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Thursday, June 28, 2012

ADHD and Bipolar

Over the last year I have heard a few accounts of Bipolar patients being treated with ADHD medications. Through my intense scouring of Bipolar research I learned the conditions are often co-morbid. I have a knowledgeable PhD Psychology friend to whom I posed the question, "how exactly do ADHD medications work?" After hearing his explanation (of which I am too lazy to write about. lol) I got the impression they may bolster racing thoughts.
I have a great relationship with my Psychiatrist so I discussed the possibility of using ADHD medication to help with my racing thoughts. Racing thoughts disrupt my life more than any other Bipolar symptom, aside from not sleeping. She had me fill out two questionnaires and......diagnosed me as ADHD! Haha. I was so surprised. I had misconceived notions as to what ADHD truly was. I always thought it manifested as the wild kid in class who couldn't hold still or the kid who couldn't concentrate and got bad grades. I always excelled at school and while I am energetic and chatty, I never thought it possible it could partially be related to ADHD. I am so often irked by the judgmental and biased view of Bipolar Disorder and yet I was completely     off base with my view of ADHD. 
Long story short, we began treating me for ADHD and the results have been AMAZING! My mood is exponentially better and my thoughts are more easily managed. I can concentrate on the important things and my paranoid, obsessive thoughts about things that may be irrational are kept at bay. Well, throughout the day anyway. I can tell when the medication wears off. I find it comparable to the "sun downing" in Alzheimer's patients. I am working with different strategies to combat my thoughts at night, but it is helpful to have my days enjoyed with a clear mind. My husband has noticed a huge difference and I find my family life more fulfilled. 
I am not saying everyone with Bipolar is ADHD, but I wish I had looked into it sooner. I have said it before and I will say it over and over again, I HATE TAKING MEDICINE! The possible side effects of long term use terrify me, That said, I am grateful to have control of my life. I have come to the conclusion I would rather have a fulfilled life and risk side effects than live in chaos. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lovely Logics

I came across this on facebook and thought it was great for the racing bipolar mind. Easier said than done, but worth a try.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I ran across this article and found it hopeful. Hopeful for those young little bodies in which lies so much stress and unrest. It is hard enough to be a bipolar adult. I can only imagine the frustration experienced by a child. I am grateful mental illness is being diagnosed and treated earlier and with more efficiency. As a bipolar parent, and understanding the genetic nature of the condition, I have to be aware of the possibility my children may be bipolar as well. If that ever becomes a reality articles such as this make me hopeful they will not be subject to judgement such as I have. Early onset juvenile bipolar disorder is fascinating to me so expect more posts in it's regard.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


The more I monitor my moods and circumstances, the more educated I become in all things ME. I learn my triggers, I learn my warning signs, and I learn patterns. One pattern to which I have recently become enlightened is that this time of year EVERY YEAR , I don't sleep.
It was a year ago, exactly, that I stopped sleeping altogether thus, landing myself in the psych ward to receive heavy meds. Apparently sleeping is important or something. I jest. Thinking back, I recall my psychologist frequently looking over notes and remarking the pattern. She attributed it to some underlying PTSD from events that occurred with the change of seasons..... While that is possible, I feel I have dealt with my "past" and now SOMETHING is causing my mood to alter this time of year.
I find it a fascinating cycle. I also find it extremely frustrating! While I don't always "feel" tired, I am noticing the side effects of not sleeping. I have given up asking for help due to problems  "related to bipolar". I figure nobody wants to watch your kids because you haven't slept for five days. lol They probably wouldn't realize I LITERALLY mean NO sleep for FIVE days! All moms are tired so why add to their work load. Anyway, I am doing fine in survival mode.
I will delve into the medical health system at a later time, but I will make mention of an important issue here as well. There are so few psychiatrists in Utah, one can expect to be on a waiting list for at least 4 to 6 months before being seen by someone new. Um, when someone is having a psychotic episode, shouldn't they be seen ASAP? That said, I fortunately was able to be seen and receive new medication this week and actually slept last night. WOO HOO! It is definitely cause for celebration. Moods are impossible to keep stable when one isn't sleeping. Even you "normal" folks know you can't function without sleep. I may "appear" to be functioning to the outside world but, in reality, I am walking a dangerously fine line. The longer I go without sleep, the more likely I am to become manic. And while mania can be fun for a always leads to trouble.
Now that I am out of the "danger zone" I feel confident I have averted a crisis. While the last few years have been a very real hell, I am grateful for all I have gone through in the sense that I now feel I am in control and NOT the bipolar. I am the one calling the shots. Sure, the bipolar may toss a few nights of not sleeping at me.....but now I know to counteract ASAP with some serious meds to get back on track. Suck it bipolar! I win this round.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Help Guide

In my opinion, the best way for me to manage my Bipolar Disorder is by constantly monitoring myself. This is made possible through education. I am always looking for respectable resources and when I find good ones I will share them. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bipolar in the media.

Is it just me, or is anyone else sick of the portrayal of mental illness in the media, especially television? Just because someone is bipolar doesn't mean they are going to become obsessed with someone, attempt to assume the identity of their lost spouse and attempt to murder them. Okay, so this is all from a few episodes of One Tree Hill. One of the characters stops taking her lithium and goes all ca-ra-zy!
 I know there are cases of mentally ill people going off their meds and "losing it". That said, why can't tv shows ever portray a mentally ill person triumphing over their illness and functioning like everyone else. I know the crazy schizophrenic makes for good TV but COME ON! The stigma is never going to go away if we keep scaring people into thinking mentally ill people are going to come after them in their sleep. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Growing through loss.

Eleven years ago I lost my mom to cancer. It was quick. It was a shock. It was completely unexpected. I was young at the time and couldn't foresee the effects of losing her would have on my life. Obviously I miss her. I miss that she was  not here to hold my babies when they were born. I miss that she is  not able to physically watch them grow. I miss that I cannot call on her for parenting advice.
That said, I feel like I appreciate her more now than I ever did before. We have no unresolved issues so I can focus on what strengths of hers I want to develop and pass on to my children. Ours was not a perfect relationship, as no relationship ever is. Now that I am an adult and mother myself I feel I understand my mother better than I did when I was young. I hate having to admit she was right about a lot of things. lol DANG IT! I thought I knew everything back then. I also know she was wrong about a lot of things as well. From our relationship I hope to glean insight into how to conduct my relationships with my own kids.
Looking back, I remember her grace. Even as she spent her last several days in the hospital, she never lost her selflessness and optimism. With everything I face, I try to do the same. With bipolar it is often easy to see the dark side. Finding light in darkness is daunting unless you are seeking the light. Darkness can be comfortable. You can hide in darkness. You don't have to let anyone see the real you in darkness. However, darkness is consuming. If you spend too much time in darkness you may never escape it's clutches.
When I find myself in that darkness I don't stay long. :) I am grateful for my three little rays of light that keep me hopeful for the future. Regardless of how things are in the world around me, I know those three faces love me and need me. Even as they grow and they hate me for being strict, I know one day they will thank me. I know this because I am grateful for my mom. I am sorry I never got to tell her that in person, but I think she know it now. She is probably in heaven, smiling and thinking, "I told you so."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Salt Lake Valley of the Doll...or something like that.

I am not, by nature, a person who shares my troubles and sorrows. Even when I felt motivated to publish this blog I was hesitant. But, I knew that I wanted to A. have a journal of sorts of bipolar material and B. to educate others about the BP world. I would never dump my feelings on my friends so I don't know why I feel comfortable on here. Perhaps, although I see how many people are reading my posts, I feel I am talking to myself.
 I am just frustrated these days and I feel the need to mentally spew. Since I started this darn thing I have kept things mostly positive. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I feel pretty positive. Still, more of it probably has to do with me not being able to face vulnerability. I have gotten proficient at keeping my true feelings locked up tight. I am often able to hide them even from myself.
I refereed to a "doll" in my title because I feel like that is what I have been all of my life. Ironic because I am COMPLETELY terrified and appalled at the sight of those stuffed little people, I suppose I have always believed if I could make it "look" like I was okay, no one would know that inside I was  broken.  I tried to be a model student, got involved in things like yearbook and drill team, made friends, put on makeup and smiled at the world. Don't get me wrong, I loved these things.......but deep down I thought as long as I "looked" like a ridiculously happy person I could fool the world. Well, I succeeded! Even now, when people I have known most of my life learn I am bipolar they are shocked! Partly because I don't think most know what being bipolar actually means. Mental illness is often interpreted as a deformation of character. Mostly they are just shocked because they never knew anything was wrong.
The older I get the easier it is to hide pain. I have to. I have a family to care for, a job to maintain and a life to keep afloat. On most days, I can put on my game face just fine. But, once in a while I get sick of it or I am triggered by something that reminds me of past trauma, or events and I find myself struggling for a moment to return to "doll" form. I was reminded of something awful today and it resulted in me reaching my boiling point. 
Some days being a "doll" is exhausting. Physically, emotionally and mentally. Today I am tired. I am tired of always trying to be strong. Tired of the times I try being open and honest with people biting me in the ass. Tired of people saying they are there for you put not acting like it.Tired of always being the one to check on everyone else, tired of playing this game with myself. Tired because I slept for 15 minutes last night and sat in a conference for seven hours today. Haha. 
Don't get me wrong!!!!! Life isn't all bad. I am happy and enjoy parenting my little ones more than anything!!! My heart is mostly filled with happiness. I am surrounded by amazing and wonderful people and I learn something new and fascinating every day. It's just when I feel like the porcelain cracking on my facade of an exterior I feel pressured to super glue myself back together. Tomorrow I will wake up and the glue will have dried. I will be able to face the world once again with a fresh coat of paint.

