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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bipolar, Anxiety and Courage

Have you ever felt so anxious that even the thought of leaving the house would put you in a panic?  I have and I'm sure many of you have as well.  People who don't have a mental illness could find this absurd and silly but for us its very real and frightening.  I used to have so much anxiety that even taking a tiny walk to the mailbox gave me anxiety. After recieving ant-axiety medication I was amazed how I could go to the mailbox without feeling anxious.

Where does this kind of crazy anxiety come from?  Well I don't know, there is usually nothing to be scared of.  I'm sure doctors or specialists have there ideas and answers. I do know that more times than not its just a feeling, a very strong feeling but in reality nothing bad is going to happen, we are perfectly safe.  I was plagued with thoughts of becoming a total hermit and staying home and staying safe.  but I would have to go to the store. Aah, what do I do now?  I step out even when I'm feeling a tremendous amount of fear. I would go shopping even if I was shaking.  I would step out of the house and into the car and just GO. 

Bipolar and anxiety would love to keep us from living.  I don't want to stop living, do you? I didn't think so.  What do you HAVE to do today that is giving you anxiety?  Well I dare you to do it even if your feeling so much fear that you think you might have a panic attack. I want you to take one baby step then another, then another.  Say I can do this, I'm safe, nothing is going to happen.  Get in the car and go to the grocery store even if your shaking in your boots. Win this battle. Courage is not having the feelings of fear, courage is feeling fear but doing it anyways.  Having courage is an awesome attribute and you have it.  Others may not understand what a huge mountain you just climbed but you will and you will have a huge amount of applause for yourself.

Remember to live despite how you feel.  There is still more life outside the box of bipolar and anxiety. Now please do use good judgement. don't go out and do something crazy and if your truly having a panic attack do not push yourself any more. Take a step back and breath...but then get back up till you make it. I know its hard, I've dealt with panic attacks many times. but I've never stopped trying to live.  I hope your filled with courage and encouragement.

Bipolar Butterfly ( Jenni ) Here is an awesome song by Dolly Parton...better get to liven, it encouraged me a couple years ago when going the the grocery store was a huge accomplishment.                           

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bipolar and Depression

Did you know that it is depression that dominates a person life with bipolar than it is mania?  For me that has been true. It started in early childhood. I had no idea what it was at the time, but I noticed sadness in myself more than my peers and family. I remember thinking, even if my parents said we were going to Disney Land I would still not be excited, and that's something to get excited about.

Also depressive episodes typically last longer than mania and is harder to treat, where as mania can be treated but usually needs emergency attention. But those who suffer depression are at a greater risk for suicide.

When I was about 14 that was the case for me. I felt nothing, just nothing, I remember saying I feel like a bump on a log. There was nothing that brought joy or excitement and boy did I try. It was a beautiful summer day and where I live there was a beautiful big lake. My dad took all of us kids out in the boat, water skiing and tubing a super fun activity. Everyone around me was having so much fun and I should have been too. I remember seeing pictures of that day and thinking man I sure don't look depressed. I could put a smile on my face for the camera pretty easily. I was scared for what I was feeling. It was not normal and not right. I would usually have loved a day like that. After being out on the boat I went to my brothers girlfriends house to play pool.  I felt like I was in a bubble of nothingness while life was happening right around me but not touching me at all. I had my medication with me. To this day I don't know why. My mom called them happy pills cause they were supposed to make me happy. I knew deep down inside what I was doing but I used that word happy pill to my advantage to do something very stupid. While my brother and his girlfriend were playing pool I excused myself to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror, looked down at the bottle of pills, said to myself, I want to be happy and I took all the pills at once hoping that the more I take the happier I would be. That was my intention but at the same time I somehow knew that it was suicidal. I really don't remember alot after that or how I got home but I remember running through the door screaming Jesus forgive me I don't want to die over and over. I was so scared I was going to die and go to hell. My dad came over wondering what the heck was happening he figured it out. Next thing I know I'm in a hospital room experiencing hallucinations. I saw demons outside my window, I saw a big door with scaring lizard walking across it. There were crazy looking critters everywhere. I was so scared agian screaming Jesus save me!! Screaming a deathly scream. A nurse asked me if I wanted a minister to come in. I should have said yes. After that I think they tranquilized me cause I didn't wake up till I was now in the physic ward. Om gosh how did I end up here. All I wanted was to feel again and be happy.

This is the danger of being depressed. You basically feel dead. Its shows in poor work and not being able to do things right or do them at all and then feeling shame of not doing a good job. Depression disrupts work and school and even your family and social life. Also it is noted that bipolar depression is worse than regular depression. There are 37 days of depression for every 1 day of mania. Wow!  So not only are we experiencing depression we experience guilt as well, feeling worthless.

So how can we help ourselves when we are experiencing these symptoms? We first of all need to encourage self-esteem to combat the feelings of worthlessness and guilt of not being able to live life at its fullest or take advantage of our talents cause depression is in the way, we fear we have nothing to offer and burden other people and would be better off being dead.

How to encourage self-esteem:
We must listen to the little voice inside our head. More than likely its a mean, destructive, hateful voice re enforcing out feelings of worthlessness. In other words negative thinking.  We must work on thinking happy thoughts. Taking and stopping the negative thought and filling it with a better one.  So we must watch and then tame our thoughts. Think of your mind as a garden. Beautiful thoughts create a beautiful garden, negative thoughts create a dead ugly dark garden that no one wants to enter. What are some lovely and beautiful thoughts? Think on those things.
You may not feel happy...think I am happy.
You may not feel calm...think I am calm.
You may feel like dieing...think I feel like living.
So most times it the opposite of what the negative thought is.
No body loves me...think I am loved.
I've got nothing to offer... I have much to offer.
I hate myself...say I love myself.
These things will encourage self-esteem. It may take awhile for your brain to believe these new thoughts but with practice you can retrain your thoughts and over time this will build your self-esteem.

Sleep and mood are joined at the hip. If one does not get enough sleep even the ones without depression can become grumpy. How much more for those suffering bipolar. So sleep is very important and not having enough sleep can cause depression.  One deprived night of sleep can flip into mania. Its difficult to sleep when we have racing thoughts, emotional stress, and restlessness. This in turn can cause sadness, anxiousness and irritability. Before electric lights people usually got 10 hours of sleep. I'm thinking that should be our goal. I know when I have 10 or 12 hours of sleep I'm much more happier and things are easier.  Insomnia can cause confusion, tension, fatigue, anger, wrong thinking and mood episodes. So what can we do to help ourselves get a good nights sleep when we are experiencing insomnia or having a difficult time getting to sleep.
Relaxation routines
A calming yoga routine right before bed.
Visualizing relaxing on a warm beach or anywhere that brings peace to your soul.
Cd's to assist sleep or even apps on your phone. There are plenty of free ones that work.
Also light at night is the enemy. Light at night can throw out our bodies biological rhythms. We all have within us a sleep and wake cycle. Unfortunately individuals with bipolar tend to be night owls so we have the challenge of retraining our sleep/wake cycle. Also when you exercise exercise earlier in the day otherwise your body will have a harder time calming down after a vigerous workout.

Depression is a very draining and tough illness so be prepared. At 14 I did not know what to do with the emotions of emptiness I was experiencing. Taking more happy pills was the only I could think of. So take these tools, use them and it will make getting through alot easier.
Take care,
Jenni bipolar butterfly <3