How Does Change Affect You?

I’d like to say that I’m good with change and welcome it with open arms. But that simply isn’t the case. I have mood swings, irritability, feelings of chaos, and I’m often pretty manic. The bigger the change, the less I sleep, the more I obsess over things, the harder I am to deal with. Examples of difficult change for me include moving to a new home, starting a new job- or getting laid off from a job, a family member becoming ill or laid up due to injury, and any time I have too much idle time on my hands. Heck, I can’t even handle the change of seasons very well. In the coming weeks, I am about to embark upon a couple of new changes and I’m getting pretty nervous about it. First, as you know, we are having a baby. My wife is due to give birth December 15th. Of course there’s that uncertainty as to what day the baby is actually coming, and that is making my head go crazy! I want to be as prepared as possible for whenever it happens. But just having a new baby around is so much change in itself. I’m aware that this will affect my bipolar and I’ve had the conversation with my wife about it. Second, I will be laid off from work for the winter months. Last year, I worked through the winter (even though it’s a seasonal business), and had a hard enough time with the lack of work to do, but at least had a routine. Not working will replace my structure with leaving me to fend for myself. Granted, I assume the baby will keep me busy to a point, I just know the changes will be difficult. Lastly, the seasonal change from Fall to Winter is always a tough one.

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It isn’t uncommon for us bipolar folks to struggle with change. There are a few reasons why. First, if we fall out of routine, we tend to get a little lost. Routine is essential for building structure and staying on track with things like meds and moods. Off track means forgetting about tasks and appointments. It’s also easy to get anxious when we feel off. Another reason we dislike change is because it messes up our ability to predict and plan what is going to happen. Of course spontaneity is healthy, but for the most part we feel comfortable if we have knowledge to what is going on. My biggest anxiety is not feeling prepared. I will continue to post about my new life changes and whatever coping strategies I discover.

How are you with change? Do you become anxious when out of your routine? Do you have a hard time getting back on track? What helps you cope?

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When Obstacles Mock Your Progress

Responsibilities can be a pain. Especially those that directly pertain to treating my bipolar disorder. When I actually do focus and commit to handling something of importance, I feel like I’m on top of things for once. Then on occasion, just when you think the stars are aligned, and you’re coming out ahead, stupid annoyances create stubborn roadblocks to your personal victory. Where am I going with this? Okay, it started yesterday when I attempted to connect with Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing lab, to inquire about Lithium level testing (I usually go to my doctor’s office, but that is no longer feasible). I wanted a price in case my crappy insurance didn’t cover it. Alright, easy enough. I had already put off testing for a week too long and it is getting close to my next appointment, so I took the initiative (meaning- my wife didn’t have to get on my ass), and I called first thing in the morning. Line was busy. No problem, I’ll call back in a bit. Line still busy. Damn, maybe there is something wrong with their phone. I waited an hour and a half, then called again. Ring ring ring- answering machine. Really? Waited another half hour and called back. This time a woman answered. I explained what I needed. She literally told me that she was busy with a patient and that I needed to call back in 10-15 minutes. Now, having worked customer service for several years, I know professional etiquette would have been to take my info and call me back. But whatever. I was in control of this. At this point, I had been at work, in my office, alone. I knew my boss would be here shortly and since I am not out with my bipolar at work, I was really hoping to resolve this without providing him any of my personal business. For safe measure, I gave the woman 20 minutes before I dialed again. Ring ring ring- line busy. Fucking really? Needless to say, I never connected with the lab. And it made me a little anxious because I tend to put off important phone calls, appointment scheduling, and paperwork deadlines. I was nervous that if I didn’t do it yesterday, I wouldn’t do it at all. Damn roadblocks.

Okay, with a fresh mindset, I came to work this morning, and since I was alone, it was safe to call Quest and take care of business already. Ring ring ring- BUSY! I couldn’t believe it. Again I waited about 20 minutes, and yep- still busy. I was now getting angry, but talked myself into taking the proactive route. I Googled other Quest locations, in the hopes that maybe I was just lucky enough to get the incompetent lab office, and even though it was the most convenient location for me, perhaps someone else be of assistance. I called another office and wouldn’t you believe I let that phone ring until the office answering machine picked up. Unbelievable. At this point I gave up. It takes a great deal of effort for me to remember to stay on top of these things, and when the other party can’t get their own situation figured out, it creates problems for me. The bigger problem is that I’ve been trying to connect with them for two days, and I still need to have my blood work done. In a way, my health is being compromised because a company cannot do their job. The only option that could get me anywhere is if I just go down to the lab tomorrow, in person. I hope I don’t need an appointment, because if I do, I have a feeling I may show them how quickly my moods really can swing!

