Archive for April, 2011

April 28, 2011

What goes up – must come down!

People who are bipolar have extreme highs and lows.

Depression, as I have mentioned in earlier post, can be overcome with a lot of work, removing toxic relationships, and a good therapist. Overcoming mania on the other hand takes a real plan and a lot of will power.

I will keep all of the following statements as “I”, however I believe most people who are bipolar follow this same up and down behavior.

When I am under stress my brain starts to overcompensate. My brain understands that it needs a balance of chemicals to be OK. However, when stress sets in the balance is thrown off kilter. So I start to produce to much serontonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. As they increase so does the adrenaline.

For the record… it feels awesome! You start to feel like you can conquer the world! I used to say “I work better under pressure.” And it was the truth! Of course I did. I had naturally produced drugs in my body!

The high was fantastic! And I loved every minute of it.

Up – up – up I would go!

Overcoming bipolar disorder can be done. First, you must identify the warning signs. Then you must have a plan of action in place the minute you identify one of them in progress.

These are my warning signs – pretty much in order:
1) Clinching my jaw or grinding my teeth.
2) Talking very fast.
3) Inability to sleep.
4) Starting several projects at one time.
5) Cleaning like mad.
6) Shopping for ANYTHING! (Mine was cleaning supplies.)
7) Increased sexual desire.
8 ) Increased irritability.
9) Lack of inhibitions.

Like I said it was AWESOME! And so chaotic (which, as you know was my addiction).

As fun as the highs are, the lows SUCK! So in order to avoid the lows you must be willing to avoid the highs. Therefor you must have a plan of action!

Remember what goes up – must come down! And the more manic I became, the more depressed I would be on the other side!

April 18, 2011

Bipolar disorder

Since the recent news about Catherine Zeta Jones I thought it was time for bipolar disorder.

According to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, people with bipolar disorder type II have never experienced full-fledged mania. Instead they experience periods of hypomania (elevated levels of energy and impulsiveness that are not as extreme as the symptoms of mania). These hypomanic periods alternate with episodes of depression.

That was one of my many diagnosis’s. What I find ironic is this describes many people I know. People are sometimes happy and sometimes sad. It is the extreme of the two that is cause for concern. However, I feel like this diagnoses could easily be abused.

I was prescribed a mood stabilizer, some worked… I became a zombie! Never really happy and never really ever sad.

I do realize I have a tendency toward true manic depression. But do I really need to be medicated?

What if I was taught life skills to handle stress? What if I was able to identify the clues of mania. And for that matter depression.

Learning to truly manage my life has been incredible. Knowing I always have a choice (ALWAYS) has been the most empowering, yet it was a devastating part of my recovery in the beginning.

Why devastating? Because it made me responsible for me. I can no longer blame those or the events around me for my misfortune because I have a choice, not only as to my actions but my reactions.

In my next post I will explain my bi-polar disorder and how I live (actually thrive) without medication!

Bi-polar disorder does not have to be a life long illness, just as depression does not have to be a life long illness.

April 10, 2011

Climbing out!

The hole I had dug for myself, in which I could hide my shame and fear, was still there and I was still in it. Depression, which has been a part of your life for almost your entire life, is not easy to leave behind. It is almost like a friend, but with friends like that you certainly do not need enemies!

Working with Sinead, I was able to start to climb out of that hole. Slowly but steadily. I finally even filled it in and planted a garden, a wonderful life, where it has once had been.

In my previous post I talked about coming up with a plan and sticking to it.

Although I was able to come up with a plan and stick to it when dealing with toxic relationships, I still was not making much progress getting out of the house. I could go to the grocery store, even out with friends but I lived in fear, stuck in my hole, of being trapped in a situation where I could not escape. I wanted total control over my environment. I felt it was the only way I could keep chaos out of my life and therefor keep depression out!

Sinead and I talked about choosing to let go of that control but with a plan. In other words, I was making a choice, I would consider the consequences, determine if I could live with the consequences and move forward (or not).

