Saturday, November 12, 2011

PMS & Menstrual Cramps - A Solution?

I've heard that menstrual cramps are supposed to get better with age, but so far, that hasn't happened. Now, at age 28, my cramps are just as bad as they were when I was 13. 

I did take birth control pills (oral contraceptives) for over 10 years, and they helped a lot.. My period lessened and the cramps disappeared.  However, now I'm not taking them, and it's been awhile* since I've stopped them, and it seems like my PMS is back big time. Not only do I have the pain, but I also have breast tenderness on the days before my period and sometimes diarrhea along with the cramps. 

I used to wonder if the birth control pills were causing some of my bipolar symptoms, and basically the answer seems to be no.  The only times when they worsened the mood disorder is when I took the generic instead of the brand name, and when I tried the patch.  But for most of those 10 years, I had bipolar disorder and it wasn't the birth control pills causing it.

Like most women, I do have some moodiness associated with PMS.  A little more emotional, but for me it's usually not disastrous.

I tried taking Natrol PMS Control for two cycles, and unfortunately, it didn't help with the cramps at all.  It did help with my mood some. Looking at its ingredients, I see that it has St. John's Wort in it, which is a natural anti-depressant, so I've ditched the useless PMS formulation, and I've been trying a little bit of St John's Wort by itself... It seems to help when I feel down.

As I said, my PMS mood problem isn't usually severe, but this month the timing coincided with an external stressor, and I did feel really down for at least a day.  In response, I took St. John's Wort, Methyl B12, and Magnesium, and that all seemed to help.

So I am still looking for a natural or at least over-the-counter medicine or supplement for cramps. I am taking ibuprofen, which works, but only at high doses, and I'd rather not take such a high dose.  I don't exceed the 24 hour limit of 3200mg, but the high dose makes me feel tired and out of it.  Plus I am concerned about other side effects.  If anyone knows an alternative let me know.

I've read that avoiding dairy before your period can make cramps less, and I think I might have to give that a try next month. 

* When your body is used to birth control pills, it takes awhile for your body to go back to normal after stopping them.  Any doctor who says that your period will return to normal immediately is wrong.  From my experience, it can take well over a year before your body returns to normal. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

List of Medicine & Supplements I Take Every Day

I thought readers of this blog might like to see a list of what I take every day.

Every Day... From Most to Least Important:

Lithium Orotate - 2 Pills in Morning, 2 in Evening - for Bipolar Disorder NOS. This really works for me.

Acidophilus & Bifidus - 1 Pill a Day - I take this to prevent yeast infections and to keep me regular (it helps with constipation).

GTF Chromium 200mcg - 3 Pills a Day - For Blood Sugar Levels. Definitely helps me feel better.

Garlic Supplement - I currently take 3 pills of Nature Made's Garlic, which does work, but I'm probably going to switch back to Now's Odorless Garlic because the pills are smaller and eaiser on my stomach.  Garlic helps fight yeast infections, which I'm prone too, and it also made a rash on my wrist go away.

Zinc Chelate 30mg - 1 Pill a Day - This is a low dose of Zinc. I used to take a higher dose, but I had concerns about long term safety. Zinc definitely helps when I have a sore throat, and I think zinc might help with depression, but I'm not totally sure.

Vitamin C Extended Release - 1 Pill a Day - For my Immune System

Lutein Esters 20mg - 1 Pill a Day - Helps with eyesight.

Manganese 10mg - 1 Pill a Day - Supposed to help with blood sugar levels and hearing. I can't tell if it makes a difference or not.

Kirkland Multivitamin - 1 Pill a Day - I don't know if this helps at all, but I buy it at Costco and it's cheap!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I lost some weight recently.

That's right, I lost weight. Something that I didn't think was ever going to happen - at least not by accident. I just discovered it because my jeans became too loose and I am able to fit into pair of jeans that were too tight before!