Happy Bipolar Moment Friday

My bipolar moment came this morning when I accidentally took my PM meds in place of my AM meds. Let’s just say coffee is no match to a healthy dose of Seroquel. Of course the moment I swallowed it, I immediately panicked. I had to to get up and get ready for work. For those of you on Seroquel, you may be able to relate when I say this particular medication makes you extremely groggy and produces a sudden desperation for sleep. It’s great for nighttime. I get a decent 6-8 hours. Not great this morning. Upon my freak out, I darted off to the bathroom and attempted to vomit up the pill. It’s fair to say I could never make it as a bulimic. I literally lack the ability to throw up on the spot. Now I panicked a little more. No disposing of it, surely it has begun to creep into my bloodstream. Wishing for an anecdote, I took my regular morning meds, which consist of Lithium and Abilify. And Adderall. Yes, I am prescribed a low dose of Adderall for co-occurring ADHD. That’s it! I’ll take the stimulant, eat a sandwich, and guzzle some coffee. Still stressed that I would be very late for work and my boss would be displeased with my tardiness, I felt the drowsiness kick in. My only real option was to sleep it off. That’s what I did. And I took the max amount of Adderall I could take, downed some more coffee, made up a convincing excuse for my boss, and slid into the office three hours late. Happy bipolar moment Friday.

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Reminiscing One Year Mania-Free

What’s in a year? How about a significant time dedicated to replenishing? Recovery? Rebirth? I bring this up because I look back to this time last year when I was, well, manic. I remember the chaos in my head, the insane amount of energy, the obsessing over music, the delusional ideas, and the fights with my wife. I reflect on the irritability and agitation. Conversely, I reminisce on the indescribable feeling of being alive. That’s the part that really gets me. When I begin to reminisce on my mania (a.k.a. Piper- my alter ego). It’s easy to forget how taxing it can be on the body, or about the crying spells that come out of nowhere, or, in my mixed state, experience intense dark and suicidal thoughts. Instead I get a warm, nostalgic sensation and I begin to miss it a little. My mania draws out my alter ego, Piper, and allows a bonding experience. I felt songs differently, smelled the air differently, and sensed things in a different way. It’s so easy to forget the bad when it comes to thinking of the manic episodes. I admit I’m a little sad this year without my mania and a little part of me will always miss those chaotic days. But I am much healthier and happier now, so of course I wouldn’t trade my state of being today for my manic-mixed state of last October.

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Maybe Baby? Should I Consider a Bipolar Pregnancy?

I need some input on this one. My wife and I have been seriously discussing the notion of having my bipolar highness carry our second child. Yes, I’m aware this sounds presumptuous, considering our first won’t even be here until December, but it is well known that a great deal of preparation must go into a bipolar pregnancy. Because we are getting older, and because we want our brood to grow up close in age, it’s wise to consider all factors ahead of time. Not to mention that we are indeed, a lesbian couple with limited resources (ahem, readily available man ingredients), and the mere truth that there is a higher percentage of difficulty in getting pregnant via IUI or IVF. So, we are doing our research and talking openly. The process of fertilization aside, what we both feel most concerning is my bipolar disorder. This is the weighing factor. She supports me if I decide I want to do it, but she is wise to be cautious.  I’m scared and unsure, as well as confident I could do it if I really wanted. I go back and forth on the subject all the time. So I’ve decided to weigh it out here. Help me pick apart my bipolar pregnancy anxieties.
 
