Category Archives: Mental Health

My Bipolar Life

I’ve had Bipolar Disorder since 2007. It came on like a tornado and continued twisting my life into oblivion for seven years!

It began with months of severe mania. I spent thousands of dollars on needless items, was sexually promiscuous, smoked marijuana regularly, flunked out of college, ended my 25 year marriage, and much more.

It was a time like I had never experienced. I learned what euphoria meant.

After the mania phased out, severe depression set in. I visited my doctor and was prescribed antidepressants. They worked about 20% for me but I got worse as the months and years passed.

Suicide thoughts became a daily, almost hourly, companion. It was an awful way to live. I switched antidepressants when I felt the current one wasn’t working but I hadn’t found the right doctor to help me figure out what exactly I had. I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and that wasn’t what I suffered from.

In a short bout of mania once, I didn’t sleep at all for three days! Yes, mania can creep into the depressive times and wreak more havoc.

After seven years of miserable living and being barely able to survive because I couldn’t hold down a job, I found the doctor who would give me my life back. She put together my symptoms and said, “Bipolar.” I added a certain mood stabilizer to my antidepressant and got immediate results.

I was back!

I not only functioned but I thrived. I remarried a wonderfully kind man, got back in school and finished my degree, and was a good mother and daughter again.

I tell you this story in hopes that if someone out there is suffering from mental illness, he or she will never stop seeking medical help. Even if you have a doctor you like, this physician may not be “the one” to solve your issues. Also, if you have a loved one who just “isn’t right,” you might be able to help.

Today, I work online as a counselor/advisor and make good money. I function well and have no more depression or mania. It’s been this way for 6 years now.

Blessings to all of you, and take care!

Lea

Aren’t All Psychics Liars?

I’ve always been able to tell what others are thinking and feeling. It wasn’t a special gift or anything when I was young. I just knew I was different. Other kids my age didn’t have the same senses and feelings I did.

As a young adult, I had two children. I was a great Mama. I noticed my empathy for others around me grew stronger during this time. I also could tell what was going on with the neighbor couple we were acquaintances with – like when they were having marital troubles. I knew what Gloria was thinking even though she smiled and said kind words. She never liked us and felt like she was better than we were. Her husband, Bob, was different. I picked up on his sincerity from the first time I met him. He followed like a puppy wherever Gloria said to go, though.

As I grew into my 40s I noticed another shift in my Intuitive nature and the empathy I had for others. I didn’t always like these “gifts.” The strong feelings left me exhausted and hurting for other people. Actually hurting in my chest. It felt heavy. I had a sadness about me when I knew someone was in pain or if their lives were in turmoil.

I’d never believed in “psychics” before but was starting to delve into the subject. I still wasn’t serious about it all. I was just super sensitive my husband told me.

However, in my 50s, I met a woman who worked full time as an online psychic. She made very good money and always seemed to know what I was thinking. I confided in her how I had always felt about my “sensitivities.” She said I needed to get online and help others with my gifts. I shrugged it off for months. I wasn’t anyone special. Who was I to help other people with their problems in life?

One day, I got serious about the subject – after being exhausted one day from holding in a friend’s marriage problems. I got online and signed up to take chats from strangers. I was scared to death but kept myself honest and open. I didn’t use cards or dice or any other devices. I merely was there for these hurting souls. I felt their pain through their words as they typed to me and I typed back.

That beginning turned out to be a huge blessing of a job for me. I now work part time as an advisor on keen.com (I’m Cajun Queen). I have heard many stories about many types of people. It’s a very interesting career. I feel so blessed and satisfied to be able to do this job. Yes, I get tired mentally and stiff after sitting for so long some days. But, it’s worth it to help those out there who are in need.

I just thought I’d let you know how some of us who are online advisors (some are called psychics) think. I’m not out to make the callers stay online as long as possible for the money. That is a misconception some of my acquaintances. I type quickly and I don’t waste their time.

So, there are some of us out here who are honestly doing a service for others on these psychic sites. Just thought you’d like to know.

