Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bipolar Disorder, Pressure and Anxiety

One thing that I have definitely found, after having manic depression for 20+ years, is that the more you rush around, the more wound up and manic you begin to feel. I call it The Bipolar Rush.

I am definitely a deadline motivated person, so even though there are many aspects of my disorder that I have a reasonable handle on, I frequently find that I feed my mania by not leaving myself enough time and hurrying from task to task.

So what can be done to avoid the manic rush?

Planning and Over Scheduling
Here are a few tips that I try to keep in mind:
  • Be sure to give yourself more than enough time; build "buffer time" right into your schedule to help absorb the unexpected events that take up time.
  • If you are going somewhere, get the essentials done FIRST. Before you allow yourself to move on to other tasks, make sure that you have gotten everything, including yourself, ready to the point that you can walk out the door at a moments notice. Place all the items that you are taking with you on the counter (and don't forget the keys).
  • If you have to leave your home early in the morning, be sure to get everything ready the night before. Heading out the door will be a much more relaxing experience.
  • If you've gotten to that point where there is not way to avoid rushing at the moment, lay off the caffeine! In the analogy that rushing around with bipolar disorder is like feeding a manic fire, adding caffeine is akin to throwing gasoline on the flames. Grab a decaf!
  • Remember, you don't have to get everything done today!

My own rushing around is what prompted me to write on this topic today. So, yup, I've been a bit on the hypomanic for the past few days.


Manic 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 depresseD

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a mental health professional .

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Manic Depression and Routine

In an earlier posting I discussed sleep and bipolar disorder; how regular sleep can help you manage your manic depression. But it isn't just regular's regular everything. Routine is very important (an often very difficult to maintain) if you have bipolar disorder.

Changes in routine can start your mood pendulum swinging. The disruptions to routine can be changes in sleep (as mentioned earlier), dealing with the holidays, getting a cold or the flu or even fun, positive things, like going on vacation.

Can't Prevent Most Unexpected Events...So What Do You Do?
We can't control every aspect of our life, so when these disruptions to routine happen it is important to do all that you can to stay mentally healthy.
  • Remember to take your meds.
  • Get enough sleep!
  • Don't start drinking loads of caffeinated or alcoholic beverage.
  • If you are down with a cold or the flu, really take care of yourself rather than taking pills that only mask the symptoms.

I was prompted to write today's entry after coming down with the flu bug that has been traveling through my family for the past couple weeks. While my fantastic husband took care of the kids, I slept, and slept, and slept.

It is not uncommon for me to begin a swing toward depression after being sick, but even with my flu symptoms, I am feeling very balanced mentally. The key is being aware that you many be vulnerable to mood problems when you are ill and taking the important steps to reduce the chance of a swing.

Manic 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 depresseD

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a mental health professional.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Manic Depression and Debt

For those with bipolar disorder, manic-induced spending can be a devastating problem that results in substantial debt and sometimes even personal bankruptcy. I am a women with bipolar disorder who also has a degree in psychology. My disorder is presently under control after years of struggling. Here is what I've learned, through experience, about bipolar disorder and creation of debt.

Treat the Root of the Problem First
If you, or a loved one, have piles of debt as a result of manic depression, the very first thing that needs to be done is to get treatment for the bipolar. See a psychiatrist, get on the appropriate medications and stay on them. Bipolar can't be overcome with mere willpower, it is an illness. The sooner you being managing your disorder, the sooner you can begin tackling the debt that you've generated.

Getting Help With Your Debt
If you have a sizable debt, one of the best things that you can do to manage and eliminate it is to enlist the help of a debt consolidation service. But choose wisely. There are many services out there. Evaluate a few programs, and also use the better business bureau website to investigate any services that you are considering. Non-profits are the most trustworthy, but an ".org" website doesn't mean that the site is non-profit. So really do your homework before selecting a debt consolidation program. To help manage my debt, I used Consolidated Credit, and it worked well for me, but this was years ago, when the debt consolidation industry was new. There are probably many more options today, and with the country in economic crises, there is also no shortage of scams.

How a Debt Consolidation Service Can Help
A debt consolidation service can assist you in getting a lower interest rates on your credit card debt. These services also typically prohibit you from getting new credit cards (They may even dump you if you try to register for a new card). The lower interest rate and single payment can make it easier to quickly pay down your debt. They also organize your payments so that you are always paying off the highest interest debt first.

Early in my struggle with manic depression, my spending was WAY out of control. I had around 30K in debt. This wasn't a student loan or secure debt, such as a home or car loan. This was a debt based on buying things I didn't need while I was in a hypomanic. It took more than five years to pay off my debt, but I did it with the help of a consolidation service and listening to a lot of Suze Orman (finance guru) books on tape. You can get your bipolar under control and get out of debt too.

Manic 10 9 8 7 6.5 5 4 3 2 1 depresseD

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a mental health professional .

