Daily Archives: March 22, 2018

Depression’s physical source discovered; potential for new treatments

Depression is associated with the lateral orbitofrontal cortex which is the nonreward center in the brain. It also affects the area which is involved in sense of self. So sufferers feel the sense of loss and disappointment associated with not getting a rewards, and also feel a sense of loss of themselves and low self esteem. Sound familiar? It seems that there would be over activity of the nonreward center and underactivity of the area responsible for sense of self and these (and other factors) would lead to depression. Again, depression is a physical disease, and as we find out more about its causes, it will hopefully be able to be treated much more effectively soon!


Depression's physical source discovered; potential for new treatments

Winning against bipolar disorder with my faith as my anchor

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“As I lie in my bed trying to squeeze out the suicidal thoughts, the horrific pain of being all alone without one friend in the entire world, and the mortifying realization that in that moment I couldn’t care for myself, I turned to what had always gotten me through the tough times.  I turned to my anchor, which is my faith in God.”

There are a lot of stereotypes and misunderstandings about bipolar disorder and those of us who live with it on a daily basis are subject to these misperceptions.  Just last week I was giving a talk at a conference on the stigma of mental illness and addiction.  Most of the feedback was positive, but there was one person who said, “Bipolar disorder is an excuse for bad behavior.”


After speaking for an hour on stigma and sharing some very personal stories about bipolar disorder, the needle never moved in this person’s mind.  And then I realized most people have absolutely no clue what those of us who have lived a lifetime with the impact of bipolar disorder have struggled through.  I’ve never once thought bipolar disorder was an excuse for anything.  A reason, yes.  An excuse, never.

My first episode was way back in 1999.  I was a director in a corporate office with a multi-million budget to manage.  Not only did I have a manic episode, I had a psychotic episode.  I ended up in an inpatient psychiatric care facility, which made me feel crazy.  And when people questioned my views and insights, I wondered if they thought I was crazy too?

Over the next 12 years, I struggled through 10 hospitalizations, a three-week stay in jail and worst of all losing most, if not all of my friends and some family members.  No one wants to be around people who are not mentally well.  It’s just a fact.  Maybe after a first episode, people may give you the benefit of the doubt.  But when the struggle goes on, everyone including family members get worn down.

I was fortunate.  I had a few strong and tough family members who have borne witness to my entire journey.  They stood with pride when I became an Olympian.  They dealt with their own disappointment when I started to struggle with my mental health.  And they hung on to see me recover and flourish again.  They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

I was also isolated for a long stretch of time.  I went weeks without having any family member in my home.  But I had two things that helped me bear the unbearable pain and suffering of relentless depression and suicidal thoughts.  I had my three dogs who I absolutely consider a gift from God.  And I also had my faith.

As I lie in my bed trying to squeeze out the suicidal thoughts, the horrific pain of being all alone without one friend in the entire world, and the mortifying realization that in that moment I couldn’t care for myself, I turned to what had always gotten me through the tough times.  I turned to my anchor, which is my faith in God.

Did prayer instantly solve my struggles?  No.  But it gave me hope.  And in those moments of struggle and despair, hope is the one thing that kept me going.  And that is why I feel anchored, even though managing bipolar disorder can wear me down.  I keep going because I’m driven by a higher power.  I’m driven to help other people.  I have found my calling.  And I am grateful to have a purpose.

If you’re struggling with a mental health condition, I can tell you the first thing you’ve got to do is work on getting stable.  If you have bipolar disorder, a treatment plan is 99.9% always going to include a medication regimen.  There’s just no and’s, if’s, but’s or reason to think you’re going to be the only person in the world who can manage a chronic, severe mental illness without medication.  If that’s your choice and it works for you – great.  But from experience I can tell you it’s not gonna work out well.

Secondly, I believe in mind, body and spirit.  When you combine getting stable with a personal recovery plan, spirituality is a big component of being well and balanced.

It helps to take small pieces of this very overwhelming journey to manage a mental illness.  And the one thing that’s required to have a healthy and happy life is a lot of hard work.

For those of you reading who have family members struggling, I just want to reach out and give you a big hug.  It’s not easy being you.  But whatever you do, don’t give up hope.  You’ve got to become the best salesperson in the world in selling to your loved one the whole idea that it’s okay to get help.  In fact, it’s a sign of strength to reach out.

Finally I want to finish by saying thank you to all my readers.  I’ve been blogging now for over four years.  Those who’ve been with me along the way know what journey it has been.  Thanks for all your support.  It matters.



Outer Space On Earth

I’ve been searching for an apt description of how I’ve been feeling since beginning gabapentin but have been at a loss until now. While out driving today-and having skipped the a.m. dose- I realized I almost felt stoned, like being on pot. I am so spaced out, it’s entirely likely someone might mistake me for being a pothead. I wish I were being dramatic or had some sort of vendetta against the drug working but…this is the cold hard truth of how it makes me feel. Will it go away in a week? Maybe. Will my body adapt as the dose goes up? Possibly. I have such high hopes, based on what others have said about their experience. But also a certain wariness based on also what I’ve heard about the negative experience of others, not to mention my doctor’s seeming apathy about my bad reaction to the high dose. I am committed to giving it a fair chance but feeling spaced out all of the time is not my idea of an optimal response. Not to mention through the spacy fog, my heart feels like a bullet richeting off walls inside my chest. I don’t like that at all.

