Daily Archives: December 15, 2014

Bipolar is a Progressive, Organic Brain Disease. Medication Helps Stop Damage to Brain.

Kitt O'Malley:

Excellent post summarizing research on the negative effect of bipolar disorder on the brain over time. Medication, lithium in particular, heals and protects the brain. Take your meds, folks. Mania is damaging.

Originally posted on Bipolar1Blog:

From: http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/bipolars-only-discussions/general-support/10087928-bipolar-gets-worse-with-age

Sarah Troy writes:

I am not a doctor. I have bipolar disorder. My responses are based on my own experience, reading and research.

QUESTION: “I know bipolars begin to experience cognitive damage with each untreated manic episode but do BPs on medication also experience this cognitive damage?”

Yes. Bipolar is a progressive, organic brain disease.

Bipolar is a major mental disease (or disorder). Research on the major mental disorders, such a bipolar, schizophrenia, major depression, and Alzheimer’s disease, shows: A) Deterioration of the brain occurs slowly over the lifespan in each of these disorders. B.) This deterioration is both structural and functional. C) There are differences between how the brain looks in each of these disorders. In other words, the brain of a bipolar has structural and functional deterioration that is different from the brain of a major depressive disorder. D) In each of these disorders, we…

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Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Dementia, Health, Hypomania, Mania, Medication, Mental Health Tagged: brain health, lithium

The Party’s Over!

cake 002Well, it’s Monday and I am happily on my couch with my legs propped up. Yesterday was quite a marathon!

I love how when guests come over they always say…”OMG, your house looks so clean! How do you do it?” Little do they know it normally looks like a marching band just went through. Our house is normally fairly CLEAN but the kitchen and den and our bedroom get pretty darned messy.

We started the clean up yesterday with the “divide and conquer” strategy. My son and husband did the kitchen, my daughter did the den, and I had the guest bath. (I got lucky.) It really wasn’t too bad. We had ditched church as I was worried about being too tired to get everything in so we had some time. I got a shower! and found something decent and comfortable to wear. I even found some jewelry to put on which I never do because I am always too depressed and lazy.

There were some bright spots in the preparations. One was this liquor store which is part of a large chain and about two miles away. I did NOT feel like going booze shopping in the middle of holiday crowds but I felt guilty about sending my husband alone. He isn’t a drinker and really hates liquor stores. All we needed anyway was a case of cheap champagne and some red wine. So I get on their website and lo and behold, you can shop right there, pay with your credit card, and go pick it up in ONE hour. I looked over all the cheap champagnes and found a nice cheap red wine I had had before. My husband was in and out of there in five minutes. Now that’s service!

Another good thing was the grocery store. I had ordered some party platters of sandwiches, fruit, etc. We also needed a ton of ice. But guess what? I did not feel like going on this exciting trip either. Miraculously, our son announced he had a friend arriving shortly who would be glad to go and help pick everything up.

We had a ton of people. I think it was somewhere around 65. They came and went so they weren’t all there at once, but there was one time where it was darned crowded. And we even had people out on the back patio in the cold. We started at 3 and bang the doorbell rang promptly and didn’t stop. Amazingly enough, everyone was gone right at 7.

I have a good friend Lynne, that I bake with. She made that cake in the picture as a little Christmas gift for me. It had raspberry filling and was pretty darned good. We also had several people bring desserts. We ate up all the sandwiches but did have some desserts left. I sent all this home with various people. It worked out.

I have a young friend who is 19 and she is short on cash. So I asked her to come and wash dishes at the party. I got out all the good china, crystal, and silverware, and she washed and dried as we went. We just kept recycling clean dishes. We could have used paper, but honestly, when can you use your good stuff if not at a holiday party?

The decorations looked good and got lots of compliments. Two people asked my husband if we had it professionally decorated. Boy, is that ever a laugh! (I should have stopped these folks and pointed out all of the garage sale purchases we had made over the past year.) But especially when it got dark, everything just looked so pretty. It was such a good and easy time to have a party. With all the decorations up, no one noticed the crummy end table or the weird lamp or the odd cat hair ball.

