Category Archives: Mental wellness

What Is Support?

 

 

Untreated bipolar disorder creates a life of chaos, of failings and unease. Managed bipolar creates a life worth living. It is going from the chaos to order that is difficult. The main problem is lack of knowledge, we simply do not know how. Humans learn best by imitation and repetition.  Support is not someone telling us what to do. It is not someone trying to live our lives for us or telling us how to live. Support is feeding us knowledge and letting us learn. Support is letting us make grave errors and then making us face the consequences. Support is not saving us from ourselves. The bipolar sufferer is the one who must do the learning, the bipolar sufferer is the one that must do the work.

Someone can tell us where to get help. Someone can show us the many ways to manage this illness. Unless we go for the help and create and use the management plan, nothing will change.

The object of all support and management plans is for the bipolar sufferer to learn about themselves. To learn through repetition what works and what does not work for them. The things that trigger them and the things that don’t. What drives the mania and what sparks depression. What other issues we must deal with. What is good and what is bad and hopefully learning to stick with the good. Support is the people and places that lead us and encourage us through all of it until we can lead and encourage ourselves. We all need support at the beginning of our journey towards mental wellness, we also must learn what support is for each of us.

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle for mental health will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Natasha Tracy

Depression and Fake, Coping Skill Smiles vs Real Smiles

Week Three – Building A Support Team

This week we continue speaking about things to add to your support team and support system. Those things are a computer and online support groups.

I think of a computer as separate from a smartphone or tablet as computers are more stationary, even if you have a laptop, computers are just more difficult to move around and get set up than a smartphone or tablet. The other reason I think of computers separately is that for myself and many others when we took our first tentative steps on the path to mental wellness we had nothing. If we weren’t homeless, we were close to it and the only place we could access technology was at our local library. That is why when I think of support, I always think of the local library because it was at the library that I learned what real support looked like and felt like.

At most libraries, you can book time on a computer with nothing more than a valid library card. That computer can take you anywhere, put you in contact with people that can help you and the computer can help you learn amazing things and you don’t have to pay for it.

Once you are on a computer you can access online support groups. There are many support groups dedicated to helping bipolar sufferers. My favorite is the forum attached to BP Hope Magazine. The magazine is very helpful in itself, but the forum and the people involved there are very helpful.

https://www.bphope.com/community/

Bipolar Disorder Support – a Facebook support group is very good as well. There are many others

The one caution I will say regarding the online support community is that it is made up of bipolar sufferers. So, take what you need and leave the rest. There are great supportive people in these groups and there are also people that are just there to cause trouble and stir you up.  It’s up to you to find the ones who are supportive towards you and your situation. Online support forums were where I learned to differentiate between someone saying things that were hurtful and people giving me constructive criticism and good advice in a way I didn’t like. Both can look the same on the screen.

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle for mental health will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

One of the newer areas of online support is online therapy. Please see this article from Betterhelp.com for more information on this topic and how to start with online therapy.

https://www.betterhelp.com/

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Wednesday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Douglas T. Kenrich Ph.D.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-murder-and-the-meaning-life/201712/do-you-know-these-nine-varieties-positive-emotion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light Therapy And A Brush With Mania

 

To be a good blogger consistency is the key, at least that is what all the experts say. When I don’t have a blog post ready for Monday because of life issues, my mind tells me I am a bad blogger. If I listened to that negative voice in my head that could be a problem, but I don’t listen to that voice anymore so it’s not a problem. I know I am not a bad blogger.  This is a blog about bipolar disorder, written by a bipolar sufferer and the issue that caused the blog post not to be ready for Monday morning were due to bipolar symptoms. I thought sharing this story with you may prove helpful to anyone considering light therapy to combat winter blues.

Last winter due to an early snowstorm on October 8th of 2016, my usual system of vitamins and supplements could not ward off the blues that an early onset of winter brought with it. Before my blues turned into a full-blown depression I ran to my neighborhood pharmacist and she recommended light therapy. I promptly bought a small Lightbox Edge and set it up on my computer. Turning it on for 15 minutes as I wrote each day. This little box of light did wonders for my mood and I kept it up until spring.