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I would have to come off of or significantly reduce my medications during pre-pregnancy.
As we learned with this current pregnancy, when going through intrauterine insemination (IUI), the months leading up to the actual insemination must be treated as carefully as if you were already pregnant. This is because the body is going through preparations, which may include fertility drugs, in order to promote healthy ovulation. What does this mean for the bipolar end? Well, it means weaning off of medications that could potentially be dangerous for a developing fetus. Mood stabilizers such as Lithium, or anti-convulsants, are known to cause severe birth defects. Other classes of medications include antipsychotics, which should be avoided due to lack of research, and tranquilizers or sedatives, which should be avoided, especially in the first trimester, also due to increased risk of congenital malformations.  Now, I know some researchers say certain things are alright to be on in low doses, but you have to remember it’s a timely and costly venture for us gay chicks to get knocked up. Why in the world would I dare to risk anything potentially hazardous to unborn baby? Why would anyone, really?
 
I would have to remain off of meds for several months during pregnancy.
Okay, you already know why I’d have to come off of medication. Common sense says I’d have to stay off for the duration of the 38-40 weeks of carrying the baby. And unless I decide not to breastfeed, I will have to remain off during the nursing months as well. My head spins a little further and I imagine life not on meds… To begin, what’s different already is that we’d have a little one around. I’d have to maintain parenting an almost two-year old, while my hormones are changing in ways I cannot even imagine, all while being off of the medication I rely on for stability. I would have to try not to destroy my marriage, become hopelessly depressed, fly away on a manic spree, or worse yet- develop psychosis. I’m not really sure what they do with a pregnant person in the mental hospital when you can’t consume the drugs. I can, however, imagine the manic version of nesting and it sounds quite colorful indeed!    
 
It’s scary to not be in control of potentially changing moods under the influence of hormonal changes.
The last thing I would want to do is jeopardize my family. My beautiful wife will be giving birth to our son in just two short months, and already I love him more than I imagined I ever could. We certainly want to add on to our family and I consider my role in doing just that. I think about what I contribute now. I work a steady job, I do my share to keep the house clean and put together, I take care of our many loving pets, and I try my best to be a good wife. I’m able to play these roles because I am on a strict medication regimen, I am in touch with my triggers, my body, and my mind. Have I had major episodes that were beyond my control? Absolutely. And yes, they impaired each of these roles significantly. Now, if I were carrying a baby, off of medication, I wonder how I would be affected by the many hormonal changes that come along with pregnancy. I would need to have prepared some coping techniques for when things seem out of control. Part of my preparation would be to have an outlet, where I could put my energy in the case of a trigger, to help steer me back on track. Maintaining some area of control would be imperative, not only for me, but for the growing baby, and my family as well. 
 
The heart-wrenching feeling that I could be passing my bipolar to my baby. And knowing it.
While no exact gene can be determined as of yet, researchers have found that a child with a parent diagnosed with bipolar disorder, can be somewhere around 50% more likely to also have bipolar disorder or some other psychiatric illness. Whoa. Ok let’s be real for a minute. No parent would ever want their child to have to suffer from any type of illness, medical or psychiatric. So part of me feels like I would knowingly be putting this baby at risk for developing bipolar. Is that irrational? (Is it bad that I can’t tell if it’s irrational?) Maybe my anxieties are taking a toll, but I want to be a good mother. And I know that starts at pre-conception. That baby would have an increased risk of developing bipolar growing in me, as opposed to a safer route, and having my wife carry all of our babies. (Which I’m totally okay with too- she is ADORABLE pregnant!) 
 
Postpartum instability and re-entering the drug sphere.
Say I do manage to get through pregnancy and childbirth, med-free, family still likes me, etc. Okay, now the hormones take a whole new shift postpartum, often causing changes in mood. Some women fall into a depression, others become incessantly irritable or have crying spells. I may or may not have these issues, but it’s good to be aware of the flood of hormones. Now, judging from my own illness, my past, what has and hasn’t worked for me, I will be going back on medication. The thoughts in my mind, however, include What if my old meds don’t work for me anymore? Do I have to start over? I don’t want to go through trial and error while caring for a newborn, Is it okay to not breast feed?  I guess there are probably a million more things that will take over my brain if I did go through the process, but each of these are important questions to be answered. 
 