If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ll love this part. Guess who showed up? Lori! Remember her? The one who got the ax off my friend list? Apparently my husband invited her husband at the poker party which was fine by me. I really didn’t think they’d show. But they do, and she gives me this hard hug and tells me how much she has missed me and when can we get together? Really weird. So I said “Oh anytime…looking forward to it”…you know sort of casual. This morning I get a text from her saying what a great party it was and how she wants to see me soon. Go figure. A Christmas miracle.

My bipolar group facilitator and his wife came. He asked what he should tell people when they asked him how he knew me. I said “tell them the truth”. Most of my friends know I am bipolar and the rest can go eat cake. He actually got into a conversation with a couple whose son is seriously and dangerously (in my opinion) depressed. It’s amazing how things come together sometimes.

My legs hurt today. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Tonight is nephew Jack’s graduation from college. He’s had one full week (five days) of chemo so far. He looks very puffy around the jaw line. He came and hung out at the party which I have to give him credit for. He was at poker the other night and apparently got sick and had to leave. This is going to be a long road. I am so thankful again that college is all wrapped up for him now. So if you are the praying type, offer one up for Jack.

I am taking this VERY casual online blogging seminar. We just got a new assignment. We are to write an entry based on a question from a reader. Now I wasn’t too sure about this. You guys can be awfully quiet at times. But if anyone wants to put a question in the comments section, I’ll be excited. Maybe something about taking meds or seeing doctors? Or times I was in the hospital? Or crazy manic or depressed stuff I did? Or how being a parent was? Or how being a child was? Or why I don’t get my ass off the couch more? Or anything to do with anything? I’m flexible.

hugs to you guys,


To Accept or Reject Mental Health Labels, That is the Question

What's in a mental health label? Schizophrenia. Bipolar. Anxiety. Depression. OCD. And so on.

Does a mental health label define you?

I've had numerous conversations with my therapist about the bipolar label. I've been diagnosed for seven years now. I went six years in between my first and second hospitalizations for mania. And in those six years I did not really claim the label. My therapist showed me the bipolar entry in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). There is an entry for single-episode mania. Mania is what determines a bipolar diagnosis; otherwise, one would just have unipolar depression. I thought I had that, the single-episode diagnosis, not the full-fledged diagnosis. I thought my one episode of depression and one episode of mania were one-time flukes. I didn't think I really had bipolar disorder. However, my psychiatrist disagreed. He told me "once a Heisman trophy winner, always a Heisman trophy winner." I hated this analogy.

The two medicines I was on for those six years in between hospitalizations kept me stable. Having a bipolar diagnosis didn't impact much for me except sleep. I had to be in bed by 11pm in order to avoid next-day grogginess. But that was the only inconvenience. I had a few side effects within the first few months of being hospitalized, but after I changed to a new medicine I was fine.

Until 2013.

Elevated liver enzymes were detected in my routine blood work. Elevated liver enzymes might mean liver damage. I was told to stop taking this medicine immediately. My psychiatrist didn't replace this medicine, leaving me only on one medicine to maintain my bipolar disorder. Within two months I was manic and hospitalized. This hospitalization removed all doubt that I was really bipolar. I was hospitalized for ten days as the doctors tried to find me a new medicine cocktail to control my mania. I had to also go on short-term disability for two months.

Needless to say my therapist and I renewed our conversations about my label. I could no longer act like I didn't have a mental health diagnosis. I didn't have any friends with mental health diagnoses, so I wanted to talk to other diagnosed folks. In search of a space to discuss my disorder, I sought out and attended a DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) meeting.

My therapist was concerned. He didn't want me to identify with a mental illness. He didn't want it to define me. But I disagreed with him. Just as I am black and a woman and an American, I too, also have bipolar disorder. It does have an impact on my life: my choices, my thoughts, my actions. To deny the label would be like denying a part of me. Now, I don't subscribe to the belief that to have a mental illness means I have to be consumed by instability. I am a highly-functioning professional.

