Monthly Archives: May 2017

Note To Self…

…Never feel so great that you think you can skip your nighttime meds and not suffer the consequences.

Yes, I was “up” last week. Yes, it made me want to try going without meds to see what it would be like. And yes, I was awake all night long and felt like I was going to freak the righteous hell out.

I don’t really know what gave me the idea that stopping meds—even as a brief experiment—would be a walk in the park. Like I said, I was definitely on the high side of the mood spectrum and sometimes that makes me think I’m invincible. But I’m also one of those people who feel the effects of med withdrawal within hours of a missed dose. I forgot about that. This damned disease of mine doesn’t have me on a short leash, it’s got me in a chokehold, and the punishment for my transgression was swift and severe.

I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I tossed and turned in bed trying to go to sleep and succeeded only in getting the blankets all twisted up. My thoughts were racing at warp speed, making it impossible to focus on the breathing exercises I do when I’m anxious or stressed. It felt like my eyes were bulging out of my head, my hair was standing on end, and the top of my head was going to fly off. I would have given up the “experiment” at that point, except it was 4 AM and I had to get up for church in only a few hours, so I didn’t want to take my meds then for fear that I’d oversleep.

Not that I was in any danger of that. It’s been a long time since I missed out on an entire night’s sleep, but I was reminded of days past when, in the throes of manic episodes, I went weeks without sleeping more than three or four hours a night. (That in itself is unusual; many people don’t sleep at all during manic phases.) It actually seemed as though I was going to tip over into full-blown mania. Amazing how well I remember how that feels, even though it’s been several years since my last hurrah. But I didn’t, and in the morning I took my daytime meds vowing I’d never pull a stunt like that again.

I can’t promise that, of course. No one with bipolar disorder can, because we cycle in and out of moods even on meds, and when we’re manic we tend to think we can do anything we want. I simply fell prey to the idea that I could skip a dose or two and be fine, even though I’ve tried it before (and it didn’t work then, either). I think deep down I still wish I could be “normal” and not have to take meds; being hypomanic and somewhat impulsive, I made a bad decision.

But it’s not the worst thing in the world. I’ve made much worse mistakes, especially in the area of finances. I have been spending a little too much money recently but I’m still able to pay my bills and rent, and most of the spending is actually for a good reason (smaller clothes for the trip). I’m now down almost 85 lbs. and am close to the goal I’d set for myself to be reached by the time we leave. I’m six months ahead of schedule!

Anyway, that’s an example of what can happen when my illness comes out to play. (Yes, I know better, so please don’t yell at me.) The only reason I’m telling this story is to show readers that a) I’m only human, and b) no matter how much fun hypomania is, there’s always a chance of doing something dumb.

And so it goes.

When The Shoe Is On The Other Foot

My Hubby has been my rock for our 16 years of marriage and the five or so years before that. Even when times were at their worst (and they were), and he wanted to pack it in, he didn’t. He … Continue reading

Launch is Coming

So tonight I make my first post to  I am excited to be starting this new project.  I asked Dunkelberg for help publicizing it yesterday in our conference.   He said he could contact University Relations about it–I offered to write a short press release and send it to him to give him an idea of what I was doing.  I also included Ren and Celeste in it to give it more of a “W flavor” that they might like.  So we will see what comes of that.

I meet with Mary Miller today to talk about it and see if she’s been able to read the original piece and tell me if I can improve it.  I hope she responds well to the idea and tweets about it to all her literary friends 🙂  We will see.  Then tomorrow I’ll meet with Kris Lee and talk to him about what all I have workshopped and where I might want to concentrate my efforts.

I sent off two pieces last night and today–I sent the short-story version of “Hurricane Baby”  to an anthology asking for  stories about “Ruins and their After Effects”.  The call for papers said the ruins could be of a life, and I thought Wendy and Judd’s story fit perfectly. And I sent the piece I workshopped yesterday to Creative Nonfiction.  So we will see what they say.

Hope everyone has a good rest of the week.  I know I will 🙂


The Three Goals

Every three months Sadie and I have to update my treatment plan.  The first page reviews progress made since the previous treatment plan was created, and addresses strengths, needs, abilities, and preferences (SNAP).  It lists the members of my treatment team and any “natural supports” – people in my life who are helpful to my […]