In a way, it is selfish of me to carry a child.
Perhaps I’m over thinking, but on one hand, I look at hetero couples, with a man and a woman, and I think there is only one womb, only one of them can carry a baby. If the woman in that relationship has bipolar disorder, then do they have a bigger dilemma than us? Would it be selfish of me to want to carry a child when my relationship has another perfectly good womb in which plant a seed? This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever been faced with. And while I don’t need to know today, I eventually need to make my decision. My wife is very understanding either way, and is in no way pressuring me, which I truly appreciate. She is, also, more than happy to carry again. Part of my brain looks at the cautions and repercussions involved with me taking on pregnancy. Then, a teensy part of my mixed up brain realizes that other bipolar moms have accomplished this remarkable task and came out of it better than ever.
 
If anyone has gone through this or if you have any any advice, thoughts, anything- I’d really like some input! 
 

Medication Report!

I’m writing this to check in, with myself mostly, but also with those of you taking medication for Bipolar Disorder. It has been almost one year on my current cocktail of Lithium, Seroquel, and Abilify. As a reminder, I was put on (varying doses) of this combo after a terrible mixed episode last fall. In the beginning it was considerably difficult to build a new med routine since I was so used to taking only Trileptal twice a day. But with the assistance of my amazing wife, I was able to get on board. After about 6 months, I even began sorting and distributing them myself. I know many of you know what a small victory that can be!

Medication management can be challenging. Important factors include making sure each script is filled, that you have enough for tomorrow, how many you are taking, how often, knowing what to do if you forget to take it, being aware of and dealing with side effects, whether you need to have blood drawn or not, having effective communication with your doctor and pharmacist, and of course being able to monitor how your meds are affecting you. Whew! It really helps to have someone close to you that you can talk about your medications with, or that can lend a hand in monitoring and managing your meds. Also, utilizing calendars or alarms on your cell phone (like I do!) to remind you what time to take your pills is really handy. Developing a solid routine that works for your schedule is important so taking your meds becomes like second nature.

These are just a few tips I picked up within the last year that have worked for me. So far, I am doing well, and I feel pretty stable. There will always be ups and downs and mood swings, but the medication change was definitely necessary and saved me from a trip to the hospital. Every so often we all need to check in with ourselves and take personal medication inventory.

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Shamelessly Venting My Spinning Head

Hi everyone. Back to the daily grind, post-Labor Day. A lot has been going on with me lately. For starters, I’m in the process of making a huge decision about my future.  Specifically- grad school. Yikes. My poor mind is being swayed in so many directions with this. The thing is, my undergrad is in mental health, but I’m considering a Masters in Business. Reasons? Simple. While I have an over abundance of education in psychology/mental health, I have never worked in that field. I do, however, have a great deal of experience in business administration, management, and marketing. I’m trying to logically put my (apparent?) talents where they ought to be. This is hard and I’m coming down with an unpleasant case of freak out. AKA anxiety. It’s not just the decision that brings on anxious thinking, but it’s all the paperwork, financial aid, the required GMAT test, and commuting in the snow to a new university.

My anxiety about school isn’t the only thing that’s giving me heart palpitations. As you know, my wife and I have our first baby arriving in three months. While I seem to be doing (surprisingly!) alright with the notion of having a brand new baby to take care of, I’m getting really anxious over the preparation. We are throwing our own baby shower and there is a ton of work involved that we’ve taken on ourselves. Even my wife confessed to me that she is having nightmares about it going awry! While I keep telling myself that it will fall into place, I can’t help but spaz out in my head. Is it a good time to mention that we haven’t started the nursery? We know what we are doing with it, but the plan needs to be executed now. I’m also stressed that we won’t receive the essential items on the baby registry. I’m sick over all of it!

Okay this is beginning to sound like a vent session. I apologize. My next topic to bitch about is the weight I have gained. It’s like since she’s been pregnant, I have expanded as well. It’s giving me more anxiety, especially since I have to find time to work out and I have to say no to the food her preggo self is always trying to feed me. I need to watch that my medications don’t cause me to keep the weight on, since a couple of them have weight gain as a side effect. I hate that my clothes no longer fit and that my appetite is the size of a horse.

