IS BIPOLAR DISORDER A GIFT?

I came across a blog post by a psychiatric Registered Nurse who shared their belief that people with Bipolar Disorder are not sick. The real sickness is the treatment and medication people with Bipolar Disorder receive.

The writer’s belief is also that many with Bipolar Disorder realize that “normal life” is too phony, boring and constrained. Leaving them with the realization that there is much more to this mundane existence. A manic episode is triggered by the collapse of the mask we wear or hide behind and while manic the soul is allowed to be free for the first time.

The author states that there is no science involved in diagnosing Bipolar Disorder, no scans or medical tests, no scientific process.

They quote Socrates “Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, provided the madness is given us by divine gift.”

And Plato “Insanity a divine gift and the source of the chief blessings granted to men”

Everyone is entitled to their point of view. I know many that think of Bipolar in terms of wearing a “mask”. I sometimes think that way myself. You are constantly trying to be “normal”.

RESEARCH

Scripps Research Institute has shown for the first time that ensembles of genes within the striatum (part of the brain that coordinates motor and action planning, motivation and reward perception) could be very involved in Bipolar Disorder.

More than two thirds of people with Bipolar Disorder have at least 1 close relative with the illness or with unipolar major depression. (National Institute of Mental Health)

They also found genes linked to the immune system and the body’s inflammatory response system which could help in future development of diagnostics.

MY VIEW

Do I think Bipolar Disorder is a gift? Only if I put it in the same category as Herpes, the gift that keeps on giving.

Before I was diagnosed I drank to feel like a person instead of a thing that was in constant emotional pain. When I wasn’t in pain I was making life miserable for everyone around me. I spent money like there was a never ending supply, I would just do things without thinking, I feel like I had to do something but I didn’t know what, like an itch I couldn’t scratch. The manic times I could handle. The depression I couldn’t. I knew something was wrong with me. I had been around enough mentally ill people in my life to know the signs. I didn’t want it to be true. So at 16/17 I started drinking instead. Next thing I knew 20 years had gone by. The lost opportunities stacked up, so high I couldn’t handle it.

All of the suicide attempts, all of the alcohol, all of the physical and emotional abuse had taken everything out me. I finally gave in and went to a Doctor. I had been to other Doctors. I was court ordered several times to see Psychiatrists. Not one of them diagnosed me with a mental health problem. All they saw was an Alcoholic.

By the time I was diagnosed it was kind of too late. Too much damage had been done. Years of the wrong medications mixed with alcohol, having Celiac Disease and not knowing it for years, and Conversion Disorder, all made things difficult. My immune system is almost nonexistent.

I am 43 and can’t have children now, I have one kidney and Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease, I also have various problems with my white blood cell count, malnutrition, malabsorption, Rickets lol, and 1,000 other problems. Do you know what this means? My medications do not work the way they should. Does it make a difference? YES IT DOES.

If you are someone who doesn’t believe in medication then maybe you never found the right combination. I had for about a year and everything was okay. I wasn’t doing backflips but I was leaving the house, taking pictures, making jewelry, and doing some things. When my immune system started to get worse and I was in kidney failure but didn’t know it, there was a huge difference.

There isn’t much relief now. I can’t take off a mask because there isn’t anything underneath. My manic episodes are filled with agitation and angry outbursts. All I keep thinking is “I want to go home” but I’m already home. Then I spend hours searching for plane tickets and hotels to disappear to. Then I talk myself out of it because I’m afraid. The constant cycling of thoughts and memories are relentless.

This is no gift, this is torture.dt_150406_brain_bipolar_disorder_800x600

 

REVENGE: IS FORGIVENESS THE RIGHT PATH FOR EVERYONE?

Revenge is a topic I’ve been fascinated with from an early age. I’ve always been familiar with quotes like “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” and “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”. I have never agreed with either.