This winter as the days shortened I started my routine of vitamins and supplements plus this year I added light therapy starting in October. I have to say that until a few weeks ago I was having the best winter I have ever had in my entire life. A few weeks ago, ever so slowly, ever so slightly I began to climb into mania. My thoughts started to speed up, my speech sped up, my creativity came alive. Solutions to problems sprang up from nowhere. I could multi-task or at least I thought I could. All the signs and symptoms of a manic episode.

I will be the first to tell you no one complains about mania, at least I sure don’t. It is not the mania that is the issue unless we overspend or start doing risky things, which I did not do this time. It is the crash that follows mania that caused the most problems in my life. I did not want that crash to happen again.

As I am the luckiest bipolar sufferer in the world and have access to all the professionals, as I am the clinic’s janitor, I stopped by the Psychiatrists office before he went home.  I explained what was happening and what I was doing, the vitamins and supplements, plus the 15 minutes of light therapy a day.

He explained to me that long-term use of light therapy can cause brain stimulation in some people and obviously I am one of those people. He recommended I stop the light therapy which I did. The mania subsided within a few days ending in a bump, not a crash. But the bump did cause me to lose a couple of days. Days in which I would have completed writing my blog and had my blog scheduled to post Monday morning. That said, this is what I learned, that light therapy can be useful for me. I must learn that when I start using my light therapy in October, I can only continue using the therapy for a short period, but what period? Because now I know too much light therapy drives me into mania and the signs of what is too much. I can continue to adjust my strategy for the best life with bipolar I can create for myself. Again, I am confronted with the trial and error of all bipolar management strategies. Today I choose to take that confrontation as a minor and enjoyable challenge.

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle for mental health will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Lolly Daskal

How to Stop Seeing Struggle as Something Negative

Week 2 – Building a Support Team

This is a continuation of the series on building the best professional and non-professional support team we can to help us become victors over, rather than victims of, our bipolar disorder.

As I said last week, my goal over the next year is to introduce you to the obvious and not so obvious people, places and things that are available to become part of your support team and support system.

The obvious members of a support team are the professionals like a Psychiatrist, a GP or a Psych Nurse or a Counselor/Therapist or a Social Worker. Last week I introduced a not so obvious safe place for support, your public library. Your library is not only a great resource for books but also programs that may be helpful to you.

This week I want to talk about a thing that can be a great part of your support system and can even be considered a member of your team. That is technology, specifically a smartphone, tablet and computer. Mostly this week I want to talk about the boon to mental health that the smartphone and tablet and WIFI have become for many of us. Right at the outset, I want to declare my bias towards Apple products. My phone is an iPhone and my Tablet is an iPad. I will admit my computer is not a Mac, but a Mac is on the list of future purchases.

It is a fact that the more tools we have and the more informed we are the easier our struggles with bipolar may be. With the addition of WIFI and apps, your smartphone and tablet can provide you both easy access to tools that can help you manage your bipolar disorder and access to great information that can motivate you towards mental wellness.

Apps: There are many apps that allow you to track your moods, create a journal and to help deal with anxiety and depression. There are apps on meditation and other helpful skills. Unfortunately, I have found few that are free. I will be doing reviews on apps for smartphones as the year progresses.

Podcasts: There are many mental health podcasts. A few of my favorites are “The Depression Files with Al Levine,” “Bipolar Style with John Emotions” and “Go Friend Yourself with Dr. Baker.”

YouTube: The wealth of information on YouTube is staggering and way too much for me to cover in this short blog. I subscribe to over 100 channels that provide me with a constant stream of information and entertainment. You can’t study all the time.

iTunes U: This is an app that is only available to Apple users. iTunes U offers the ability to audit University level classes on a variety of subjects. Currently, I am auditing classes on creative writing, nutrition and relationships

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle for mental health will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Marlisa Rocco

These are the worst jobs for your physical and mental health

Mental Wellness and Support

To live the life you want to live ACTION IS REQUIRED.