I'm not sure what the cause is. I think it might be because I increased my daily supplement of GTF Chromium 200mcg from 2 pills a day to 3 pills a day.

Of course, I'm not sure if that's definitely the reason. My mood has also been really balanced lately, which I'm sure helps keep me from eating too much.

Plus, I'm not taking GTF Chromium for weight loss. I'm taking it because I want to avoid the ups and downs I feel from my blood sugar going to low. Even though I'm not diabetic (not even pre-diabetic), I feel that my body reacts strongly to changes in blood sugar levels. The chromium seems to help lessen the late-afternoon "I'm so hungry" feeling which is sometimes accompanied by anxiety, mood changes, shakiness, etc.

I think that my mood changes may have a connection to blood sugar... but when I test my blood sugar, it's fine. That is, last week after exercising I felt shaky, so I thought I had low blood sugar level. I tested myself and my blood sugar level was 90.   Low blood sugar symptoms aren't supposed to appear until you go into the 70s.  So perhaps my body is more sensitive to blood sugar changes than the norm.

Anyway, the higher dose of chromium seems to be working for me. My mood seems better and my appetite is less, however, I do continue to eat 6 times a day -
Afternoon Snack
Before Bed Snack

I can't imagine not eating 6x a day... I just prefer small, frequent meals to large ones.

Losing some weight has motivated me to try to keep the weight off (and perhaps even lose more) so now I've started to even be more careful about my eating habits.

I continue to wonder if there is some connection between Bipolar Disorder and blood sugar.   I've decided that I'm going to do what works for me, regardless of whether there is science to back it up.  I only had 3 "sick days" last month - that is, days where I definitely felt my bipolar symptoms. And the month before that, just 6 sick days.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hypomania Feels Like Being High

Sometimes hypomania feels like being high to me.  Music sounds better, perception is altered, thoughts are scattered, I'm a bit forgetful, etc.

If you're high and don't want people to know, a good trick is to not talk much.  If you don't say anything, you might not be found out.  Sometimes when people get high they tend to talk a lot, and talk fast.

A classic symptom of mania or hypomania is pressured speech, or rapid speech.  When I'm hypomanic, I feel like my thoughts are flying fast, and it's hard to keep up.  Fortunately for me, my thoughts still make sense when I'm hypomanic.  

If I know I'm hypomanic, I'll usually try to act normal.  One of my tricks is to remember not to talk too much.  This not only helps hide a symptom, but it also makes it less likely you'll say something you'll regret.  It also helps me to control myself.

I'm not suggesting that you hide your symptoms, but for me, I'm just going to have them sometimes. And I often want to function normally. 

(Side Note:  I've listened to someone talk while completely manic, and it was way beyond just fast speech. Their thoughts jumped from one idea to the next and they didn't make much sense. They needed help.)

Mood Update for August

The following days I had mood that I considered not "normal."  Normal for me means that I functioned fine throughout the day, with little or no symptoms.  This list is in lieu of keeping a regular mood chart.

8/7/11 - mild depression

8/10/11 - brief anxiety, maybe because of not sleeping long enough

8/11/11 - brief anxiety, maybe because of not sleeping long enough

8/16/11 - depressed & anxious

8/20/11 - moody and definitely depressed

8/24/11 - morning hypomanic, late afternoon & evening anxious and depressed

8/29/11 - hypomanic, all day.

8/30/11 - hypomanic, all day.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified), although I consider myself to have some variation of Bipolar Disorder II, rapid cycling. It's not uncommon for my mood episodes to last just part of the day, or 1-2 days at a time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Phenibut Makes Me Dizzy

I love how phenibut feels except for the dizziness.  When I take phenibut, it completely erases anxiety, and it makes me sleep very soundly.  I get the best sleep on it.  I wake up refreshed the next morning. Except that I am always dizzy the next day.