Andrea Yates, Murdered her Children

Andrea Yates, born July 2, 1964, lived in Clear Lake, Texas (a Houston suburb) with her husband and five children. However, happy she was not. She was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression and schizophrenia and had tried to commit suicide at least once before she drowned her children on June 20, 2001, one by one, in the bathtub. There was Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, 6 months.

Andrea started with John, Paul, and Luke, and then laid them in her bed. Then she drowned Mary and left her floating in the tub. Noah came in, and asked what was wrong with Mary. He then ran, but she soon caught him and drowned him. She left him floating in the tub, and laid Mary in John’s arms in the bed. They had all just been eating breakfast.

She then called the police repeatedly saying she needed an officer, but would not say why. So she called Rusty, and told him to come home right away. After the drownings, she laid each on her bed.

Her husband, Rusty, a former NASA engineer, had left for work, leaving Andrea alone to watch the children – against her physician’s instructions to supervise her around the clock. His mother, Dora Yates, had been scheduled by Rusty to arrive an hour later to take over for Andrea. In the space of that hour, Andrea drowned all five children.

She was convicted of capital murder but has lived in a Texas mental hospital since 2007, when she was declared in court to be not guilty by reason of insanity. This decision outraged much of the public. They could not understand how a mother could kill her own children.

In August 2004, Rusty filed for divorce, stating that he and Yates had not lived together as a married couple since the day of the murders. The divorce was granted on March 17, 2005.

Andrea now is likely living out the rest of her life at the Kerrville State Hospital, a low-security mental health facility in Texas.

The Sofa, My Best Friend

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Since turning 55, I not only feel mentally challenged but I am definitely physically challenged, as well. The mental part is having to deal with being halfway to 60! I can hardly believe that. I also deal with Bipolar but I’m medicated and it’s not much of a problem until something in life goes wrong. Then, I go from “normal” to deep depression in about sixty seconds.

The sofa became my best friend a few months ago when I began feeling marked fatigue and apathy because of it. I take meds for the Bipolar and for blood pressure and for insomnia. I take vitamins and iron (I’ve been anemic, too). It’s getting old.

It’s like turning 55 turned my health upside down in a way. I have “female issues” to deal with that will likely have me in the doctor’s office often over the next few months. Again, It’s getting old.

My sofa is soft and leather. It’s a comforting dark brown and sinks when I lay in it. It’s a place I can hang out in without being in bed. I know my poor husband is tired of seeing me like this but it’s “supposed” to be over soon. We’ll see. I doubt anything that promises happiness these days. I can’t quite achieve that level of mood.

I write this not to bring my readers down but to show you that you are very blessed if you are healthy. My husband has things worse than I do. He fights MS every day. Pain, aches, burning nerve endings, fatigue, and he takes lots of meds.

I really do need to stop griping and get my behind off of this sofa and into a project – like de-cluttering the office. But, as I type, I’m on my tummy on my sofa – my best friend. The one who cradles me and tells me I can take refuge in him for this short while in my life.

I think when I finish blogging, I’ll mosey into the office and see about donating some of my many books to a thrift store.

I wish you all blessings of health and happiness! I’d appreciate your prayers, too.

Medications and Weight Loss

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How is my new eating plan going, you ask? Please don’t ask right now.

My doc changed then increased my antidepressant med a few weeks ago. I’ve been dealing with sleepiness during the day. I’ve tried taking this drug (generic Effexor) at night instead but to no avail – I still get daytime sleepiness.

I figure it will pass. It almost did – until the doc increased the dosage a few days ago.

Having Bipolar means I’m on an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer, both. They work together to make me feel much better and more “normal.”

It hasn’t been good for my weight loss, though. I gained back what I’d lost and gained about 6 more pounds. Ugh!!

I’ll chalk it up to meds change and not beat myself up about it.

I’ve been eating well, however. I love veggies, fruits, and lean meats. I made brown rice last night with roasted carrots and a small, lean cut of beef. I still find myself hungry much more often than usual. It’s infuriating. I’ve learned to grab grapes for a quick snack or other fruit.

