August 1, 2013

The bipolar, nicotine, and dopamine connection

The brains of humans with bipolar disorder, according to current reasoning, cannot regulate their dopamine uptake.  To much dopamine = mania.  To little dopamine = depression.  This is why medication adjustments are so common with humans that are bipolar.

I have discovered that I can regulate dopamine production on my own.  By living a life where I get plenty of sleep and I do not create chaos (ie… create lots of dopamine).  I also make sure I have enough dopamine to not become depressed, I find value in my life (go to school, do dog rescue, etc.), have wonderful friends, and have healthy relationships.

Now all of this being said lets talk about nicotine.  Because cigarettes are a nicotine laced with ammonia delivery system they are able to supply the body with so much nicotine with one smoke that dopamine production is increased and then the brain becomes dependent on nicotine to give it that pleasure feeling. Eventually making the human feel – No nicotine = no pleasure.  The reason people become chain smokers is because this dopamine effect wears off so quickly!

So now that I have quit smoking what in the heck is going on with my dopamine?????

Well, I feel less pleasure for sure.  And I know that I am much more vulnerable to depression.  In order to compenssate for this I am riding my bicycle twice a day instead of just once a day.  I have added about 6 mile a day to my current route.  I am eating healthy but as much as I want.  However, I am not depriving myself of simple pleasures.

I am doing my breathing exercises often! I will be getting a massage this weekend!

To increase dopamine production I am eating more eggs, broccoli, cauliflower,bananas, and apples!   I have read that beet juice and watermelon juice are good as well.  I guess I need to make a trip to the health food store!

I still need to post about yesterday!  It was awful!  Today is so much better!  My next post will be all about day 5!

Advertisements
July 31, 2013

Days 2 through 4 of my “quit”

Days 2, 3, and 4 were all about the same.  Actually that is not 100% true.  Days 2 and 3 were the easiest so far.  Day 4, yesterday, I weighed myself and almost fell over.  Somehow I gained 3 lbs in 4 days!  So I rode my bike 10 miles last night and 5 miles this morning before work!  I am going to have to pay much closer attention to what I am eating from today forward!

Day 5 which is today, however; has been OMFG awful!  I am actually better at the moment.  But I have felt some anger well up inside of me that actually scares me.  This day is not over……… so tune in!

XOXOXO to all you bipolar smokers and ex-smokers out there.  And to all of you “I have never smoked a day in my life” humans, well wth are you reading this for?  Oh I know, let this be a warning to you… if someone you love is bipolar and a smoker who is trying to quit – duck and run!

July 30, 2013

What it feels like to quit. Day 1 and 1.2

The first couple of hours I was able to keep telling myself what I was feeling was withdrawals.  I felt only slightly anxious or an even better description might be edgy and kept expecting it to get worse but it never did.  I used to think it was better to quit first thing in the morning, but now I think a couple of hours before bed is best.  This way you will have a good twelve hours of no nicotine and most of that you will be asleep.  Wooo Hoooo sleep through the worst of the withdrawals… hell yeah!  To help me calm down and relax before bed I took a nice warm bath in Epsom salt with some lavender and eucalyptus oils mixed in.  This was huge and I definitely recommend it. You can buy essential oils at HEB or your local vitamin store.  I have taken a warm bath every night before bed and it really takes the edge off.

When I woke up the next morning I made my coffee just like any other day and went outside to drink it.  I sat where I would normally sit if I were having my morning smoke. I took some really deep breaths in and breathed them out slowly in between each sip of coffee.  I relaxed my shoulders and closed my eyes and told myself “I am going to have an awesome day because I am starting a new adventure and it is very exciting!”  Instead of working to keep from smoking, I worked on being happier, excited, and carefree.  I did not allow myself to have the thought of “I want a cig!” Instead I kept thinking “Today is a  wonderful day, this is so exciting!”  Every where I went on Saturday I told people it had been x amount of hours since my last smoke and it was so exciting!  I was amazed at how good I continued to feel throughout the day.  A couple of times I felt that edgy feeling and but instead of relating it to wanting a smoke, I related to the excitement of this new chapter in my life!

Techniques to use when that edgy feeling comes:

#1 breathing exercises I really like this one in particular .   Using breathing techniques throughout the day does several things: it gives you a boost of oxygen, it calms you down, it simulates the same action that you might feel you are missing otherwise (you know – taking a big drag off a smoke).

#2 Tell someone new how many hours it has been since your last taste of nicotine.  Get excited and relate to them how excited you are to be free of your addiction.  Do this over and over and over and over and over…. you get the picture!  Every time I do this I also get emotional and find myself tearing up.  Sunday I made two total strangers almost cry as well!  Awesome!!!

