Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Psychic Pain, and Ruining Your Life

Psychic pain is the pain that occurs from memories, thoughts, and feelings.  Psychic pain can eat you up inside.  Make you feel stressed all of the time. It can make mood episodes escalate into full blown mania or suicidal depression.  Psychic pain is hard to get away from because it is inside.  It is the thoughts that reoccur over and over that make you hate life.  They make you think that this is a bad world to be living in.  And that there is no escape.

People drink to escape their psychic pain.  Many people do it, all over America, every Friday night and all weekend long. Some people have more pain than others.  Some people have to do it every day, all day long.  When the pain in strong, anything to make it go away is worth it.

Having fights, saying bad things to the people you love, doing bad things, hurting others, all cause more psychic pain.  More memories to have to live with once you've gotten out of that mania.

If you do something that is really bad, or just have the bad luck of getting caught, then there is time in the hospital or jail, which may even add to the psychic pain.  The pain from the memories of being forced to take medication that you don't want.  The pain from the bad experiences of being in jail. And then even after you get out, there is the pain of having to explain your criminal record when trying to get a job.

I know that there are many people without Bipolar disorder that have the pain I am talking about.  It could be from childhood abuse, or from some other traumatic event.  Or maybe they were born with a predisposition to have more bad feelings, or not be able to deal with them as well.

We are all just one decision away from changing our lives.  In mania, or some other extreme mood, that decision may not be under our complete control, and yet it may change our lives forever.

And that is a good reason to work on finding a solution to prevent the episodes from happening.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Music to De-Stress and Relax

About a year ago, I came across a series of CDs by "Advanced Brain Technologies."  The psycho lingo on the CDs made me almost not buy them.  So often it seems that the greater the claim, the lower the result.

To my surprise, their music is surprisingly effective at delivering what it claims.

Music to De-Stress can actually lower my anxiety from a near panic attack and/or even make me fall asleep.  It is a combination of classical music and beach sounds with foghorns.

Sleepy Baby might only be for birth to 36 months, but it puts me to sleep.  It was my bedtime music for many nights in a row.  

Music for Inspiration could be called 'music for depression' as it helps lift me out of the blues.

Music to Relax is relaxing.  No surprises. I like that :)

These CDs are performed by the Arcangelos Chamber Ensemble and some of them can also be found on Amazon.

I'm not affiliated with the company or making any money off of these links. I am just impressed by their effectiveness.  I found most of them at a thrift store, and then later found a few at my local library. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sleep Disorders, Pills, and Phenibut

My husband has Cyclothymia, which is a form of Bipolar disorder.  The oddest thing about his mood disorder is that his biggest symptom is an erradic sleep schedule.

It is very hard for him to fall asleep at a regular time, despite trying all of the normal sleep advice and trying many different kinds of sleep pills.

Very few pills work consistantly for him. Unfortunately, the only one that does always work is Seroquel, but it's expensive without insurance, causes health problems (seems to lower his immune system, increase his feelings of pain, messes with his internal thermostat) plus it lasts way too long (12+ hours of grogginess!).

When he was taking Seroquel regularly, he was also taking a medicine during the day to "wake up."  This causes personality changes and more side effects and ultimately we've concluded that it is easier and safer to accept his strange sleep pattern than it is to try to induce a normal sleep pattern.

So he sleeps when his body tells him to.  Sometimes it's at night, but it is just as likely it will be during the day.  It makes for a bit of a random shedule, but we're coping. At least when he is awake, he can be his true self. And that is worth a lot to me :)

If he is also experiencing other mood symptoms or just has gone too many days without sleeping enough, then he often feels that he has to take something to sleep, and so, we've experimented with many different kinds of sleeping pills and the one that I want to talk about here is one you've probably never heard of: Phenibut.

We bought Phenibut after he was doing lots of reading and searching one night.  You can buy it online at and get $5 off your first order.

To my surprise, I found out that I really like how Phenibut makes me feel.  It is probably the closest thing to a benzodiazepine that is sold as a supplement.  Like benzodiazepines, it can be addictive and it should only be used for about 4 days in a row. It also becomes less effective if you use it for more than several days in a row.

What I like about it, is that gives me this wonderful feeling of calmness that extends into the next morning.  When I wake up in the morning, I feel relaxed but not groggy. I think it lifts my mood, as well.  It also makes music sound better.  Yesterday was a particularly stressful day for me (unexpected plumbing problem - ugh!) and I was feeling jittery, over stimulated, nervous, etc.  The phenibut calmed me down and helped me to fall asleep.

The chemical name of Phenibut is Beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid.

To make Phenibut easier to remeber, we call it "FUNNY BUT"

Phenibut acts like a real drug, in that its effect is strong and it is important to take the correct dosage.  If you take too much, it can cause a bad headache.

Both the powder and the Relax All are good. The Relax All contains other ingredients that must work well together, as my husband gives it a thumbs up for anxiety.  The phenibut powder works better for just inducing sleep and is also cheaper per dose.  We've also tried phenibut capsules but found that they seemed weak.  The powder is bitter but tolerable mixed into juice.

Although Pheibut is really good, like almost all sleep pills, it does not guarantee a good nights sleep for my husband.  It will make him feel good and help him relax, but when the sleep comes on is still a nightly mystery.  Sometimes he will get sleepy in about an hour, or it might take many hours.  He is just different that way.

Photo Credit:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Enjoyable activities

Finding some simple things I like to do has been helpful.  These are things I do when I'm up late at night, or when I feel down, or just want to spend some time not working.

One of those things I like to do is look at pictures.  Cat pictures are one of my favorite kinds.