I've searched the internet, and generally the dizziness is supposedly only associated with high doses of phenibut, but I'm taking low doses.  Usually I only take 540mg, and this last time I only took 220mg.  The 220mg dose was effective, but I still got dizziness!  Now this makes me wonder if I'm super sensitive to it, or maybe when I'm sleeping my body doesn't metabalize it the same way. I could try taking it during the day, and see if I get dizzy, but I don't take phenibut just for fun. I only take it for anxiety. So I'd only take it during the day if I got really anxious during the day... which hasn't happened yet.

It's interesting to note that I didn't have this dizziness problem when I first starting taking phenibut, and I don't know what has changed.  I don't take it every day, and this dizziness occurs even if I only take it once a week.

Anyway, it's just a mystery that I'd thought I'd mention, in case other people have this problem too.  Next time I'm going to try an even lower dose.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Doctor who has Bipolar Disorder

It always helps me to read about someone else who's had some of the same experiences as myself, and with that, I thought I'd link to an article about a doctor who has bipolar disorder: Normal is a Place I Visit

So there's some weekend reading, a day or two early.  Enjoy! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

You know it's a hallucination when.....

I don't hallucinate, as a general rule, at least not very strongly.

However, when things get weird for me, I start seeing shadows and have minor hallucinations.

A few days ago, I thought I saw a spider crossing the floor. And it stopped when I looked at it. I was so convinced that there was something there, that I kneeled down on the carpet and inspected the spot. No spider.

I told my husband about this, and he said, the clue is that spiders don't stop when you look at them.

How true.

I used to hullucinate that my phone was blinking green (which would indicate a message), or that I heard my phone beep.  The clue I found was that the beeping or blinking would happen after I thought about whether I had any messages on my phone.

In the movie A Beautiful Mind, the main character with schizophrenia realized that his friend wasn't real because her age never changed.

It seems that to hang onto reality, sometimes we have to see if our sensory perceptions agree with logic. If not, we might be hallucinating.

If we know it's a hallucination, then we can deal with it.  It's when we're convinced that the hallucination is real, that it becomes a problem.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mood Update - June and July

Since in May I said I was going to keep tracking of my sick days, I thought I should let you know where I stand.

June was an uneventful month.  No sick days to speak of.

For July, I failed to keep track of sick days, but I had more than my usual. Business has been slow, and so I've been stressed, and that causes mood problems.  I had lots of depressed days and my mood was up and down.

Now it's August, and I'm going to try to keep track. I'll let you know at the end of the month :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Medical School

I was supposed to go to medical school.  I was studying for the MCAT but my bipolar disorder was raging. My moods were up and down, and I couldn't concentrate well. I was struggling with the physics section and had a hard time sitting for an all day test. I was going to go to medical school because it was what other people thought I should do.  My heart wasn't in it. So I stopped the process and didn't apply to medical school.

That was about 6 years ago.  Now, I find myself wondering if I should have.  My moods are doing way better. I'm passionately interested in medicine. I love helping my mother-in-law with her diabetes and blood pressure. I love learning about medicine. I love self-medicating myself. I love going to the doctor with her.

I know it's never too late. However, I also know that I can't do the things that applying to medical school and going to medical school requires. When you apply to medical school, you have to apply to several, and then move to the city of the medical school you get into. And then for residency, you get matched to a specific teaching hospital, and you have to move again to that new city. And then there are the long hours of residency.

Unfortunately, having to move would make my bipolar disorder go crazy.  It's a big trigger for me. Also, just a day or two of a messed up sleep schedule can make me manic or put me in tears. I'm not mentally rugged enough for medical school or residency. And then there are the high student loan bills, and the uncertainty of the future of medicine in the United States, thanks to Obamacare and regulation.

So no medical school for me. I didn't even mention the cost of flying around for the medical school interviews.  Did I tell you that money problems also make me stress, which also makes my bipolar disorder worsen?

So if I am going to do something in medicine, it is going to be something else. That's OK.  There must be a reason for this bipolar craziness.  My weakness might turn into my strength. I'm meant to do something else. Maybe it's to be there for my Mother-in-law, for now.  And then something else.