RESEARCH AND SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION

Believe it or not the Human Brain can take pleasure in certain kinds of revenge. Scientists reviewing MRI scans of subjects thinking about revenge noticed that the part of the brain where dopamine is lodged became activated. Dopamine is the reward center of feel good area, it has the same affect as some sweet foods or even drugs.

The desire for revenge increases depending on the number of people who witnessed your mistreatment. The theory is that if you do not take revenge the people around you will see you as someone willing to put up with that kind of treatment or weak.

Revenge isn’t felt for just anyone. We usually feel the need to seek revenge toward people we care about and know well because we feel their betrayal the most.

ALTERNATIVES

You can avoid the person or group altogether.

You can accept the abuse because you love the person or see no alternative.

You can also forgive. Forgiveness is often mistaken for weakness. To forgive the other person has to be willing to look at their own behavior and change the way they see you as a person.

EXPERIENCE

I have always had a problem with the concept of revenge. I don’t believe Karma ever comes around. Forgiveness is next to impossible in some situations. Honestly? I don’t want to forgive specific people. They will never change or see what they did as wrong. I will accept my part in things. I didn’t deserve some of what happened. No one deserves the psychological and physical trauma I still dream about.

If you had the same dream continuously, one where you are drowning but it isn’t water it’s blood. You can’t move your arms or anything from the waist up. There is a heavy weight on top of you making it harder to breathe. You hear what you are being called as the blows keep hitting your face, you can’t talk, breathe, or fight back. You hear laughter and feel spit on your face. You see yourself being thrown down the stairs then picked up by your hair. The laughter is the hardest part. You later learn the person responsible is bragging about what they did. There’s no hope for them changing their behavior. A few years later they are arrested for doing something similar to someone else.

So for some I have no interest in forgiveness or forgetting. My brain doesn’t allow me to forget. It’s one of many events I get to live over and over. I have even fantasized exactly how I would enact my revenge. Don’t worry it doesn’t involve death. I’m way too imaginative for that and I know this person well. I know his Achilles Heel. But I do nothing because I love my dad and as big of a pain in the ass as she is I love my sister. It isn’t a fear of prison because I would probably wouldn’t have a hard time. All those years spent with ex-cons you can learn a lot. (I’m kidding) (I did learn a lot but I don’t want the chance to test my knowledge).

Instead I’ll stick to my revenge movies.

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SKIP A MEDICATION*(it isn’t good)*

I made sure my pharmacy didn’t give me the Generic version of one of my medications for December. I called them out on the fact that they had been even though I had requested that they didn’t because the Generic has gluten in it. The problem is the Name Brand causes weight loss. I’ve lost 10 pounds in a little over a week. I didn’t want to start hearing how sick I look and I wanted to eat so I skipped it today. Not my best idea.

I think I was going to have problems anyway. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. never a good sign. My mind was racing with memories and things that had been bothering me. One thing specifically is how the people who love me can still have relationships with people who have hurt me beyond repair.

My best friend still sees and talks to the guy who beat me years ago. My sister still talks to my niece who wrote me a vile post that said things I can never forgive her for. My sister also has a good relationship with our ex sister in law who didn’t think her daughter did anything wrong or that she should apologize or talk it out with me. I do take some responsibility here. I did lose my temper with me ex sister in law on several occasions. The problem is my sister was in California and wasn’t here at the time to see how our mother was treated by our ex sister in law.

My niece and ex sister in law have my sister believing my actions are out of jealousy. That my mom spent more time and attention on them and loved them more and I am jealous of the relationship they had. No one wants to listen to my side of things.

Today when I talked to my sister the subject came up, I became defensive and upset. It was downhill from there. One of the biggest problems is that my sister uses our ex sister in law as a babysitter often. If she makes waves she loses her free babysitter. I know my sister better than she does.

