Tag Archives: Brain chemistry

10 things about my Bipolar Disorder you didn’t know

1)     I am not sick!  Nor am I any more crazy than you!  (Are you sure? Hmm, actually, yeah.)  My brain might function differently than yours,  but other than that,  I am just… me.

2)     I can be sick, and/or indisposed,  at times,  when for one reason or another it is too hard for me to handle my mood swings or I end up in a particular nasty or difficult mood.

3)     Bipolar Disorder does not define who I am.  There is a whole lot more to me than swinging along on my mood-swing.

4)     There is so much to learn from all my moods,  as I experience a whole range of emotions that ‘normal’ people do not.  Yes, it’s definitely a tough road to deal with it on a consistent basis,  but hey,  is your life so easy-peasy?

5)     I don’t need to be ‘cured’ – I was born this way and I have not known anything different.  I might not recognize myself anymore…  Now, that is a scary thought!

6)     Even though I hate my meds and I’d like to chuck ’em out of the window from time-to-time,  I am med-compliant.   The consequences of doing so keep me from doing it.  No visit to the p-ward for me,  if I can help it,  thank you very much!

7)     Having regular consults with a psychiatrist doesn’t mean I am crazy.  The stigma it carries unfortunately doesn’t stick to me.  I like my guy!

8)     Because I have ‘talk-therapy’,  it has helped me deal with a lot of ugly stuff in my past,  I’m getting to know my real self and I am learning an awful lot in the process.  I just love my counselor!  (And no,  you can’t have his number,  I have sharing-issues 🙂 )

9)     It’s really neat what I can accomplish when I am hypo manic!  Of course,  I need to keep it in check and thankfully I have some peeps helping me with that.  And some meds  (which I truly hate!)  to bring me down when necessary.

10) It’s okay to be me.  Well,  sorta.  Am on my way to self-acceptance.  Which includes ALL of me,  not just my ‘Bipolar-side’.

Disclaimer: Please,  note that this list reflects only me,  my view on & my experience with my Bipolar (Disorder) traits.
Also,  I have had 5 terrible,  difficult,  excruciating years behind me that brought me to this place with the help of some very important peeps.   This is how I see it right now,  which is subject to change 🙂

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Living with bipolar traits is my normal life. And no, I am not sick or disordered, thank you very much!

One of the hardest things I find myself dealing with on a daily basis, is figuring out why I feel the way I feel.  The answer to this question is important,  because it decides how I will deal with myself and my emotions. 

The problem is:  it is so damn hard to distinguish if I feel as I do because of my brain chemistry,  or because there was a trigger.  In other words: are the chemicals in my brain misfiring and making me feel depressed / manic without any other reason than the fact that is the way my brain is working? 

It is important for me to know the answer as that will cause me to treat myself differently,  depending on the reason why I feel the way I do. 

Say,  if it is my brain chemistry making me feel yucky and depressed,  I will try to ignore the tug to stay in bed,  do nothing and hibernate.  I might not be able to accomplish much,  but I still will try to function to the best of my ability and try to be happy with anything I will be able to accomplish that day.

However,  if something triggered my depression,  then I will have to figure out what exactly  the trigger consists of.  Is it a thought I had that made me sad and pulled me down?  Is it a certain smell that brought bad memories to the surface?  Did somebody say something to me that caused me to start thinking negatively about myself?  Is it because I made an assumption based on a situation, a response, or a lack thereof?  Is it some past trauma that is rearing its ugly head? What is IT?  Sometimes I simply don’t know.  But once I know what the IT is,  I have to deal with IT. 

If there is a good reason to feel low / depressed,  I might give myself a break.  For instance,  right now after returning from my 3,5 week trip to Ukraine I have so many impressions to process.  I am in touch with my key people,  but other than that I keep a low profile and take a lot of rest.  Which means I sleep a lot even during the day.  But that is okay.  For now.  But next week I will pick up my active life,  if I feel like it or not.

Why is it so important to find the answer to the question?  Because if I let  my feelings go,  I might end up in a depressive state that will pull me deeper and deeper,  which might happen slowly or very fast.  Or the opposite might happen,  and I end up being (hypo)manic and maybe even paranoid.  Either state can,  once it is full-blown,  last for months and it will take hard work plus usually additional meds to get out of it.  Neither is to be desired.

That is one big reason of why I am in counseling:  to learn how to deal with all those IT’s that fill my life (un)aware.  IT’s can be so sneaky and creep up on you when you are not looking.  Even when I know what IT is playing it’s part,  I still need to work out how to respond.  Which is different depending on the reason behind IT.