By the way: I always find myself thinking about career changes when I'm on the manic side. I get all worked up.  I have to remember to wait before making any decisions and see what I think about it all in a month or two.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Aniracetam vs. Piracetam - Comparison of Nootropics

Nootropics are "smart drugs" and of them, there are quite a few "racetams."

I've used two racetams, piracetam and aniracetam, and I thought I'd note their differences.  Although aniracetam is often described as stronger than piracetam, that's kind of like saying Ritalin is stronger than caffeine - they're not the same.

It's also important to note that I only take a low dose of these nootropics because I seem sensitive to them.  For piracetam, I was taking 1/8th of a teaspoon (415 mg), although now I can take 1/4 of a teaspoon (830 mg).  For aniracetam, I usually take 1/4 of a teaspoon (550 mg).  These are lower than normal doses.

Piracetam Effects
Better Word Retrieval
Better Memory Retrieval
Helps with reading
Helps with math
No direct effect on mood*
Starts working after 30-60 mins, lasts 3-5 hours roughly

*However, if you end up remembering old memories that you don't want to remember, and have trouble dealing with that, then that could cause a mood change. It took me awhile to get used to the memory recall, which is why I started at a low dose.

Piracetam - Summary
I think piracetam has great potential for helping with learning disabilities.  Word retrieval is one of my difficulties, and I purposefully take piracetam before watching Jeopardy, and it definitely makes a big difference. 

Energizing, Possibly Manic Inducing
Music sounds better
Increase in vision - colors look clearer
Increase in sense of smell
Starts working in 30 mins, seems to last all day, with residual effects into the next day.

Aniracetam - Summary
The first take I took aniracetam, it made me sleepy. After that, it's consistantly made me feel more energetic. I've used it for its anti-depressant effect with much success. However, since I have bipolar disorder, I have to be careful to not take in when I'm already hypomanic, because it definitely could induce mania. 

Although memories are more vivid with aniracetam, memory retrieval is not enhanced in the same clear way as with piracetam. I wouldn't recommend it for test taking or academic work.  It actually makes me a bit scattered. I do take choline/inositol with it because the 'racetams are supposed to used up the choline in your brain.

Since I find aniracetam to have such a positive effect on my mood, it is somewhat psychologically addictive, and I purposefully don't take it every day so that I don't become dependent on it. I find it a fun drug to take, which of course makes sense... Who wants to be depressed? :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do it Yourself Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is about changing how you think.  I've been trying to work on my thought patterns for quite some time, and recently I found a website that has lots of suggestions. 

The website is about Dialectical behavior therapy, which is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that was designed for people with Borderline Personality Disorder.

The great thing is that it works for people with mood disorders too. 

If you're interested in how to mentally cope with the mood swings of Bipolar Disorder, you might benefit from these DBT Lessons.  The section on distress tolerance has great suggestions for how to make yourself feel better.  Some of the suggestions are things I've already been doing, and some are new to me. 

The section on Emotion Regulation is also helpful for anyone who experiences the extreme emotions of Bipolar Disorder.

Lots of helpful reading.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tips on Goal Setting for People with Bipolar Disorder

I read somewhere that we often overestimate what we can accomplish in one day, but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. With that thought in mind, I started setting monthly goals for myself.

I used to set daily goals, but my lists were always too long. The goals looked achievable, but I just couldn't get them all done in a day. Sometimes I'd try to push myself to do every one of them on the list, but I'd often end up in bad mood... frustrated, anxious, disappointed in myself, etc.

Setting and achieving goals can be difficult, and Bipolar Disorder adds a few twists to the process. The unpredictability of the disorder makes it hard to judge how many normal days you'll have. Furthermore, while the many ideas we have during hypomania or mania can be productive, there can also be some ideas that throw us off course. The trick is to figure out what's important to do, and what's distraction.