She wasn’t here when the ex would call my mother for money. My mother would hide it from my dad and was never paid back. If my mom tried to defend her son in any way my ex sister in law would play games with the kids and not let her see them. My mom would be sick from chemo and she would call to complain about my brother. I would my mom crying and her voice raised. When this kept happening I finally picked up on another phone and told my sister in law “What the hell do you think you are doing? My mom is sick and you keep calling her with this bullshit! We told you not to marry him a hundred times but you did anyway, now DEAL WITH IT! Stop f*cking calling! You are making her worse! I mean it! If I hear her crying again because you called I will be taking a ride to your house and dealing with the situation, do you UNDERSTAND?”. I admit it was a little much and I hadn’t been diagnosed yet and I was still drinking. These are not excuses and I wouldn’t take back what I said. Who calls a woman with lung cancer and puts more stress on her? Plus asks for money? The final straw was when she slapped my mom across the face and kicked her out of their house in the middle of the night.

I was here for all of it. My sister wasn’t. My niece is another story. She is diagnosed with BPD. Her mother told her personal information about me that she used to get to me. It worked. She wrote it was good thing I couldn’t have children, my mother would be rolling over in her grave if she could see what a loser I am, that I need help because I sit on my ass all day complaining instead of doing something like psycho loser I am, no one in the family wants to be around me, they avoid me because of my craziness and because I’m jealous that my mom loved her mom more. Pretty nice kid. Oh, and I should’ve killed myself a long time ago.

Her mother read it and didn’t think it was out of line. I argued with her about that. Sometimes you just can’t win. I stopped trying.

I have to take my medications or all of this will come spilling over and out. My sister only wants happy conversations. Me? I just want to sleep or hide. This is where I would hide.d0f0d2997821f5b65442bd387db4a813

IS IT A SLIP OR A RELAPSE?

I first want to start off by saying how sad I am to hear of the passing of George Michael. He struggled with many issues in his life and I hope he has found some peace. I also hope the Tabloids won’t destroy his memory and leave him as the vocal icon he was. I know that’s too much to ask.

 

How do you define a “slip” or a “relapse”?

It boils down to intent.                                                                                                                                    A slip is usually a single unplanned use of drugs or alcohol.                                                              A relapse is when you abandon sobriety or abstaining from drugs or alcohol all together.

There were times I knowingly went somewhere with the intention of drinking even though I had been sober for a considerable length of time. I knew I would continue to drink.

There was one time I had no intention of drinking, no need to drink, but when I arrived at the place I was going, I felt so awkward, alone, and noticed I was the only one NOT drinking. I drank. The next day I immediately wrote down what I had been feeling at the time and how I could’ve handled the situation differently. I had to understand WHY I felt the NEED happen in the first place. Why did I feel so out of place? Why did I always feel I was “less than” everyone else? If I didn’t deal with those feelings then I wasn’t going to be able to give up alcohol.

It happened at a time where I had learned not to let “shame” and “guilt” consume me. If I did I would convince myself that it was useless to try to please the people around me who wanted me to stay sober. I also realized WHY I had to do it for ME and NOT THEM.

With a relapse you know what the outcome will be if you drink or use drugs but you do it anyway. You might use what started as a “slip” as an excuse. Like I did at one time. I went from an everyday drinker to a weekend binge drinker rationalizing it by thinking “at least it’s not everyday”. It was still the same but I was actually causing more harm by binge drinking.

A slip DOES NOT MEAN YOU RETURN TO DAY ONE. This kind of thinking is detrimental to anyone who is struggling with addiction. The thought of starting over after say 15 years or more has left many returning to their old ways. Only this time their bodies are not use to the same quantities of drugs or alcohol it once was. This is why you see many people who have been sober for a length time that have overdosed or died from alcohol poisoning or alcohol related deaths.

You can never take away a sober day. It all counts no matter what. A mistake doesn’t mean the end. It means you are human, you have to find a reason, a way, to get back up and keep going. The only thing chips are good for is dip.1b7c9bceda54495b68ea705d83a18aa3

Bipolar Disorder And Borderline Personality Disorder (Are Doctors Still Getting It Wrong?)

Even though Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder share similar symptoms they are completely different conditions with their own unique treatments. Diagnosing both of these disorders still remains a problem.