You can think and dream about what you what for your life,

But unless you actually do something to make change, 

THINGS WILL STAY THE SAME.

What do you think of when you hear the term “Mental Wellness,” or meditate on the statement of, “if I became “Mentally Well.” What does “Mental Wellness” mean to you as a bipolar sufferer. What image of yourself comes to your mind if you think of yourself being “Mentally Well.”

For each of us what we think of or what image comes into our minds when we hear the term, “Mental Wellness,” will be slightly different. We cannot give meaning to that term or bring that image to life unless we do something. If we, as the above quote says, just think and dream about our life of being mentally well, nothing is going to happen, things will stay exactly as they are. We must do something. That is one unavoidable truth is to have mental wellness you must reach for it, it is not going to reach for you, the other unavoidable truth is we cannot change without the support of other people, places or things. We need to develop a support team and system. When most people think of support they think of professionals like their Psychiatrist or their GP or Psych Nurse or a counselor/therapist. It is not wrong to think of these professionals as supports because they are, they are usually the first people we see when we seek help, which does weird stuff to our brain, that is another topic for another day.  To reach and maintain mental wellness most of us need more support than just those professionals.  My goal over the next year in this blog is to introduce you to the obvious and not so obvious people, places and things that are available to be become part of your support team and system to first reach and then maintain your mental wellness.

The first installment of building your supports to achieve and maintain your mental wellness is both a place and a thing. It is your local library. Another word that can be substituted for the word support in the context that it is being used in this conversation is the word, “Resource.”

Your local library is not just a great resource for books and other material that will help you on a journey towards mental wellness and after to help you maintain the mental wellness you have attained. Most libraries today provide programs and other connections that will help you. I took my first boundaries class at my local library.

Your local library is a safe place to work on this most important of work, which is working on yourself. Your local library has all the things necessary to find a starting point and grow from there. Your local library has everything, or if they don’t have it they will usually get it, you will need to work on yourself.

Think of your local library as part of your support team, I do, and it really helped me.

 

As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle for mental health will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

P.S. The quote that I used in today’s blog is three feet tall and four feet wide and resides on the wall of the lower level of my workplace. I have had the privilege of reading and meditating on that quote for the last eight years. It really made a difference in my life. I hope you copy it and put it on your wall and read it every day.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Kelly Babcock and Psych Central

Today I Love My Youthful Mind

Is Bipolar Like A Cold?

Is bipolar disorder like a cold? With this question, I am not saying the symptoms of bipolar are like a cold. What I am trying to ask is how bipolar affects each of us differently as individuals the same as a cold affects each of us differently as individuals. I firmly believe that bipolar is as individual the people that suffer from it. Cold symptoms also manifest differently in each of us. When I get a cold the symptoms are not usually incapacitating. When my girlfriend gets a cold it can knock her down for days. Knowing that a cold really does affect her differently, this got me thinking of how our bipolar also affects each of us differently. It’s not just that fact that I have BP1 and she has BPII. It’s the difference in the power of the symptoms of bipolar in our lives. Which means that original question could be asked differently. The question is not, is bipolar disorder like a cold? But do the symptoms of bipolar affect some to a greater degree than others?

There is one disclaimer to this idea, if you are not trying to manage your bipolar it does not matter. If you are not taking your meds and trying hard to learn about and manage how bipolar affects you, the symptoms will rule your life.

What I am getting at is that no matter how hard they work at management some bipolar sufferers seem to suffer more from this illness than others do. This cannot be attributed to attitude or anything else. They are just affected more deeply by this illness than some others.

Understanding this simple fact has made me far more empathetic towards bipolar sufferers in general.  It was fine to say that bipolar as an illness is as individual the people that suffer from it. But to add that bipolar affects some a lot harder than others makes understanding those that suffer from this devastating illness much easier.