Benefits of Monthly Goal Setting

- Completion of Projects. I come up with a lot of ideas, especially when I'm feeling "up." Monthly goal setting means that ideas for new projects have to be put off until the next month, or until the current month's goals have been completed. This encourages completion of current projects before starting new things, which means less unfinished projects. It also means time to think before jumping into a new project. This time for thinking can be used to make better decisions.

- Looking at the big picture. One day is a very small time. The success of a long term project or goal shouldn't be judged on one day. When choosing monthly goals, I reflect on the whole previous month, rather than just one day. Everyone has bad days, and it's best not to put too much weight on them.

How to Set Achievable Monthly Goals

- Set goals that you have complete control over. If you're unemployed, the goal "get a job" isn't a good one. However, a goal of sending out a certain number of resumes, practicing interview techniques, etc, is something you have control over. Likewise, if you're in sales, you can't guarantee a certain dollar amount in sales, but you can write down specific actions that you can take that will make it likely that you will increase your sales.

- Break a big project into small parts. Your goals should be to achieve these small parts of a project. If you're writing a book, a goal could be “Write Chapter 1.”

- Strive for consistency. Look at what you achieved the previous month, and make goals that are equal to or a little big greater. Consistency is a hard thing to achieve, and a goal that keeps your output consistent is a goal that will give you great long term rewards. People often give up too early.

- It is better to underestimate what you can achieve than to overestimate. If you get your monthly goals done early, then you can start on new goals early. Next time you will have a better idea of what can be achieved.

- No task is too small to be a goal. You can set goals for activities that will likely turn into a habit. Your goal could be to brush your teeth two times a day, every day. If you do this all month long, it's unlikely that you will stop doing this once the month ends. You will have developed a habit.

Depression and Monthly Goals

Depression can make you want to give up. It can also make negative events stand out in your mind, and you may have trouble remembering the positive things. When you think about “what point is there to all of this” it's hard to have the willpower to complete a goal.

If you write your goals when you are feeling hopeful, positive, and optimistic, then when you are depressed, you can remember that these goals were written by the positive you, and you can try to talk yourself into working on the goals because that happy you will come back, and you don't want to let her (or him) down.

Sometimes depression makes it hard to do anything, and if that's the case, you can relax and know that you truly do have the whole month to accomplish the goals, so taking off a day won't ruin everything. Sometimes the depression has to be treated first, and you should take steps to treat it. Treating the depression can be a goal in of itself. The goal should be specific though, like: Talk to doctor, find therapist, read a book on depression, etc.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping Track of Sick Days: An Alternative to Mood Charts

I have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. My moods change throughout the day. I can wake up depressed and go to bed hypomanic. I can feel normal for part of the day, and then anxious for a couple of hours.

I haven't kept a mood chart in years. Every time I try to keep one, I freeze up, because I don't know what to fill out. Should I count that hour of craziness as hypomania? How about that episode of unusual tearfulness - was that depression?

So this month I have tried something different. I only write down my sick days. And by sick, I mean sick enough that I would have stayed home from school/work and/or went to see the doctor. A runny nose or a few sneezes doesn't qualify as sick. That's just normal life.

And guess what? Writing down sick days is really turning out to be helpful! It helps to put a depressed day in perspective. It also will help me to know whether my amount of sick time is normal or not for me.

So I started keeping track at the beginning of May. This is a good month. This is what my sick days list looks like:

5/3/11 - Depression
5/10/11 - Anxiety, took phenibut, then felt good. Not a full sick day, since I solved the problem.
5/21/11 - Depressed, took: Ginseng, Piracetam, 2 Choline & Inositols, Aniracetam (started to feel more normal, but not completely better), Coffee... around 11pm, getting back to normal
5/22/11 - Half sick day, depressed in morning, took 2 Choline & Inositols, and Aniracetam, felt better.