Borderline Personality Disorder involves the following

  • Mood swings
  • Impulsiveness, reckless spending
  • Low self-esteem and self worth
  • Suicidal tendencies, self harm, cutting
  • Fear of abandonment by family and friends
  • Intense moods of anger, depression, irritability, and emptiness that can last for days
  • Symptoms are persistent and ongoing
  • 75% of Borderline Personality patients are women
  • Genetics, environment and brain function can play a role in BPD
  • BPD is usually triggered
  • It’s difficult to diagnose correctly

Bipolar Disorder involves the following

  • Extreme highs: feelings of excitement, grandiosity, high energy, rapid speech
  • Low points: days of deep depression and fatigue where you can’t focus or be productive
  • Breaks between highs and lows with a mid range mood where most of the symptoms are not present (impulsiveness, anger, irritability, extreme emotion)

To get an accurate diagnosis of either disorder an extensive medical history is needed along with as much personal background information the patient is capable of giving. There are also some diagnostic tests that can be done. Brain scans have shown patients with Bipolar Disorder have the same brain abnormalities but this is not an absolute and not used as a diagnostic tool.

There’s a long way to go. Up to 69% of Bipolar patients are misdiagnosed at the start. Up to 1/3 stay that way.One in five patients show no improvement at all with any medications. Many are diagnosed with Depression and are given Antidepressants that can be dangerous.Antidepressants used on their own can cause a cycle of mania to depression that continues over and over again.

If a patient has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but the problem is actually Bipolar Disorder, mood stabilizers are the best option. No harm, no foul.

LITHIUM

Lithium affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body. Sodium affects mania and can help with manic episodes in Bipolar Disorder. It usually takes about 3 weeks to see signs of improvement. You will probably have to have your blood monitored because it can effect your liver and kidneys.

I am biased against Lithium. I’ve seen too many family members on it. They all had the same mannerisms. Slurred or slowed speech, almost sounding drunk, they were listless or zombie like, they were unaware of their surroundings. I’m not talking about one or two, I’m talking 5. (You all knew I have a family history) It’s why when I was first diagnosed I told my Doctor before he had a chance that I refused to take Lithium. Which turned out to be a good thing considering my kidneys were shot and I didn’t know it.

I have tried many drugs for Bipolar, Conversion Disorder, and Anxiety. My brain is different and because I have Celiac and Kidney Disease the way I process medications is different. It took a long time to get where I am. So I am going to talk about the mood stabilizer I find most effective and why.

TOPIRAMATE (TOPAMAX) *love how it says it’s spelled wrong when I have the bottle in front of me*

The primary use for Topiramate is for seizures. Psychiatrists prescribe it when other mood stabilizers are not effective. The starting dose is usually 12.5 or 25 milligrams either once or twice a day. This increases each week until reaching a level the patient responds to, usually 100 to 200 milligrams a day. Some people do not need more than 50mg per day.

TOPIRAMATE INFORMATION

  • More effective for rapid cycling and mixed bipolar states
  • Most patients feel the effects starting within days
  • Reduces alcohol cravings or thoughts of alcohol
  • Reduces headaches
  • The only mood stabilizer proven to relieve symptoms of PTSD
  • Patients who were unable to take antidepressants before because of mania or mixed episodes can do so with this mood stabilizer

There is one problem. If your Doctor has no idea what they are doing than you might have trouble. The correct dose is key. When my kidneys failed, no one could tell me how it would change the way my medications worked. I had to figure out the right dosage on my own. I finally did and I’m getting back on track. dsc01166

 

 

EATING DISORDERS, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND MY OWN DISTURBING EXPERIENCE

I will start off with a confession. When I was over 200 pounds I would’ve done just about anything to be thin. But part of me was afraid to lose weight. So I didn’t try that hard.

My twin sister started to exhibit symptoms of an Eating Disorder in her Junior/Senior year of High School. It didn’t become dangerous until College. She constantly said she was “fat” when she wasn’t. She only ate white rice with vinegar on it. In college she began to black out in a few of her classes. She had gotten to the point where you could see her hip bones, her collar bone stuck out, depending on what she was wearing you could see her ribs. She was pale all the time and her eyes were sunk in.