I hope this little article helps you become empathetic to other sufferers of bipolar disorder as well.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.

This week’s blog is not a blog but an update on a story I commented on some time back. In July I wrote how the government in my home province refused to staff a dedicated mental health emergency ward, even though the funds had been raised to build the facility. Well due to pressure many mental health advocates the government has had a change of heart and the facility is set to open early in the New Year.  Teaching us that together we can make a difference.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/saskatoon-mental-health-emergency-unit-1.4360855

 

 

 

 

Seasonal Affected Bipolar Disorder 2

Learning to manage any aspect of bipolar disorder on the individual level is going to be by trial and error. Some people find what works quickly, like when their Psychiatrist prescribes a medication that works without side effects right away. These people are quite rare. For most of us learning manage our bipolar is a struggle of trying this or that until we find what works. What I encourage in myself and I also encourage in others is to embrace that struggle. Enjoy learning how your bipolar disorder affects you and how overcoming this illness makes you a better, stronger person. What works for me and helps me manage my bipolar may not work for you. However, what works for me may give you a starting point.

On the subject of seasonally affected bipolar disorder management, this was for me a many year journey. Even today I am tweaking my management system of what I need to do to ward off the winter blues. As I write this I have my sunglasses on and am bathed by the light of my Litebook Edge therapy light. This light was added a year ago when winter set in really early and what usually worked quit working or didn’t have time to work.  Another pitfall of bipolar management is sometimes our management system quits working and we have to develop a new one.

Today my management system for the fall/winter part of the seasonally affected bipolar disorder is very simple. I take 2000 IU of Vitamin D and 50 mg B6 + B12 starting in early August. I introduce 15 minutes of light therapy in early October.  I keep this routine up until the middle of May. Which is about when spring begins to come about where I live.

I want to point out why I take both Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 as well as B6. It has been scientifically proven that if you are low on Vitamin D you are more than likely low on Vitamin B12 as well. I take Vitamin B6 because of its scientifically proven link to cognitive function.

When spring has sprung this requires a whole new management system. The first requirement of this portion of the management system is compete honesty with myself. Why? Because no one ever complains about mania. Mania is great, we get stuff done. We are usually happy and excited about life.  I have had a handle on quelling the summer mania for a lot longer than I have the winter depression. For me, when the first urge to buy every garden tool in the Johnny’s seed catalog strikes that is my sign to have a talk with the doctor to decide this year’s course of action. Most years it has meant an increase in meds for a period of time. Some years it has only meant increased diligence on my part to do the tips set out later. This is when I need constant monitoring by my professional and non- professional network. This is my program for managing seasonal affected bipolar disorder. It works for me.

Bipolar is as individual as the people who suffer from it. The treatment of this illness in every aspect, be it medication or seasonal affected bipolar disorder, has to be individual as well. We each have to develop our own ways to manage our particular bipolar disorder.

Last week I promised some tips and techniques for dealing seasonal affected bipolar disorder. The first tip I want to offer is:

  1. build the best professional and non-professional support team you possibly can.
  2. build the best professional and non-professional support team you possibly can.

I can not stress this point enough. We are not rocks, and we cannot fight this illness alone, despite popular belief. If you have bipolar you inwardly believe you are alone.

We are the ones that have to do the work, but we need the best team we can put together to cheer us on and give us advice when we need it.

Tips for dealing with depression when your meds don’t seem to be. This happened to me last winter until the light therapy started to work.