And then there was ONE

Today it’s too hard to navigate my marriage, my job, my cat, my house, my bills, and bipolar disorder. Thoughts flash: run! End it! Just cry it out! I start to plan all those things-pack a bag, grab all my medication & head to the bridge, snot all over myself. All this planning started from under the covers well past the time I was supposed to be at work. As I begged for continuous sleep far into the day, I found myself on the couch too soon. I have so many bottles of medication I haven’t taken. Kept promising myself I would turn them into my therapist or my psychiatrist, but secretly wanting the option for days like this.
My marriage is vulnerable right now. I’ve become too much. I no longer enhance this relationship. The words my husband is using today are sharp. Truth behind his pain. Pushed up against the wall he spouts them. Not to hurt me necessarily, but release himself. The burden that I am is heavy. He is strong. Maybe too strong for 18 years. He often tells me that I have no idea how all these episodes of depression, mania, suicide attempts, battles w the bottle affect him. Truly tear at him. Not only because it hurts to see a loved one in pain, but the insurmountable amount of powerlessness that follows for him. Sometimes feeling betrayed as I reach for the liquid courage instead of him. Sometimes confused why I fall into the dark abyss with no warning. Sometimes because emotions are simply too damn hard.
Its funny because on the inside I am proud of myself when I can be “normal” what I think of as a good wife. I wonder if he notices I’m doing well. I just keep on showing him, at least in my mind, how I’m trying to rise. But, its that day my smile isn’t as big. My silence is stronger. My demeanor changed that he notices. Yesterday he asked if I was feel down. At first I denied it and said I was just tired. After all we had a great start to the weekend. He asked me again a little while later and I decided to shake my head yes. His response reminds me how hard the roller coaster is from any seat. He said we will cancel plans for tomorrow because he doesn’t want to get me “started.” Tears. Instant tears. Started? Does this mean he truly doesn’t get me?
As the sun sparkled I went back to bed under the guise of a headache. Physical pain is easier to accept and has a cure in ibuprofen. I laid me down to sleep to escape. Escape disappointment. Escape depression. Escape having to perform.
The evening didn’t end so well. More truth hit the fan and sent daggers around the room. I yelled. He tried to ask me not to yell and I yelled more. Poor poor communication and coping skills. This is not the picture of a good wife. I excused myself back to bed at 7:45 pm hurt feelings in tow.
I think the trigger to all this is loneliness. I have no support system.i have no friends. More truth to pierce my soul. And where am I now? Alone on my couch in the middle of a Tuesday when I should be at work. It fills the room and I cannot breathe. But dammit I will not cancel those plans. Red eyed. Tired. Full of self hatred. I will smile and carry on.
I feel like I am a party of one dancing around the bigger party. I don’t know how to get in. Do I deserve to be in? Can I, we, lay the burden down?

6 Ways to Break the Cycle of Bipolar’s Negative Thinking

Bipolar disorder, it’s a lot of work! But if we don’t do it, our lives can. Wet wuickly become hell. Below are some steps we can take to stop negative thinking, or at least curb it. We need reminding sometimes that these infernal places that our brains take us are not, in fact, the realist reality that exists! Best luck, bloggers!

Since those living with bipolar spend more time depressed than elated, having the skills to manage the negative thought pattern is essential. Psychologist Elizabeth Saenger, PhD, offers these six helpful techniques:
#1 Distinguish between what you feel and what is real
Your mood can easily blur your vision. Feeling depressed often means feeling life is hopeless, but it’s important to realize these views are symptoms of bipolar and do not reflect reality. “In other words, it’s the depression talking, not an objective picture of your situation,” Saenger explains. She suggests thinking back to a time when you were optimistic about the future, and tell yourself that what you thought then about your life was more accurate.
#2 Avoid focusing on the negative
When we disregard the positive and instead concentrate on the unfortunate aspects of a situation—dwelling on soccer games lost, and forgetting our victories—we do ourselves a tremendous disservice, asserts Saenger. Instead of focusing on your limitations, think about what a friend would say to you to contradict this negative line of thinking.
#3 Ban over-generalizations
How many times have you concluded, on the basis of a single failure, that you will always fail? Don’t fall prey to overgeneralized thoughts such as “No one cares about me” and “I’m never going to be able to get a job.” Instead, let the words ‘always,’ ‘everybody’, ‘never,’ and ‘nobody’ serve as red flags that you’re probably overgeneralizing.
#4 Create alternatives to mind reading
When we’re depressed, we may be apt to misread or mind read how people feel about us. If we automatically conclude someone does not like us because he didn’t say “hello” rather than considering it was because he didn’t see us, this is mind reading. Saenger says it can help to write down the behavior which discouraged you in one column, your automatic interpretation of it in a second column, and multiple alternative explanations in a third column.
#5 Create a gray continuum when you have black-or-white thinking
Black-or-white, or all-or-nothing, thinking involves inappropriately categorizing objects, situations, or people into one extreme or another. When you are depressed, it is easy to think of yourself as a total failure, or as completely worthless. Remind yourself that the world is made of shades of gray, and people who are all good or all bad are rare.
#6 Break up catastrophizing
Catastrophizing involves noticing one unfavorable fact or unfortunate situation, and making it mushroom in your mind into a chain of hypothetical circumstances ending in disaster. Observed symptoms of a cold lead to an imagined death from pneumonia, or a minor mistake at work results in the nightmare of getting fired. When you predict calamities, ask how probable each event is, and how likely it is they could occur together.

Bipolar Brain Biology a Bit Different

Yeah, a bit different 😉 ! Read on bloggers, it’s not all bad.

Here are some of the difference: “The study showed thinning of gray matter in the brains of patients with bipolar disorder when compared with healthy controls. The greatest deficits were found in parts of the brain that control inhibition and motivation – the frontal and temporal regions.”

