Daily Archives: March 5, 2017

No More Blues

Spring hasn’t sprung yet, but I’m out of that mild depression I’ve battled for much of the winter. I woke up the other morning with a sunny disposition, and I’ve done so ever since. I still stay up too late and sleep in almost every day, but otherwise I’m in good shape. Not even the rain is bothering me. I just dream of the sunnier and warmer days to come, and look forward to the change to Daylight Saving Time next weekend. Longer days and shorter nights! Having some energy again! Flowers in the yard! Yay!!

This is why I love this time of year. On the surface, the only sign of spring is a few scattered daffodils, but soon there will be tulips and cherry blossoms. It’s still cold and snow is in the forecast for tomorrow, but change is in the air and even with the cloudy skies, there is promise in the occasional sunbreak. I haven’t even been using my HappyLight. I don’t need it now. Dr. Goodenough said to back off on it when I felt I was OK without it, but I’ll return to using it if the winter blues attack me again.

In the meantime, the season of Lent is upon us, and this year rather than give up sweets or doing some other form of penance, I vowed that I would attend Mass every Sunday and go to Confession at least once. So what did I do this morning but oversleep! I have to get up around 9 to go to the 11:00 Mass, and even though I set my alarm I must’ve turned it off and promptly fallen asleep again. I didn’t wake up until 10, which is when I have to leave. I’m going to Hell for sure if I don’t get my act together and do right by the Lord, who has given me so much.

Speaking of spiritual matters, I’ve been talking to Will a lot lately. I feel his presence so closely sometimes that I half-expect to see him sitting in his chair next to the sofa, wearing the T-shirt he bought in Jamaica and pajama bottoms. Toward the end he wore those PJs more often than jeans, and that was OK. But in my dreams, he always looks happy and healthy, and it comforts me to think he really is.

Thinking about Will just made me recall something from the early years of our marriage. He went through a phase where he bought me a card almost every day and wrote some pretty suggestive things in them, reminding me of how sexy he thought I was. Looking back, I realize how hard he worked to make me feel desirable, because my self-esteem was basically non-existent and I couldn’t understand why he loved me so much. It took me some ten years of marriage to recognize the unconditional nature of his love, and even longer to accept it. Still, he persisted until he’d convinced me that I deserved love, and I was never the same again.

But even with all this reminiscing, my grief is slightly less acute than it was, probably because I’m feeling good overall and that makes me less afraid to experience it. I can sometimes get through a day without crying, or at least feeling like it. Will’s birthday was rough, to be sure, but Ethan and Clark kept me distracted all day and I got through it. They’re really good at it, and they seem to know exactly when I need help the most. I think Ethan is more like his dad than he realizes, and his husband is right there with him. I’m so glad they took us in when they did, and that I’m not living on my own. I think my story would be a lot different if I were.

Oh, how funny—I was just watching the dogs and the little one bonked her head on the top of the doggie door on her way out. She’s such a spaz—she’s a year old but still acts like a puppy, chasing the other dogs all around and playing with anything she can get her paws on, including people and plastic bags. She uses my belly as a launch pad and is always trying to lick my face. I don’t let her because she eats turds. (I wish we could break her of that habit…yuck.)

Well, I guess I’ve rambled enough for one day. Sometimes several blog posts come to me all at once and they end up being blended into one that may or may not make a lot of sense. I hope this one does. Happy (almost) Spring!






Bipolar Disorder and Association With Immune Dysfunction

My favorite theory, that mental illness is an immune illness, borne out here by the observation that people with bipolar disorder have many inflammatory illnesses, such as numerous allergies, asthma, metabolic syndrome, and numerous autoimmune diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and autoimmune thyroiditis. Must look into this some more and write a more comprehensive post about it.


The life expectancy of individuals with BD is approximately 11 to 20 years fewer than that of the general population.
The life expectancy of individuals with BD is approximately 11 to 20 years fewer than that of the general population.

A narrative review published in Journal of Affective Disorders found that the increased risk of general medical comorbidities (GMC) in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) may be mediated by immune dysfunction.1

A narrative review published in Journal of Affective Disorders found that the increased risk of general medical comorbidities (GMC) in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) may be mediated by immune dysfunction.1

The life expectancy of individuals with BD is approximately 11 to 20 years fewer than that of the general population, which is believed to be caused primarily by the elevated prevalence of GMC in BD.2,3 For example, cardiovascular disease is more common in individuals with BD vs healthy controls and individuals with other mental disorders, and it is the top cause of mortality in BD.4 Additionally, diabetes-related death is more common in individuals with BD compared with the general population. Though these associations may be partially accounted for by the metabolic effects of medications used to treat BD, drug-naive patients also experience weight gain and impaired glucose metabolism.5

Along with the increased risk of mortality, GMCs influence BD severity and course of illness, as well as disability and cost of treatment. The reasons for the higher prevalence of GMC in individuals with BD are unclear, though multiple studies have found evidence of elevated systemic inflammation in BD,6,7 suggesting that “immune dysfunction may be an important mechanistic link between BD and metabolic-inflammatory comorbidities,” according to the current review.

To clarify the mechanisms underlying the association between BD and GMC, the authors aimed to explore the role of metabolic-inflammatory dysfunction and related treatment implications. They summarized epidemiologic research showing a high prevalence of comorbid inflammatory conditions in BD, including numerous allergies, asthma, metabolic syndrome, and numerous autoimmune diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and autoimmune thyroiditis.