Zenera on flickr is to thank for this amusing cat photo and her cat pictures are among the best I've found.  She loves her cats and it really shows!

It's good to have a handful of things to do when you need to pass the time until you feel better, until you fall asleep, or until the meds kick in.

Some suggestions:
Talk to a friend.
Read blogs.
Look at pictures.
Listen to music.

I actually have trouble focusing on TV when I'm feeling down, but for some people, a movie or TV show is just the right thing too.

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Different People

When I was about 14, I wrote about how I was two different people, both shy and outgoing.  I didn't know anything about Bipolar Disorder then, and I wondered if other people had such huge changes in their personalities.

This duality is aptly described by Kay Redfield Jamison:

"There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you're high it's tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty."


"Which of the me's is me? The wild impulsive chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, disparate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one?"

I wasn't suicidal, but my personality did change from day to day... Some days I spoke out in class often, other days I didn't say anything.  My history teacher observed the changes in me and described it as “taking awhile to warm up” but in retrospect, the times when I was talking out in class too much was probably the bipolar pushing its way through.

I had many of the symptoms of mania, but it was never diagnosed until later.  I think my life may have been better if it had been diagnosed earlier, but who knows for sure.  It would have at least made it easier for me to understand my feelings and actions.

I am not the mania nor the depression.  Those are just symptoms.  But I thought that what I was feeling was who I was.  I was wrong.  I allowed it to be who I was because I didn't know that it was an illness.

Some therapists I saw missed it too.  It could have been caught, but I had a stupid psychologist. Oh well.

Photo Credit:

Monday, January 11, 2010


My word for a symptom I experience sometimes. It's a visual change. Everything appears kinda bright but yet soft. Glowy.

Reminds of Van Gogh's paintings.

Usually glowy is associated with hypomania for me. Scattered thoughts. Fast thoughts.  Hard to focus. Sometimes sensitivity to bright light.  I used to have to turn my monitor brightness down.

Many of the symptoms we have are changes in how our brain interprets what is coming in from our senses. In other words, changes in perception.  See things differently.  Hear things differently.

Have you ever had a day where you can see better?  Or smell more subtle things?  Or hear sounds that might, or might not, be there?

Here is an interesting study on schizophrenia and perception:

Check out the video of the mask illusion.  How does that optical illusion look to you? And what does this really mean?

Thanks to C-Monster on Flickr for the above picture of Van Gogh's Mulberry Tree.

I am apparently not the only one who likes that one.   I also think the Cafe Terrage at Night painting is a good representation of the glowiness. Just look at the orange glow from the cafe.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Dieting is a common goal for the New Year, but unfortunately, I think trying to make radical changes to your diet can make your moods more chaotic. Speaking for myself, when I try to eat much less food, I tend to get more anxious, have trouble sleeping, etc.

It's easier for me to replace a healthful food with an unhealthful food, than it is for me to focus on just eating less.

Having high expectations might just be setting yourself up for disappointment when you feel that you have 'failed' your diet plan.

What has worked for me -

1. Eat oatmeal some days instead of a bagel.

2. Sometimes, drink water or unsweetened tea instead of juice or milk.

3. Eat an apple or some other fruit/vegetable snack with my lunch.

What hasn't worked for me:

1. Decide not to eat before bedtime.  This advice is widely given, but I often have trouble falling asleep if I don't eat something before bedtime.  Or, I fall asleep but then wake up in the middle of the night or the early morning just starving (and grumpy).  So I feel better if I eat when my body tells me to eat, which often means a bedtime snack.

2. Decide to completely eliminate all 'bad' food from the house. Although this sounds like a good idea because we eat what we have around the house, it has one major flaw.... If we don't see anything tasty at home we may decide to grab some fast food! See, I don't live in an isolated world where all I have is my home kitchen.  I have fast food places all around me.  So although I do try to buy fewer 'bad' foods at the store, eliminating my favorite snacks altogether is just going to make it likely that I will want to get some food out.... which is probably worse than just not eating a perfect diet at home.

Above picture Creative Commons licensed and is from Flickr:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Resolutions for People with Bipolar Disorder

Making goals is different if you're Bipolar. You can't expect to be able to accomplish the same amount when you are down as compared to when you are normal or manic.  It's just not a reality.

If you are manic or hypomanic, you may make a goal that you can not complete once your mood changes.  If you can look at what you've accomplished in the last year, and then just aim to do a bit better, you have a greater chance of succeeding.  Remember, you want a goal that you have a very good chance of accomplishing!

Julie Fast says that her goal for the year is stability, and I think it is also my New Year's resoltuon.  Sure, I have a long list of other goals, but as she says, "When we (and the people we love) are stable, anything is possible." 

Aside from that, I have one other resolution which I think is very possible: A walking goal.  I feel better when I walk, and over the past year, I have been able to walk either 1/2 mile or 1 mile on most days. However, there were weeks when I really slacked, either because I didn't feel well, or because the weather was just terrible, so when figuring out my New Year's resolution, I try to calculate in the percentage of days where I just won't be walking, so that I can come up with a goal that I think is actually realistc. 

Remember a goal should be motivating, but not daunting!  

An alternative to having a New Year's resolution is having a series of monthly goals. Focus on accomplishing one task for January, and then in February focus on a different goal. These can be cumulative, or progressive. Whatever works for you.  Setting montly goals also allows you to re-evaluate your plans every month, so you can see if you are still on the right track.  It also gives you a dozen chances to "do better."

Happy New Year to you!  

Surfing photo above is credited to 
Licensed by Creative Commons via Flickr.