Daily Archives: December 13, 2016


Today feels like the most relaxing day of my life.  I’ve not just sat around–I helped Candy and Christy clean and did two loads of laundry, Bob’s and the bedsheets and have kept up with Facebook, but it’s been so calm and unhurried.  The house is still so neat and uncluttered after the party.  I went around and lit all the candles in the house.  I’ve never done that this time of year in this house.

It’s a rainy day out but I’ve just been listening to Chirstmas carols and having the best time fiddling around.  I had a cup of hot cocoa and have just felt so good knowing that I can spend the day how I want.

I am so glad for this remission in my symptoms.  I am praying every day for it to continue and that I can learn to function like a normal human being again.  I’m looking forward to starting my new class next semester and doing more nonfiction and seeing if I can give form to my nonfiction thesis.  I would be so blessed if how to end it came to me in this remission time. I just don’t know how to close it yet.

My oldest comes home in about an hour or so and we will see if I can keep the hurricane confined to her room :)  I like having the house so neat.  Hopefully everyone else feels the same way.  I’m looking forward to my middle daughter’s party with her friends Friday night and plan to help her get ready for it while Bob takes the oldest to get her wisdom teeth out.  WE will see how it all goes.




New clues to how lithium soothes the bipolar brain may shed light on other mental illnesses

This is so exciting, here is an explanation for how lithium works for bipolar disorder as well as other mental illnesses! Apparently little mushroom shaped projections called dendritic spines on the dendrites of neurons are involved. In mice, restoring dendritic spines (from decreased numbers) to healthy numbers reverses behavioral symptoms of illness.
Dendritic spines on a neuron

Dendritic spines, the tiny mushroom-shaped buds visible on the long, slim projections from the cell body of this illustrated neuron, may play a role in several psychiatric diseases.

New clues to how lithium soothes the bipolar brain may shed light on other mental illnesses

The second century C.E. Greek physician and philosopher Galen advised patients suffering from disorders of the spirit to bathe in and drink hot spring water. Modern day brain scientists have posited that Galen’s prescription delivered more than a placebo effect. Lithium has for decades been recognized as an effective mood stabilizer in bipolar disease, and lithium salts may have been present in the springs Galen knew.

Yet exactly how lithium soothes the mind has been less than clear. Now, a team led by Ben Cheyette, a neuroscientist at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), has linked its success to influence over dendritic spines, tiny projections where excitatory neurons form connections, or synapses, with other nerve cells. Lithium treatment restored healthy numbers of dendritic spines in mice engineered to carry a genetic mutation that is more common in people with autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder than in unaffected people, they report today in Molecular Psychiatry. The lithium also reversed symptoms in these mutant mice—lack of interest in social interactions, decreased motivation, and increased anxiety—that mimic those in the human diseases.

“They showed there’s a correlation between the ability of lithium to reverse not only the behavioral abnormalities in the mice, but also the [dendritic] spine abnormalities,” says Scott Soderling, a neuroscientist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who studies how dysfunctions in signaling at brain synapses lead to psychiatric disorders. Soderling adds that the work also sheds light on the roots of these diseases. “It gives further credence to this idea that these spine abnormalities are functionally linked to the behavioral disorders.”

Over the past 2 decades, neuroscientists have built a body of evidence that links not only bipolar disease, but other psychiatric disorders including autism and schizophrenia to abnormal brain development. In particular, they have found abnormalities in the numbers of synapses and in the shape of neurons at the points where they form synapses. Their studies have often implicated abnormal signaling in a brain pathway called Wnt, which is involved both in early brain development and later, more complex, refining of brain connections. The role of Wnt could help explain why lithium is effective: It blocks an enzyme called GSK-3 β, which is an inhibitor on the Wnt pathway. By boosting Wnt signaling, lithium could produce a therapeutic effect in psychiatric diseases in which the Wnt pathway is underpowered.

Neurons of mice with a mutation linked to psychiatric diseases (center) have fewer dendritic spines (white projections) than unaffected mice (left). Lithium treatment restored spines in the mutant mice (right).

Neurons of mice with a mutation linked to psychiatric diseases (center) have fewer dendritic spines (white projections) than unaffected mice (left). Lithium treatment restored spines in the mutant mice (right).

Andiara Espíndola de Freitas/Robert Stanley, Cheyette lab, UCSF

To find out how that biochemical effect influences the brain, Cheyette and a team of colleagues at UCSF and other institutions worked on several parallel tracks. They compared the genomes of 9554 people with bipolar disease, autism, or schizophrenia with those of 11,361 unaffected individuals, looking for variations in the genetic sequence of one form of DIXDCI, another key gene on the Wnt pathway. The changes were rare in both groups, but they were about 80% more common—0.9% versus 0.5%—in people with the disorders compared with unaffected people, suggesting that the mutations elevate the risk of developing the disorders.

The researchers also created mice with a mutated version of DIXDCI. They subjected the rodents to tests gauging their willingness to interact with other mice, to explore a new environment, and to swim—as opposed to passively float—when placed in water. The mutant mice showed decreased sociability, increased anxiety, and lack of motivation compared with controls—all symptoms with analogs in human psychiatric disease. The scientists imaged the rodents’ living brains and examined their neurons in lab dishes. All the tests showed decreased numbers of dendritic spines. At the same time, biochemical tests showed that Wnt signaling was impaired in the mutant mice.

