindset.  Sure, sometimes anti-anxiety pills can make the anxiety go away and  cause sleepiness, but that depends a lot on the medication, strength and cause of the anxiety, and the person.

I am a believer in rotation of medicines, especially for anxiety.  Take the same thing every time and it may become less effective and you may need a higher dose of it.  However, this is not medical advise, just an opinion.  Stopping an anti-anxiety drug can actually cause the anxiety to come back even stronger than ever, so I don't recommend that either.  Always consult your doctor first.

The prescription medication for anxiety is usually a benzodiazepine, which is a type of medication. Examples are Klonopin and Xanax.  Anti-depressants are also sometimes prescribed.

Anxiety is a common symptom that people with Bipolar Disorder experience.  It's a difficult feeling... I hope that if you are having anxiety, that it goes away soon!  It's nice to be feeling normal!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Playing the Lottery

I bought a lottery ticket.  I didn't win this time, but maybe that isn't the point.

When I was a kid, I objected to my mom buying a lottery ticket. I told her that she was throwing her money away. The chances of winning were equal to the likelihood of getting hit by lightening, or something like that.

She told me that the money went to education.

That still didn't convince me.  But I was 13 and I think I was missing the point.

Buying a lottery ticket is an act that encourages me to dream.

I start thinking about potentially life-changing questions.

What does money mean to me?
What would I do if I won?
What would I change about my life?
What would I keep the same?
What are my dreams?
Do they all require money?
What can I do about it now, even if I don't win?

I think that life change starts with changing how you think.

I probably won't win the lottery, but it's sure fun to give it a try.  And to think about the possibility.

Even if it's not likely I'm going to win, I've had some very unlikely things happen to me.  Statistics may not always tell the whole story, anyway.  I'll keep dreaming, thinking, questioning, and changing my life.

Here's my favorite lottery commercial.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I did something different today...

I like to take walks.  There is another woman who also likes to walk in my neighborhood.  She is usually looking down at the ground.  Never smiling.  Doesn't say a word to me.

Today I said, "Hello."

She looked up and smiled.

I felt rewarded for my courage.  I'm usually shy, introverted.  I think it would be nice to change that.  I think this was a success.  Saying hello might seem like such a simple thing, but how often do we not do it, and why not?

It might just make someone smile.

Picture is from Flickr:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Food and Mood

Sometimes, when I'm down, I feel hungry a lot. I think this is because I am feeling an emotional emptiness or sadness in my stomach that I think eating will somehow cure. Sometimes this feeling in the pit of my stomach actually feels like hunger and it is hard to know if it really is hunger or not.

I try to drink water, and do something else, and wait a bit to see if the hunger is still there. Unfortunately, it often still is there.

Sometimes, when I'm down, I don't want to eat because nothing seems appetizing to me. Even my favorite foods just aren't appealing. Not feeling interesting in eating breakfast is actually an early sign for me that my mood is off. I will feel hungry but not want any food. Nevertheless, I eat, but sometimes I don't make the smartest decisions as to what to eat.

These feelings are frustrating. I want to eat the right amount of food everyday. Feeling hungry makes me feel unhappy. Not being able to find a food that I really want is also frustrating.

I am trying to change how I feel about hunger. I have enough food. So feeling hungry shouldn't be a sad feeling for me. I think that if I know I ate enough, then I should consider treating hunger as a symptom. Like any other symptom, it can be dealt with, changed, maybe even tempered.

I made this Ham and Corn Casserole.  My husband really likes it.  Sometimes I like it. Just depends on my mood.

How does mood change your desire for food?