#3 Read, read, read, read… but not just anything!  Read ex-smoker success stories!  Just google “ex smokers success stories” and you will have a wealth of information to read!

 

 

PS:  No depression or mania so far! And I am sleeping.  If you have learned anything else from reading my blog it is how important I believe sleep is!  If I am sleeping enough… I am not manic!  If I am not sleeping to much… I am not depressed!

 

PSS: It is good to be blogging again!  It is incredible to be blogging in real time instead of talking about my past!

July 29, 2013

Addiction! I am an addict!

I have been a smoker since I was 16 yrs old.

Nicotine – an addictive fast acting mild stimulant.

Oh I have tried to quit many, many times. My “quits” never last long.

My excuse to keep on smoking – I was afraid if I tried to quit it would send me into a manic spin!  Yes, that is what I have been telling myself for years!  Actually, that is what my addiction has been brainwashing me with for years!  My addiction, my nicotine monkey on my back would say, “Oh I hate smoking but I am just afraid that my fragile balance will be thrown out of whack and I have worked so hard to be `BIPOLAR NO MORE`.”

Well, screw that!  I am strong.  I am strong enough to kick that monkey off my back! I am 4 hrs from being

72 hrs into my “quit”!  And I feel fine….. I feel fine!   Quit meter

 

 

 

 

I really want to share how the first hours felt for anyone who is also wanting to quit!  But if you have any questions post them and I will answer!  Here is to the next big adventure!  Woot Woot!

 

Hugs, V

 

 

April 19, 2013

April 18, 2013

It has been over a year since I have posted. School, work, etc.. has kept me busy. I am doing well. I am at the end of my Junior year! My blog has suffered, but I have told m story. I hope it has serves a purpose! I miss it at times. One day I will read it from start to finish. One day, when I am finished with my first year of teaching, I will write a book… Living 101. It should be an interesting read!

I hope I find you all well!

Hugs, V

January 16, 2012

Class starts tomorrow!

So, as of tomorrow I will be one busy chicka!  I will be driving an hour one way to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I also have class on Monday nights about 45 minutes away!  I also work full-time!  So needless to say I will not be blogging as much.  Hopefully, over the last several weeks, I have given anyone who wants to work on finding balance and possibly becoming bipolar no more enough information so they can at least get started.

There are some other areas I want to cover.  For instance, when you feel as if you have no choice and learning that you always have a choice.  I also want to address when you feel like you are going backwards or taking a step back, how that is actually a positive sign that you are moving in the right direction.

Today, I just want to take a moment to cover reducing anxiety by telling you about my journey… college.

Tomorrow I will start school at a different college than I have been going to.  For the last two years or so I have been going to a local community college, but tomorrow I will be going to a University.  I have been having some anxiety about it, mainly because the campus is so large and I was afraid I would not be able to find my way around!  So I made a choice, in order to reduce the stress and anxiety I drove up to the school yesterday and drew a map.  First – where to park, second – where the book store and restaurants are, and lastly – where my classes are.  I walked to each building while the campus was closed.  When I left I felt an enormous sense of relief!  My anxiety level dropped considerably!

Taking steps to reduce anxiety is imperative to bipolar no more!

I hope everyone is fabulous!

PS:  There is a blog I read, James Claims (http://jamesclaims.wordpress.com/), his last blog shows the importance of recognizing “choice”.  I have been reading his blog for a while and I, personally, can see the difference in the way he is writing.  Describing the choices he is making is a true sign of healing!  And choices are like chips!  Once you start it is hard to stop!

Remember “I CHOOSE”!

January 14, 2012

Choice and consequence journal

When you write in your journal, use the words “I chose” or “I am making a choice” or “I am going to choose” and follow it with the consequences. Then follow up and see what the consequences actually were.

The key to this exercise is not just writing about the big choices but small one as well.

For one week keep track of at least ten choices a day that you make. Start with the simple stuff like I choose to brushed my teeth – the consequence of that choice is fresh breath and no cavities! Include big choices like I chose to go 65 mph in a 45 mph zone – the consequence of that choice was that I made it to work on time which relieved stress – (or) – the consequence of that choice was a speeding ticket which will cost money and create stress. Follow that up with I choice to handle this by paying the ticket right away and I choose to let it go and move on.

Take a break after your first full week. But don’t stop making the connections and conscious choices to decrease stress. Making those choices will create control over your own life!

After a break of about a week, pick your journal back up but stick to the choices that create stress using the choices – consequences journal!

I realize for someone who is not bipolar this (choices = consequences) seems like common sense, a person with bipolar disorder does not necessarily lack common sense but some people (all that I have ever met) with bipolar disorder do lack the thinking process of choice = consequences.

