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!