I should probably write something constructive after force-feeding my panic button to you. I could probably write how I recommend practicing deep breathing techniques, or saying positive affirmations. Well, as much as I do encourage you to utilize these tools, among others, I am not in the place, mentally, to take my own advice. Shame on me for skipping my Bipolar support group meeting last night, but I had such a migraine and my irritability wouldn’t have fared well for my fellow group members. Perhaps I’ll attend the next one. Perhaps my anxiety will be gone by then. Perhaps I’ll have answers and can calm the fuck down a little bit.

I know millions of people go to graduate school, and billions of people have babies. I know most everyone has gained unwelcome weight at one point. But have these people done it all at once? How about while living with Bipolar Disorder? Life is hard and it’s harder when you have to work harder to locate the coping mechanisms in your brain. It’s important to be mindful of potential Bipolar triggers during periods of high stress. That’s what I’m dealing with. All while going to work, cleaning the house, and attempting to be a good wife.

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Maybe Not Today

I’ve been pretty stable lately and I feel alright. My head has been mostly clear, well, clear enough to get through my day undisturbed. And I haven’t felt overall depressed, angry, or manic. Now, that is my usual. I’m not saying I don’t have days where I feel my moods alter into a wayward routine of up and down. Because I do have my less than perfect days. I know I flirt with hypomania, I know I experience crying spells, I also react to my boredom with abstract ideas. But I know it will be fine, even if fine doesn’t mean today.

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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?    

Well Hello There, Anxiety!

I welcomed this day wearing a smothering jacket of anxiety, accessorized with a shiny ball of nerves. It’s like I suddenly have so much on my mind that I am experiencing physiological reactions that include chest tightness and shallow breathing, on top of my severe distractability and a racing mind. A few days ago I mentioned that my wife and I are going on a road trip later this week. Despite my list of travel tips, (https://nectarmadness.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/travel-tips-for-bipolar-disorder/) I still feel unprepared. And I don’t think it’s so much that I’m unprepared for the trip itself- I mean I refilled my Lithium, I did a load of laundry, and I have directions. But it’s more an overwhelming feeling of tying up loose ends before we leave. My list of unimportant things that are sickening me with importance. Yeah those. For instance I recently got a brand new camera. (Little known fact: photography was one of my biggest hobbies, prior to a depression-induced hiatus that lasted for 10 years.) Now, I’ve been thrilled about releasing the ol’ shutterbug and cranking out something to put me back on the map. The thing is, I have no idea how to turn the fucking thing on! Sure there’s a DVD, there’s a booklet and online support. I get it. I haven’t had time to even charge up the battery until last night. I don’t have five minutes to dedicate to learning how this thing works and I am expected to bring it with me on the trip where I will be greeted by my family full of photographers. My first shoot back is going to be in the scenic oasis of beautiful, lush Kentucky. It’s stressing me the fuck out.

While I might sound crazy, we have to remember that I’m already getting triggered by the mere fact I’m going on a trip. Add in the overwhelming surplus of people who are also going on the trip. These people are family members who we don’t see very often, which is as unnerving as it is exciting. I’m also a little anxious about announcing our pregnancy to the cousins we don’t see but every handful of years. While I try to not let things like stereotyping and closed-mindedness enter my aura, I do have some family members who swing a little more conservatively, so I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t affect me a little.

While I’m on my anxiety tangent (I’d be shocked if anyone actually reads this entry!), I’m also coming off a recent high that I experienced over the weekend. And that is a surprise birthday party thrown for me by my amazing friends. My birthday is on the 7th and since I won’t be home, they threw it for me this past Sunday. I’m not one to really like surprises, but I managed to keep it together absolutely fine. I guess the biggest aftermath of the party I’m busy contemplating is the fact so many people showed up! I really would’ve never thought so many people really like me! I’m as gracious as I am overwhelmed. I do think my behavior got a little out of control later that night, and I am feeling anxious, today, about the level of intoxication I managed to get to. I feel guilty and uncomfortable about that part. Impulse control isn’t my strongest trait. Anyway, I’ll move past it. The party was such a wonderful surprise that I’m still glowing from it!

Now, with so much buzzing around inside my head, what I need to do is continue to work on my to-do list, pack up all that I’m bringing, and straight up get my shit together already! I’m convinced once we’re on the road I will calm down by at least 8 notches. If I ever get there.

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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.

