Hypomanic Denial? Or Do I Need A Clue?

It’s possible that I’m falling ahead of myself and stumbling, scraping my own dumb forehead in the process. My wife feels my recent behaviors have triggered hypomania, resulting in her fear of full blown mania. Is she correct? I don’t know, really. You could say it all started when I self-righteously decided to participate in alcohol related activities after a five year drinking hiatus. Not one drop of liquid intoxication for just over five years. Until now. About two months ago I had a drink, socially, with friends. It filled me with warm nostalgia, and a license to cut loose. I don’t know if this has anything to do with my changed view on life, or my desire to “live it up” before the baby gets here, but I know that I feel good. I have been a lot more social with my group of friends as well. Admittedly, I have gone out multiple nights in a row, on a few occasions. I also made the mistake of staying out until 5am. More than once. Okay, not my finest moments… But I want to take up every opportunity to have fun before we will be consumed with diapers and midnight feedings. I don’t think this constitutes as hypo anything. I usually listen to my wife’s observations and concerns, but I don’t feel as energetic as she says I am. I don’t see the downward spiral she sees. I see myself living up my last child-less summer. Am I selfish? Am I in denial?

I look at some main triggers of hypomania, and they include: drinking alcohol or using mind-altering drugs, taking a trip, major change or life event, over-stimulation and excitement, overall restlessness or boredom, excessive noise or partying. Examining these triggers makes me wonder if my wife has a point. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t describe my life as of lately. I just returned from a trip, I’m attending two music concerts tomorrow, I’ve been drinking with my friends, and to top it off, I have an out of town friend, whom I met online, coming to meet me this weekend for the first time. I’ve completely screwed up my friendship with my best friend, and I allowed my irresponsibility get the best of me two days ago, as I hurt my wife’s feelings in unexplainable ways. I suppose I’m moving fast and fucking up, but I feel fine, I don’t feel manic!

Mania is what I know. The racing thoughts, pressured speech, the euphoria, the hyper-sexuality, the larger than life ideals and philosophies, the grandiosity, delusions, and obsessions. This is not mania. This is living. Isn’t it? Am I naive to my own existence?    

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Travel Tips for Bipolar Disorder

In one week I will be going on a short vacation, traveling from Michigan to Kentucky to visit with family. Even though the trip’s a week away, the travel anxiety started days ago. You know that panicky feeling of not having everything you need in order to be comfortable and secure? Yeah that’s how I feel. My Bipolar tends to trigger when I feel unsettled. I hate feeling unprepared for things. One time my wife and I flew to California and I just about lost my flipping mind. I couldn’t control my outbursts or random crying spells. The time zone threw me off and I hated the airplane. I even picked fights with my wife. While I genuinely loved California, I sure as hell didn’t show it. From that point I vowed to not allow this scene to repeat itself. I vowed to be prepared for all future trips.

I have two separate lists. One is all the things I need to do before we leave, the other is everything we need to bring with us. I don’t care if the to-do list includes painting my toenails, because I know if I don’t do it, I will feel unfinished. Anxiety makes me hyper-sensitized to the littlest things. I’m confident that checking off my lists this far in advance will allow me to have a more relaxed and outburst-free trip.

I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject of Bipolar Disorder and travel, and here are some good tips that I’ve come up with:

  • If there is a time zone change, practice for the zone before you leave. This means going to bed and getting up on your destination time. The closer you can get to the time, the better.
  • Sleep regularly while you are there. Disturbed sleep is a prime suspect in triggering episodes.
  • Forecast your destination activities. Adrenaline pumping activities, unlimited access to alcohol, large crowds of people, personality-clashing relatives, crammed quarters, or even a climate you’re not used to can all affect Bipolar Disorder.
  • Be prepared with your medications. Make sure you count out enough meds for each day you’ll be gone, so you don’t run out before returning home. Carry you doctor’s and your pharmacy information just in case. You might even want to talk to your doctor about trying something for anxiety if you feel it will be an issue during your travels.
  • Practice relaxation. Try deep breathing exercises or meditating. These are great to use if things get a little too busy and you feel yourself start to lose it. Slowly breathe in, counting to five, then exhale counting backward from five. Repeat three times.