I really wanted to go to college. But the thought of signing up for a full load or even a real college class was over whelming. I was afraid to attempt anything new because I was so intensely afraid of chaos and the depression that followed.

In the past, for those who are like me you will understand this, when I thought “Oh I should do this!” I would just jump in with no forethought. I would then become overwhelmed and start beating myself up. Depression would soon set in and then my life would snowball. Back into my hole I would go! Shame! Fear!

So in 2004, with Sinead’s encouragement, I signed up for one (1!) continuing education class. I considered the consequences: 1) I could go and it could be wonderful, I would stay and learn something new. 2) I could go and it could be awful, so I would leave and not go back. 3) I could go and have a panic attack, start to cry and run out of class and never go back.

The day class was about to start I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. But I went. I had to leave class a couple of times but I made it through the first class. I went back a second time and even a third time but I eventually had a panic attack, starting crying in class, and I never went back.

But it was not a failure! It was a success. I did something outside of my safety zone. I did something with a plan.

I was climbing out!

April 4, 2011

Depression

According to the World Health Organization depression is a common mental disorder.

Facts
Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.
Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.
Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care.
Fewer than 25 % of those affected have access to effective treatments.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are numerous depression treatments available. Medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) are very effective for most people.

But is medication really a treatment or a tool?

Medication serves a purpose. If someone is so depressed that they can no longer function or have become suicidal it can be a used as a tool. It can help a person to be able to get to a place where they can start to understand why they are depressed and how to not be depressed.

But a treatment?

You cannot treat years of abuse with a pill. You cannot treat a lifetime of dysfunction with a pill. You cannot treat low self esteem or self worth with a pill. You certainly cannot treat self hatred with a pill.

Depression is insidious and cannot be cured overnight, in a week, or even in a month. And it cannot be cured with a pill.

So how is depression cured? In my experience, with the right tools. You all have read about “The Shovel”, which I had been using for years the only way I had ever been shown to use it. I not only needed new life tools, but I needed someone to show me how to use them!

Building a life tool kit! Finding someone to teach you the correct way to use life tools!

Step one – find a therapist!
Find a therapist you feel comfortable enough with to share. Find a therapist you feel uncomfortable enough with that you do not feel like they are a friend. (We tell friends what we think they want to hear).

Step two – Tell your therapist what you expect from therapy and that you need their help so they must be able to demand your honesty.
By setting the stage of what you expect from your therapist, you are setting the stage for real healing. I told Sinead “I am done with feeling like shit, I want to be happy and I need for you to be tough and help me do that!”

Step three – do it!
Be honest! I used to find a therapist and just give enough information to get through the session. Why? Who was I helping? Not me!

Step four – do the work!
If you come up with a plan of action with your therapist, follow through! As I discussed in “Toxic Relationships” I rehearsed conversations with Sinead. I also came up with several plans with Sinead and I followed through!

Step five – do not stop until you are done! I have been through a slew of therapist over the years. I never really got anywhere with any of them and never saw the same one for longer than a couple of months. But I saw Sinead for years. And even though I have not seen her on a regular basis in a couple of years I know if I need her she is a phone call away. I actually went to see her soon after my father killed himself.

April 3, 2011

Where next?

Healing toxic relationships are the most important part of my recovery. By acknowledging them and identifying why they are toxic I am able to keep balance in my life.

But healing toxic relationships are only a part of my journey to sanity and recovery. So I think I will attempt to dispel all of my diagnosis over the years.

First, I think it is important for my readers to understand that I do not deny there is depression, bi-polar disorder, personality disorders, etc. What I do want you to know, for my life anyway, is that medication does not heal any of these, nor is it something I will need forever.

A psychiatrist once told me, “You have an imbalance and in order to fix that imbalance you will need to take medication the rest of your life. Much like someone who is a diabetic.” That was a lie.

It is a lie I have heard many times!

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