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bipolar Disorder and Sleep

In the last post I mentioned how, in a hypomanic state, someone with bipolar disorder can feel energized and not want to sleep, but lack of sleep can trigger mania.

Reduced sleep isn't merely a symptom of mania, getting too little sleep can actually precipitate manic and hypomanic episodes. Research has revealed that up to 65 percent of bipolar patients who had a manic episode had experienced a disruption in their sleep routine prior to the episode.

Even Just a Small Change In Sleep Routine Can Be a Problem
And it doesn't have to be a dramatic change in your bedtime routine. Manic episodes can result from something as simple as staying up extra late to watch a little more TV to more serious disruptions to your routine brought about by some kind of dramatic, life-changing event.

Stop the Insomnia-Mania Cycle From Escalating
Once a sleep-deprived person swings toward mania, he or she may then feel even less need for sleep. This mania-insomnia cycle can then continue to make the mania worse. So definitely speak to your psychiatrist or psychologist if you find yourself starting to keep late hours and feeling the manic chaotic energy begin to build.

Moodie Moment
Once when I was in a hypomanic-insomniac state, I painted the entire basement in a night. May sound productive, but my mania escalated and I became very dysfunctional, with racing thoughts, jitters, pressured speech (talking FAST) and severe irritability. It wasn't fun.

So next time you find yourself, at 1 a.m., trying to choose between painting the basement or going to bed...catch some Zs!

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a mental health professional .

Do You Have Bipolar Disorder? Here's what you need to do.

If you are reading this blog, I assume that you are:
  • interested in bipolar / manic depressive disorder
  • may have manic depressive disorder
  • know someone who has manic depressive disorder
So I thought that the best post to start with would be the basics...what you absolutely must do if you or someone you know is bipolar.

Bipolar vs. Manic Depression
Before I give you the short list, just some clarification on terminology. You will see me using the terms 'bipolar' and 'manic depression' interchangeably. As I explained in my first entry, I prefer the term 'manic depression' because I think it better describes what it feels like to have this disorder. However, 'bipolar disorder' is the terminology used by professional mental health care providers. So both terms essentially refer to the same disorder. Use the one that you prefer.

What You Need to Do Right Now
If you (or someone you care about) has,or may have, bipolar disorder, her is the short list of 'musts':

1. See a mental health care professional.
What Is a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a MD or DO who specializes in mental health. He/she can professionally assess your condition and prescribe medication.

What Is a Psychologist?
A psychologist is a PhD in mental health. He/she can provide professional counseling to help you cope with your disorder.

Who Do You See First?
You should see one of each, but, I feel that it is best to start with a psychiatrist so that he/she can help you find the right combination of medications to keep your disorder in check. A psychiatrist can also recommend a good psychologist for you to see next.

2. Get on, and stay on, medication for bipolar disorder.
When you are just beginning to recognize that you have manic depression, it is sometimes difficult to accept, and some people are resistant to the idea of taking medication.

But if you do have the disorder, you absolutely need to be on medication that will effectively regulate your symptoms. No exceptions.

Why it May Be Difficult to Take Your Meds When You Feel Good
Manic depressive disorder is an insidious, deceptive disorder that can, when you are 'up', make you fell as if you do not need (or want) medication. Moderate 'highs' (hypomania) sometimes feels good. You get a lot don't, have ideas flowing and don't feel that you need as much sleep. However the fun of hypomania can quickly escalate into the nightmare of a true manic episode with racing thoughts, irritability, difficulty concentrating and insomnia (sound familiar?). Don't be fooled by your disorder. Get on and stay on meds.

Why it May Be Difficult to Take Your Meds When You Feel Bad
When you are feeling depressed, you may by apathetic about taking meds. You feel so bad that everything is a colossal effort. You may feel like you don't deserve to feel better. Regardless of why, there are many reasons that someone who is profoundly depressed can find to justify not taking the meds that they need to feel better. If you regularly stay on your meds, they can help prevent you from getting to this point. If you are already at this point, take your meds anyway. Make the effort to call your psychiatrist and tell him/her that you are very depressed and having difficulty taking your medication. However you manage it, take your medication as prescribed.

An Ounce of Prevention...
It is the consistency of taking you medication that will help even out your swings in mood and will, over the long term, keep you on a more even keel.

The time stamp on the post that I put up yesterday says that it was posted at 9:30 pm or so. Actually, I was working on and revising my post until the wee hours of this morning. What does that mean??


Yesterday my Manic Depressive Self-Rating was a 7. I am feeling hypomanic; energetic, focused, don't want to sleep. I am taking my meds, but medication doesn't always resolve all bipolar symptoms. The meds help, and make the disorder more manageable.

Tonight, my goal is to get to bead early, and I will lay off the caffeine. Sleep, especially lack of it, can help launch a hypomainic state into a manic one, and I definitely don't want to go there. I'm probably a 7.5 on the scale today. Time to do what I can to put on the breaks!


Manic 10 9 8 7.5 6 5 4 3 2 1 depresseD

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a mental health professional .