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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Holiday/ Post Vaca Blues

I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as my family and I did!!!
The parties are over, the gifts have been unwrapped, the Christmas cards have been sent, the delectable treats you consumed in volume are sitting comfortably around your waistline and now you are left with the aftermath. There are decorations to put away, a tree to take down, a cold winter to prepare for and everyone is too partied out to get together. Well, for me, add coming home from vacation into the mix!!!
We were lucky enough to go on a cruise with Mike's ENTIRE family for Christmas and had such a fantastic time that I am now finding myself a little depressed to go back to "normal" life. From the moment I stepped off the ship I felt my heart sink. I thought to myself, "of course you are sad! You haven't had to prepare a meal in over a week. You have spent the last eight days with cousins you love. You have watched your kids engulfed in Disney magic. You have seen and felt the warmth of the sun in December!" I assumed the feelings of sadness would dissipate as I got back into my usual routine.
We have barely been home 24 hours so maybe I should cut myself some slack, but I am still totally depressed! I can't seem to find the energy to unpack seven suitcases and do laundry. Looking at the tree makes me even more frustrated. Why didn't I take it down before we left? The thought of taking down Christmas adds to my despair. Now, I am being purposefully dramatic. lol
Is it post holiday blues or post vacation sadness? Or BOTH? Are you all feeling a little down these days? I think there is so much hype surrounding Christmas we get on the holiday adrenaline train and once it's over we are left emotionally and physically exhausted!
Most of my posts deal with mania because rarely do I find myself on the depressed side of the bipolar spectrum. Furthermore, I am not clinically depressed as of late, I am just finding the lingering days of 2011 to be a bit dismal.
I wonder if my insurance would cover another cruise to banish my depression? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ask away......

I recently had a friend ask me some questions about my experiences dealing with bipolar. I was glad he shared an interest and hopefully I was able to shed some insight. I am still learning about the illness myself and how it all effects my quality of life. That said, if you ever have questions, please ask.
 The reason I decided to tell my story was to create awareness. It is helpful to know what people want to know and how they view mental illness. I am not offended if people are put off by who I am or with what I am going through. I am who I am and unfortunately there is no cure for Bipolar. At least not yet. lol I have my fingers crossed. I am grateful for my good times and empowered by overcoming the bad ones.
 I know many people suffer in silence. I have experienced first hand the loss of relationships due in some part to what I am. I assume any of you reading this are not of that company. Whether it is concern for my well-being or simply curiosity, I appreciate your support. That is why I am MORE than happy to answer questions. Your inquiries give me percipience into how to further my cause.

Christmas Group Therapy

My cute neighbor sent me this and I think it is hilarious. What good is having a mental illness if you can't laugh about it?

Friday, November 18, 2011


I have come to terms with the fact I have an illness that will follow me for the rest of my life. I am even trying to make it work in my favor. If I could be hypo-manic all the time I would be in heaven. It is the place where I am thinking clearly, my mind is racing but in more of a creative way rather than a paranoid one and I feel like I can do ANYTHING! It is the place where I feel the most "normal", even if I have to make sure I am not on the verge of becoming full out manic.
When the creative juices are flowing I get projects done, plan out the next year's birthday parties, read books in record time and write (one of my very fav things to do). I even painted Summer's doll house, inside and out,  in a single night. I painted all of the furniture that night too.

I am trying to have a positive outlook on life. I hate the highs and lows but appreciate when I am in the middle, or slightly above the middle, when I feel creative and free.

Monday, October 31, 2011

ABC's in the Bipolar Lexicon

Elevated mood
Rapid cycling
Weight gain

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stable Schmable

I am trying to come to terms with what "being stable" actually entails. I suppose it is a good thing, right? I am not bouncing off the walls with ideas or wishing I could just disappear......
The problem is that now I feel, well, nothing. I am a robot stuck in a human body. I don't feel happy. I don't feel sad. I don't even feel apathetic. Is this what my life has come to? No joy, no pain, no anything? Perhaps now people who were too afraid to ask how I am doing will stop avoiding me but is that really better than having no emotions? I guess so. Maybe.
I know that Bipolar is a crazy roller coaster and often I wish for a pit stop, but does it have to be so bland? I miss my creativity. Hell, I miss my personality!
Stable.....that is what I was aiming for? This is the only way people can stand me? But, can I stand myself? I see now why people with Bipolar are often tempted not to take their meds. If I didn't have a family I can honestly say I would be tempted too.
I suppose I will keep "faking it" with everyone and going through the motions. Maybe now I won't feel like a social pariah. I just can't figure out who I should be trying to make happy. It sure as heck isn't me. Oh well. The joys of this blasted illness.
I should feel aggravated by this new development, but, thanks to my being "stable" I feel nothing.....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Safety First