  1. Take the initiative against depression. Get up and keep moving even though you feel like one of those deep-sea divers in the big suits walking through molasses. Force yourself to eat and wash the dishes. Make a gratitude list of 5 things you are grateful for every evening, try to do 5 different ones every night.
  2. Learn what triggers your depression besides the change of seasons. As a lifetime sufferer of seasonally affected bipolar, when I started to learn to manage seasonal depression I found other triggers that elevated that depression. Anything that I perceived to negatively affect me compounded my depression. When my management system was working if something negative happened I still became depressed. This is what I touched on last week.
  3. Make a commitment and keep on keeping it. I found this one very helpful. I hang out with a bunch of people every Sunday morning for breakfast. No matter how low I am I force myself to attend. Actually, if I am not there they come looking for me.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up for how you feel. This one is hard to get over. I practiced self-encouragement for a long time before I was able to use it effectively when I was deeply depressed.
  5. Do not let your mind convince you that you have to do some great thing or be perfect to beat your depression. It is by doing the simple things, some of them badly, that we overcome depression. Sticking to an already set routine does wonders for beating depression. This is similar to #3 but different. This has to do with a commitment to yourself the first thing that used to go when depression struck was my morning routine of daily reading of inspirational material. Now it doesn’t matter, I go through the motions of coffee and books no matter what. I may not comprehend what I am reading all the time, but I am there in body every day and I do it.
  6. Don’t let your mind create catastrophes that do not exist and thoughts of self-harm. These thoughts of loss, disaster and self-harm are the true dangers of depression. This is when we absolutely have to reach out to others. I also know that when these thoughts happen we most want to isolate. We can, with help, learn to defeat these thoughts but it takes time and effort. What we must quickly learn is to reach out whenever these thoughts appear.

Tips for dealing with Mania.

  1. Learn what triggers your mania. As I said earlier one of mine is wanting to spend.
  2. Monitor your thinking. Our feelings of self-importance start to grow when manic. Our thoughts begin to race. We are bombarded with one idea after the other. We become more mentally creative. These are all signs of mania. Learn yours.
  3. Watch your behaviors. Mania causes us to engage in risky behaviors and behaviors that will threaten our lives and relationships more easily.
  4. Keep your regular sleep/eat schedule. This is not easy. I don’t sleep, and I don’t eat when manic. Forcing your self to bed and to eat can reign in a manic episode.

Unfortunately for most of us, medication is the only way to effectively deal with mania.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook facebook/365daysofbipolar.com. Follow us on twitter @365daysofbipol2.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Hillary Jacobs Hendel.

https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/single-post/2017/09/26/Beyond-Life%E2%80%99s-Disappointments

 

Seasonally Affected Bipolar Disorder

Studies show that about 20% of bipolar sufferers are affected by seasonal changes. This is a major trigger for many bipolar sufferers. For many to be affected by the seasons usually means moving towards depression as the days shorten into winter and towards mania as the days lengthen in the spring and summer. This is not always the case, some are affected in other ways, but I can only share my own experience

Seasonal Affected Bipolar was a major part of my bipolar life, depressed to the point of not being able to function during short days of winter. Then taking off like a rocket as the days lengthen in the spring. Learning to manage my bipolar during these seasonal changes has been a large part of my recovery program.  As with all management of bipolar disorder it has been by trial and error. I have learned the proper time to increase my Vitamin D and B12 intake and when to introduce light therapy as an added boost to my program to ward off the winter depression. Conversely, I have also learned when is the best time of year to introduce extra medication to prevent the lengthening days from launching me into mania.

I never discuss prescribed medications or the doses of vitamins and supplements a bipolar suffer should take as our illness is so individual. What works for me may do you great harm in the areas of medication, vitamins and supplements. In those areas I recommend working with your professional support team.

What I can talk about is the generalities that many studies have pointed out on using Vitamins D and B12 for Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) and Seasonally Affected Bipolar Disorder (SABD) as well as techniques that work to ward off winter depression.

These will be next week’s topics.

I want to end this week’s blog explaining something about triggers and bipolar disorder.

Triggers are the things that cause you to relapse into full blown bipolar episodes. Here is the distinction that helped me understand this definition. You must have some control or management of your bipolar disorder before you can relapse. If you are not doing anything to manage your illness you cannot relapse.  What I have learned is that when you have a major trigger like SABD, as you learn to manage that trigger a lot of other triggers seem to suddenly appear that you no idea even affected you. These triggers that seemed hidden by SABD seemed overwhelming to me when they showed themselves. I soon realized how they helped increase effect of the seasons on me, especially my winter depression.