Thoughts on Bipolar and Cannabis

I just smoked a joint in a thunderstorm. I don’t fancy storms and I cry like a fucking baby if I have to endure them. I occasionally use pot to ease my Bipolar moods and mellow me out when I’m a little too up. Some researchers say it is beneficial to relieving Bipolar symptoms, while others feel marijuana only worsens it. I don’t know about you, but I’m pro-cannabis. And indeed, today, it relaxed me during a horrible storm. While smoking an occasional joint eases my hyperness & clears my head, it also enhances my creative side. I can produce ideas more organically, without all the extra head noise distraction. I suppose there is one drawback and that is once it has worn off, I seem to have a lack of memory for the things I come up with. But whether I create or not, I feel calm and in control. Maybe you or someone you know also uses cannabis for your Bipolar treatment.

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Am I a Stability Snob?

You’re all crazy and I’m perfect. This mental superiority crept it’s way into my consciousness last night at my bipolar support group meeting. When I had the floor I shared nothing but positive events, all trickling from my new-found stability. I had a smile on my face while I talked about the classes I’m taking, while I mentioned that my job finally keeps me busy, and that I’m on a good cocktail of meds. I felt like I was bragging. I am currently the most stable I’ve been in over 6 months. This is a huge accomplishment and gives me even more motivation. I couldn’t help but notice that very few others shared my sense of wellness. There were tears during others’ stories. Some spoke of loneliness and depression. There is a possibility that I was indirectly making others feel badly about their own lack of stability. I’m not saying I feel guilty about being well, because I don’t. However, am I a stability snob? Have I reached a point where I can display the shining example of what everyone else wants to be?

I suppose some of this is tongue in cheek as I poke fun at my seemingly bratty attitude. I sit, attentively in my group, and I listen to recent hospital stories, medication failures, various struggles and despair, and I know I can most certainly relate to so much of what my group-mates are saying. The thing is- I don’t want to. Not right now. Right now I’m enjoying feeling good. I’m enjoying my social life, I’m ecstatic over having a baby, I am psychosis free and haven’t had any crying spells, I am able to sleep soundly at night, and I started driving on the express way again. Maybe I am overly eager to share my improved conditions. Maybe I am aware that I’m in a place, mentally, that others aim to reach. But I don’t think I’m being boastful or rude about it. I’m climbing my way to the top of the world one day at a time.

Hair Loss Is Just Another Side Effect

Let’s talk side effects for a minute. Common ones are dry mouth, tremors, sleepiness, upset stomach, and weight gain. What about hair loss? I’m talking constant loose strands, hair falling to the floor every time I touch my head, handfuls when I shampoo. I keep a Swiffer vac by my side whenever I blow dry and straighten my hair because otherwise the bathroom is decorated with what has released from my scalp. For months now I have been attributing this to everything from what I was eating, to needing a haircut, using the wrong shampoo, not washing it enough, washing it too much, not brushing it enough, brushing it too much- you catch my drift.

Then it dawned on me that this began around the time my medication was switched and I started on Lithium. After doing a little research, I have now learned that I’m not alone in this situation. According to bipolar.about.com, Lithium and Depakote are common culprits in the hair loss manifesto.

Lithium can cause thyroid problems which are associated with losing hair. Other than that, it isn’t specifically known why certain drugs cause thinning hair, but what happens is a process called telogen effluvium. Normally, most hair is in the active growing phase, while a much smaller proportion is in the resting, or telogen, phase. Growing hair pushes the resting hair out. When a medication causes many more hair follicles to enter the resting stage than is usual, there is less hair growing and more to be pushed out — or pulled out, whether by shampooing, brushing and combing, or just running your hands through your hair.

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At this point, I am really getting tired of dealing with this. I also find it interesting that it is a side effect you don’t hear about very much. I have been on several different cocktails and have experienced a rainbow of side effects, but this is new for me. I just had an appointment with my psychiatrist and I didn’t think to mention it, but at my next appointment I definitely will see what he says. As for everything I’ve read on how to remedy this situation, decreasing or discontinuing the medication is the most effective solution. Unfortunately, this will not be an option for me right now. I feel better than I did 6 months ago, and I know the meds play a huge role in that. Now I’m just curious if anyone here else has experienced this and how you’ve handled it.

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.