Lately I have read a great deal regarding teens/adults stealing medication. I am sure learning someone has a certain illness or chronic pain is motivating. This includes someone with Bipolar. Even more so with someone who is totally open about it, such as myself. 
While I have always kept my meds up and out of reach of my children, I realize now it would be wise to get something in which to lock them away. It will be a pain to have to open it daily, but well worth it. I don't want the temptation to lure someone into my home or to tempt someone curious or struggling with an addiction. 
So, if you have a prescription of any sort really, be sure to tuck it safely away and out of reach. Furthermore, taking the precaution not to tell people you are taking pain/ADHD/mood stabilizing medications at all would be smart. I have already crossed that line by telling the world I have an illness requiring medication which is why I am putting them on lock down. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Next to Normal" The Musical

Today I went to this musical, entitled, "Next to Normal" with my Bestie. It was amazing! It deals with Bipolar, the people who suffer from it, their families, suicide, grief...and so much more. I don't know how to describe it in just a few words so here is the plot line:

Suburban mother Diana Goodman waits up late for her curfew-challenged son, comforts her anxious and overachieving daughter, hurries off for some sex with her husband, then rises to help prepare her family for "Just Another Day." But when her lunchmaking takes a turn for the bizarre with sandwiches covering the table, chairs, and floor, the rest realize something is not right. As husband Dan helps the disoriented Diana, Natalie hurries off to school and the refuge of the piano practice room ("Everything Else"), where she's interrupted by Henry, a classmate who likes to listen to her play - and clearly likes her.

Over the ensuing weeks, Diana makes a series of visits to her doctor, while Dan waits in the car outside, questioning how to cope with his own depression ("Who's Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I"). It is revealed that Diana has suffered from bipolar disorder coupled with hallucinations for sixteen years; Doctor Fine begins to adjust her medications until he declares her stable. Natalie and Henry grow closer until one day he professes his love for her ("Perfect For You") and they kiss for the first time. Diana witnesses this and realizes she's missed much of Natalie's growing up ("I Miss the Mountains"). With her son's encouragement, she flushes away her meds.

A few weeks later, Dan looks forward to dinner with his family ("It's Gonna Be Good"), but when Diana emerges with a cake singing "Happy Birthday" to her son, Dan and Natalie are devastated. Dan holds Diana and explains that "He's Not Here" - that their son has been dead for years. Natalie storms off, and Dan mentions a return to the doctor, but Diana refuses - and as Dan tries to coax her into trusting him, their son joins them, trying in vain to get Dan's attention ("You Don't Know/I Am The One"). Up in her room, Natalie vents her anger to Henry, then refuses Diana's apology as her brother watches and taunts her ("Superboy and the Invisible Girl").

A few days later, Diana starts work with Doctor Madden. As her son rises to assert his presence ("I'm Alive"), Dan and Natalie doubt the sessions are helping, but Doctor Madden proposes hypnosis to help Diana discover the roots of her trauma ("Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I'm Falling"). Finally, Diana agrees it's time to let her son go. Diana goes home to clean out her son's things, pausing to listen to a music box ("I Dreamed a Dance"). Her son, Gabe appears and dances with her, then invites her to come away with him ("There's a World"). She does.

At the hospital, where Diana lies sedated and restrained, with self-inflicted gashes to her wrists, Doctor Madden explains to Dan that ECT is the standard course of treatment for drug-resistant patients who are imminently suicidal. Dan goes home to clean up after Diana and decide what to do ("I've Been"). The next day, Diana lashes out at Doctor Madden, refusing the treatment ("Didn't I See This Movie?"), but Dan arrives and convinces her it may be their last hope. ("A Light In The Dark").