Do you take meds that mess with your weight or that may cause other health issues for you? It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

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I need to go and exercise but am so freaking sleepy I wonder if I can raise my head from this couch pillow. I will push myself . . . see where it gets me. It will either give me energy or I’ll be ready for burial. LOL!

Love y’all!

Emotional Detachment Can be Good for You

Time away to process her thoughts

 

(By Esther Neptune on keen.com)

 

Valentine’s season is right around the corner!  Every year, I listen to friends describe the hopes, dreams and expectations they have for this wonderful month of love. But what happens if those expectations are unmet?  How do you deal with the negative emotions that result?

Learning how to detach from your emotions, and look at them under the microscope, can help maintain your love for self in the wake of disappointment.  This can apply to situations outside of our love lives as well.

What is Detachment?

The Oxford Dictionary defines detachment as “a state of being objective or aloof.” Objectivity calls us to think outside the box of emotions and consider life as it is, rather than how we would want it to be. Aloofness is a state of tuning out emotionally and is more avoidant than objectivity.

When is Attachment Unhealthy?

We are all attached to people, places, goals, ambitions and statuses in our lives. To some degree, this is normal and healthy. It becomes unhealthy when potential loss creates negative emotions that interfere with our daily lives.

For example, let’s say you went out on a date and got to know a very interesting person. You exchange thoughtful conversation and have a great deal in common. You haven’t felt this connected to anyone in years!

After the date, you don’t hear from the person for three days. You are frantic, anxious, and obsessed with when you may hear from him next. Relief hits when you hear back. However, the cycle has potential to start over again if those fears aren’t addressed.

 

How Do I Know if I’m Too Attached?

Let’s start first by examining what happens in normal attachments. When you care about someone, it’s healthy to wonder from time to time how they are doing. It is also healthy to send out intentions to the Universe on their behalf for their well-being.

Excessive attachment is when a person, status, or goal becomes your entire reason for being. These issues may be rooted in childhood. For example, a young lady struggling to win approval in her career as an adult have been chided by her parents for not bringing home a report card with straight A’s. Feeling the failure of this disappointment, she continues to beat up on herself, which further depletes her energy.

How Do I Practice Detachment?

  1. Take Inventory

The first step is to do an inventory of people, places, and things in one’s life that may have become all-consuming. Try to be as candid and honest with yourself as possible while making this list. Remember that you can’t change what you don’t bring to light with yourself.

  1. Analyze Your Attachment Patterns

After taking inventory, analyze the patterns of who and what you attach most to. Are the people in your life that you gravitate towards those you can “rescue” or “save?” Or are you repeatedly drawn to emotionally unavailable people? Are the jobs, goals and careers you pursue either too easy or too difficult?

  1. Ground Yourself

Develop a relationship with a Higher Power of your own understanding. This can go outside the boundaries of religious tradition. When a person makes this decision, it lessens the degree of unhealthy attachment.

  1. Be Inspired by Everyday Life

Take a walk. Go shopping. Go out to eat and mingle with the wait staff. The bottom line is to make sure you’re doing something daily that breaks the mold of your routine. Choose to incorporate activities that don’t hinge on expectations of anyone else. Embrace the uncertainty rather than hold onto the “certain,” because life is never certain!

  1. Practice Daily Self-Love Rituals

Remember that if you choose to love yourself first, healthy attachments with others will naturally follow. Choose to do one loving, positive thing for yourself daily.  Get a massage, take an Epsom salt bath, exercise, eat well!

Is it Depression or Bipolar?

 

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Thanks to Kitt O’Malley, who posted this before me. And thanks to Michael Pipich for the wonderful information.

Are You Just Depressed or Is It the Onset of Bipolar Disorder?

Michael G. Pipich, MS, LMFT

About two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed with other mental health problems before bipolar is discovered.[1] Among those individuals, a significant majority are given a diagnosis of major depression. Most people with a major depressive disorder that is unrelated to bipolar disorder (typically known as non-bipolar depression or unipolar depression) can be treated safely and effectively with a combination of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. But when people with undetected bipolar are treated this way, a host of mental health problems can occur, making the underlying bipolar condition much worse.