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Overall the biggest piece of advice I can give is to plan ahead. Have your map, your GPS, your debit cards, portable snacks, and comfortable shoes all set and ready. If you plan ahead, you will be able to spend more time focusing on what’s truly important. So far I’m taking my own advice and I hope I can make it through the next week calmly, then enjoy some R & R.

Missing bipolar mania during remission | bphope

One of the things that I can’t ever seem to wrap my head around is why the hell I miss being manic when I’m feeling well. Bipolar remission, as this article refers to it, is a balanced and mentally healthy place to be. Extremes like depression and mania are sneaky culprits, robbing us of the balanced state of mind. It’s very easy to romanticize these extreme moods, however. (Much like I’ve been doing recently.) From the carefree and seductive mania, to the lazy melancholy of the depressed mood, we tend to appreciate the intensity of these states. Often we don’t appreciate them until they are gone, and we are feeling good. This is also where we tend to forget the ugly side of extreme moods, such as irritability, sadness, destruction, and potential consequences from poor judgement.

Check out this article from bphope.com on one woman’s perspective as she struggles with missing her mania during her Bipolar remission:
Missing bipolar mania during remission | bphope.

Activities For Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong illness, and it affects millions of adults in the U.S. Treatments include medication and various forms of therapy for mood management. It is important for those with Bipolar to get involved with activities that provide structure and routine, while helping to keep energy focused.

Exercise is one activity that helps bipolar disorder, not only because of the endorphines and positive brain chemicals, but because it helps both extremes- depression and mania. Physical activity gives manic energy a structured channel, thus facilitating a healthy outlet. As for depression, having an exercise routine can help lift the symptoms, producing the energy that is usually lacking when in a depressed state.

Creative activities are extremely beneficial for bipolar disorder. Most people with bipolar tend to be naturally creative anyway, so finding means for creative expression can actually be therapeutic and aid in maintaining mood swings and episodes. Writing, painting, crafts, and music are ideal activities for creative people.

Social activities with loved ones and friends or with a support group help those with mood disorders because socializing allows one to step outside and into the relationship paradigms they hold with others, whether intimately or casually. Recreational activities decrease stress and boost serotonin and dopamine. Sometimes it helps to talk about stressors involving the disorder as well.

Getting your domestic activities in order is a must for both necessity and hobby. It’s good to commit to a routine with housework and cleaning, otherwise potential mood episodes can alter the likelihood of completing chores. Other domestic activities can be fun, like cooking, and would be a great hobby. These activities enhance memory and attention span, as well as a sense of accomplishment.

Sometimes it may seem difficult to get started on incorporating activities into one’s life, but once the routine is set, it becomes easier, and quite enjoyable. The benefits for bipolar disorder and self-discovery are definitely worth the while.Image  

A Primer on Positive Self-Talk

One of the things I’ve been working on recently is banishing negative thoughts, and replacing them with positive self-talk. Being more mindful of toxic thought patterns has allowed me to live more peacefully and pro-actively. Sure, I still have a lot further to go, but it’s alright because I’m getting there. Negative thinking is such a common habit among many of us, whether you have a psychiatric disorder or not. Outside factors such as other people, job stress, school, society, and media can plant negativity in our minds, which then manifests into self damage and sabotage. Below is a pretty good infograph depicting this way of thinking, and how to turn it around into positive self-talk.