PS This (in my opinion) is a good exercise for anyone who does not feel control over their own life!

January 11, 2012

Don’t pull the trigger!

So what are your triggers? This was a very hard question for me to answer. I had no idea! All I knew was my life was like a boat floating in an ocean going up and down with every wave, sinking when a storm was overhead, reaching toward the surface of the water when any sign of hope appeared, but never in control what direction to go to get to true safety – the shore!

So is every wave a trigger? Are just the storms triggers? Or is the glimpse of hope a trigger? Or are all three or none of them triggers?

The best answer I could come up with, and what I found to be true, is the trigger is lack of control. Not lack of control of my environment, because like the ocean it cannot be controlled, but lack of control of my life, the boat. For whatever reason, nature or nurture or perhaps both, I never acquired the knowledge or skill to captain my own ship – my own life!

This all goes back to choices and consequences and not seeing the connection. If I steer the boat to the left, and the storm is to my right, I will miss the storm. But if I do not see the connection between the direction of my life and the storms in my life I will never steer clear of them, sadly – most people with bipolar disorder place themselves in the middle of them!

If I have not stressed the fact that the choice and consequence disconnect has been in my observation, not only in myself, but many people with bipolar disorder the trigger, then I have failed! I truly believe and, as for myself know for certain, that learning the connection between the choices we make and the consequences of those choices is the key to bipolar no more!

Life happens, life is not the trigger, it is the choices we make along the way.

I think now is the time to take a look at doing a choices and consequences journal! Next blog, connecting the dots – the line between choices and consequences.

January 6, 2012

Work damn-it!

When I was in the throws of ups and downs, holding down a job was not the easiest task. When I was depressed I called in often, was on the verge of tears when I was as work, and my work suffered tremendously. When I was manic, I would be finished with all of my work and would be helping others finish their work. I am sure it kind of freaked people out. Fortunately, back then, I was more often manic than depressed. Throw in changing meds and I was a disaster!

If this sounds a lot like you, well, you are not alone. I have spoken to many people that go through the same experience all the time. They often change jobs expecting something different, only to find it is the same or even worse! In addition, people who just suffer from depression have a very difficult time holding down a job.

But work is the deal unless you want to live under a bridge (which some people do choose) or unless you get lucky to marry someone who is willing to support you and put up with you (that person, btw, does not exist!).

So what can you do?

Becoming balanced is the answer to that work question.

But what do you do until…

First, find something you really want to do! Even if it means driving a cheaper car or living in a cheaper apartment or whatever! There is an old saying, “Follow your heart and the money will come.” Well, that is crap! But if you follow your heart and do what you enjoy, then eventually, if you work on all areas of your life, balance will come.

Second, set boundaries even at work. Not with just the people you work with but with yourself. I have worked with so many people who were “over sharers”. Keep your personal business out of the office. It is not anyone’s business at work that you take medications or what meds you take or that you have a psych appointment!

Third, just like the human inventory you did for everyone in your life, do one for the people you work with. Identify the healthy people, those are the people you want to be around, work close to, and/or go to lunch with (remember mirroring)! And the toxic people… avoid them like the plague! Not only will they make you miserable, but you will mirror them as well!

All of these steps will be of great value to you on your journey to bipolar no more!

January 3, 2012

An answer to an important question!

Yesterday I received an email with the question, “How long did it take before you knew you could be ok without medicine? And how long did the whole process take?”

Well, from the day I decided I did not want to be dependent on medication to be balanced until I had taken the necessary steps in my life to acquire balance – I would say about a year. During that year I slowly decreased my medication while working my butt off. It was a lot of give and take. When I found that I had made progress, such as handling a trigger without becoming manic or depressed, I would decrease my medication. When I made a big step, such as volunteering with a dog rescue and kept a commitment – showing up every Saturday for a whole month, I would decrease my medication. And so on! It was a process, it still is actually! I may no longer be on meds but I work every day at staying balanced. Remember, everyones journey is different, however, that it is the best part! It is YOUR journey!

Even now I am working on a huge source of stress, being a Mom – yet letting go of my adult child. I love my son so much, he is my only child, but he is a grown-up and it is time for me to let him be one. I have a choice, I can argue with him about the choices he is making, stress over every bad choice he makes, try and control his action (which never works BTW) or I can enjoy my son’s life, embrace his mistakes as his and hope that he learns from them. But if he doesn’t, accept that there is nothing I can do but love him for who he is. I have a choice, I always have a choice, and I choose to let go and love him for the man he has become. I choose to trust myself, the way I raised him, and that whatever choices he makes are his and have nothing to do with me.

So the answer to the question, “How long does the whole process take?” – is FOREVER! But it is an incredible journey!

%d bloggers like this: