therapy

Living well with bipolar disorder

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This is a reblog from the blog the bipolar writer. The post if written by Allie, and I found it very informative and inspiring.

Reading it felt even more useful after the first day on a conference I’m on, where Allen Frances, a main contribution to the DSM-IV spoke. He told us more about the American mental health care system, and how hard it can be to get adequate help. Posts like these can help those who suffer from a mental health problem.

1 in 4 Americans suffer from a mental disorder, and out of those millions of Americans, 5.7 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, characterized by erratic moods consisting of mania (an elated state of being) and the more familiar depressive episodes. I am one of those 5.7 million Americans.

Bipolar disorder is often considered the “artist’s disease,” from Sylvia Plath to Vincent van Gogh exemplifying the creative bursts of energy, severe depressions, and unstable highs and lows that come with the disorder. There is a range of creative treatments that safeguard mood stability, including traditional medications and therapies that are universally recommended to treat bipolar disorder. Often, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and psychotherapy are the first lines of defense, alongside a good support system, to prevent mania and depression. However, three simple life changes can safeguard against serious bipolar episodes and help those who suffer from bipolar disorder maintain a stable, healthy lifestyle.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise – Healthy and Wise

Sleep is perhaps the most important preventer of manic relapses and a strong source of mood stability. Bipolar disorder is directly related to insomnia. The fewer people with bipolar disorder sleep, the more likely they are to become manic. The Center for Disease Control recommends seven hours of sleep daily for adults. Having a healthy sleep routine, such as an established bed time and avoidance of caffeine after 2:00 PM can help people with bipolar disorder achieve a good night’s rest. As someone who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has worked for years to combat insomnia, I have found that turning off screens (from televisions, phones, computers, tablets, etc.) an hour before bedtime and having a strong sleep routine where I turn in around the same time each night works wonders. If insomnia persists, one can talk to a doctor about sleep aids available by prescription and consider using Melatonin or a Circadian rhythm stabilizer (available over-the-counter).

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Exercise is another great mood booster, especially during depressive episodes and to combat the side effects of bipolar medications that often cause weight gain. The NIH recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. When you are active, dopamine floods your brain and gives you feelings of happiness similar to a runner’s high. This is especially important for bipolar disorder sufferers, whose serotonin levels are often imbalanced. However, staying active can be a challenge during depressive lows. I like to hike or cycle, which leaves me feeling satisfied and helps keep the pounds off from medicine. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it is biking or running, and watch as your mood improves.

Nourishing Your Brain, Nourishing Your Soul

Finally, good nutrition is directly linked to mental health, especially for those with bipolar disorder. Nourishing one’s body with healthy foods like whole grains, veggies, and lean meats, while reducing intake of fatty and sugary foods, and using probiotic supplements can improve mental health, buffering mood swings. I rediscovered my love of cooking healthy meals and have seen vast mood improvements since choosing a diet that works for me, specifically the low carb diet. Perhaps the Mediterranean or vegetarian diets will suit you? Experiment with food groups you like and remember to take probiotic supplements for a happy gut and brain.

Your brain, body, and emotions are all linked, bipolar or not, and with these healthy lifestyle changes, supplemented by the proper medication and therapy, bipolar disorder patients can not only survive but thrive.

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Stavanger

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I am at the airport right now, waiting for my flight to Stavanger. In Stavanger I will attend a three-day long conference where the main theme is ‘connections’. One of the main headliners is Judith Beck, widely known for her work with developing cognitive behavioral therapy. I’ve read some of what she’s written, and am excited to hear her talk about the therapeutic relationship. There will also be other known scientists and others who will talk about their work, and it will actually be hard to decide which mini-seminars I should attend while I’m there.

In addition to getting inspired, I will finally meet some old class-mates again. I’ve kept in contact with both of them since we became psychologists together, but since then one of my friends now has a little baby I still haven’t seen.

It is nice to sit here and wait for the plane. The last couple of weeks has been filled with everyday chores. We recently moved house, and that is a challenge in the best of circumstances. With two kids, it is even more busy and stressful, so sitting here, not needing to do anything, is luxurious.

Easy and complex

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Humans have always been fascinated by what we don’t understand. We love riddles, trying to figure out what we just haven’t grasped yet.

Loving complexity is easy, especially when it comes to people. Hidden layers under the surface are endlessly fascinating. If you discover that somebody turned out to be very different from what you thought, the world stops for a split second. You think: There’s so much I don’t know yet. I was wrong. And strangely enough it feels good, because broadening your perspective is meaningful. Maybe it’s even what life is all about.

Some of the most interesting people I’ve met, have also been the most complex. Different layers that leave you flabbergasted. How can a person consist of so many sides and still have one identity? One girl I know loves unicorns, but she can also be so tough that it surprises me. This contrasts makes me want to know her even more.

Is every person we meet complex? Has everyone we know sides we never knew about, experiences we never thought they could have? I still haven’t met enough people to give a scientifically answer, but I have been taken aback time and time again. Realization has hit me when I see that I really knew nothing about people I thought I understood.

I try to not judge people, both at work with my clients and in my own life. I also try to not be offended when people don’t like me, remembering that they have only seen some parts of me.

Complexity is easy. We crave it, we need it, we feel satisfied when we pursue it. We might not always get the answers we wanted, but we might have learned something new.

Fear of job loss should not stop you from going to rehab

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This post was provided to me by a fellow writer.

Fear of Job Loss No Excuse to Avoid Rehab

If you are a professional with a drug or alcohol problem, it’s likely you haven’t sought treatment for fear of losing your job or setting your career on the sidelines. But it’s no excuse. Drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc not only on your professional life, but can also ruin your personal relationships. The signs of drug and alcohol abuse can’t remain hidden forever and by not seeking treatment you put yourself at an even greater risk of losing your job or worse.

Key signs of addiction

Depending on your drug of choice, you may experience everything from weight loss to hallucinations and physical illnesses including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The more you use, the chances that your addiction will become noticeable become greater with each passing day.

Telling your employer you have a problem

According to U.S. News & World Report, more than 75 percent of addicts are also working adults. And telling your employer that you need time away for treatment is a daunting task. Before you make the decision, look at your company’s policy regarding drugs and alcohol. You may also be able to find information in your company health insurance plan. Schedule a meeting with your direct manager and your company’s HR department and be open and honest about the situation. There is a good chance your company has policies in place to provide protection for those seeking treatment for substance abuse. You may also be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of reasonable unpaid leave to recover from medical conditions.

Handling it quietly

If you choose not to discuss your addiction with your employer, there are ways to skirt the issue at work without negatively impacting your career. If you have vacation time saved up, consider using it to detox at an inpatient drug treatment facility. Start your admission on a Friday afternoon and you can spend an entire 10 days in treatment before returning to work. Once you return, you will need to maintain an open line of communication with your support network, whether it’s mentors, family or friends. You can also use resources that are readily available to you, such as outpatient treatment and exercise to prevent your chances of relapse.

Continuing care

Your recovery efforts will be largely shaped by your willingness to make conscious decisions regarding your addiction each day. You must commit to a sober lifestyle each morning and keep at the forefront of your thoughts your reasons for staying clean. Since stress is one major trigger of drug use, you’ll also need to find ways to lower your stress levels or learn to deal with negative situations without turning to drugs or alcohol. It’s important to avoid other unhealthy ways of dealing with workplace stress such as smoking and overeating, which the American Psychological Association insists only compound the problem.

Psychology Today explains that recovery is built on the pillars of community, purpose, home and health. You can use each of these to your advantage throughout your recovery plan. Your community can serve as your safety net, understanding your purpose will help you continue to contribute to the greater good, your home is a respite from the outside world and your health will give you the strength to continue fighting.

Whether or not you choose to discuss your addiction problems with your employer is a personal decision. However, you won’t do yourself any favors by continuing to go down a path of self-destruction. If you think you have a problem, seek help now or risk losing yourself deeper down the spiral of addiction.

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Recovery Tips for the Optimal You

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Recovery Tips for the Optimal You

This is an article by Adam Cook that he wanted to share on my blog.

Adam Cook is the founder of Addiction Hub, which locates and catalogs addiction resources. He is very much interested in helping people find the necessary resources to save their lives from addiction.

Addiction recovery is difficult. Its success is not measured quickly, but rather over a long period of time. People often speak of beating addiction, but the real challenge is not defeating one’s substance abuse but being able to successfully contribute to your recovery. Relapse can happen anytime, but it is also quite possible to avoid if one works hard and surrounds oneself in the right kind of support. There are ways to bolster ones recovery to ensure success in the long run.

One way to help maintain sustainable sobriety is through a holistic perspective. Holistic refers to a whole-body approach to dealing with conditions such as addiction. A whole-body approach treats not only the addiction, but also its causes, while simultaneously providing comfort and support so that long-term change is possible.

Create a healthier you through diet and exercise
Optimal physical health is crucial to successful recovery. One can ensure health by eating right and increasing their physical activity. Those who have dealt with addiction also might find that they are nutritionally challenged. Substance abuse is so diametrically opposed to healthy living that addicts’ diets are often horrendous. Bodies are physically ravaged from addiction, too, so nutrition is needed to repair damage.

This year, focus on your diet by incorporating more vegetables and good fats. All vegetables and fruits are healthful, but adding avocados and olive oil can make you feel more full and satisfied. Believe it or not, doctors and nutritionists now advocate for bacon as a component of a healthy diet. So enjoy a salad with bacon and avocado and watch your health improve, little by little.

Exercise is another way to improve one’s health holistically. Fitness helps build strength that is crucial for stamina during recovery. Exercise also can help push addictive behaviors out of one’s life. Exercise triggers similar brain chemicals that result from using substances. When people work out, they feel senses of elation and stamina. Both of these characteristics help in managing addiction.

More importantly, exercise and diet foster healthy living. When someone exercises and eats better, they tend to make other decisions that support both of these components of their life. When you have a great day working out, you are less likely to eat junk food, go drinking or skip sleep or rest. The positive quality of exercise and diet can help those fighting addiction to persevere.

Get outdoors and benefit from nature
When exercising, try to incorporate some outdoor activities in the mix. As helpful as exercise is to managing addiction, outdoor exposure is linked to increased mood. When you feel better, you are much more likely to strive to be better. Outdoor exercises that are helpful include hiking, walking, running, cycling and swimming. Each of these exercises can also be done indoors to some degree, but the natural element simply takes the experience to another level. Treadmills and stationary bikes are boring. A beautiful mountain vista is anything but boring.

Keep sobriety going with a positive hobby
Another way to support addiction recovery is through finding a positive hobby. It doesn’t matter so much what the hobby is – just make sure that it is something that you enjoy. The overall goal is to fill your life with positive and rewarding activities. Hobbies can bring joy to anyone’s life, but are especially beneficial for someone going through recovery.

By combining a healthy diet, exercise, outdoor exposure and hobbies, anyone who is going through addiction recovery can help power through the tough days. This fuel is key to sustained addiction management.

At peace 

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I am in a contemplative state. My mind is full of thoughts about life. I am thinking about some patients that has touched me, and the new job I’ve begun in. It is still amazing to me that I have come so far in my life. 

Now i will rest for a while,

Quote from Pinterest

Summertime gladness

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In two weeks we will be in Croatia. I can’t wait, but unfortunately have to. Not only that, these two weeks will be very busy, since I have much work to do. Due to a change in the group of patients I will work with, I have to say goodbye to many of my trauma patients (but not all, luckily), and that means overtime.

But, it will be worth it. I can process the loss of not seeing many of my lovely patients while lying on a beach in split, and look forward to all the wonderful people I will see in my office come August.

What Do EMDR, Running, and Drumming Have in Common?

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• September 1, 2015 By Lisa Danylchuk, EdM, LMFT, E-RYT, GoodTherapy.org Topic Expert

Nope, this isn’t a strange riddle where someone is found in the desert in a scuba suit. The answer to the question posed above is actually pretty simple: brain integration.

What is that? Excellent question; I am glad you asked. As you may know, we have two hemispheres of the brain. Neuroscience is a relatively young field, and we are continuing to learn more about the complexity of the brain and its function with time and as research evolves. We do know that there are different roles played by different sides and areas of the brain, and that integrating neural networks appears to be helpful in resolving traumatic memories.

The success of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in treating trauma and mental health challenges teaches us that alternating right- and left-brain stimulation, via visual, auditory, or tactile experience, helps facilitate emotional processing. Through the simple act of holding something that buzzes between your right and left hand, or listening to something shifting from your right to left ear, a memory that was once charged with emotion can become less distressing. During the process, it is common for relevant associations to arise, for memories of thoughts and body sensations to arise. With support, this process can facilitate lasting and integrated healing.

Find a Therapist for Trauma / PTSD

Right-left brain stimulation may sound like a scary, science fiction-like process, but I assure you there is no electricity involved in this type of therapy. Your body receives input in the form of sound, touch, or sight, without any added energy.

Along with helping us process emotions, EMDR can help build up positive memories, experience, thoughts, and feelings. We call this resourcing, and use imagined or real resources to cultivate feelings of peace, nurturing, protection, and wisdom. In addition to and as part of processing negative experiences, it is crucial to cultivate the positive, sometimes the opposite of what occurred in the experience of trauma.

Think about your life for a moment and ask yourself: when do I engage in an activity that engages my right and left brain in alternating rhythm? How do I feel before, during, and after the fact? How can I incorporate this information into my healing path?

How do walking, running, and drumming factor in? Think about it for a moment. When you walk, run, or drum, you are using your body in a rhythmic way, alternating the stimulation or use of your right and left brain throughout the activity. Have you ever gone on a hike or run and felt that you were sorting through your thoughts, developing new insights, or becoming less distressed about something? We know that exercise has many benefits; EMDR highlights for us some of the mental and emotional benefits.

There are a million ways to alternate right- and left-brain activation, including dance, yoga, and some tai chi moves. People have naturally gravitated toward right-left movements in many healing rituals across the world. Think of how many sacred rituals involve drums, movement, or voyages on foot. Understanding brain integration, plasticity, and resilience gives us some insight into why these rituals have been effective and why they continue to be passed down through generations.

Think about your life for a moment and ask yourself: when do I engage in an activity that engages my right and left brain in alternating rhythm? How do I feel before, during, and after the fact? How can I incorporate this information into my healing path?

If you are looking to heal from specific traumatic memories, I highly recommend working with a skilled EMDR professional who can provide structure and guide you toward health and resolution. Consider how your own choices outside of therapy can support your process as well. Perhaps you will choose to walk or bike to your therapist’s office this week, or do a little dance after your session. Whatever you choose, may it serve your healing and integration.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org.

Protected: A walk to remember

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