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9 Triggers of Bipolar Mood Swings

I found this article on everydayhealth.com about the most common triggers of Bipolar Disorder. The article touches on things such as lack of sleep, dealing with triggers from a breakup, seasonal changes and how they affect mood changes, pregnancy, job loss, and more. One of the more interesting triggers that I can identify with is grief, or mourning the death of a loved one, and the theory of “funeral mania”.  I’ve lost several friends and family members over the last couple of years, and I hadn’t realized that it was indeed triggering manic symptoms in me. I knew I behaved differently because I felt like I should be more depressed, not the “busy-body” I become when someone passes. Anyway, check out the article and perhaps gain some new insight on your own triggers.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder-pictures/biggest-triggers-of-bipolar-mood-swings.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthLivingWithBipolarDisorder_20130217#/slide-1

 

 

NAMI | Bradley Cooper Speaks Out in National Dialogue on Mental Illness

Bradley Cooper is the star of the new hit film, Silver Linings Playbook, which has been nominated for 5 academy awards. I have yet to see this movie, but I certainly intend to. Cooper plays a man with Bipolar Disorder and he is faced with a series of challenges in his life. Robert Deniro also stars in the film as Cooper’s father.

Click on the link to read what Bradley Cooper had to say about mental illness.

NAMI | Bradley Cooper Speaks Out in National Dialogue on Mental Illness.

Information provided by NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness)

15 Ways to Boost Self-Esteem

Let’s chat about something that in some way, shape, or form affects us all. I’m talking about self-esteem. I will shamelessly admit that I have a considerably low self-esteem. Sometimes I am careful to not show it, other times my crafty side manages to fake confidence so I can trick myself into thinking my esteem is higher than it truly is. It messes with my head and can get rather exhausting. I’ve come to a point in my life where I have to examine my situation and make some decisions about myself. Right now, I’m about to embark on two life-altering events, which include planning for a baby, and choosing a graduate program. These are wonderful milestones that I know anyone would be blessed with. I’m terrified and unsure about my abilities. I’m filled with self-doubt and self-loathing. The good news is that I’m aware of this dilemma and want to crack it once and for all. I suspect I’m not the only one out there with low self-esteem so I’ve decided to share my findings with you.

So, what is self-esteem, anyway? Basically, it’s how you view yourself. Good self-esteem develops from a positive self-concept, which exhibits a general belief that you are good and worthwhile. Associated factors include a sense of confidence, a belief that you are a capable person, and that you are worthy of love and respect. Now before I get ahead of myself, it is possible for people to have too high a self-esteem also. These folks have an unrealistically positive and inflated sense of self and may come off as arrogant. Low self-esteem causes you to put little value on your opinions and ideas, and only focus on weaknesses. It holds you back from having confidence to do things you might be interested in doing, such as hobbies or careers. This might come from a fear of failure, which in turn can result in self-sabotage at work or school. I know I am guilty of this crippling behavior.

The ultimate goal is to possess a healthy self-esteem. This doesn’t mean being in love with yourself- this means liking yourself and accepting yourself for who you are. Building confidence and being more assertive are viable reasons to adjust your esteem, not to mention gaining security in your relationships with other people. So, how the heck do we accomplish this? Well, first you should know it’s an ongoing process that is practiced over a lifetime, not a quick fix.

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Some tips on improving your self-esteem:

Boost Your Awareness
One of the very first things you can do is to start paying attention to what triggers you. This includes situations and people. Next pay attention to how those situations and people make you feel. Identify these feelings. For instance do you feel insecure? Unattractive? Inadequate? Most likely these thoughts are irrational, and there’s a chance you know this, but it’s important to recognize each of them.

Change Your Environment
Surround yourself with an uplifting environment. Studies have shown that brighter colors tend to eradicate positive energy. Play music with a positive message. Hang motivational quotes in places you walk past every day. Personally, I’m a sucker for words so I try to keep positive quotes around for my consistent review. If you have awards or anything symbolizing accomplishment, you should put it out, to be reminded of what you have done.

