Daily Archives: April 13, 2017

Bipolar and Loss

Being on disability, I’ve had a good long time to process what has happened to me in the past few years, and finally some clarity has emerged. Not only am I dealing with the loss of my husband, but I still have unresolved grief for the life I had before my bipolar diagnosis.

As those of you who have followed bpnurse for a while know, I’ve suffered a number of losses due in no small part to this damned illness. It had actually begun to destroy my life long before I received the official label, but in my innocence I never put two and two together. I thought my job-hopping was a result of being restless and bored, and I was completely flummoxed by my problems with money. I was grateful for my blessings, but I couldn’t figure out why I was unable to enjoy them fully. In fact, I didn’t really connect the dots until relatively recently. And now that I know the truth, I’m faced with the task of putting my life back together somehow.

But first, I’ve had to acknowledge that even after three years, I’m still mourning for a world I no longer live in. I sorely miss my home, my career, my status as a solidly middle-class wife and mother. I miss having my own car and my independence. It hurts, dammit. I love my family that I live with and am thankful beyond words for all they do for me; I simply wish I didn’t have to depend on them for so much. I wish I didn’t have to depend on anyone, except of course for Will. I also wish I hadn’t had to lose almost everything in order to appreciate what I have left.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as happy as I can be under the circumstances, given the fact that my love is gone in addition to all my other losses. Some days, particularly on our rare sunny days, I feel almost giddy, a sensation that reminds me of springs past when I danced on the edge of hypomania. Oh, for a dose of that! I know I’m not supposed to want it, but I can’t help it—I need that burst of energy and the motivation it gives me, to say nothing of pure joy. It’s been a long time since I felt joyful. I miss that too. Maybe it’ll come along when the weather improves and I can get outside.

So how do I learn to live with what’s happened and make peace with myself again? I’m beginning to suspect that my anger and sadness about what bipolar has cost me is why I’ve had so much difficulty accepting the illness as a part of me, though it doesn’t define me. Perhaps if I can get past the feeling that I’ve been betrayed by my own brain, I’ll find out what I’m still capable of, whether it’s work, reading a book, or being able to remember things. We shall see.

This One Skill Can Immediately Transform How You Feel

This is a wonderfully instructive and simple article to end your suffering, your bad moods, catastrophizing, ruminating on negative things and move your thoughts to more positive things, events in your life. 

After what happened to my precious son, as you can imagine, I have been in a very dark place myself. All manner of anxiety, fears, dark thoughts, questioning everything. I’ve been stuck in hell. Awful vivid pictures in my head, fear, anger, regret swirling in my brain. Ascawful a thing as happened when my son got mugged by about 10 people and had to use his bare hands to fight for his life, as unimaginably horrifying and disgusting a thing that was, the fact is that he is healthy, whole, and still my beautiful, adorable, loving and adored  son. What could have happened, can’t go there. But what is, is good. He is carrying on with his legal career. His girlfriend is visiting him. Today’s their 3rd anniversary! He just got roses for her 😄

So these are the things I have to redirect my thoughts to when I mired down in the horrifies of the situation. 

So glad I found this article. I’ll read it over and over again till my brain stops paying attention to the myriad negative things associated with this awful, awful incident. 


Psychology TodayJennice Vilhauer Ph.D. Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D.
Living Forward

This One Skill Can Immediately Transform How You Feel

Why learning how to shift your attention can change your life.

Posted Mar 29, 2017

Our emotions are often less complex than we think imagine. Most people think that the things that have hurt you are what cause you to experience emotional pain, and that in order to heal and experience real happiness you must resolve those old wounds. The reality, however, is somewhat different.
You can only feel emotions, including the painful ones, in the present moment. And what you feel in the present moment is determined by what you give your attention to. Nothing can hurt you unless you give it your attention. Most people can make themselves cry in just a few minutes by simply pulling up a vivid memory of something that was, at that time, painful. So why would you give your attention to things that cause pain? Some negative events can hold your attention if you perceive them to be a threat, but most people who ruminate on a negative past are simply unaware that they are doing it or that there is any choice in the matter. Things you are unaware of are outside your control. Learning how to become aware of what you are paying attention to, and more important, how to shift your attention to something that makes you feel better, is one of the most powerful tools there is for improving emotional well-being.  
As far back as the 1890s, William James wrote extensively about the relationship between selective attention and experience, making the profound observation that “my experience is what I agree to attend to.”[1] Modern cognitive psychologists have demonstrated through research that we are active participants in our process of perception,[2] confirming that what we think and feel is determined by what we pay attention to. Not only do we have the ability to shift our attention away from painful things and give our attention to more pleasant thoughts or memories — but as we do this, it inhibits our ability to think about the unpleasant painful things. This happens because attention works on an activation/inhibition model:[3] When you give attention to negative things, it literally inhibits your ability to see positive things; that’s why psychologists often say that people with depression see a more depressed world. The more you start to give your attention to things that feel good, over time, the more you will start to see a more positive world, and find yourself noticing fewer of the negatives in life.
Once you are aware you can do it, shifting your attention is something over which you can exert complete control. You can choose what you want to pay attention to, and as a result, how you want to feel. The results are almost immediate. Try this with a friend: The next time you are talking with someone who is telling you about something negative happening to them, ask them to tell you about some positive experience instead. Then, notice the change in their facial expressions. When people start to talk about positive events that feel good, they start to smile; it is an almost involuntary reaction.
Does that sound too easy? Here is a tip that will make it even easier. There are only two things in life that you can pay attention to that cause you to experience emotion: Things you want and things you don’t want. Every single thing that you can think of that causes any type of significant emotion can be sorted into one of those two categories. Breakups, job loss, betrayal, death of a loved one — all things you don’t want. Pets, best friends, birthday parties, getting a raise — all things you do want. 
You will always know when you are giving your attention to things that you don’t want in life; your emotions will tell you. Paying attention to things you don’t want generates negative emotions, while paying attention to things you do want generates positive ones. When you realize that you are experiencing a negative emotion, recognize in that moment that you are giving your attention to something unwanted and consciously choose to shift your attention to something you want instead. You will start to feel better almost immediately.