She wouldn’t listen to anyone. It wasn’t until she was dating her future husband, who also had an eating disorder, that they made a pact to keep each other healthy. If that hadn’t happened I don’t think she would’ve gotten better.

I’ve been having problems with Medicare and a few of my Doctors. I had to download my records. What I found there bothered me. It bothered me a lot. I repeatedly saw a diagnosis for Anorexia. I couldn’t understand why or why no one discussed it with me.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA~ Self starvation leading to excessive weight loss.

SYMPTOMS

  • Inadequate food intake
  • Extreme fear of weight gain
  • Obsession with weight gain
  • Self-esteem related to body image
  • Person can’t see the seriousness of the situation
  • Food restriction
  • Refusal to eat specific foods
  • Frequent comments about feeling “fat”
  • Denial of hunger
  • Food rituals
  • Avoidance of mealtime situations with friends or family
  • Excessive exercise
  • Withdrawal from friends and family

HEALTH CONSEQUENCES

  • Slow heart rate, low blood pressure
  • Risk of heart failure due to lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle loss or wasting
  • Severe dehydration causing kidney failure
  • Fainting or Fatigue
  • Dry hair, skin, and nails
  • Hair loss

The longer the illness continues the chance of death increases. Anorexia has one of the highest death rates of any Psychiatric Condition but receives the least amount of Funding for Research. Early detection is key.

The other important thing is to make sure your Doctors are not assuming you are Anorexic based on your symptoms or tests.

I have a slow heart rate, low blood pressure, Osteoporosis, Muscle wasting, dehydration, hair loss, dry hair, skin and nails. I rarely “feel” hunger or thirst. There are scientific reasons for this. If these doctors had consulted with my Hematologist they would’ve had their answers instead of putting a label on me as soon as they saw the weight loss and other symptoms.

I have Autoimmune Diseases that cause all of the above. The part of my brain that triggers the need to drink is not working, the same for hunger. I have to set alarms and force myself. Once I start I’m fine. I have the same type of muscle wasting that happens to patients with HIV/AIDS, it’s a different type and cause of muscle wasting having to do with my Immune System. When your Kidneys start to fail, you lose weight fast. Instead of assuming I was Anorexic they may have researched harder and saved me a Kidney.

This brings me to a subject I can’t comprehend. Encouraging others in their illness. Blogs, Twitter accounts, Instagram, all kinds of Social Media promoting Anorexia/Eating Disorders to be “Thin”.

Examples: “Thin is In”, “Thin Me Pretty”, “Feeling for Bone”, “Thin as a Twig”, I find all of it appalling. I mention Eugenics and Twitter flags me but it’s ok to inspire others to basically kill themselves by starvation because their ideal look is the Olsen twins. (They showed up the most on these accounts)

When asked, over 60% of people with eating disorders said that Celebrities, Models, and Social Media played a large part in how they thought they should look. It’s hard to change something associated with “beauty” or the public’s idea of what should be “beautiful”. Believe me I know all too well. I’ve been on both sides of the scale and you will never please everyone so stop trying and worry about yourself.disturbios-alimentares

Part IV No More Mr. Nice Guy~ Focus on ECT Information

If and when you personally decide to undergo ECT it would be a good idea to do a few things first.

I wouldn’t get all of my information from the Doctor doing the procedure. Most likely he/she has done it more than a few times and no longer sees it for what it is. Try to get a fresh set of eyes. Talk to other people who have either had ECT or even RNs or Orderlies that work where they are done. I have found that these people have more sympathy, empathy, compassion, and insight when it comes to patients and families. After all they’re the ones who spend the most time with you, not the Doctor.

Keep in mind that everyone is unique. Not everyone reacts the same to anesthesia either. You can ask the Number 1 Scientist in the World and he will tell you that we will never know everything there is to know about the Human Brain in this lifetime. It’s a guessing game.