Take a Stand on Self-talk
One very common thing most of us tend to do is practice inner dialogue that is devaluing to yourself in some way. I do it constantly. This is the voice that says, “you’re not good enough”, or “you’re a screw up”, or any of the other million negative, self-deprecating phrases. These need to stop. To help with your self-esteem, you need to start counting how often you say these things to yourself, and try to stop yourself in that moment. It won’t be easy, but it is so necessary.

Clean it Up
Do something extra for your appearance such as put on makeup, shave, or add a dab of cologne. Maybe buy a new outfit. At the very least, practice good hygiene. The belief that you feel better when you look better actually holds some weight. And when you present the best version of yourself, others will notice too.

Celebrate Your Successes
Did you land a big account at work? Or meet that weight loss goal? Whatever you may have accomplished, you deserve to celebrate it. Treat yourself to a movie with a friend, or buy that pair of boots you’ve been eyeing. Go ahead and tell someone about what you accomplished. You earned the recognition!

Do Something You’re Good At
I know what you’re thinking. You think you’re not good at anything. Well, I call your bluff. Everybody is good at something. Even if it is only one thing, that’s okay, it’s something. It doesn’t have to be playing an instrument or building a house. Maybe you have a gentle nature and are good with animals. That’s a talent. So volunteer at an animal shelter or start a pet-sitting business. The possibilities are endless. If you can do something, then do it.

Learn Something New
A key way to build self-esteem is to build on yourself. Learning something new is great because you build on your skill set, which enhances your knowledge, and adds to your talents. Plus, it’s fun!

Join the Crowd
Reexamine those you hang out with. In order to feel better about yourself, you need to put yourself in the company of people who make you feel good. If you surround yourself with people who put you down, constantly complain or nag, then it would be difficult for anyone to feel good in their presence. Likewise, be careful of friends who make a habit of flaunting their possessions and accomplishments. You want to be around others who like and accept you for you. A reciprocating sense of encouragement with your friends is imperative for self-growth.

Set Goals
Setting goals can certainly enhance your self-esteem, but only if you actually accomplish these goals. To do this, it’s important to have a structured plan in place for reaching the goal that you set. You can have a long-term goal such as graduating college, or a short-term goal such as cleaning out your closet, or even something in the middle, like losing ten pounds. Set your goal, create your plan, implement the steps, and then once you reach that goal, make sure you celebrate!

Forgive Yourself
One of the culprits of low self-esteem is self-blame. Blaming yourself for something that is beyond your control can not only make you feel badly about yourself, but can also fuel anxiety or depression. It’s time to forgive yourself and let it go. If there was something still bothering you from the past, or you need to make amends with someone, then now is a good time to do that. If you are practicing self-deprecating behavior at the reins of someone else, it’s time to realize you don’t need anyone’s approval but your own. If any of this is an ongoing issue, I suggest talking to a therapist to help you clear out some of those thoughts.

Take Chances
Step out of your comfort zone. Take a new route home. Eat at a new restaurant. Start up a conversation with somebody. Join a club or committee. Just one little ounce of effort in uncharted territory will boost the hell out of your confidence.

No More Comparisons
You are the one and only you. There is nobody like you. Comparing yourself to others is just giving them the power to hog the spotlight of your delusion. It really will not make you a better person. A little known secret- everyone has insecurities, even those you feel you don’t measure up to. Pay attention to when you start comparing and then reverse it by thinking of the things in your life you are grateful for. I bet there’s a lot.

Trust Yourself
When you are feeling a little unsure, try trusting yourself. You say you’re scared to take a step? You’re afraid you’ll mess it up? I say give yourself more credit than that! Trusting yourself is the key to personal empowerment. You totally got this!

Physical Activity
Exercise releases endorphins and helps boost serotonin and dopamine, or the “feel good” chemicals in your body. It also helps accomplish weight and body image goals, as well as relieves stress. Getting enough physical activity will naturally help you feel better about yourself, thus helping to boost your self-esteem.

