Sunday, February 28, 2010

Depression tries to make you believe lies.

But don't listen to it. Don't quit a job while depressed. Don't end a relationship while depressed. And don't hurt yourself while depressed.

Wait and see how you feel once the depression passes.  Most of the time, I feel just wonderful about the things I felt bad about before.

Depression lies to you.  Don't you believe it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bipolar Disorder and Light Sensitivity

I often adjust my monitor brightness and turn it down when I'm in a hypomanic mood because it feels uncomfortably bright.  Then I turn it back up when I feel normal again.

I used to wear sunglasses all of the time.  It seemed to help with my anxiety, especially while in stores. Fluorescent lights sometimes bother me.  I especially feel weird when going from a night time dark outside environment into a brightly lit store.  It often makes me anxious.

I also wore sun glasses while driving at night to minimize the brightness of the oncoming car headlights. This is probably not advisable. (I don't like driving at night and don't do it now.)

Some links I've found about this:

It seems to me that my hypomanic mood sometimes gets triggered by bright sunlight.  On the other hand, if it has been a dark day, sometimes I feel better after getting some bright light exposure.  Like most things in life, moderation is key.... 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is Bipolar Disorder an Overreaction?

There are a lot of triggers in life, and some of them are so small that I don't like to acknowledge them as triggers. My rational mind doesn't want to say that "this small thing" is a trigger.  Because my rational mind knows that the small thing is no big deal, but my emotional mind doesn't always agree.  It's as if my emotional mind overreacts to little things.  I'll deny that it's effecting my emotional state, because rationally I know that it shouldn't, but I think I need to accept that what happens isn't always rational.

I'm going to start a list of my triggers, and I am going to teach myself to notice and accept them.  I think I need to learn that triggers are just part of this mental illness. They aren't indicative of a bigger problem in my life. But if I can recognize the triggers, then it will help me to understand why my mood changes so suddenly sometimes. I can't avoid all triggers, but I can plan for them, and hopefully minimize their effect.

Have you evaluated what triggers your mood episodes?  Do you accept that some triggers are not rational?

In a lot of ways, bipolar disorder is about overreaction.  If I had one way to describe what lithium helps me with, is that it minimizes my overreaction response.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bipolar Episodes: Weekend versus Weekday, and the need for Routine

My mind is clear again!  Thankfully, it seems that I've gotten through the scatterdness and returned to my normal self. I haven't done anything different, except that I decided to stop drinking caffeinated green tea in the morning. I am very sensitive to caffeine, but have been allowing myself the luxury of one cup of caffeinated green tea in the morning.... In the past, this has been too much during hypomanic times, and, although I doubt this was the sole reason for my mood craziness, it might have been a contributing factor.

We also had a week of bright sunlight here (along with longer daylight), and that may have triggered my mood episode. Or it may have been something else altogether..... It's hard to know why.  And honestly, it's hard to know for sure if it is totally gone, since yesterday was my first 'normal' day and I just woke up today.

But there is a reoccuring theme that I've noticed for awhile, and that is the weekend versus the weekday.  I often have more mood trouble on the weekend.  I think it has to do with the absence of a regular schedule. I'm in the online sales business, and during the week, every day I have to go to mail packages.  Furthermore, more things sell during the week, and when things sell I feel successful and also, sometimes, a bit of adrnaline, especially if it is a large or unexpected sale.  On the weekday, I've developed a pattern.  I do work on the computer in the morning, watch TV and take a walk mid-day, and then go out to mail and sometimes do other errands in the late afternoon. During the weekday, the same TV shows are on, and there are some that I look forward to, so this also adds to the predictability of the week days, versus the weekend.

I think I know how to solve this.  I should set up a routine for my weekends.  Perhaps do something special.  Maybe I should go out on the weekends too, although, I don't really like crowded stores and crowded places, but maybe I should go out anyway.  If it helps fix my mood, then that would be a plus!  I'll be thinking and trying to plan my weekends better :)  

Do you have a difference between weekends/week days?  I know that I've read that some people go out partying or staying up late on the weekends and then that triggers a mood episode for them.

Bright sun picture credited to Kostika.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scattered and Tearful lately.

I haven't written much lately as my mood has been more unstable.  I've been feeling scattered and have been crying easily. I don't know if it is hypomania, or a mixed episode.... More on that soon, I hope!

Today I found Crazy Mermaid's blog and I have read most of her posts and enjoyed it immensely.  Although I don't have a lot in common - I've never had a psychotic episode - it is still helpful to read about her feelings and experiences.  The experience of having a mental illness is an experience shared across the entire spectrum of bipolar disorder, despite differences in symptoms and their severity.  It helps me to read about what other people are experiencing.

When you have some time to read, be sure to check out all of Crazy Mermaid's blog posts. It is like reading an engrossing book.  She writes about her involuntary stay in a psychiatric hospital, about the voices in her head, and her ongoing recovery.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Minor Depression and laughing as a cure

There are just some days when I have breakthrough mood episodes.

Here's a recent account of one of them.

I woke up, and rather than jumping out of bed and being my enthusiastic self, I wanted to go back to sleep.  But I couldn't. So I got up.