Act II
Over a period of two weeks, Diana receives a series of ECT treatments, while Natalie further explores clubs and drugs ("Wish I Were Here"). When Diana returns home from the hospital, she and her shocked family realize Diana has lost sixteen years of memory ("Song of Forgetting"). Natalie escapes to school, where Henry confronts her ("Hey #1"), wondering why she's been avoiding him and inviting her to the spring formal dance.

Dan and Diana visit Doctor Madden, who assures them that some memory loss is normal ("Seconds and Years") and encourages Dan to use photos, mementoes, and the like to help Diana recover. Dan gathers the family to do so ("Better Than Before"), with minor success, but when Natalie pulls the music box from a pile of keepsakes, he whisks it away, leaving Diana puzzled. Her son appears, unseen ("Aftershocks"), while Diana tells Dan there's something she's desperate to remember that's just beyond her reach. When Henry arrives looking for Natalie, Diana is given great pause, studying his face and asking his age. Unnerved, Henry hurries up to Natalie's bedroom, to convince her to join him at the dance the next night ("Hey #2").

Diana returns to Doctor Madden ("You Don't Know (Reprise)") who suggests she further explore her history and talk more with her husband. Diana goes home and searches through the boxes of keepsakes, finding the music box. Dan tries to stop her, but the memories of her baby son rush back ("How Could I Ever Forget?"). When Diana confesses remembering her son as a teenager, and demands to know his name, Dan insists they need to return for more treatment ("It's Gonna Be Good (Reprise)"). Henry arrives to pick up Natalie, who has dressed for the dance, just in time for both fo them to witness an agitated Dan grab the music box from Diana's hands and dash it to the floor.

Diana confronts Dan, wondering why he perseveres after how much trouble she's given, while upstairs, Natalie asks Henry much the same question ("Why Stay?"). Dan answers, echoed by Henry, both vowing to stay steadfast ("A Promise"), but just as both couples embrace, Gabe reappears ("I'm Alive (Reprise)"), sending Diana running to Doctor Madden, asking Natalie to drive her, leaving Dan and Henry behind.

Diana asks Madden what can be done if the medicine has missed the true problem. With her questioning comes the realization that it's not her brain that's hurting: it's her soul ("The Break"). Madden assures her relapse is common, and suggests more ECT ("Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I'm Falling (Reprise)"). Diana refuses, and though Doctor Madden urges her to continue treatment for her disease, she thanks him and goes. Natalie, waiting outside, is distressed to learn her mother has left treatment, and Diana explains herself ("Maybe (Next to Normal)"), opening up to her daughter for the first time. She urges Natalie on to the school dance, where Henry awaits to comfort and embrace her ("Hey #3/Perfect for You (Reprise)").

Diana finds Dan at home and tells him she's leaving him, explaining that he can't always be there to catch her; she needs to take a risk and deal with things on her own for once ("So Anyway"). She goes, leaving her son with him. As Dan wonders how she could have left him after he stood by her for so long, her son approaches, telling Dan he's not going anywhere ("I Am The One (Reprise)"). Dan grows more distraught until at last he faces the boy and calls him by his name for the first time: Gabriel.

Natalie comes home to find her father sitting alone in the dark, in tears. She comforts him and turns the lights on in the room, before assuring him that the two of them will figure things out. We see Henry arrive to study, and Natalie tells him Diana has gone to stay with her own parents. We see Diana, alone and still hurting, but hopeful. We see Dan, visiting Doctor Madden for any word on Diana, but staying to talk about his own struggle. And life goes on ("Light").

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I read this and it really struck me. We are all dealing with some kind of pain, stress, grief or condition. Let's try not to be judgmental for we never know the struggles of others.
Here is the link:

What kinds of signs would you wear? I can think of several.
I am spread too thin and need help.
With breast cancer awareness month coming up I am missing my Mom more than ever.
I am tired.....I am not sleeping. Sorry if I seem irritable.