Avoid Toxic Stuff
Alcohol can physically deplete you of Vitamin B as well as Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids maintain levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. While some people think having a few drinks helps to enhance confidence, a.k.a. “liquid courage”, they are actually contributing to depression and low self-esteem. Consequently, low self-esteem can manifest into alcohol and drug addiction. Overall, it’s best to avoid these substances.

Hopefully you can find value in yourself, and make it a point to bring a low self-esteem to a healthier place. Remember self-esteem issues are common for those of us with mood disorders, but it doesn’t mean we have to accept that’s how we must live. I know I will continue to work on my own self-esteem, as I have confidence you will work on yours.

Catch Those Thoughts As They Race Away!

Let’s talk racing thoughts for a minute. What are they? Well, let’s start with what they are not. Racing thoughts are not just thoughts thinking fast. If they were simply fast thoughts, then any busy-minded person would be experiencing them. Truth is, racing thoughts are actually a symptom of Bipolar disorder mania, anxiety disorders, and even depression. They are constant, rapidly triggering thoughts that literally won’t shut up. These particular thoughts may not be about any one thing in particular, but rather anything and everything simultaneously, and they impulsively fire to the point where they can take over the other thoughts you might be trying to focus on. Whenever this happens to me it feels like an intense, maniacal loudness going off in my head. The worst part is the inability to control the race.

So how do you describe this agonizing experience? Well, it can begin with a simple thought, let’s use thinking about what to cook for dinner. So as your head starts to ponder over ingredients, this thought is interrupted by dialogue from a movie you watched last night, then immediately you envision what your car would look like painted blue, then about three different songs pop into your head, then you realize you need to start going to bed earlier, and you wish you liked sports. Does this sound like an experience you have had? What if I said this thought promenade took place in a matter of a minute and a half? What if I said this heedless mental activity occurs all day, non-stop? And if you are experiencing insomnia, this has been known to continue throughout the night as well.

Racing thoughts are nothing to take lightly, and they are extremely frustrating, causing true distress to the person suffering. When racing thoughts accelerate, your mind is not your own and all you can do is facilitate this turbo charged brain-fire. Often times, racing thoughts trigger worsening symptoms, thus developing into full-blown mania. Likewise, these thoughts could inspire sinking into a deep depression.

How can you tell if you are experiencing racing thoughts? First, the inability to concentrate on things you normally can. Of course everyone has off days as well as being bored with some things. But when you are unable to concentrate and it is negatively affecting your daily life, that is a problem. Next, on top of concentration issues, if you have multiple thoughts forcefully fighting to share the spotlight in your mind, then that can be a problem as well. Thoughts can include snippets from conversations, music or lyrics, new ideas and random goals, and sometimes even repetitive rhythms or beats can occupy your thinking. Please know this is different from auditory hallucinations, or “hearing voices”. If you are experiencing uncontrollable racing thoughts, you may need to talk to your psychiatrist about adjusting your meds. I am a frequent sufferer of racing thoughts and I do the back and forth pharmaceutical thing, but this is one symptom I cannot live with, and neither should anyone else.

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Invincible and Triggered

And now I say hello to holiday anxiety. It’s true- I declared myself invincible this year and thought I wouldn’t experience any mood triggers or stress. I must really entertain myself because apparently my brain had other ideas. It started four days ago. A simple disagreement with my wife triggered flying high irritability as well as crying spells and road rage. My cycling has been pretty active this whole week. It was slightly unexpected since I have been functioning fine on my newest combo of meds. Now take my agitation and mix it with my extreme boredom…enter the busy mind. The busy mind has been known to be a pre-cursor to my mania. Okay before we go any further, let me explain my work situation. I work in an empty office all day long. I work by myself in that empty office all day long. I’m pretty much left to my own devices and due to the seasonal nature of this particular industry, I have nothing constructive to do. Ok now take that information and imagine that I’ve been driving myself crazy, all day long, these last few days. Finally on Wednesday night I attended my support group and talked about these triggers occurring. I could tell what everyone was thinking as I described my irritability and aggressive feelings, and as I explained my agitation and crying spells, a few people expressed their concern with manic triggers. While I didn’t go into full-blown mania or anything that night, I began feeling a new trigger yesterday. This time it was directly regarding Christmas and not being as fit, financially, as we have been in previous years. The holiday hustle-bustle has never been something I’m good at. Now, I don’t mind things happening fast but when life as we know it becomes about shopping, and the retail journey is more pandemonium than peace, I (as well as many other Bipolars) start to ride the wave of the environmental stimuli. The busy affect of the holidays manifests the busy affect of my brain.

