Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How fast is your thinking?

Recently I was looking through the book, Orthomolecular Psychiatry: Treatment of Schizophrenia (by David Hawkins & Linus Pauling), where I came across a chapter entitled "Dyschronia: Disorders of Time Perception in Schizophrenia."  The author of the study asked people to set the metronome to how fast their thoughts were.  They also asked them how they felt about the metronome when it was set at different rates.

The reaction to the metronome varied significantly from person to person. People who felt that time was going by slowly set the metronome to a low rate.   Some people became anxious when the metronome was set too fast.  Other people were comforted by the metronome.

I thought this was interesting, so I looked online for a metronome and found this one:

I tried to set it at the rate of my thoughts, but I found this difficult to do. I finally settled on around 100 beats per minute.  I think I will try this when I feel decidedly depressed or on the manic side and see if my setting changes. (I feel weird today but I can't pinpoint on which side of normal I am today.)  It may be a good way to measure just exactly how fast or how slow my thoughts are going, which would give an actual number to that feeling that my thoughts are going crazy fast.  What is the rate of your thoughts?

The web metronome doesn't go as fast as the one they used in the study, although it does have a visual change that accompanies the beat.  The metronome the authors used had a light that also went on and off at the same time as the beat and it went to at least 300 beats per minute.

This made me think about why sometimes I like music with a fast beat and sometimes I don't.

The passage of time certainly changes for me.  Basically, if I'm having a difficult time, time seems to slow down. I tend to look at the clock more and try to keep myself busy.  If I am really focused and involved in something, time speeds up. Of course, this change in the perception of time is common with most (all?) people.  It doesn't have anything to do with mental illness.

However, the symptoms of mania include rapid speech, impulsiveness, distractibility, and racing thoughts which all seem to have to do with the speed of one's thoughts.  Perhaps people with bipolar disorder have more extremes in how they experience time, from really slow to really fast.

Sometimes you can tell that a person is a bit off (feeling strange) because they don't respond to you at the right tempo as you would expect. Some people have this incorrect rhytym all of the time... It's not wrong, but just different, which sometimes means that it takes them longer to respond to you, and sometimes this makes for an awkward conversation.  Every time you say something, you pause for a response, and then when they don't respond right away, you continue speaking, and then they will start speaking at the same time, and the conversation is a series of starts and stops.

If your thoughts are going fast, then you risk always interrupting the slower person, or talking from one topic to the next without pausing long enough for a response.  I used to always talk too fast and I have taught myself to slow down, although I still sometimes speak too fast. I still have trouble organizing my thoughts when I am speaking, especially on the telephone, because I don't have any visual clues.  I want to be as fluent verbally as I am in the written word... I think it takes practice.

I guess that is the end of this long post. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin) for depression?

I have to admit that I like trying new supplements.  I think this is because I've found some really helpful supplements (as well as some loosers).

My newest experimental supplement is B-12, in the form of Methylcobalamin.  This one I didn't buy for myself initially.  I bought it for my mother-in-law.  She is about 70 years old and says that it makes a significant difference in giving her more energy.  I bought her the 1000 mcg dosage because I figured that a lower dose is safer.  (They have a 5000 mcg dose available too.)  She sometimes takes it twice a day, which is fine according to the instructions.

Her positive experience made my husband interested in it, for himself, as we as for another relative who complains of feeling tired all of the time.  Some of the reviews indicate that it is really helpful if you feel tired all of the time.  We haven't had the chance yet to give it to this other relative for her opinion, but my husband and I have both taken it when we weren't feeling well. I think it does make him feel better, and I know that it has a very noticeable effect on me.  However, I'm only 26, and I think the effect and dosage required for the effect might differ a lot depending on age.   Or maybe I'm just sensitive to it.  But I wouldn't want to take a higher dose, whereas for other people, a higher dose might be what they need.