But even though these changes exist, Lithium offers a protective role! “Some of the bipolar disorder patients with a history of psychosis showed greater deficits in the brain’s gray matter. The findings also showed different brain signatures in patients who took lithium, anti-psychotics and anti-epileptic treatments. Lithium treatment was associated with less thinning of gray matter, which suggests a protective effect of this medication on the brain.”
Bipolar patients tend to have gray matter reductions in frontal brain regions involved in self-control (orange colors), while sensory and visual regions are normal (gray colors). Image courtesy of the ENIGMA Bipolar Consortium/Derrek Hibar et al.

A new study has found brain abnormalities in people with bipolar disorder.

In the largest MRI study to date on patients with bipolar disorder, a global consortium published new research showing that people with the condition have differences in the brain regions that control inhibition and emotion.
By revealing clear and consistent alterations in key brain regions, the findings published in Molecular Psychiatry on May 2 offer insight to the underlying mechanisms of bipolar disorder.
“We created the first global map of bipolar disorder and how it affects the brain, resolving years of uncertainty on how people’s brains differ when they have this severe illness,” said Ole A. Andreassen, senior author of the study and a professor at the Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research at the University of Oslo.
Bipolar disorder affects about 60 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. It is a debilitating psychiatric disorder with serious implications for those affected and their families. However, scientists have struggled to pinpoint neurobiological mechanisms of the disorder, partly due to the lack of sufficient brain scans.
The study was part of an international consortium led by the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC: ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics Through Meta Analysis) spans 76 centers and includes 26 different research groups around the world.
Thousands of MRI scans
The researchers measured the MRI scans of 6,503 individuals, including 2,447 adults with bipolar disorder and 4,056 healthy controls. They also examined the effects of commonly used prescription medications, age of illness onset, history of psychosis, mood state, age and sex differences on cortical regions.
The study showed thinning of gray matter in the brains of patients with bipolar disorder when compared with healthy controls. The greatest deficits were found in parts of the brain that control inhibition and motivation – the frontal and temporal regions.
Some of the bipolar disorder patients with a history of psychosis showed greater deficits in the brain’s gray matter. The findings also showed different brain signatures in patients who took lithium, anti-psychotics and anti-epileptic treatments. Lithium treatment was associated with less thinning of gray matter, which suggests a protective effect of this medication on the brain.
“These are important clues as to where to look in the brain for therapeutic effects of these drugs,” said Derrek Hibar, first author of the paper and a professor at the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute when the study was conducted. He was a former visiting researcher at the University of Oslo and is now a senior scientist at Janssen Research and Development, LLC.
Early detection
Future research will test how well different medications and treatments can shift or modify these brain measures as well as improve symptoms and clinical outcomes for patients.
Mapping the affected brain regions is also important for early detection and prevention, said Paul Thompson, director of the ENIGMA consortium and co-author of the study.
“This new map of the bipolar brain gives us a roadmap of where to look for treatment effects,” said Thompson, an associate director of the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute at the Keck School of Medicine. “By bringing together psychiatrists worldwide, we now have a new source of power to discover treatments that improve patients’ lives.”
This article has been republished from materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Interesting that Scrabble helps with anxiety!

So when I am feeling very anxious, I go to my Scrabble app and start playing. It’s amazing but the anxiety disappears! Really just vanishes into thin air! Of course the reason for ur is that when I’m anxious I’m in my amygdala, that is the amygdala is the region of the brain in which fear and anxiety reside. When I start playing Scrabble, I start using the prefrontal cortex or the logical part if my brain. So the amygdala is shut down and the frontal live is activated. No more anxiety.

That’s great! But lately I have noticed that my ranking in Scrabble had gone down from around 3 to 6 or 7. This is a bit disconcerting! Is the anxiety stealing my IQ points? Or is it the Lithium? Recently I had to decrease my dose of Lithium from 1200 mg to 900 mg because my hair started falling out in bunches, I became extremely clumsy, even started breaking out in my face, I also actually felt worse, mood and anxiety wise and my memory became so bad that I couldn’t remember what I had say a few minutes ago and repeated it to the annoyance of my friends and my hand tremor became so pronounced that I almost could not write legibly.  All signs of too much Lithium in my system. So I cut the dose by 25%. I feel a lot better. All the above symptoms have improved. Now I’m just wondering if Lithium may be the cause of my slipping Scrabble ratings. Does too much Lithium make you stupid? Don’t know. Will ask my psychiatrist and report back.


I made GRATINEE for 131 points! 😃

Introducing Peaches & Herb!

Peaches & Herb are in da house!!!  Oh. My. God!!!  I love these little creatures!!!  You wouldn’t believe how much joy these little dolls bring to my days!!!  What a great life-enhancer!!!  Low maintenance, high-impact!!  My emotional support animals are a plus!!!  I am having a hard time doing ANYTHING because I just want to watch my birds!!!  I’m not going to talk about the status of my studies…. just please enjoy the video and have a fabulous day!!!

Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Emotional Support Animals, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Depression, Hope, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader
Peaches & Herb

Best Apps To Track Your Bipolar Moods

Originally posted on Good Content:
By Ilse Watson People with bipolar disorder experience intense high and low moods. Today, there are many highly rated apps that are designed to help…