Those are just the ones on the top of my head. Life is great but I still have struggles even in happiness. I have never been a judgmental person, but I am going to make sure to treat everyone with a little more compassion. I am going to pay attention to the people around me and reach out even if they seem to be handling things. Sometimes even the strong need a place to lay down their burdens.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Follow your heart

"The more you try to please everybody, the less you’ll be able to benefit anybody. If you worry constantly about what others will think, you’ll sabotage your greatest accomplishments before they even get started.
Be kind, compassionate, thoughtful and considerate. Yet don’t be a slave to the opinions of others.
By all means, hold yourself to the highest standards. Just be sure they are truly your standards, and not merely fears about what others may think.
Live and act true to what you know is right, and appropriate, and valuable. Follow your heart, your desires, your intuition and your own authentic dreams.
Listen to the criticism and advice, and learn from it. But don’t let it dissuade you or delay you from doing what you know you must.
You can achieve whatever you choose if you’ll just have the confidence and persistence to see it all the way through. Whatever others might say or think, create the great value that is yours to create...."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Standing for what you believe in,
Regardless of the odds against you,
and the pressure that tears at your resistance,
... means courage.

Keeping a smile on your face,
When inside you feel like dying,
For the sake of supporting others,
... means strength.

Stopping at nothing,
And doing what's in your heart,
You know is right,
... means determination.

Doing more than is expected,
To make another's life a little more bearable,
Without uttering a single complaint,
... means compassion.

Helping a friend in need,
No matter the time or effort,
To the best of your ability,
... means loyalty.

Giving more than you have,
And expecting nothing,
But nothing in return,
... means selflessness.

Holding your head high,
And being the best you know you can be
When life seems to fall apart at your feet,
Facing each difficulty with the confidence

That time will bring you better tomorrows,
And never giving up,
... means confidence.....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bipolar Facebook?

I am so excited! After hours of searching for a good chat/support group I stumbled into the Bipolar version of Facebook!!! Actually they have support groups for anything from medical problems to raising children. I joined MD Junction only last night and have already shared bipolar jokes with a lady in Florida, gotten answers to some questions from a lady in Canada and gotten "hugged" (better than "poked") by a girl in California. No one knows how deep the rabbit hole goes in the mind of someone struggling with BP and thus, there are things only a person with BP can understand.
I try to "fake it" every day because I have come to the realization people only want to be around when you are at your best. I am pretty good at putting on a front by taking on more than I can handle such as coaching soccer, being in charge of a huge church activity, planning a birthday party for my favorite 5 year old, putting in extra hours at work etc......but sometimes I need to just tell someone I feel like crap and have them understand without judgement. Now I have an answer. YAY!!!!

Totally unrelated....GO UTES!!! Saturday's game was enough to turn any frown upside down. Well, unless you are a BYU fan. You are probably  feeling a little extra blue these days. But I still love all my Y friends. I actually wish it had been a better game.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I don't really know what this post is going to be about. I have so many thought racing through my mind I feel like putting them to paper. Well, digitally that is. I feel like knowing someone with an illness (mental of physical) puts people in an awkward position. It is similar to when someone dies and you don't know what to say to the loved ones left behind. You worry you will say the wrong thing, or upset them more, or sound stupid, or insensitive, or seem too nosy......I know, from when my Mom died, the worst thing to say is nothing. It is like there is that cliched elephant in the room. I remember people avoiding me because they didn't know how to react. Not everyone, mind you, was this way. And I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. I recently went to a funeral for a young man who shot himself and I will admit I wasn't sure what to say to his family.
I know I am rambling but I will try tying this back into those with mental/physical illnesses. People would always tell my mom she would get better when we knew she wouldn't. Likewise, I will never get better from bipolar. The difference is, my mom's illness was acute and terminal. I struggle with my every day but as long as I keep it in check it won't take my life. The reason I compare the two is I feel like a social leper at times. I thought it was just in my head but going to my support group I learned I am not alone in my thinking. It goes back to that not knowing what to say, or how to treat people who are "ill". Again, I say the worst thing to say is NOTHING! It makes things more awkward to ignore them. I am completely open about my condition and speak in jest of it often. I thought that would make others more comfortable with it, but I guess I was mistaken. I understand leaving people to deal with things in their own way. Some may just not want to keep our relationship going and I will have to accept that. I just feel I have many damaged/disrupted relationships and it sucks. I can't go back to being silent. I have already announced to the whole world I am bipolar. To be honest, I am glad that I did......but sometimes the more you put yourself out there, the more lonely you become. Lame.
On a happier note, I just got back from camping and feel recharged for the week. Nothing like fresh air and stars in the sky to remind you how freaking radical the outdoors truly are.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's back to school I go.