It’s understandable that someone may not immediately be given the bipolar diagnosis if their first mood swing begins in a depression mood zone. This seems particularly true of people who have bipolar II disorder. And sometimes, there may be more than one depressive episode before a manic or hypomanic episode happens in a person with bipolar.

If you’re wondering about whether you may have depression or the beginning of bipolar, there are some keys to keep in mind when seeking treatment.

First of all, when assessing if your depression is a part of bipolar, know that bipolar disorder has distinct genetic foundations. In other words, it runs in families and is passed through family genes. So if you suspect that any family members may have had bipolar disorder, it’s important to inform your doctor or therapist when entering treatment. If the information is available, a thorough family mental health history can really support a proper bipolar diagnosis. Unfortunately, such information isn’t always asked for, so be prepared to volunteer all that you know during an evaluation or treatment session.

Next, your personal history of mood swings should be explored. If you’ve had severe ups and downs during childhood or adolescence, these may be more than the common tumult of growing up. They may instead be early expressions of bipolar disorder. It’s especially important to review periods of hyperactivity, bouts of unexplained rage, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts or actions that could have occurred at any time in life. There certainly may be other explanations for these, such as early life trauma or severe loss and grief experienced during these formative years. But if explosive behaviors or deep depression occurred at different times, especially with little or no provocation, it can point to underlying bipolar disorder.

Usually, most people with bipolar who seek treatment on their own are currently or recently depressed, or are experiencing consequences of untreated bipolar disorder. Any history of mania or hypomania is less obvious, however. And often, bipolar patients will either not understand manic symptoms or will avoid discussion about them. If you have had at least one occurrence in your life of intense euphoria, excitability, unexplained energy and creativity, avoidance of sleep, or impulsive behaviors, inform your treatment professional. But also bear in mind that mania and hypomania may be marked by intense periods of irritability and agitation, know as dysphoria. This is in contrast to the euphoria that most people think about with bipolar mania. Often a dysphoric type of manic or hypomanic episode can be mistaken for the kind of agitation seen in major depression. This can mislead the course of treatment to focus only on depression, while missing the full bipolar condition.

This brings us to the most important part of knowing whether you have depression or bipolar onset. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition), if a patient is given an antidepressant medication, and it produces manic symptoms, the person is then diagnosed with bipolar disorder.[2] While this is a very clear indication of bipolar, how the mania surfaces in the individual may take different forms. For example, a person in a depression mood zone can improve early in the treatment, and as a result, may not show manic symptoms right away. Any slight improvement may provide a hopeful sign that treatment is working, but when the person starts to get worse because of emerging mania—especially if it’s dysphoric—the unwitting response may be to apply more antidepressant medication. Now we have some real problems.

So, if at some point in your treatment, an antidepressant medication makes you feel more agitated, more irritable, more aggressive, or you start to experience hyperactivity or greater impulsivity, tell your treatment professional right away. This could be the start of a manic episode that is revealing a previously undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Even more importantly, any increase in suicidal thoughts or possible psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, should be reported immediately, as these can be life-threatening. Any antidepressants will either likely be eliminated at this point, or possibly paired with a mood stabilizing or antipsychotic drug to keep a lid on mania.

With bipolar finally recognized, bipolar medications can be introduced to decrease manic-type symptoms, while keeping depression in check. Alongside medications, it’s important to have therapy focus on the unique challenges facing people with bipolar disorder. Major depression is frequently considered an acute condition because it often can resolve in time, so medications may be discontinued at some point, along with a shorter overall approach to therapy. But bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. Even though its symptoms can come and go in episodes, the genetic nature of the condition means the bipolar patient will need continuing care through the lifespan.


[1] Hirschfeld R. M., Lewis, L., & Vornik, L. A. (2003). Perceptions and impact of bipolar disorder: How far have we really come? Results of the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association 200 survey of individuals with bipolar disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry64(2), 161–174.

[2] American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author, 128-130.