As you can see, I also wrote down if I did anything for the sickness. I was also somewhat hypomanic on 5/24 and 5/25, but not to the point that it interfered with my life, so I didn't write it down. On 5/24, I simply found myself stating “What a wonderful day it is today!” and I then thought, “I don't really have any reason for thinking that...” so I was really positive, but it didn't mess me up. I was also a bit more talkative than usual on 5/25, but again, nothing bad came of it, and I was able to control myself fine.

But looking back over the month, this tells me a lot. I went for about a week with no symptoms, and if you ignore the anxiety episode (which could have been triggered by a specific event), I went for over 2 weeks with no depression. I did have mild PMS a few days, but it wasn't strong enough to qualify as a sick day - I was still able to function as normal.

I'm going to try to keep writing down my sick days. It really is giving me insight!   

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Really Good Video on ADD / ADHD

I watched the video ADD & Loving It?! on PBS last night.  It was great. Funny and full of insights.  Not perfect, but sure worth the watch. The best part is that Rick Green (you might know him from The Red Green Show) describes how ADD feels for him, as do several other adults.  This is more geared to adults than children, although probably teenagers could find this video useful too.

It is easy to see how the hyperactive components of ADHD - the impulsiveness especially - are similar to the symptoms of mania.  No wonder there's confusion!

I actually don't have ADD.  I did take Ritalin at one point, and while it helped for awhile, I just don't have the ADD symptoms on a continual basis.  My attention problems come and go depending upon my mood. When my mood is doing well, my attention is fine. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Feeling ON is so much better than Feeling OFF!

Photo Credit
Here's a list I wrote several years ago.  It describes what feeling off is like and what feeling on is like.  I'm sure this could apply to a myriad of other mental illnesses, like ADHD, generalized anxiety, etc.

FEELING OFF (not well)
Paranoid Thinking
Difficulty in Making Fast Decisions
Inability to Detect Subtleties (jokes, nuances, sarcasm etc)
Increase in number of errors (when working)
Anxiety - flushing, sweating, nervousness
Sensory Overload - Flourescent lights bothersome
Weird Feeling
Dazed Feeling
Out-of-it Feeling

Good Memory
Good Decision Making
Sure of Myself
Fast Thinking (at a normal pace for me, though)

I think at the time when I wrote this, I wasn't taking any medicine.  I was going through a period of "See, I don't need medicine!"  I was med free and proud of it.  Now I am medicated and happy about it. Times change.  I can tell you that I now spend way less time feeling off.

I know that the feeling off list doesn't exactly read like a list of Bipolar Disorder symptoms.  I think that's because I was having anxiety too.  Also, the in-the-moment sensory experience of being in a hypomanic or depressed mood doesn't exactly read like a list out of the DSM manual.  There's a difference between the internal experience and the external view of what's going on.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lithium Flatness and Dosage

In a previous blog post, I hypothesized that taking too much lithium is the cause for the flatness that some people experience.

After reading a lot more, I have to correct myself.  Apparently lithium just makes some people feel flat. Period.  It doesn't happen to me.  But it does happen to some people.  It's a side effect that you might or might not have. And it probably has more to do with individual differences than dosage.

I'm sorry if lithium makes you feel flat. I hope that you will find a medicine that does work perfectly - removing the mania and depression but allowing for life's normal ups and downs.  That's how it should be.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Blog about Supplements

I'm not leaving this blog.  I intend to continue posting here about Bipolar Disorder.  This includes posts about supplements for bipolar disorder.  But topics like supplements for toe fungus will be carefully crafted on my new Soup and Supplements blog.  I know some people write about everything on one blog, but after careful thought, I've decided that I want to have two blogs. Maybe even three, or four...  :)

This way if you are only interested in bipolar disorder, you won't have to read my other ramblings!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bipolar Disorder and PMS

Sometimes my bipolar symptoms get worse before my period.  That's what happened this month, except I forgot to keep track of when my period was going to arrive and didn't know what was going wrong. Actually, I think my menstrual cycle was short this month. In any case, I felt like my moods were NOT stable, and was even beginning to doubt whether my lithium was working.  I was starting to wonder if I was going crazy. This instability lasted a couple of days... and then I got my period and I felt all calm. The menstrual cycle is a puzzling thing.