What triggers you may not trigger me and what really triggers me may not even affect you. It is important that we learn the early signs and warnings that our bipolar disorder is about to take over our lives again.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching a link to their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Carrie Elizabeth Lin

http://ibpf.org/blog/spotting-icebergs-miles-away-how-use-early-warning-signs-bipolar-disorder-relapse-prevention

 

Therapy and Self-Talk

 

 

I believe that to manage bipolar disorder effectively therapy is essential. I also believe that when we decide we no longer want our bipolar disorder to rule our lives we become two distinct people. The person who wants to get mentally well and the person we were who resists change.  To over come that resistance we need a third person objective opinion to help us change. That person is a trained therapist. A therapist is needed to help us change our thinking and challenge our beliefs to bring us back to reality.  I owe a lot to the therapists that have helped me.

When it comes to sharing about therapy, I can only share my experiences and what I have learned in the hopes it helps you. I am not a therapist or councillor.

I was miss diagnosed with OCD for many years. Thus, my experience with therapists prior to my proper diagnosis was never good as we were all working on false assumptions. Kind of like trying to fix the tires on a car when it was the engine that was the problem and wondering why it wouldn’t go. Once I received my proper diagnosis of BP1 my experience with therapists changed dramatically.

In therapy, the first lesson I learned was that my self talk fueled my bipolar. What I said to myself fueled both my manias and my depressions. I knew that my self talk fueled my manias before I ever met a therapist. I had described the highs I had (mania) as “being driven by ideas, good or bad” for years prior to being properly diagnosed. The lesson for me was how my self talk pushed me deeper and deeper into depression.

“What I learned in therapy was that myself talk fueled my bipolar, both the manias and depressions”

The second lesson that I learned was that myself talk was based on my irrational beliefs about myself, others and the world around me.

“You will find it difficult, if not impossible to manage your emotions and life while holding irrational beliefs and using irrational self-talk statements.” Lynn Clark Ph.D. From the book “SOS – Help for Emotions.”

Although that is not exactly what my therapist said to me, it is close. This is when my therapy experience turned into beneficial work. My therapist and I had to find out what my irrational beliefs were and how they affected my self talk.

“What I learned in therapy was that my self-talk was based on my irrational beliefs about myself, others and the world around me.”

The third lesson I learned in therapy took a long time to believe could happen. but was talked about in the same session where we discussed how my irrational beliefs drove my self-talk was discussed.  My therapist told me I can remove and replace my irrational beliefs with rational beliefs. More importantly, I can change my self-talk from the negative way I spoke to myself and others to an encouraging, positive way of speaking to myself and others.

“What I learned in therapy was I could change.”

The fourth lesson I learned in therapy was to listen to myself. My therapist had been doing something since that first session that I did not know about until we reached this point. He had been listening for my most often repeated negative words and then counting how many times I used these words in a one-hour session. As this session ended he handed me the page from his legal pad.

It read:

Stupid – 10 times
Dumb – 5 times
Useless – 2 times
Hate – 25 times

In a one-hour session, I had used the word “Hate” 25 times. No wonder I was angry. I also showed what I thought of myself at that moment in time. I was stupid, dumb and useless. Today I know that none of those words were ever true, back then or now.

Then he said, “If this is what you are saying out loud, I can only imagine what you are saying in your head.”

From that day forward I tried to listen to myself. First by listening to what I said out loud and after time to what I was telling myself inside my head. It was only by doing this could I hear and then change the negative words that I used.

“What I learned in therapy was to listen to myself, what I said out loud and in my head.”