 

Michael G. Pipich, MS, LMFT is a psychotherapist and author of Owning Bipolar: How Patients and Families Can Take Control of Bipolar Disorder, (Citadel Press, Sept 2018). He practices in Denver, Colorado, and can be reached at MichaelPipich.com.

Press Contact: Janet Appel Public Relations
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Bipolar Disorder – My Shadow

 

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A mood disorder is tough to deal with – whether you are the sufferer or the loved one of a sufferer.

It’s like my own shadow but one that often catches up and overcomes me, Bipolar Disorder. And it doesn’t play fair. I go along with my life “normally” for a few weeks until a dark mood sneaks up behind me and bites me in the behind. I’ve had a few episodes of severe mania but now mostly experience the severe depression side when the disorder kicks in.

I dutifully take Zoloft and Abilify to even things out. Thank goodness for those. They allow me to live a life of being stable most of the time. However, when PMS hits or when perimenopause changes my hormone levels, watch out!

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An old friend and I text now and then. She never knew I had been diagnosed with this disorder, and I had hurt her feelings a few years back. I tried to apologize many times  but she kept me at arm’s length in fear of being treated poorly again. I finally told her why I’d been on a roller coaster of emotions back then. I imagined she didn’t want to complicate her life with a friend who had mood issues.

Can’t say I blame my old friend. I don’t like having me around at certain times, either. However, I do the best I can to treat others with respect and understanding (when I have my wits about me).

So, please, if you know someone with this (or other) type of mental challenge, consider being as understanding as possible with him or her. It takes a lot out of a person to ride this coaster.

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Bipolar Mixed Episode . . . The Next Morning

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The hours after a Bipolar Mixed Episode are like watching a scary movie. I keep my hands over my eyes and peek through my fingers. What unintentional damage did I do this time? Who did I reach out to and spill my (very personal) guts to? How many mean and demeaning things did I say to my husband? Did others notice my expression and down-turned eyes when I had to leave the dinner we were attending? If it hits me while I’m in public, I have to find a way out of the people because my mood definitely shows in my face. No playing “just fine” at these times. Many times, I’ll blog. Writing has always been my outlet. Even as a ten year old, I wrote “escape” poetry. I finally took you guys along with me last night during an episode (you lucky people). 😉  Well, today is a new day, and I broke the mood cycle with sleep. Life still isn’t perfect but at least I can deal with things differently today.

Bless you, my readers and subscribers. Have an awesome day ~

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Join Me in a Bipolar Mixed Episode

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It’s been a day of hard issues. Please forgive my disjointed organization of thought. I’m taking you with me on a bout with Bipolar Mixed episode. I have depression paired with anxiety at the moment. I feel anger, rage actually. I want to die. Not to threaten it but to actually do the deed. I don’t because of my two kids and my mother. I love them too much to put them through a loss like that, so I’m stuck in this mental illness with no real way out. Meds work most of the time. Not tonight. I feel lonely – like I am ultimately responsible for myself, and I hate that. It’s scary and a lonely place to be. I’ve always been a sheltered child and then a sheltered woman. One of my problems is that I can’t organized my thoughts to keep a job for longer than a year but also can’t receive government aid (as income). It’s a terrible cycle which causes me much anxiety and depression.  Here is how it starts – the bipolar/mania cycle. As I type, the words on the screen are blurry, and I make a lot of spelling errors. I long for the long seep. The end of all of these roller coaster of emotions. Medications can only do so much for me. I’ve dealt with this for nine years. I’m TIRED of fighting with it. I hope I can sleep tonight. I hope when I wake, it’s a happy new day. But I don’t know. I hang in the abyss of a universe with stars blinking brightly, hurting my eyes. I float too closely to the planets. It’s sometimes hard to breathe in this dark vast space. Other times I get lungs full of fresh air. Hope is all I have. It stays somewhere deep in my core, a tiny flame that doesn’t seem to go out even when high winds or heavy rains cover it. I am inwardly thankful for that flame. It promises  another day that might be a good one. One with sunshine on my face and bird songs in my ears.

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