Genetic alterations represent one mechanism by which BD may increase immune dysfunction, with some findings indicating that individuals with BD may have more inflammation-prone genotypes. Other potential immune-inflammatory mechanisms reviewed include psychosocial stress, substance abuse, alterations to the gut microbiota, and even episodes of mania, which have been linked to a proinflammatory state.

Though further research is needed to elucidate the most appropriate interventions for GMC in BD, evidence suggests that prevention and treatment approaches might include increased physical activity and dietary changes, preferential prescribing of medications with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, and adjunctive anti-inflammatory agents. In addition, the simultaneous treatment of BD and GMC could improve outcomes for both conditions. “Further study is merited to further the understanding of the underlying mechanisms and consequences of such interventions,” the authors concluded.

Vividly Ambiguous

Daily Prompt – Vivid Quite a title eh? March 2nd was the fifth anniversary of my Dad’s passing. Now I have talked openly about the fact my relationship with him was a rocky road, and I don’t intend to go … Continue reading

What Is It With Showers Anyway?

Girl is choosing cosmetics in bathroomIt is fairly widely known that people with bipolar disorder and/or depression have trouble taking a daily shower. It’s not that we don’t know what’s involved in taking a shower, or why it would be good for us to do so, it’s simply that showering uses up a tremendous number of spoons.

Here’s what showering looks like according to Andrew Solomon, author of the now-classic The Noonday Demon:

I ran through the individual steps in my mind: You sit up, turn and put your feet on the floor, stand, walk to the bathroom, open the bathroom door, go to the edge of the tub…I divided it into fourteen steps as onerous as the Stations of the Cross.

I performed a similar exercise in one of my blog posts (Brain vs. Brain: http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-iF) and here’s my version:

First I have to find a clean towel and a bar of soap, get undressed without seeing myself in the mirror, fiddle with the water temperature, wash and shampoo, dry off, find clean underwear, and that’s not even thinking about drying my hair and figuring out what I can wear! Oh, my God, I’ve used up all my spoons just thinking about it! I should just eat Cocoa Puffs and go back to bed.

Now let me say, first of all, that I don’t really like showers. I grew up taking baths and have never enjoyed the sensation of water spraying in my face. But with my bad back and bad knee, getting up from sitting in a bathtub is nearly impossible these days. (Please don’t ask me why anyone would want to sit in dirty water. Everyone says that when I say I prefer baths. I have a nice long soak, steeping in the clean water like a big teabag, and only then wash up and get right out. Used to, I mean.)

To most people, showering is a single act that requires the expenditure of a single spoon. Take a shower; that’s it. But for those of us with invisible illnesses, each separate step may require its own spoon. Take something as simple as finding a towel, for instance. Go to the linen closet, grab a towel and voilà! Only a fraction of a spoon, if that.

But surely you don’t think I have had the spoons to fold and put away my laundry. It is all there in a jumble on top of the dryer. (Who needs a wrinkle-free towel anyway?) I have to root around to find one, and maybe twice if a cat has thrown up on the first one I pick. (They love sitting on clean laundry.)

If I have to go to a business meeting I force myself to use some of those spoons showering and getting dressed and acting respectable. But I will pay for it later, collapsing after the meeting in need of a mega-nap.

Now here’s a little secret I’ll tell you. Most people believe you gain spoons by going out of the house – walking in the fresh air, meeting friends for lunch, shopping, going for a drive (does anyone do that anymore?). But the fact is that, according to Spoon Theory, you get a certain number of spoons every day when you wake up. You cannot gain, buy, beg, borrow, or steal any more, not even by breathing fresh air. You can only spend them.

Given the mathematics of spoons, I don’t spend a single one that I don’t absolutely have to. Not going out? No shower. Have to go out for a loaf of bread or a drive-through meal? Wash up in the sink. If I need a shower between outings, my husband reminds me and facilitates by, for example, rummaging on the dryer for a clean towel and clean clothes or a clean nightshirt.

I need those spoons for doing my work at home in my smelly pajamas more than I do for the ordeal of showering.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: being overwhelmed, bipolar disorder, depression, invisible illnesses, my experiences, Spoon Theory, working at home

How Depression Makes Your Body Feel

Originally posted on My Brain Has Hiccups:
The image that we often get of a sad girl with tears on her face sitting in a dark corner is hardly the…


mousy-ladiesI’ve stalled out in a mixed-state depression.  It’s nothing new, not even very noteworthy, but I’m always surprised by how it changes everything.  My perception becomes bleak and twisted, my body slow and creaky.  I miscommunicate and send mixed messages, because every part of my brain is mixed.  I’m confused and confusing.

Depression with rage is so uncomfortable, and so isolating.  I hate everyone.  Or am scared of them.  Ancient resentments and regrets rise up like specters out of unholy ground.  This is the part of my bipolarly existence that sees a life as a hermit as the only option.

I have a couple of mantras during these times:

Keep Your Mouth Shut

It Will Shift Soon

Just Wait

pretty-magazinesSo, I’m muttering mantras.  And looking at pretty magazines.

temp-poldark-poster2And watching Poldark.




And making art.



Lots of art.

Pirates, The Gambler, and Me!

Daily Prompt – Parlay I wasn’t going to write about today’s word because I just didn’t think I could parlay it into something I could write about. And guess what? I have already used it! But that is just for … Continue reading