Well it's that time of year again. Back to school!! For me, that also means back to work. I absolutely love my summer's off, but I also love my job and look forward to another fantastic year. I like the routine into which I fall once that first bell rings. I don't mind change, in fact I get bored if things stay the same for long, but knowing I have to be somewhere at a certain time forces me to get out of bed no matter how few hours of sleep I receive or how crappy I feel that day. Additionally, being around students all day provides endless joy and laughter. Kids are freaking hilarious! Of course there are those moments I want to pull my hair out, but those moments are few and far between.
To reiterate, I LOVE MY JOB! Sometimes I feel guilty for working and not being home with my kids all day, but I think guilt comes with being a Mother. The things I glean from working in education benefit my kids more than dropping them off at preschool (although I really miss doing that). I have never felt that being bipolar has disrupted my job performance or my relationships with students or coworkers. If I felt I weren't able to provide my best work I would quit. This post is to provide assurance that those who live bipolar lives are just as competent as everyone else. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Moving on

Due to recent events, I have been contemplating whether or not to continue this blog. I thought that being open about my illness would eliminate some of the stigma associated with bipolar. I thought that if people knew they could talk openly with me that there would be no awkwardness within my relationships.
As it would happen, I have been taken advantage of and hurt by people close to me. My openness has served as a source of judgement and accusation. I spent a few weeks angry and upset but have come to the conclusion people are who they are.
Not all of the problems in my life are caused by bipolar. There are things about which I am stressed that would upset ANYONE! I think people should look into their own lives before they judge another's. I was ready to give up on this blog and pull back into a secretive shell of nondisclosure to protect myself until I talked to a very insightful friend. He made me realize that, although there will always be insensitive people, talking about my life openly could help a lot of people.
Just because some people look to my openness as an opportunity to judge is no reason to stop trying to enlighten others who may benefit or relate from sharing my story.
I am human. I am going to have good and bad days just like everybody else. I am going to get upset if someone does something hurtful, I am going to get excited when something extraordinary happens, I am going to feel pain for someone who has just lost a family member, I am going to laugh when I see something funny, I am going to disagree with people at times, I am going to support people in whom I believe, I am going to take care of myself and my family and I will live life to it's fullest. Just because I am bipolar doesn't put me in a different class of the human species.
Yes I have an illness that I have to keep in check. Just as a diabetic has to monitor his/her insulin levels. I am done being worried about what others think. I know who I am and I am proud to share my story. I refuse to live life thinking twice about what I say because I am worried about how I will be judged. My name is Leesa, I am bipolar and I am moving on.
As for my insightful friend, you know who you are and I am grateful for your support in this matter and for giving me the momentum I need to keep this blog going.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What is recovery?

I found this cool page on the DBSA website.
 "Relief of symptoms is only the first step in treating depression or bipolar disorder. The goal of your treatment is wellness and recovery---a return to a life that is meaningful to you. Recovery happens when your illness stops getting in the way of your life."

I love anything that encourages me to set and write down goals. I also love the word "recovery". It gives me a sense of hope. Hope that, while having this "thing" in my life wasn't planned for, I can follow my dreams and still live the life I have always wanted. IT doesn't define ME.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The big fat truth about bipolar medications.

So, many of us have come to accept we will need medication for the rest of our lives, but accepting some of the side effects of these medications can be least favorite... WEIGHT GAIN!!!
Many mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and antidepressants are known to pack on an extra dose of lbs.
Now, the extra weight isn't just something to watch because it makes our jeans tight. Gaining weight can cause serious health issues such as: negative effects on heart health, cholesterol, and blood pressure. It can also increase one's risk for diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, metabolic disease and other complications. Not to mention, gaining weight can make an already crappy mood even worse.
So, you are taking you are taking your meds and you have gained weight? WHAT NOW???
*Eat nutritious food
*Reduce portion sizes
*Eat more slowly
*Exercise regularly
*Manage stress
*Meet with a Nutritionist
*Write it down
*Talk to your Dr.