They then treated the mutant mice with lithium. Although the researchers acknowledge that rodents are an imperfect proxy for human mood disorders, they did observe that the animals’ symptoms markedly improved; studies of their brains also revealed normal numbers of spines. “That’s the key finding,” Cheyette says. “It suggests that lithium could have its well-known therapeutic effect on patients with bipolar disorder by changing the stability of spines in the brain.”

Saying goodbye is never easy.

I looked for you along the shore. I saw your silhouette against the setting sun, in the distance up along the strand where we used to walked our dogs. Lifting my hand in salutation, my walk had just begun yours … Continue reading

A Taste of Normal


I’m up at 6:30 writing away. I had a great adventure last night! We went to an auction! I haven’t been to one since I was a little girl in Ohio.

Anyway, it was about an hour away in heavy traffic. I got pretty nervous and popped some Klonopin while I was in the car.

We got there and the people were so nice and it was well organized. There were too many coins and guns for sale, but there was a rug, a picture, a little statue, and a clock I was interested in. We got the clock and the statue. It was a lot of fun to bid and see all the other people there. It did go on for a long time…we were there from 5-9 and things were still going when we left.

The ride home was much different. There was little traffic and I wasn’t nearly as scared, even though it was after dark.

My middle son took a vacation day yesterday so we did stuff together. We all went out for breakfast and then bummed around Target and some other stores. I took a rest then and we headed for the auction. It was a NORMAL day and I kept up just fine. Really, really nice.

Today is low key. I need to wrap more presents and go to yoga. I’ve got to get a shower tonight. That’s about it. I am very happy with the way I’ve been feeling.


Uh-oh. I think I might be getting hypomanic. I just feel VERY good. This might also be a “normal” feeling. I have been depressed so long am not sure what a regular mood is. Still attributing the improved mood to additional Welbutrin in the morning.

Was feeling so restless I took a Klonopin. Now I am feeling very good but not uncomfortable.

I wonder what it would be like to feel steady basically every day. Go off to work, come home, get some dinner together, and have a little social life.


Not sure I feel so hot today. I think I feel kind of sad/normal. Just want to rest and not do too much. Did take a walk last night. My goals today are: a shower, a load of laundry, and yoga. Exciting, huh?


Got the shower and the laundry done…skipped yoga. I took a walk last night but my exercise routine stinks. I need to get more serious about it. I have no excuse other than laziness. Am snuggled on the warm couch just resting.


Had a rough night. Danny was out till four o’clock at a concert and brought a friend home with him to spend the night. The dogs went crazy and we were up and down with them quite a bit. I did get up and go to see my “good” therapist. We talked about a mish-mash of things.

I then went to look for a holiday centerpiece. Couldn’t find anything, so decided to just make my own casual arrangement by laying holiday stuff in sort of a pile and adding some fake candles. It’ll be good enough.

Came home, sat down and suddenly didn’t feel too good. Just felt shaky and sort of though as if things were closing in. My husband and middle son are going to a holiday poker party tonight and Danny will be going out. Hopefully, my daughter will be home. I don’t feel like sitting alone tonight. Even if she is up hanging around in her room, it helps.

Tomorrow I plan on taking a walk and wrapping a few gifts. Sunday I just plan on church and maybe another walk.

Sat morning:

Woke up and feel a little fragile. Got some potatoes in the crock pot to bake so we can have loaded baked potatoes for dinner.

Just plan on hanging out today and hopefully getting a walk in later. Not a big day. My aunt called last night and was thanking me for her Christmas food I sent. I sent her an assortment of organic jams and some stuffed frozen chicken breasts. I could tell she got a kick out of the whole thing. She said they’re having some of the the jam on toast this morning and two of the chicken breasts for dinner. It’s nice to do something for someone else and have them get excited.


Really rough time last night. Got to crying and couldn’t stop. Don’t like to cry in front of my kids but I did.

Woke up this morning with a headache. Plan on resting today and trying to work on life tomorrow.

I see the new CBT therapist tomorrow and my new psychiatrist on Thursday. I hope someone can help me.


Okay, I have decided to give life another shot today. Last night was okay….felt uncomfortable but no crying.

Today I am seeing the new CBT therapist. I feel pretty depressed so I hope she doesn’t overload me with stuff to do. I feel too wobbly to drive.

I am also having my women’s support group over for our meeting and cookies. There are only five of us, so not a huge crowd. I just have to clean up the den and kitchen a little bit. The rooms are “clean”, just messy.

I feel like I look like crap today. I probably do. Maybe I can find something cheerful in the closet.


I give up. I just give up. I feel so black today.

I went to see the new CBT therapist and cried some. I came home and crawled on the couch. I have to get up soon and clean the house for my friends. I am so worn out from depression. I wish I could talk to a depressed friend who truly understands, but I don’t want to bring anybody down.


Feel a little better today but it’s only 7. Had my group over last night and cried to them. They were SUPER supportive and understanding. The meeting went well and we all had a nice time.

Today’ s goals: morning shower and bipolar support meeting.

Strength to all of you as you handle this crazy holiday season.


Funny thing…Bipolar disorder

Funny thing
Having a mood disorder
When energy is low
Face is withdrawn
Language is sparse
Duh, depression
When energy is good
Fluid even
Projects are complete
House is clean
Polaroid comes out for the moon
Vivid words used to describe
The actual moment at hand
I’m asked…
Are you moving fast
Or is it just me?
I don’t fucking know
I’m over here just feeling
For a change
Pardon me for trying
Just live
Not merely survive