So it's an important thing to take into account, if you are female. If I had gone to my doctor during these moody days, I might have asked for an increase or change in my medication.  I'm sure a doctor would have thought that the lithium orotate was no longer working for me... But instead it was just mad PMS causing breakthrough symptoms.  I guess if I don't want those breakthrough symptoms, then getting a prescription to treat them would be fine, but sometimes it's easier to just let things be.  I did self medicate during then, a little of this and a little of that, and I didn't go crazy!  I'm just glad that my normal self came back.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Early Symptoms of Depression and Mania Mood Episodes

This is a table from a study entitled "Prodromal symptoms in manic depressive psychosis" by Smith & Tarrier, 1992. (Abstract)

A prodrome is an early symptom that a disease or attack is about to occur - in this case, an early symptom of a mood episode.

I saved this table because I sure can relate to it!  Note how some of the symptoms are physical - like feeling tired - while others are changes in thought patterns - like feeling guilty or spending money more freely.  The fact that some symptoms represent themselves as thoughts makes it really hard! 

I think this table gave me a lot of insight.   For more insight, check out "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder" by Julie Fast. Although this book is for a family member to read, it is really worth reading if you have bipolar disorder yourself.  She talks about the thought patterns that are symptoms as well.  Plus she has lots of ideas for possible triggers.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Bipolar Hurdle

Photo Credit
Bipolar Disorder is really lousy sometimes. The symptoms flare up when there's something new to deal with. And it doesn't even have to be a big new thing - like a new school, a new job, or a new relationship.  No, the bipolar symptoms can flare up from little things that cause stress. Like shopping at a new store, trying to do something new at work, trying to think different, trying to challenge myself, etc. 

Anything that's out of the ordinary can cause my symptoms to flare up. And how am I supposed to get ahead that way? Sure I can stay where I am doing the same old stuff, but what if I want to make a big leap?  A big leap requires change, which causes stress. Stress causes more symptoms.

Self-help advice for people without Bipolar Disorder doesn't always work for people with Bipolar Disorder.  I think we have to move in smaller steps, be more forgiving, and put value on being symptom free.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Verbalizing Emotions

As a child, my family never talked about our emotions. Yes, there were arguments, tantrums, crying, etc, but rarely a simple conversation. How do you feel? Are you alright?

When I was feeling so terribly anxious that I couldn't eat much, I just retreated to my room.  I wasn't hungry, and that was as much as was said.

Maybe my parents felt it was better to present the appearance of a perfect family than face the reality of problems.  Seeing a shrink was often presented as a threat - you better shape up or you'll have to see one.

Since I didn't have the practice of describing my emotions, I wasn't experienced in recognizing anxiety, sadness, etc.  I think learning how to describe a mood is something that gets better with practice.  Looking back, I can label times when I felt anxious or depressed or manic, but at the time I was just in the moment. Acting on my emotions, but not taking the time to think about them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Depression Distorts Life

I know I am feeling better when I find myself enjoying life, rather than wondering what life's purpose is.

I find myself interested in history, world news, writing, working, cooking, and find life to be marvelous!

I started feeling better after walking yesterday.

Yesterday I was so unsure of life's purpose, I googled life purpose and depression. I didn't find anything remarkable on the topic, but let me tell you - my thoughts were directed by my depression.

Depression distorts thoughts.....  Only goes to show you that how we see the world has everything to do with what's going on inside of us.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trying to Stay Up

It is interesting to note that I don't feel very driven to write in this blog when I feel normal.  There's just nothing to report. I'm taking my medicine and everything is going fine.

At the same time, it's hard to motivate myself to write when I'm depressed. But at least then I have something to write about.