I know all too well about this issue. I gained 15 pounds in under a month when I was first put on Seroquel. Much of it was water and I have lost most of the rest, but it is still very, very frustrating. I talked to my Doctor and we changed medications but that is only what worked for me. The important thing is NOT to stop taking a medication simply due to weight gain until you talk to your Dr.!!!
 Most people I have talked to say the weight gain is temporary and the benefits of the medication far outweigh the downside of gaining a few pounds. If you are like me and you did gain some weight, don't beat yourself us about it. Especially when you work hard to lose it and nothing happens. For some reason this weight can be stubborn to lose. Just keep your focus on getting healthy inside and out and eventually it WILL come off!
Also, knowing a medication may potentially cause weight gain PRIOR to taking it may help you be more aware of your appetite and your scale. That may help keep wight gain side effects down or possibly eliminate them all together.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exercise and Mood

We all know we should exercise. It keeps our hearts healthy, it staves off disease, and it can be a GREAT MOOD LIFTER!

During exercise, your brain releases endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. These are chemicals that work together to make you feel good. :)

A study at the University of Vermont showed that exercise may increase mood up to 12 HOURS following physical activity. WOW!

The Mayo clinic states other emotional and physiological benefits as well:
1. Gaining confidence
2. Taking your mind off worries
3. Getting more social interaction
4. Coping in a healthier way

These are just a few tidbits regarding exercise and mood which I found interesting. There will be MANY more to come. I know that for myself, exercise definitely makes me feel better. Nothing releases my anxiety and worry like a good run, and nothing calms and soothes my mind like an hour or more of yoga.
What better way to cope than exercise? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"I used to be sane...but I'm better now."

I was thinking about how my friend Troy recently told me, "Two Leesa's are better than one" and figured there had to be some funny bipolar quotes out there. I was disappointed not to find many good ones so if you hear any pass them on. Here are a couple that were alright:

"Stable is a place where horses live."
"Mood Swinger"
"Normal is a setting on a washing machine."
"I don't suffer from mania..I enjoy it!"
"I have a brain disorder, what's your excuse?"
"Expert Roller Coaster rider."
"I've been to both poles, have you?"
"If I didn't have this t-shirt on you'd never know I was bipolar."

Most of the ones I found were about love and empathy, which are great, but I wanted some funny crap and didn't find what I was looking for.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Myths vs. Facts

MYTH: Bipolar is a state of mind and if a person thinks positively enough it will go away.
FACT: Bipolar is a REAL, treatable illness of the brain that can't be overcome by "snapping out of it".

MYTH: Treatment is a cop-out for those who are too weak to cope with day-to-day life.
FACT: Seeking treatment takes courage and is a smart decision.

MYTH: Talk therapy is just whining about problems and doesn't help.
FACT: Talk therapy has been tested clinically and found to be effective. Good talk therapy can help change behaviors that make a person's mood less stable.

MYTH: Medications that treat mood disorders are addicting. They also change a person's personality.
TRUTH: When properly prescribed and used, meds are not addictive and do not change a person's true personality. Medications help a person's mood become more stable and even. They do not cloud one's judgement.

MYTH: People with mood disorders can't get better.
TRUTH: When correctly diagnosed and treated, a person with bipolar disorder can life a stable and healthy life. Millions of people already do.

MYTH: People with bipolar are dangerous.
TRUTH: Research shows people with mental illness do not commit significantly more violent acts than the general population. They are, however, twice as likely to be the victim of violence.

MYTH: People with bipolar should not have children.
TRUTH: People who have been treated for mood disorders can parent as well as anyone else.

MYTH: People with bipolar are not stable enough to hold positions of authority in fields like law enforcement of government.
TRUTH: People with mood disorders can and do hold positions of authority everywhere. When properly treated, a person's mood disorder does not have to affect job performance.
*I encourage you to look at my very first post. Presidents, astronauts, soldiers, philosophers, etc. have all lead profound lives while struggling with bipolar.

MYTH: Suicide is not a problem in the US.
TRUTH: Each year over 30,000 people in the US take their own lives. More than 90% of these people are believed to have had a mental illness.