TWO TYPES OF ECT~ RIGHT UNILATERAL AND BILATERAL

Right Unilateral treatments usually have a slower response time for the patient. The Doctor places an electrode on the crown of the patient’s head and on the right temple. The patient is under anesthesia. A brief electrical pulse is sent through to the scalp causing the brain cells to fire in unison producing a seizure. This type of treatment usually has less memory side effects.

Bilateral treatment involves placing electrodes on both temples. There may be more memory side effects and is usually used for severe mental illnesses like Bipolar Depression with Psychosis, Manic Episodes of Bipolar, Catatonia, and Schizophrenia.

WHY?

Some Doctors believe the seizure itself alters the neurotransmitters in the brain causing it to “reboot” like a computer. Others believe the stress hormone is adjusted during the seizure or treatments. The stress hormone involves a person’s mood, energy, and sleep patterns.

NUMBER OF TREATMENTS

Normally a person receives 3 treatments a week. The total number of treatments ranges from 6 to 12. The average is 9 but I have seen patients that have had more than 20. Mild improvements may be seen after the first 3 to 6 treatments.

ME, MYSELF, AND I

My Doctor told me the best and fastest way for me to receive ECT was to go to the Hospital where he was on staff and tell them I was Bipolar and I felt I might harm myself. The Hospital would admit me and I would tell them about the ECT and they would perform the first treatment, after that my Doctor could do the treatments outpatient. I wasn’t expecting everything to go so badly. I didn’t expect it to leave so much damage, not just on me, but my sister and dad too.

It would’ve possibly been okay if a blip hadn’t shown up on my EKG. They didn’t feel comfortable doing the procedure at their facility because they didn’t have the equipment if I went into Cardiac Arrest. They were mostly a Psychiatric Hospital. They decided to send me to a Medical Hospital close by. Biggest mistake ever made. The Doctor was stuck in his ways, made his own rules, and liked to “punish” patients he thought disrespected him. It was a nightmare.

The actual procedure I don’t remember much of. I remember waking up feeling like someone was taking an axe to my skull. I was confused about the year and tears leaked from my eyes nonstop. I thought I was little, around 5. This lasted for most of the day. It frightened my sister so much I still think she hasn’t processed it. It was bad enough she told my father not to visit under any circumstances. I guess I kept asking when “Mommy was coming to get me” or when “Mommy was coming to visit”. This must have killed my sister. Our mom had passed away at least 5 years by that time. The Doctor told her and the staff that they couldn’t “correct me or tell me what year it was because it could be traumatizing”. So instead I leaked tears and asked for my Mommy with an axe in my head for almost 8 hours. I then had to go through flashes of my life and her death all over again to get back to the right time period.

I wouldn’t wish how I found my mother on my worse enemy. If it was enough to bring an extremely proud, never shows emotion, never cried in front of anyone, Navy man to his knees howling in pain with tears and snot running down his weathered face than you can only imagine how I took it.

The Doctor also overshot his mark. He didn’t follow the instructions given to him by my Doctor and I went from a Bipolar Depressive Episode to Extremely Manic. He also refused to give me my prescribed medication because he “didn’t believe in it”. He kept me longer because I embarrassed him in front of staff and patients. This was when a nurse who happened to live near me took me to the side and told me to “pretend, do whatever you have to or he will try to keep you as long as possible because you pissed him off”.

CONCLUSION

After I finally left that Hospital, a few weeks went by and I noticed that I was leaving the house, making a ton of jewelry, going places in other States! I was as close to happy as possible for about a year and that was after one treatment.

The problem is I don’t think I can go through the after effects again. It eventually worsened the Conversion Disorder. I am not sure how much it has effected my memory, I know it’s worse. There so much wrong with me it could be anything. It was a good year though.  (Pic is from Craigslist, a Papillon mix I thought was way too cute!)

It was a good year though.00g0g_7slmuwmsw5k_600x450