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.
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.
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.
I went swimming earlier today, and although I was energized there and then, now I’m dead wood. Tomorrow will be a hectic day too, since work will be busy and then I have to go right to the city center for an memory event I’ve arranged together with the library in Bergen. The memory expert is a well-known man who almost won the Norwegian talent-show, and I am lucky enough to know him. I love arranging events, but I get tired, too.
My boyfriend and his twins are traveling to Canada on Tuesday, and although I will miss them, it will also give me some peace and quiet. We have bought a new apartment and are in the middle of selling his, so some of the time I should be relaxing will be used for preparing the place for a photo-shoot. In addition to that I have planned another event, for children. A friend can paint faces, and if the weather is good on Saturday, we will be in the park and make little children happy.
On Friday I am meeting some friends for drinks, and Saturday I have to go to another party. That one will hopefully be fun, since it’s arranged by a doctor I work with. She is so nice and I have a little girl crush on her. There will be lots of people there I don’t know, but usually that is exciting and energizing. Next week I will really try to relax, by reading, making songs and puzzling. I hope my batteries will be filled to the maximum when the week ends, because this autumn will be a challenge. The mother of my boyfriends twins has moved, so we will have them full-time. They are super-cute, but also a handful when they get angry from some slight. But I think that the stability we will provide in our new home, will calm them. Hopefully.
Life is stressful sometimes, so I must remember to draw my breath and go with the flow. Only then can I handle the challenges coming up.
I was in Budapest for five days. I attended a Hungarian wedding, and felt a bit isolated at first. Around me people were laughing, chatting in a language totally foreign to me. But then I met a British, wonderful man that managed to shift my perspective. That doesn’t happen everyday, especially not when you’re lost in translation, feeling like a bleep on the canvas of the universe.
We met after the wedding and he made my head spin. Being challenged in what you believe is unsettling, and for a moment there it felt like I was falling into a black hole. We talked about the universe giving you what you need, and also about space-time. The concept was somewhat familiar to me, but my head starts aching when I’m thinking about the mystery out there. I told him about particles being at two different spots at the same time, and he told a story about just that, but with humans: He was together with two friends, where one of them sat in the bed opposite him and the other friend. Suddenly this friend was in the bathroom at the other end, and they had not seen him walk over there. The friend who suddenly was at another space, did not understand he suddenly was there, too. I didn’t believe this story, so I will need verification from his friends, but it made me think about how little I know about this world. I recently read an article about consciousness where the author proposes a solution to the unfathomable mystery of our minds and souls. He compared ‘a common consciousness’ with dissociative identity disorder, where many personalities exists in the same body. He said that this might just answer the question related to how every human beings consciousness is completely unique: If consciousness exists all around us, even in other materials like plants, and it still can be unique for every creature, dissociative identity disorder might provide some answer to what scientists have struggled with for centuries.
Other than these discussions, I found a really good friend.
Am including some pictures from Budapest, a truly beautiful city.
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.
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.
On Friday I’m going back to Budapest to attend an wedding. I haven’t seen Zoltán for ages, so this will definitively be an emotional reunion. I will be at the wedding a whole day, and on the site we can swim, play table-tennis or use a canoe. I will sleep in a tent before I go back to Budapest on Sunday. I look forward to meeting new people and celebrating true love. I am excited about being in Budapest again too. Last time I only had two days there, and now I will have two more before I go back home. Any recommendations about where I should go?
I am adding some picture from last time I was there.