I've been kind of depressed for the last couple of days. Not all of the time depressed, but more blue than not.  I have to work on feeling happy, you know?

So how does one work on feeling happy?  I try to say positive things to myself, sometimes write in my journal, sometimes get out of the house, take a walk, take a drive, etc.  I try to do things I enjoy and listen to upbeat music. And those things all help. 

However, I also experiment with (legal) drugs.  I try to do something to change my brain chemistry.  To get myself up.  Drink a little extra caffeinated tea.  Take a methyl-B12.  Take some choline & inositol.  Take some aniracetam.

And those things do help.  Sometimes each drug/medicine gives me a few hours of feeling normal.  Focused.  Or just less down.  At some point I'll break out of this mood and hopefully go soaring - but just not too high.

I don't usually like to take too much of any one thing, because my goal isn't to feel strange, but rather normal.  I don't want to be manic.  I am particularly sensitive to caffeine, so I'm careful not to overdo that.  The last thing I want is to feel depressed and irritable.  I think that's called a dysphoric mood.

Now I'm going to go walk to try to get that natural high I so need.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Self Love

Self love - do you find it hard?

Every once in awhile, I'll read something that really stays with me.  Recently, it was this thought:

"Relying on the positive assessments of others, while it feels good, is temporary. We all need something more reliable and always at hand. When a negative assessment comes along you can ride your unpredictable waves of feeling if you have an anchor of self respect." - Jaktraks article on "What counseling clients ask me"

I've been thinking about how important it is to do what is right. And trying to always do right.  This helps build self respect. 

For weekend reading, I'd suggest Jaktraks' Squidoo lenses:
It matters how you think
What counseling clients ask me
Small and easy steps create change

Have a happy weekend!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Natural Light Keeping the Blues Away! (January Update on my Mood)

This blog needs an update.  I've gotten sidetracked lately.

About a month ago, I started using a new light by my desk to help improve my mood.  It seems to be working.  I had some bouts of depression before getting the light, but since using it every day, my depression has stayed away almost entirely.

Of course, this is a subjective experience that could be attributed to other things, but the results seem good to me.  I'm still having some of the same stressors, still not getting much outdoor light, and yet my mood is improved.

I am using a Verilux Original Natural Spectrum Deluxe Clamp Lamp.  It's not a special mood light, but I believe the bulb it uses is the same one that is in some of the mood lights.  I use it throughout the day. It sits above my head but off to the side some, and is attached to my computer desk. This way I just do my normal computer work and get the light at the same time.

To sum up, this is what I've been doing to try to keep my mood stable:

- Lithium Orotate, 20 mg a day total (half in the morning, half in the evening)
- Zinc 25mg, taken in the morning

At lunch time, I take chromium to help with my blood sugar levels, plus a multivitamin and vitamin C. These may be helping my mood too.

I used to try to walk every day but I haven't been doing that lately because of foot pain.

I have had an excellent January mood wise. My mood has been pretty stable and I've been productive, except for about 3 days out of this week because I had some cold virus making me dizzy :(

I am also taking Manganese 10mg but this is to prevent tinnitus and I don't think it has any effect on mood - but who knows :)  I guess the good mood could be from that instead, although I started taking that in mid-December, and shortly thereafter my mood was down. So I don't think that's helping my mood unless it just takes a long time to start working.

Whatever I'm doing, it's working!  I have been thinking very positively lately, but not noticeable hypomanic. My thinking seems correct.

I am up in the middle of the night but I think that's because of having a cold virus. I've been getting tired in the evening and sleeping in the evening, then waking up in the middle of the night for awhile, and then going back to sleep.

I also should mention that I am taking piracetam and phenibut occasionally. The piracetam to help with brain function. The phenibut to help with sleep.

The Piracetam helps with many mental functions, but the most measurable one is how fast I can recall the answers when I watch Jeopardy!  I definitely get more answers correct when I take it.