You see,  I refuse to be a victim of this so-called ‘illness’.  I AM NOT!  This is the way I was born,  the way I have been made,  and it is okay.  I want to add a BIG note,  though,  that it has taken me quite a while (years) to come to accept the fact that I am labeled as “suffering from Bipolar Disorder”.  I rebel against being labeled “mentally ill”.  I hate the fact that this label causes me trouble being insured for health and for when I die (because of the chances I might end up in hospital and the higher chances of suicide).

I want to scream from the roof top: I AM ONLY DIFFERENT,  I AM NOT ILL, DISABLED  OR DISORDERED!!! 

Yes,  there will be times when I won’t be able to handle my bipolar traits very well.  So what?  Yes,  I need some close people around me to help me deal with the fall out of my bipolar traits.  So what?  Yes,  there will be times I will talk your head off.  So what?  Yes,  there will be times I will hibernate and be invisible.  So what?  Yes,  my brain functions different from yours and apparently I deal differently with emotions.  So what?

I don’t know any better,  for me it is normal,  it’s just the way I am.  SO WHAT?!?

To be continued!!!

Related post: Are you ‘normal’?

Picture courtesy of: The Franklin Institute

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Bipolar Disorder: What is it?

What is Bipolar Disorder?
A mood disorder.  How does that sound?  Yeah,  well.  If you think about it,  we are all bipolar.  We all experience moods and emotions that change from high to low and back.  So we are all happily swinging about.  Or not – and there is the crux.  When the mood swings become uncontrollable we speak of a mood disorder. 

How do you catch, eh get  it?
In essence,  BD is a chemical imbalance in the brain.  It’s got to do with neurotransmitters,  those little things that transport impulses between nerve cells.  As it runs in families,  researchers believe there is a genetic component to BD as well.  BUT,  the real cause of BD has not yet been found.

What’s in a name?
The old name for BD is manic-depression.  This probably rings a bell with many people.  In 1980 when the third version of the Big Book of descriptions of psychiatric illnesses was written (DSM-III to be exact),  the name officially changed to BD.  There were several reasons: the word manic-depression carried a huge stigma;  it was hoped that  the word BD would give more clarity;  it was recognized that there is a much wider variety of BD. Personally,  I like BD more.

Types of Biplor Disorder and complicating factors
BD is described as a spectrum,  because of the various types and complicating factors involved.  There is BD I, II and cyclothemia;  and complications such as mixed states, rapid cycling and bipolar psychosis .  Okay, if I have lost you,  please keep reading and it will get totally clear, I promise!

BD I involves generally speaking deep depression and mania which can include hallucinations and delusions.  One instance of mania is enough to qualify for this diagnosis.

BD II is a somewhat milder form in that the person does not reach full-blown mania, which is therefore called hypomania.  Deep depressions are part and parcel of it.  Hypomania is hard to spot.  People can go without a diagnosis for many years or get misdiagnosed with,  for example,  Major Depressive Disorder.

Cyclothemia is a mild form of BD with milder symptoms,  but still enough to be able to disrupt your life.  Not easy to diagnose either!

A mixed state is when a person experiences either both (hypo)mania and depression at the same time or have them follow one another rapidly.  As in minutes or hours,  rather than days.

Rapid cycling means that a person has more than 4 episodes of depression,  (hypo)mania or mixed state a year.

Bipolar Psychosis is a break with reality and a loss of reasoning,  which can occur both during (severe) depression or mania.

Related posts:

Symptoms 

Medical treatment

Peeps that are important

Why mood charting?

Mood charting revisited

How to help people with a mental illness

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Nasty Bipolar Symptoms…

Hello there 🙂

Nice to see you back again!  Please,  leave a comment,  I’d love to hear from you.  Ask me a question,  give me advise,  tell me what looks good (or not).  Well,  maybe skip the bit between brackets….

Just so you know,  I am working on a new page about Bipolar Disorder.  Many of you might not really know what I am talking about,  so I am gonna try to explain a complex illness…. wish me luck! 

At the moment my brain feels like mush. Also, in want of a better word, I feel  lightning (yes, as in ‘thunder and lightning’) going on in my head.  That is a very unpleasant feeling.  It’s been a while since I have felt that.  

With each passing day I am feeling more depressed,  which sucks.  The up side is that I have still been able to DO something.  I studied for a bit,  I worked on my blog for quite a bit,  I cooked – which is a major accomplishment as I haven’t done so for two days.  So it has not all been bad today,  but why does it then feel soooooooo bad?!?!  Sucky brain chemistry…

As I didn’t start this blog to whine,  it’s a good time to call it a day!

CUSoon!

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