For me, having a bipolar diagnosis does not signal dysfunction or disability.  I've learned to use the diagnosis to my advantage. I think it makes me special: I am creative, intelligent, and empathetic. When I look at my bipolar lineage (all the famous writers, artists, actors, and doctors), I feel proud.

And when I read the DSM entry for bipolar disorder, I see that I have had nearly every symptom of mania and depression. The diagnosis and label made my actions and thoughts make sense. I've actually found comfort in the label. But I do realize not everyone wants to be labelled.

What say you? If you are diagnosed, how do you interpret your label?

Let It Rain

It’s been raining non stop since yesterday and it’s like a cathartic rain cleaning away my holiday humbugs. My mother in law is decorating the house and burning holiday scented canadles and it is making me look forward to Chritmas instead of dreading it like I always do.

Honestly there is some deep buried thing that makes holidays for us and as soon as I move into my home I will go back to the therapist. Always end up complaining about living here and it solves nothing.

I sent out cards to my family this year which I haven’t done in years. Even to my father who really has nothing to do with my life and my grandparents whom I miss very much.

Do you love or dread the holidays? How does it affect your mental illness? I’d love to hear. that I am not the only one that is affects.image

Ordinary Illness

My middle daughter has the flu, diagnosed this morning.  She started getting sick Friday and went ahead and played the Christmas  program two nights before she began running fever yesterday.  So that hasn’t been any fun.  We’re going to have to work to keep the rest of us well because no one wants to be sick on Christmas.  I endured a sermon from my mom about the flu shot once she heard the news.  She thinks it cures all ills, from sinus infections to bronchitis to strep.  I just don’t argue with her anymore.

Still a busy week.  I have a psych appointment tomorrow to follow up on my meds and whatnot,.  I’m not having any more menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, so maybe that was a false alarm.  But I think that now that class is over (except for grading finals) my stress levels will drop considerably.  And I’m only teaching two classes next semester, so hopefully things can return to “normal”, whatever that means for me now.

I’m been catching up with long-ago friends lately that don’t yet know about my diagnosis.  It’s always kind of weird to mention it.  My very oldest friend from my hometown didn’t know it and I thought she did.  (Her mom and my mom used to be friends, so I thought mom would have told her).  That was awkward.  She’s a preacher’s wife now, has been for almost 16 years.  She said she’d pray for me in it, which I appreciated. But it was still strange.  Funny how it’s not a problem to share with strangers but it can be with people you know.

How The Wizard of Oz Should Have Ended

I have posted this several times before and it has nothing to do with bipolar disorder, but I saw Wicked on stage last night and this skit was in my mind the entire time. The show was amazing, btw

The post How The Wizard of Oz Should Have Ended appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Reaching the sunset of 2014…..

This has been a hell of a year. In fact, this year has just been hell. I have had such a deep depression this year, it is a wonder I am still here. There was a point, half way through … Continue reading

Bipolar Polypolar Roundup

(Posting frequency due to mixed state.) (It’s ok, I have chocolate.)

Geodon fatal side effect – 6 cases, 0 deaths. And may I remind you that many, many drugs have at least one scary but rare side effect. Like this one.  And Lamotrigine can (hardly ever does, but it can) cause the fatal Stevens-Johnsons rash – but so can some antibiotics. Moral of the story: don’t effing well panic. And if you get blisters or similar inside your mouth, eyes and other places pimples fear to go; go directly to ER, where they will swiftly save you.

People keep getting shocked about this stuff ZOMG NOOOOOOO WTF ANTI-DEPRESSANTS CAN MAKE U SUICIDAL ERMAHGERRRRD! Just read the fucking insert willya? Also deploy google and forums before having conniptions*.


I keep seeing posts about ‘straightjackets.’ Wikipedia is talking rubbish, it’s spelled straitjacket. Strait means tight or narrow. Straight just means uptight. I kid, I kid! I retract the heterophobia and offer you a nice soothing cup of tea.