*DBSA Pamphlet

What helps and what hurts....

When someone is struggling with manic or depressive episodes you probably want to help, but what do you say? Here are some suggestions from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
I know you have a real illness and that's what causes you to have these thoughts and feelings.
I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel but I care about you and just want to help.
 You are important to me. Your life is important to me.
Tell me what I can do now to help you.
You might not believe it now, but the way you feel will change.
You are not alone in this. I am here for you.
Talk to me. I am listening.

It's all in your head.
We all go through times like this.
You have so much to live for-why do you want to die?
What do you want me to do? I can't change the situation.
Just snap out of it. Look at the bright side.
You will be fine. Stop worrying.
Here's my advice...

I think I will have Mike post more on supporting a bipolar spouse. He has been nothing but supportive and I am sure it hasn't been easy for him.

We are everywhere....mwahahahaha!

I have had several social worker and psychology friends mention they would give my blog to their patients as a resource. It makes me feel like I need to be less silly but that is who I am so I guess it will have to stay. Silly or not Bipolar is a serious disease. It can ruin friendships, destroy marriages, drain bank accounts, end in is a big deal. But it is so important for you to know you are not alone. There are all kinds of us from all walks of life struggling with this disease to some degree.
 If you are newly diagnosed or are looking for support I encourage you to look up your local DBSA group. There is one Tuesday night at the Regional Medical Center and one Thursday night at the Riverton library. I have attended both and love the people dearly. Some nights we laugh for the entire two hours, other nights some shed tears.
 I just don't want anyone to feel alone out there. Most of my family didn't know about my situation till I started this blog, so I understand being afraid to be open about it. All I know is I feel relieved and if someone can't deal with it they aren't worth having around. I think once people realize bipolar people can love normal happy lives, they are understanding.

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho It's off to the hospital we go.

I promised a funny story so here it is. It is mixed in with some drama so bear with me. Back in March I hadn't slept for ten days, yes TEN DAYS, and I was behaving as one behaves after such sleep deprivation. My close friends and family held an intervention and I agreed to go to the hospital to get some sleep.
We waited in the waiting room as you always do, spoke to a crisis worker who told the psychiatrist on duty I needed a bed for the night. I wasn't sure what to think . I was okay at first with this idea but now I just wanted to go home. When I got wheeled back to the psychiatric unit I thought everyone there looked crazy. HOW IRONIC!!!! They probably thought the same thing of me. I also have a hard time with hospital smells because I was with my mom when she died in a hospital. Filling out the paperwork took forever then I spoke to a battery of psychologists, social workers, nurses, and psychiatrists. I just wanted to be given something to sleep and left to read "Hunger Games". I had to take off my pants because they had strings and ended wearing a gown for HOURS!!! I had to fight for underwear. LOL I laugh about it now but it was traumatic at the time. I spent most of my time in my my room reading until I got my good old sleeping cocktail. I CRASHED for the first time in a week and a half which was awesome until I got up to pee. I was so dizzy and out of it that I bumped my head on the metal toilet paper holder and earned myself a huge goose egg on the side of my head. I found myself on the floor when two nurses came to help me up. It wasn't until I was telling this story to my sister-in-law that I realized they probably had to pull up my pants for me. HAHAHAHA! The patient rooms have a two foot gap at the bottom so they can always check on you and I was laying under it with my rear end in the air. Oh the humility! I think this story is funny now. We all have a good chuckle about it and I hope you do too. Mental illness can be funny. Even when it's happening to you . ;)
I have only had one hospital stay thus far, but I will share more about it later. In hindsight I learned a lot during those two days.

"It is all in your head"

Well, I guess in a way it is. Your brain is in your head and it is not functioning properly. I had a friend post someone close to them was told they didn't need meds because "it was in their head".
I am a healthy person. I like to eat healthy, I exercise and the thought of taking pills for the rest of my life was quite unappealing. But, the key to controlling Bipolar is definitely taking your medications whatever they may be. Would you tell a person with diabetes not to take their insulin?
 Exercising and eating nutritiously can benefit those of us with AND without bipolar but it won't make it go away. Not in any study I have read. 
I will post more on meds, nutrition and exercise when I have more time. Thanks for the comment. I am starting to feel less exposed and more supported through this blog. I think it will be a good thing. Thanks everyone!