This type of proactive avoidance isn’t unhealthy: Joseph Ledoux, an NYU neuroscientist and expert on Emotional Intelligence, refers to it as a positive coping strategy that can give you greater control over your life.[4] Attentional control training has been shown effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety.[5] One way to shift your attention to the positive that we know works very well is to practice gratitude: Things that you are thankful for are all wanted things. 
One of the most self-sabotaging things that people can give their attention to is an unwanted future. Nothing in the future has actually happened, yet many people spend a good deal of their time experiencing negative emotions like anxiety, fear, and self-doubt, because they are giving their attention to things they don’t want to occur. Doing this not only robs them of their present-moment happiness, but also prevents them from thinking about the positive experiences they could be creating in their future instead.

Our attention is the gateway to what we experience in life. Learning to notice what you are paying attention to, and how to redirect your attention to things you want, can change not only your current experience, but also the life you create for yourself going forward.
Jennice Vilhauer is director of the Outpatient Psychotherapy Treatment Program at Emory Healthcare and the author of Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind’s Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life.
1. James, W. The Priniciples of Psychology, Volume 1. Holt and Company: New York. 1890.
2. Kanwisher, N. and P. Downing, Separating the wheat from the chaff. Science, 1998. 282(5386): p. 57-8.
3. Pribram, K.H. and D. McGuinness, Arousal, activation, and effort in the control of attention. Psychol Rev, 1975. 82(2): p. 116-49.
4. Ledoux, J. For the Anxious Avoidance Can Have an Upside. New York Times. April 7, 2013.
5. Browning, M. et al. Using Attentional Bias Modification Training as a Cognitive Vaccine Against Depression. Biological Psychiatry, 2012. 72(1): p. 572-579.
About the Author
Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D.

Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., is the Director of Emory University’s Adult Outpatient Psychotherapy Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science in the School of Medicine.




26 ‘Habits’ Of People With Depression

Originally posted on My Brain Has Hiccups:
[Written by Sarah Schuster from The Mighty]. While depression can be in some ways the absence of action, there are still little habits,…

I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression [Watch The Video]

Originally posted on My Brain Has Hiccups:
7 April 2017: The World Health Organisation, (WHO), is leading a one-year global campaign on depression. The highlight is World Health Day 2017,…

I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression [Watch The Video]

Originally posted on My Brain Has Hiccups:
7 April 2017: The World Health Organisation, (WHO), is leading a one-year global campaign on depression. The highlight is World Health Day 2017,…

Wild Day

So I finally got my middle one to the eye doctor after having to cancel multiple appointment for various reasons.  Her eyes have not changed so we went and got her contacts and a new pair of glasses for her to take to college.   We haven’t gotten a decision on whether her car is fixable or not from the insurance company so we don’t know anything there.  But I do need to pick her up early from school and take her to get her allergy shots that she didn’t get yesterday.  Then I have to go to the grocery store and get a few items to get us through the week and weekend.

My oldest is home for the weekend and that is ninice,.  She hasn’t been home for any length of time since Christmas, so that has been kind of hard on her.  But she should stay through SUnday and maybe Monday as well.  We will see how it goes.  She said it depends on how much work she gets done at home over the weekend.

I’m still holding together pretty well and am starting to look forward to my trip for my school soon.  I need to finish my final project soon and have about a thousand words of room left on it.  So we will see what happens with it.

I wish I could sit still for a while and type more but it’s almost time to go pick up the middle one again from school.  She is still sore from the wreck and one of her ears is ringing so she is not completely recovered yet.  Hopefully she will start feeling better soon.



All That We Share

A friend shared this video from Denmark and it really captured my heart. It literally puts people into boxes and then brings them out under categories like class clown or those who had sex this last week. The premise being … Continue reading

It’s Over….

Sadness seems to grip me on the ride home. The vacation. The escape from reality is over. I was a guest in someone else’s world. They knew nothing of my recent manic episode or that I have bipolar disorder. There I am simply a daughter in law. Sister in law. Red hair, freckles and bubbly. 3000 miles away that’s all they have ever known.
I come home to medical bills of my ambulance ride to the ER. Remembrances of sitting in a police car more agitated and out of control than ever. Yelling, no screaming, at psych emergency services. Pacing. Pointing fingers at everyone else. Accusing my husband of collusion and conspiracy. Simply out of my mind.
I had to ask the brand new job I had yet to start to delay my hire date. My brain not able to process information. Not able to remember. Not able to form sentences at times. It didn’t seem fair to them or me to keep the original date. Shame and embarrassment filled me as I wrote the email. They politely agreed. Thank god.
Now, I need to re-enter my world. It feels like there is wreckage in the wake of the episode. Do I make amends to those I may have hurt or worried? While I don’t remember, the truth still remains I called people and told them goodbye. I upset them to the point of calling the police. They feared for me.
Worried people called worried people. My traumatic business is getting batted around through the phone lines. People care,I was told. I used to work with these people and will have to interface w them in my new role. Will there be an elephant in the room? Do I explain what happened? Do I just ignore what happened and move on?
I don’t know how to handle this situation. Then I question if there is really a situation to handle. In AA I would make amends. Is it the same with Bipolar disorder?