I attended regular weekly therapy for two years. In that time, I learned many things about myself. The main thing I learned is that when serious issues come up even today I need that third person objective opinion to help me change. The objective opinion of a trained therapist.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching the link to their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Angela Ayles

http://www.activebeat.co/your-health/13-symptoms-of-bipolar-disorder-are-you-bipolar/

 

 

Therapy, Bipolar and Grief

 

 

 

I believe that therapy is an essential part of overcoming our bipolar disorder. One area where therapy is essential to bipolar sufferers is in grief and grieving.

Grief, bereavement of a loss, is normal. No matter if that loss is a loved one (spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, grandparent), a job, a boss, material possessions, a pet, aspects of our lives lost due to this illness, abuse or trauma. No matter the loss we need to recognize it and we need to grieve that loss or losses.

There are three things that bipolar disorder affects regarding grief, firstly this illness hides or twists the things that we need to grieve, like the aspects of our lives we have lost due to this illness along with any abuse and trauma we may have suffered.  We need to grieve the loss of jobs, friends, relationships. We also need to grieve the things our bipolar disorder has taken away, like our ability to think, remember and focus. Secondly, because of severe loss, the loss of loved one, pet or career, even the loss of who we once were, bipolar sufferers are more likely to fall into abnormal grief than most others. Our illness causes us to revisit, or even live directly in, the past. Thirdly, that many symptoms of grief can be compounded by our bipolar symptoms.

Normal grief is a process of reconciling ourselves to the loss we have suffered.

Abnormal Grief according to the DSM 5, “Lasts longer than 6 months, the person must yearn the loss on a daily basis or to a disabling degree. At least five of the following symptoms must be present; Emotional confusion about one’s role in life, Difficulty accepting the loss, Avoidance of anything to do with the loss. Inability to trust others since the loss, Bitterness or anger related to the loss, difficulty moving on with life, Numbness since the loss, feeling that life is meaningless now, feeling stunned or dazed at the loss

I suffered from abnormal grief for over 25 years and coupled with my bipolar disorder it destroyed my life. The trigger for change was the death of my 22-year-old cat, it proved to be one loss too many. I sought help with a qualified grief counselor.

The losses I suffered haunted my mind, most daily, the rest regularly enough to make me unable to function.

One of the main things that my therapist needed to do was to explain and help me separate the symptoms of bipolar disorder and the symptoms of the grieving process and to see how my bipolar contributed to my abnormal grief.

Bitterness and anger are part of the grieving process, however that bitterness and anger is meant to pass. This is a normal grief symptom but if that feeling lasts longer than a few months it is abnormal. One of the symptoms of bipolar and a major part of my disorder is a long-simmering irritability and rage—angry outbursts lasting over several days, during both manic episodes and agitated states of depression.

Numbness, feeling that life is meaningless, feeling stunned or dazed are also symptoms of bipolar and of grief.

It took two years of almost weekly sessions and a lot of work on my part to grieve these losses in a healthy way and put them in their proper place, the losses in the past and me in the present. During those two years, many losses were found that also needed grieving, these are the losses that my bipolar brain told me were of no importance or had twisted into complete fabrications that had nothing to do with reality. They turned out to be very important and I ignored acknowledging and grieving them at my peril.

Today I am living in the present, not in the past and I am no longer haunted by the what’s, if’s and whys, the blame and shame, of the losses that I have suffered. I acknowledge that they happened but I no longer live there.

Look for your losses that keep you in the past and learn to grieve them, in this area we usually need help so talk to your therapist and if necessary find a specialized grief counselor.

What we need to separate is our bipolar disorder and that fact we need to grieve our losses.

As a bipolar sufferer, we have symptoms and an illness that are not going away.

As a griever, you are not broken and do not need to be fixed. You need to learn that grieving is a natural part of living, but it is not a permanent state. Yes, loss happens and we need to grieve, but the real grieving process ends in recovering from the loss and living again.  Grieving is meant to be a short process not a way of life.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on twitter.

 

BLOG OF THE WEEK:

Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Gabriel Nathan

Book Review: An Urgent, Bold Voice Emerges from the “Manic Kingdom”