So what do I do about the triggers and cycling?

Well, it has been difficult, I must admit. However, I practice deep breathing exercises religiously. Slooowly inhale, hold for a second, then slooowly exhale. I do this about 5 times. Deep breathing is one of my favorite instantaneous diffusers. The only problem is if I don’t immediately think to go into breathing mode, but I’m noticing this gets easier with practice. Yoga is another excellent tool I use to calm down. A simple sun sequence provides fluid transitions between poses that provide physical stretching and balance, as well as a meditative quality that allows you to expand your mind, easing it to calmness and clarity. These things don’t necessarily take away the mood swings or the irritability, but any amount of relief makes a world of difference, even if it is temporary.

So, overall, I’m a little bit of a hot mess right now. But I’ll be okay. I’m taking my medication and looking for ways to relieve my boredom. Next thing is to just keep on truckin’ it through the holiday season, while reminding myself I don’t have to be invincible.

Tips on Living with Bipolar Disorder

Advocacy and education seem to go hand in hand. When it comes to Bipolar Disorder, I feel that a part of advocating is to educate people on ways to cope with living with the disorder. So I went ahead and came up with a list of essential things to help live with Bipolar and not against it. And, yeah, some of these things I’m still learning myself.

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Get Present
Try to bring yourself to the present moment. Take a mental note of your surroundings. Look at your current situation. Look at whom you are with. Listen to what you are conversing about. Think about how it makes you feel. Take note of any potential triggers in your situation. Doing this helps with your personal awareness and allows you to gain knowledge of your own patterns.

Education is Key
Learn everything you can about your disorder. All mood disorders have distinct qualifiers and variances. Read about the types of Bipolar. Learn about triggers, mood swings, mania, depression, and what a mixed episode is. Go online or to the library. You can even ask your psychiatrist for recommended literature. The more you know, the more confident you will be and the better you can manage your disorder.

Don’t F**** with Meds
As frustrating as it can be, it is so very important to be consistent with your medication. Often, finding the correct med and the correct dosage can be trial and error, but you have to trust your psychiatrist and communicate with him or her about how you feel on the medication. Also, the number one reason we tend to stop taking our meds is because we “feel better”. I know. I’ve done it. Many times. This is NOT a reason to come off of them!

Routine and Structure
Establishing a routine and finding structure help to maintain stability. This means go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Most of us know BP and insomnia go hand in hand, so committing to a set schedule can really help control that. The same goes for taking meds at the same times each day to stay regulated. It is also recommended to eat your meals, exercise, and do leisure activities all in a set routine. Personally, I eat when I’m hungry and exercise when I feel like it, but hey, that’s why this is all a process, right?

Build Your Support System
This includes your family and friends, your significant other, your therapist, your psychiatrist, and anyone who you feel you can depend on. These should be supportive and caring people who understand your disorder at least enough to be able to contribute to your life in a positive way. Other forms of support are peer support groups, such as DBSA (www.dbsalliance.org) or online support groups such as Bipolar Disorder Connect (www.bipolardisorderconnect.com) and other groups found through Facebook.