Thank You!!!

I simply have to post to thank everyone for all of your support. I don't know why I felt so compelled to share my story but I am glad I did. I appreciate all the love from everyone. There will probably always be a stigma around mental illness but the more we all learn, the quicker that will go away. And Tom, glad you found it entertaining. LOL Just wait for the funny hospital story I have coming up......

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What do these people have in common?


Buzz Aldrin

Carey Grant

Isaac Newton

Abraham Lincoln

Marilynn Monroe

Mark Twain


Napoleon Bonaparte

Edgar Allen Poe

Theodore Roosevelt

Tim Burton

Vincent Van Gogh

Winston Churchill

Take a good look at the people in this post. What do they all have in common? They are a handful of people who suffer(ed) from some form of Bipolar Disorder. There are astronauts, artists, philosophers, writers, politicians, Presidents, actors, and, well, one familiar face to many of you......ME! More on that later. I looked up famous people with the disease to feel less alone and felt it important to share.

Just what is this Bipolar you speak of?

Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder that can cause dramatically unusual shifts in mood, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day to day tasks. Everyone has ups and downs but bipolar symptoms often result in damaged relationships, poor performance and even suicide. But, before anyone freaks out, BIPOLAR CAN BE TREATED AND PEOPLE WITH THIS ILLNESS CAN LEAD FULL AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES!!!

It often developed in teens or early adulthood. Although I was diagnosed at 29, I can pinpoint manic episodes throughout my life. I am sure my roommates can too. I always thought it was great I could stay out with my friends all night, do my homework and then go to school with no sleep. Um, not normal Leesa. Bipolar is hard to diagnose. I don't get the depressive lows like I get the manic highs. It may sound fabulous to be "up" all the time but to have your brain NEVER shut off is a terrible experience.

*National Institute of Mental Health

How is bipolar diagnosed?

Before I go into symptoms I feel it important for nobody to self diagnose themselves. People can have periods of time where they have of these. Don't assume you are bipolar! See your doctor if you are curious. This is just to help you understand where those of us diagnosed are coming from. I don't have ALL of the symptoms, but I had enough to be classified as bipolar.

*A long period of feeling "high" or an overly happy or outgoing mood.
* Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling "jumpy or "wired"
*Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts.
*Being easily distracted.
*Increasing goal-oriented activities such as taking on new projects.
*Being restless.
*Sleeping little.
*Having an unrealistic belief in one's abililties.
*Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable activities that are high-risk, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.

*A long period of feeling worried or empty.
*Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
*Feeling tired of slowed down.
*Having problems concentrating, remembering and making decisions.
*Being restless or irritable.
*Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits.
*Thinking of death or suicide or attempting suicide.

There are different and more detailed criterion out there but this one is pretty comprehensive. If you know someone suffering from this I hope you now have a better understanding of what they are going through. It sucks people. If anyone has questions they would  like answered I would be happy to look into them.

*National Institute of Mental Health


The stigma

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar back in 2009 it was like a wave washing over me. I FINALLY knew why I was the way I was. I FINALLY had an answer as to why I could go 10 days with no sleep and still function. But, no matter how good I felt having a diagnosis, I was worried about the stigma. I had always thought of bipolar people as being a little nutty, so if you feel the same way don't feel bad. I am a little nutty. LOL
Turns out I was on the wrong meds and had been given the wrong bipolar diagnosis but that is a WHOLE other scary story for a later post.
Bipolar is a chronic illness. I will have to take medication for the rest of my life and keep a constant sleep journal to assure my symptoms are at bay. It is hard because if I had diabetes people would sympathize, but because I have mental illness people want to stay away. Maybe it's all in my head. So far, I haven't lost any friendships due to this.
I can function just fine. I can work, I am an awesome mom and wife (well I do my best), I have supportive and awesome friends who have been nothing but there for me since I told them. The purpose of the is blog is to educate all of us as to what the disease is, how to live with/support someone with the disorder, and to support others who are suffering as well. I am really putting myself out there but I figure f I can help educate one person to get help, or allow one person not to feel alone in this, throwing out my pride will be worth it.