*The title is in reference to the movie, "Valley of the Dolls." Even though "dolls" in that movie were drugs. lol Just thought I would clarify. Otherwise the title is kind of odd.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Creed to Live By

I stole this from a friend's blog because I thought it was beautiful.
A Creed To Live By 
By Nancye Sims
Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others.
It is because we are different that each of us is special.

Don't set your goals by what other people deem important.
Only you know what is best for you.

Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart.
Cling to them as you would your life, for without them life is meaningless.

Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future.
By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.

Don't give up when you still have something to give.
Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect.
It is this fragile thread that binds us to each other.

Don't be afraid to encounter risks.
It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find.
The quickest way to receive love is to give love.
The fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly;
and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

Don't dismiss your dreams.
To be without dreams is to be without hope;
to be without hope is to be without purpose.

Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been,
but also where you're going. Life is not a race,
but a journey to be savored each step of the way.

Copyright © 1996 Nancye Sims

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Here comes the sun...doo...doo...doo...doo...

What is going on with the weather Utah? It is the beginning of January and I have spent a good portion of the week riding bikes, shooting hoops and playing OUTSIDE. All this WITHOUT a coat! It is almost eerie to see the sun shining down on snow deprived trees. I am in NO way complaining but I do have some fears. I hope that this abnormally pleasant weather isn't prelude to a late blooming winter. I do not want to have snow in JUNE!!! My other concern is that there will be no "greatest snow on Earth" on which I can ski/board. This is the first year my whole little family can hit the slopes. Hmmmmm.
The reason I bring up the weather is because my mood has been unusually pleasant for this time of year as well. A couple posts ago I mentioned being bummed after coming home from vaca. I have since settled into my normal routine. In January's past the dark, cold weather has left me less motivated, grumpy and sometimes angry. You would think that after 30 years I would have come to accept the fact we have winter! LOL I think that every year, when the leaves begin to fall, a little part of me thinks maybe, just ,maybe winter will forget to make an appearance.
Thus far, maybe this year it won't!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Brain scan bummer!

Mental illness is so hard to understand, diagnose and prove existence of because there is no blood test or scientifically accepted scan that causes a doctor to say, "Yes! You absolutely have bipolar disorder." We simply rely on behavior and mood monitoring to diagnosticate. There is NO part of me that doubts I have this order and I have accepted this. I DO, however, wish there were some source of reliably viewing the brain during  both a manic as well as depressive episodes. As it turns out, my hopes of this may be approaching reality.

Throughout my everlasting search for insight into my constant companion, Mr. Bipolar, I have happened upon several scans of brains exhibiting observation of the brain during manic/depressed episodes. The following link shows a few of these mentioned images which I find interesting. Maybe I should have been careful what I wished for. 

The most troubling statements in this study is as follows:

"They found that people with bipolar disorder suffer from an accelerated shrinking of their brain. "

"Imaging studies carried out four years apart showed loss of brain tissue in the areas controlling memory, face recognition and coordination."

Soooooo uncool! I have always been of the mindset that I can handle growing old so long as I have my brain and wits about me. Looks like that dream may not be attainable. Bummer! I refuse to lose hope or succumb myself to thinking I will be senile in my old age, but it does cause me concern.
It is my hope that in the near future we will be better able to interpret what mental illnesses look like and how they affect the brain so we can better understand what we are dealing with. This information would prove valuable for research into treatment.