Bipolar & Broke?

Anyone used Needymeds? It’s for Americans who either need help affording meds, or who want to help others afford their meds.

Then there’s Just Another Lab Rat where you can volunteer for clinical trials and suchlike.
I read a very scathing article a while back, claiming that companies who run clinical trials of psych meds abuse and exploit the homeless. As with everything, caveat emptor, erm … even if you’re the one getting paid.

Bipolar American who ‘defected’ to North Korea
Dunno about you, but I refuse to even ponder whether this should make us question his sanity till we get stats on a whole bunch more ‘defectors’. Being sent to a psychiatric unit is certainly insufficient evidence. The article said he was ‘paraded in front of press,’ by which they meant there was a press conference.

In his comments to reporters, Martinez strongly criticised the US for alleged human rights violations and its attempt at forcing imperialist influence and domination on other countries, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said in an article released with the footage.

Psycheducation is old and old school. I like it, you might too. I found the following graphic there, which illustrates just how inaccurate the term bipolar is. Hence the post title. Yup, I’m running out of titles.



* conniption
nounNORTH AMERICANinformal
plural noun: conniptions
a fit of rage or hysterics.
“his client was having conniptions on the phone”
mid 19th century: probably an invented word.

Channeling Scarlett

scarlettI wish I had something new to say about rapid cycling and mixed states.  I wish I had a pithy “Ah-Ha” moment to relate, something inspiring and brave that illustrates the worthiness of the fight.  Maybe I’m just not there yet.  I’m still in the middle of it, so my perspective is limited.  I can only see the bark on one tree, not the forest.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I believe to be true:  Almost everything in my head right now is a lie.  It’s the almost that’s tricky, especially since my discernment is faulty, too.  This is when I try not to think, try not to problem-solve or make decisions.  This is when I discard the first, second, third reaction to what people say to me, or their silences.  This is when I don’t trust myself to look in a mirror, or feed the lies by buying clothes or watching the news.  This is when I pare everything down to its simplest form and stick to a schedule:  Get up, Swim, Get Coffee, Journal, etc.  This is when I spend my time pulling pictures out of magazines and organizing my vintage photos.  This is when I text my friends and say, “Tell me you love me,” then try to accept their immediate responses.

There’s something about rapid cycling and mixed states that filters out the loving and positive while reinforcing the hateful and negative.  It’s part of the illness.  It’s not who I am, though for decades, I believed it was.  All the hurtful, doubting thoughts sound true, feel true.  Sometimes I can see the falseness, sometimes I can’t.  Sometimes the best I can do is channel Scarlett O’Hara.  I won’t think about that now.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.  That way I don’t have to decide if the thought stream gurgling through my head is true or not.  That, in itself, is restful.

Because I know, with bipolar disorder, with rapid cycling and mixed states Tomorrow is Another Day.

Living Bipolar by Landon Sessions

The book introduces itself as an accountant of experiences and aims to be a users manuel. The intro also talks about how bipolar moods change from minute to minute. Whut? 2014 it says on the frontispiece and yet he quotes the DSM IV throughout. Self publishing has a lot to answer for.

Apparently the author is an FAU Sociology graduate student (Source.). I’m telling you so that you can avoid studying there if you’re in the USA. I’m not griping about his spelling, just his lack of an editor. And here he is with a big smile and his two books.

The writing is sloppy and full of tautology; it is also heavily sprinkled with quotes. Even the tragically unedited accounts by bipolar individuals and their loved ones, are peppered with quotes. There is good stuff, but you will need tweezers to get at it. It’s typo city too.

On the plus side:
It’s free.
There’s a decent interview with a psychiatrist.
First person accounts.
It isn’t all about bipolar 1, 2 gets some limelight for a change.
It’s not as bad as the last bipolar smashwords freebie I read.

The pluses are not enough. There are so many better books and blogs to read to get information and first person accounts. Read it if you can stand reading first drafts without wanting to throw … eh nevermind.