I bothered to drag out the laptop and hotspot my phone for this post. I hate using the stupid phone. And yeah, that is a play on words, and my actual opinion, of smart phones. I like the multipurpose of the thing, it’s like a swiss knife of phones. It’s also a pain in my ass trying to get apps with limited space cos idiot Android won’t let me store apps on my micro SD car so I never have enough room. Then I have to learn how to use each app, and I’ve already wiped out a post and several replies on wordpress because…I have no idea what my fat fingers are doing even with a fat finger keyboard app. Anyway…it just seemed worth the hassel and added mb usage for this post. Not cos I have anything important to say but because…I arose from yesterday’s inertia and had the excess energy to drag out the computer and not spaz out over using more mb than I have to. I even wore eyeliner and mascara today, plus undergarments and clean clothes that aren’t black. OMG. It isn’t because I am feeling great. My body feels like lead, my limbs might as well be concrete, and everything aches. It’s because I felt such guilt about basically shutting down for two days. I am forcing myself to behave ‘normally’ when I feel anything but normal.

And after having to move an entire house full of stuff 20 miles over a ten day span with a child in tow yet not feeling this crappy…I am inclined to think gabapentin is simply kicking my ass with negative side effects. I may be wrong, who knows.

We are getting a used wash machine tonight. Stepmonster found it in the paper for $75 and I can only cover 3/4 of it thanks to a donation but I can hang dry stuff or hit the dryers for a quarter a 10 minute load, which is a hell of a lot better than $4.00 a load at the scuz o mat. She got me two rolling racks to hang dry things on since we have no shower or rod to hang stuff from. Or closets. I am grateful and relieved, other than the unbearable anxiety and hassel of them actually invading my safe space and delivering it. And that’s my neuroses, I own it, they’re trying to help and my scumbag brain interprets it as a threat.

At the same time, their utter disregard for my disorders, mental health, and usurping me with my child and my rules for her-that IS a huge threat. And since I owe them so much money, they feel justified in upsetting me at every opportunity and keep her whenever they choose for as long as they choose.Me asserting myself does no good, they are bulldozers. Which makes me feel so powerless and utterly shitty. I honestly thought (deluded myself) that people would donate. $60 in six weeks is not reflecting well on my ability to motivate a fundraiser. It’s not like I don’t get it. I watched a show the other day where a woman pretended to be her teenage daughter on line and bilked a guy out of $60,000. A large percentage of people on line asking for money are scammers.

I am not. And asking for help is not easy for me. Unfortunately, I only have the consistency of my blog about our money difficulties and my word as proof so I do get it why people don’t donate. And I get that so many are having similar problems, they simply can’t afford it. I just had…hopes. Owing the paternal faction of my family is like being buried in concrete. I can move, I can’t breathe, so I just stay alive never going anywhere. I’ve not even managed trash pick up, my car insurance is late, and internet is as big a dream as winning the lottery. This isn’t whining. This is my reality.

Also my reality is my kid having a hard time to adapt to the new place and new school. I honestly thought she’d adapt better than me, but that hasn’t really been the case. Of course, it’s impossible to ever truly take her at face value because she is an emotional chameleon. She tells my dad’s faction she likes it here, she tells my mom’s faction she hates it, she tells me she hates, but the bulldozers come in and flatten the truth. Because any opinion other than their own is wrong and even I am not that overbearing and controlling. I admit, I am struggling with her struggling. She is manipulative and no, I don’t care what the child psych said about not using that term because it is accurate. She has more of her father in her-minus his actual influence-than I want to admit. That flexibility in personality and opinion, that need to be a people pleaser than harbor resentment for it-that’s a page out of the donor’s book. This is one trait I can’t own because my biggest detriment has always been my refusal to change to fit in or keep the peace. I have my resentments, but my own choices being held against others is not one of them. I’m ill equipped to handle this child rearing problem but as I have zero choice…I am doing best I can.

You’d think as spaced out as I feel, it would muffle some of the extreme emotion that accompanies my current issues and personal struggles. Nope. Not so lucky. I am still feeling it all, just from under a gauzy later of medication. And I’ve mythbusted, it’s not the Effexor, it is the gabapentin.

I noticed, also, while driving 28 miles just to make a trip to town for supplies and a trip to my mom’s- I feel so spaced out, backing my car out or navigating a crowded parking lot is daunting. Terrifying. Going down the interstate with farm implements and machinery always puttering along one lane, while other traffic seems to be coming at me from a back road…GRRR. Freak out city. It wasn’t bothering me so much. Now it is. The isolation is bothering me. The lack of wifi net access is driving me bonkers. How long the days here seem is grueling. It’s one thing to choose to stay home and not interact. To be forced to stay home due to mileage, a busted belt on the car tire, and gas costs-that is maddening.

But I guess in the interest of fairness I should look for the positive in my life right now.

Beyond pulling in Ion channel for free via the digital bunny ears and having a roof overhead…I am coming up empty. Doesn’t bode well for the Effexor doing any miracle work.

If both meds are failing me with this new doctor, I fear I am screwed. And I don’t mean that in a bawdy pleasurable way.


I have loaded the washer with laundry.   That defines success the way I feel today.

I am just so dead.  I went to church last night and realized I’ve been living like only today matters–that there won’t be an eternity to live after I die.  That’s why I want escape–suicide, oblivion, sleep, whatever.

Maybe it’s because I can only manage if I only think about today.  Tomorrow and next year and eternity are too over whelming to handle at this point.  It’s all I can do to get through today.

Here’s to me getting through today.  That will be success enough.


Penny Positive #78

From An Optimist’s Calendar