Know Thyself
I cannot stress it enough- learn to recognize your triggers. How do you do this? It starts with self-acceptance and accepting the fact that you have Bipolar Disorder. If you’re anything like me, it was (is?) difficult to accept this and acknowledge that it will never actually go away. Once you do cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to claim your diagnosis, you will need to start paying close attention to your mood swings. It helps to have someone observe your moods with you. Pay attention to seasonal changes. I know that I definitely trigger from weather changes and often the seasonal switch puts me right into an episode. Watch all environmental stimuli, such as loud noises, social settings, traffic, and anything that may be out of your normal routine. A big trigger for those with mood disorders is toxic people. I’m not saying to cut off your loved ones, but you need to recognize how others in your life may be affecting your mental health. Learning some coping techniques may be a good idea if there are triggers you may not be able to remove completely. Another factor to pay attention to is your consumption of alcohol or drugs. It is not recommended to use substances because they will affect your brain’s chemicals, as well as any medications you have been prescribed. If you do have a drink, observe how it affects your mood, not just while you are drinking, but for the next few days as well.

Establish Coping Methods
It is important to keep a Bipolar brain healthy. It is also important to establish your own personal methods of coping in order to maintain mood swings and episode triggers. Take your medication as directed by your doctor, maybe consider talking to a therapist, journaling and writing are often helpful, prayer and meditation, artistic endeavors like photography or painting are great options, and of course, exercise is so good for you mentally and physically. During your management, some important elements to practice are goal-setting, positive self-talk and affirmations, practicing good hygiene and self-care, and utilizing your support system and groups.

Have an Emergency Plan
Be prepared in case you do enter into either a depressed or a manic episode. If you are anything like me, you have spun into some epic manias and you know how intense and out of control it can become. Have your psychiatrist’s number on hand, know the names and dosages of all of your medications, have a hospital picked out in case you need to be admitted, and keep open communication with your support system.

Warning Signs of Bipolar Disorder

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I stumbled across this article recently and I thought it was a pretty simple breakdown of early Bipolar symptoms. I’m a little concerned at the casual tone the author uses when describing the signs, but at least there is a depiction between mania and depression. Check it out & share your thoughts.

Click on link below:

Warning Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Annoy a Bipolar This Holiday Season

This Thanksgiving you will probably be around a lot of people you don’t usually see. While we all know family is a wonderful thing, we know sometimes with Bipolar Disorder or Depression, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.

Loved ones, even when they mean well, can sometimes say the exact wrong thing. There are some common phrases we hear that can feel like little digs as we try to maintain our disorder, and I admit, for me it’s tough. Here is a list of some statements we can all agree are annoying. We might run into these or ones similar during run-ins with the relatives this holiday season.

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Do these sound familiar? Now you need to strategically plan your response.

First, try to realize your loved ones care about you. That’s why they make comments in the first place. They are showing that they’re being caring. With this in mind, if you hear an irritating remark or question, you should practice relaxation & take a deep breath. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not aware that they’re saying something potentially offensive.

Next, you could either react with compliance and politely answer their question, which, let’s face it, most bipolars wouldn’t do. Or you could ignore the remark, which I do recommend in most situations. The reason I say it’s ok to ignore someone’s comment is for several reasons- you keep your temper down and avoid an unnecessary fight, you avoid hurting an unsuspecting relative’s feelings, you keep anxiety down and possibly prevent a trigger, and you can possibly deliver a hint to the said speaker.

One last thing you could try is telling the person the truth. If you do choose to confront the person who said something offensive, make sure it’s not at the dinner table in front of many people. Even if that person was disrespectful, remember they probably didn’t know that they were, so do yourself and everyone else a favor, and pull them aside speak to them privately.

However you choose to address these types of situations, remember every individual is different and you need to be prepared for any result. I do think sometimes with Bipolar Disorder, we need to learn to bend a little since there are a few needs we have that others don’t always understand.

Good luck and have a fantastic holiday!