My thinking was wrong.  Not really bad, but minorly so.  Worrying and thinking negative thoughts instead of thinking positive thoughts.  Thinking thoughts that aren't rational and are really just kind of strange.

Waiting for the day to pass. Waiting to start feeling good again. Waiting until I can actually enjoy life again.

I only did some of what I usually do.  I didn't do the dishes; instead, I let them pile up in the kitchen.  I didn't cook any meals; instead, I heated up simple things in the microwave and ate out at a fast food place for dinner.

I didn't follow up on some work that I need to do.

I allowed myself to not do stuff.  This is an important one. When you're sick, you don't do everything you would normally do, right? Well this is how I treat mental sickness as well.

I did do a few things to try to help my mood get better.  I took a walk even though I wasn't sure if I really wanted to.  I visited my mother-in-law, and her compaionship made me feel good. I didn't tell her about my moods, but I kept myself busy talking to her about what she was interested in, and focusing on her rather than me, helped.

I did take a magnesium, which sometimes helps, but its effect today was minor.

What probably helped the most today, actually, was laughing.  I watched a show on TV called "The Middle" and this episode was particularly funny, and I just laughed and laughed. After that, I actually felt normal for several hours.

Talking to my husband also helped a lot. We tried to figure out why I was feeling this way.  He had some possible ideas, but I really felt like it was just a chemical imbalance.  I haven't been feeling stressed, and nothing really seems different than normal, except for my mood.

I accept the breakthrough episodes because they are usually short and manageable.  The solutions that might prevent them might just cause other problems.  Someday I might decide that I need to do something to better control my moods - and I'm open to that possibility - but for now, for a couple of days out of every month, the fact that I have bipolar disorder is all too obvious.

Actually, I'm not sure if there is a such thing as finding a medication with absolutely no breakthrough symptoms or side effects.  Medicine helps, but doesn't cure.

This stable-but-sometimes-moody state seems like a common outcome for Bipolar disorder. Linea Johnson describes a similar situation on her blog.

This photo (right) is credited to Jessia, who says "I've been struggling with depression for years. About 5 months ago I actually started getting treatment for it. Unfortunately it doesn't work all the time..."

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Bipolar Thought: Did I do Something Wrong?

I recently checked the book out of the library, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder by Julie Fast.  I read Julie's blog, which is what made me interested in her book.

On page 43, there is a list of symptoms, including a list of "What Your Partner Thinks"

On this list, it says, "Did I do something wrong?"

This struck a chord with me, as it is one of the thoughts I have when my mood doesn't feel right. I always wonder, did I say something wrong, to upset my husband, or is it just me thinking that I did something wrong. A lot of the time, it is just me thinking that.

Why do people with Bipolar disorder have similar thoughts?

I didn't realize that this was a common bipolar thought. I thought maybe it was because I have trouble reading subtle clues like body language when I'm down or up, and sure, that might be part of the reason behind it.  But at least now I can know that it is a symptom and try to treat it like one.

Other Bipolar thoughts on her list:
Nothing I do is right. I've never done anything right.
I have no friends.
I'm fat (ugly, skinny, disgusting, etc).
Is this all there is?
Did I do something wrong?
People don't like me.
Things will never get better - never.
Things would be easier if I were dead.
Everything is difficult.
Projects are overwhelming. I can't do them.

Julie's book might be worth reading, especially if your partner just got diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. If you've been coping with it for a long time, then you may have already figured out some of the stuff in this book, but you might still come across some info that might help.

She's also the author of Get It Done When You're Depressed.  Since she has bipolar disorder, she speaks with experience. I think that's helpful!

Photo credit for the picture above goes to

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Crystal on Bipolar Disorder

Occasionally, I come across blogs, websites, or books that stand out.  I think I'll call posts like this 'weekend reading.'

Today, it's Crystal's experience with Bipolar disorder.

She also authored Bipolar Disorder through music.

Her open letter to humanity brought tears to my eyes.

She made all of these websites on Squidoo, which is an easy site to make websites on.  You can get started here.  If you make a Squidoo page about your experience with mental illness or some other important aspect of life, please leave a comment.  I'd love to read it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We are everywhere

Here is a commercial (public service announcement) about mental illness that I really like. It is currently playing on TV.

Here's a comment about that video and I particularly agree with:

"This video made me cry the first time I saw it. I have Bi Polar disorder and I DO believe that there's a stigma attached to the term "mental illness." When properly treated, people diagnosed with these conditions are totally capable of living "normal lives." I pray that others come to view mental illness as a medical condition that many people stuggle with...and not as something that defines them."

The above video is from which has the statistic that "1 in 6 adults and almost 1 in 10 children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness."  

.... We really are everywhere ....

During a neuroscience class, my teacher was talking about schizophrenia and compared 'our' brains with those of schizophrenia.

I didn't like the assumption that everyone in the class had normal brains.  I thought, I have bipolar disorder, and isn't there a chance that someone in the class has schizophrenia?  I thought that my teacher's wording would make them feel funny.

Compare a clinically normal brain to an abnormal one, but don't compare us (the students) to them (the textbook examples).  Afterall, people often choose psychology as a major because of their curiosity about what's going on in their own possibly abnormal brain.  And college time is a pretty typical onset time for illnesses like schizophrenia.