I've taken it about 3 times now. Each time I took it I was started to feel a little bit down.  One time it was sort of an irritable down feeling, another time it was sort of a flat tired feeling. Each time I felt better within minutes.  It is a chewable tablet so it is absorbed really fast.  It make my mood feel normal and slightly energized.  When I was feeling tired and flat (and unmotivated), shortly after taking it, I suddenly was motivated and had a couple of different ideas of things to do.  The energy feeling that I felt with the B-12 was just an initial burst of energy, and then after that I felt normal.

Since it might make you feel more energized, I think it would be unwise to take if you are on the "up" side (hypomanic or manic) and definitely something to discuss with your doctor.  All supplements do have risks associated with them.  One of the biggest risks with most supplements that help treat depression is that they can cause you to become manic or increase the rapid cycling of bipolar disorder.

They call B12 the happy pill, and I think I know why.  The Methylcobalamin is supposed to be one of the better forms of it.  As with most of my supplements, I bought it at  If you haven't shopped there before I think you will be impressed by their quick shipping time and low prices, and you can also take advantage of $5 off your first purchase - just enter LIN282 at checkout.

(Disclosure: If you use that code to make a purchase, I will make a little bit of money off of your sale.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Taking Time to Adjust

If I am planning on doing one thing, but if for some reason my plans have to change, it takes me a little while for me to adjust.

Once I take the time to adjust (mentally and emotionally), then I'm usually fine.  But I have to allow myself a little while to get used to the new idea.

Having to change my plans used to put me in a bad mood.  Sometimes this bad mood would make me not want to participate in the new plans.

Now, I just try to recognize that I'm the type of person who needs a little extra time to think about the change in plans.  If I start feeling negative, I try to realize that this is just a feeling that is a reaction to the change, rather than a feeling that should influence whether I participate in the new activity.

It's not that I don't like change.  I just don't like fast, unexpected change. It takes energy to deal with.  But sometimes fast, unexpected change is for the better. And I have a great time doing something unexpected.

I'm not talking about the really big things in life that should require extensive thought - like moving, or which college to go to, or whether to get married.  I'm talking about the small every day things that interrupt my routine, unexpectantly.  It might be because the weather has changed, or because I receive a phone call, or because of some other pretty minor thing.

I know that I'm not alone with this character trait.  People with autism have a similar reaction to the unexpected:

"People with autism prefer routines and any unexpected change in this routine can be upsetting. Young children may impose their own routines, such as insisting on always walking the same route to school. At school, they may get upset by sudden changes, such as an alteration to the timetable. People with autism need structure to their day. Anything untoward or unexpected happening may well cause their levels of anxiety to rise significantly, and possibly cause them to react unpredictably." (National Autistic Society)

Although I don't have autism, this description describes me.  Is it a symptom common with others who have Bipolar Disorder?  I don't know, but I thought I would throw it out there.

Maybe it's just all about avoiding anxiety, because increased levels of anxiety cause more mood symptoms.

(Picture is courtesy of mikebaird)

I know that if I am planning on doing sometime, I usually take some time beforehand to prepare for it.  I'll think about possible situations that might occur and how to react. It is like a dress rehearsal in my mind.  If I feel anxious, I'll try to coach myself.  I might even take a medication if I need something to relax.  I try to remember to bring things with me that might help. I usually like to have a bottle of water and a few snacks.  I usually bring with a sweater or jacket.  I don't like to feel cold or hungry. It's enough just keeping my mood going well :)  And I can stay in a much better mood if I feel well physically.  

But some of life's best adventures can happen with little notice.  Go on a drive with a friend, take a shopping trip, or a trip to the beach.  It's all fun and in many cases doesn't require extensive planning.  But for me, I need about 15 minutes to really think about it.  If I can get my rational mind to examine the new activity and decide whether it is a good plan or not, then usually I can get my emotional self to listen to my rational self, and be my normally cheerful and happy self, and all is well.

Afterall.... "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca