The Bipolar Blogger Network & Why I Smell Like Salsa!

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T.G.I.F.!!!

I’ve had a weird week, but I’m relieved there hasn’t ben any serious drama in my neck of the woods.

Hurrah! 

A few days ago I got some good news: I was accepted into the Bipolar Blogger Network.  I’ve known about the BBN for over a year, and while I wanted to apply for membership, I kept procrastinating.  (It wound up taking me less than two minutes to email them!)

I’d already been following a third of the BBN bloggers, and I’m sure that the other two thirds listed are worthy blogs to follow.  I encourage you to peek at their website to check out the assortment of bloggers.  If you’re interested in joining, please contact them, as they’re constantly on the lookout for blogs to add to the network.  

Here’s a brief explanation about the Bipolar Blogger Network’s philosophy:

“The Bipolar Blogger Network is the brainchild of a couple of friends bemused by the lack of networking options for those with various flavours of bipolar.  We intend for this place to be a hub for all who have an experience to share. If you have any questions, queries, comments, or a desire to join the network, feel free to drop us a line!  We are always happy to add new bloggers to the network; in joining, you make us all stronger together by sharing your slant on life with bipolar.  (http://www.bipolarbloggernetwork.com/)

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Meanwhile, a few weeks ago I found a blog called “The Oil Experiment” focusing upon the blogger’s experience in using essential oils for health concerns.  Blogger Michelle Rocker addresses specific essential oils that she uses on her children who have autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.  Michelle uses essential oils for anxiety among other maladies.   

Even though I love essential oils, when I first read Michelle’s blog post about bipolar, her son and essential oils, I was miffed.  My first thought was,

How stupid and unethical for someone to suggest essential oils as a treatment for bipolar disorder!!! 

Over ten years ago I worked at the College for Botanical Healing Arts (www.cobha.org) which offers extensive training in their essential oil practitioner program.  In 1998, COBHA’s practitioner program required the student to complete 440 hours of vigorous classroom studies plus an internship and exam.  It wasn’t a hippy dippy curriculum to say the least.  The directors are world-renowned experts in the field of essential oils, and the other teachers had tons of experience and credibility.  From my time there as an office manager, I learned a bit about the basic therapeutic use of essential oils.  

I only took a few of COBHA’s courses, including Level One, their introductory course.  I don’t recall learning about essential oils being used for bipolar disorder in the late 1990’s.  However, I hadn’t been diagnosed with bipolar yet, so bipolar wasn’t on my radar like it is now.  That said, my father had bipolar disorder and he was alive back then, so I would’ve paid close attention if we were taught anything about “e.o.’s” that could benefit his mood disorder.  

After reading more of Michelle’s blog regarding her children who have bipolar, ADHD, and Aspergers (and who she claims have benefitted greatly from using essential oils under their close M.D. supervision) I was curious about using the oils for anxiety.  I didn’t want to try using any essential oils for bipolar, however, as my lithium & my MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) are working well, thank God.  I don’t want to mess with them at all!  

 I purchased two essential oils from a friend.  I know these two e.o.’s (wild orange and cilantro) are safe for me to use in tandem with my MAOI.  (Those who take MAOI medication have food and alcohol restrictions.) I’ve used orange essential oil for years, and I’ve eaten cilantro for years.  I’m not allergic to either oranges or cilantro, and they aren’t contraindicated for consumption if taking an MAOI.  

I followed Michelle’s lead in putting a few drops of cilantro underneath each big toe (she places it on her toes due to the fact she dislikes the smell of cilantro and it’s also a reflexology point) and I put the orange on my wrists as she suggested.

I smelled VERY strongly of cilantro – this stuff is POTENT.  Luckily I like the smell of cilantro, but even so, it’s a little much for me.  I don’t mind smelling like salsa if my anxiety level drops!  It could be a worse smell, right?  I absolutely love the smell of orange – I’ve adored orange – and I think that its smell cheers me up rather than lowers my anxiety level.  Michelle implies in her anxiety blog post that cilantro is supposed to be the heavy-duty essential oil for anxiety.  (The link is posted below.)

So, what’s the verdict?  

I think cilantro essential oil helps in a subtle way, but I’ve only tried it a few times.  I’ll keep using it, perhaps in different spots than underneath my toe, and I’ll see if I notice a difference in my anxiety level.

During my next meeting with my psychiatrist I’ll ask his opinion about using essential oils for mood disorders. (I’ll make it clear that I’d use the e.o.’s in tandem with my meds, not in place of them!) I didn’t feel the need to ask him about orange or cilantro oils due to the fact these e.o.’s are food-derived and safe to combine with my MAOI.  I’ve been using orange essential oil for many years with no problems.  But I would want to ask my pdoc about the more obscure essential oils that aren’t food-derived, i.e. vetiver, melissa, frankincense etc.

Here’s Michelle’s post about using the essential oils for anxiety

http://oilexperiment.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/cilantro-essential-oil-anxiety/

Do you use essential oils? If yes, why & which ones do you use?  Do they help you?

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend everyone!
Dyane 🙂

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23 thoughts on “The Bipolar Blogger Network & Why I Smell Like Salsa!

  1. I know that when I had my son, I had a wicked case of postpartum depression. Like crying non stop, no matter what I did. I went to an apothecary and he gave me something that was peppermint and I could spray directly in my face and not worry about it burning my eyes or nose.. and it really did relax me a lot…. as far as when I was a doula, I think essential oils go along with an atmosphere, lavender, peppermint, lemon.. dimmed lights.. candles.. I have flameless candles that have a timer on them so they pop on about 9pm every night and it really is very soothing. I would absolutely never try to substitute oils for any part of my disorder. I have used rescue remedy instead of xanax to avoid panic attacks, but that just seems irresponsible.
    I always think of Carrie from Homeland, she is committed to her life of not taking her medications and just says “I’m really focusing on excercise” when everybody knows its only so long before Carrie goes Banana Sandwich on everybody.

    Eh but what do I know 🙂

    1. Loved your comment, Dramaqueen – thank you! You sound really wise to me, to be 100% honest! I’m so sorry you suffered with postpartum depression, and I’m glad that the spray helped you!

      Can you believe that despite my having been a huge Claire Danes fan when she starred in “My So-Called Life”, I’ve never seen a single episode of “Homeland”? For one thing, the genre doesn’t lure me, but I also heard a really ghastly story about her. It was from a reliable source that detailed Claire Danes being a total b*tch to a young fan, and while stars are not required to be nice to their fans by any means, it turned me off.

      Now that’s a digression and I commit that sin all the time; please forgive me.

      I’ve used Rescue Remedy on and off over the years, but I never really sensed that it helped me very much. I thought it was more of a placebo than anything else, although I tried the gum recently and felt more from that than from the tincture, but it’s $$$. Now, Xanax TOTALLY worked for me up to a point. I had the problem of getting addicted to it and then started getting into accidents and I knew I had to quit. I tapered off it (and other benzodiazepines) a couple years ago, and I will never touch a benzo again.

      Your flameless candles sound so nice. I want some!

      I agree with you to never substitute oils for meds. I think essential oils are powerful and they still have a reputation for being harmless & hippy dippy. I think they could potentially do major damage if not used the right way, and I’m still unsure of how they combine with my meds. I’m definitely going to talk to my psychiatrist next week about them.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! :)))

  2. Seems to me the most likely mechanism whereby essential oils might affect mood would be via association. Smells are very strong memory triggers and a smell you associate with relaxation or nurturing (e.g. your Mum’s cooking) would probably be quite effective at reducing anxiety. My first proper girlfriend used patchouli and nearly forty years later the smell of it still produces an immediate response in me – much of it below the waist.

    Lucky for you that you apparently didn’t get a whiff of cilantro during a prior traumatic experience.

    1. First of all, I have something very important to tell you, Cabrogal.
      Your great-great grandmother and my puppy have the SAME name:
      LUCY
      I love it! Your great-great grandmother sounded like a amazing woman (i.e. she was written about in the history textbook “Rivers and Resilience” by Heather Goodall and Allison Cadzow) and I think it’s wonderful that you descend from such a person.

      I finally read up on the meaning of “cabrogal” here, which includes more info. about your great-great grandmother, and it’s fascinating (such as her “rescue”!) – I was unaware of the Aboriginal connection:

      http://neurodrooling.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/cabrogal/

      Okay, now when it comes to essential oils, I completely agree with you that we have a powerful sense memory. You and I have very different reactions to the scent of patchouli. Yours sounds rather exciting, but my reaction is the opposite – it’s one big YUCK! I smelled way too much of the stuff *in combination with* atrocious body odors whilst I lived with and hung out with hippies during my college years.

      I’ve always liked the smell of cilantro and I’m very glad I don’t have bad associations with it. That said, this oil is super-potent and it does not float my boat after all. I want to use it when I go out in public (on my toe! Just my toe! Not my neck or wrists!) but even after using a teeny, tiny drop of it underneath each toe, I reek and it’s embarrassing to be in a room with others. I’m still going to use it but I’m not sure what my explanation will be to others when they sniff it too. “Oh, ha ha ha….I was just out in the garden….” I don’t know! I sure as hell don’t want to exclaim, “Oh, I use the stuff for my anxiety!” (I have social anxiety as you probably know….)

      Any ideas?

  3. This is why I follow you. I learned so much about opportunities to connect in the mental health and healing communities just from skimming. I’ll be back to read your entire post, after I get through the mountain of email I’ve neglected.

    1. This comment of yours is packed with awesome! (That’s my new favorite phrase – I can’t resist using it! Please forgive me!)

      I’m so happy that you gleaned something from the post, and good luck with conquering Email Mountain – I know how overwhelming that can be. Deep breaths! 🙂 Stretch every now and then!

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve been so inspired by the amazing progress you’ve made that you’ve shared in your blog – it gives us all hope. Woo hoo! Keep rockin’ it!

  4. I’ve never heard of essential oils being used for treatment. I’ve always avoided e.o. due to skin allergies, as well as other perfume-y items; my family has issues with scents (for example, scented candles), so this probably isn’t something I could do. I do take fish oil as recommended by my doctor, and that helps tremendously.

    1. Laura, that’s so good that you take fish oil – I do too. Years ago I read an entire book about the benefits of using high-quality, high dosage fish oil for mood (Dr. Andrew Stoll wrote it- I think it’s called ‘The Omega-3 Connection”) and his section on bipolar disorder & fish oil completely convinced me to go for it. My psychiatrist takes fish oil religiously as well.

      Re: e.o.’s So yes,I wouldn’t ever, ever try taking essential oils for bipolar instead of meds. I’m sharing Michelle’s info. here for those who are interested to know more and if they choose to try essential oils for mood disorders, will do so under the guidance of a psychiatrist. I’m so out of it I forgot where I wrote this, but I mentioned that one of my daughters is allergic to lavender oil. If she uses it diluted on her wrist like I do, she breaks out in a rash. I never heard of that reaction before, & lavender is supposed to be one of the most gentle oils. I can pour a whole bottle on my arm with no rash! But seeing her skin reaction made me realize that even if a “gentle” oil is used, one person’s treasure can be another person’s toxin. :0

      (p.s. thanks for reading and commenting – it’s always a pleasure to have you stop by! Sorry to write such a long comment on your most recent blog post, but what can I say, your topic inspired me. And I didn’t get angry writing it either, ha ha ha!)

      1. Oh, lavender has always bothered me, too. Which is a shame, because it’s a lovely scent.

        And no problem on the long comment…feel free to be inspired to write all you want!

  5. Dyane, thanks for putting in a good word for the BBN. Got me to visit the site again and peruse their offerings. Great stuff. Made me realize that I need to add resources to my site (which I just did), and send them US resources (just did, as well). Yay! Good deed for the day done thanks to my Dy. (Yes, you are MY friend, but I’m willing to share you.)

    1. Hi Kitt! I’m so pleased you’re a part of the Bipolar Blogger Network. We’re in good company, eh? And that’s super-cool that you added resources to your site, etc.- those are definitely great deeds.

      I’m glad you’re willing to share me with God knows who! ha ha! 😉 – no really, it warms the cockles of my heart that I’m your Dy! :)))))))

      I’m happy ’tis true!

  6. We have a teency tiny chapter about oils and scents in our new book. When researching, I was blown away that using aromatherapy to treat anxiety and other ailments dates back to the Roman Empire.

    I have experimented with smells for mood, mostly with lavender oil for since it’s my favorite and I believe it really does something to calm me down, however unable I am to quantify it. I don’t always use it when I’m feeling stressed or anxious and probably should more often. (I would use it more if my cats didn’t knock it down and play soccer with it!)

    We also use a concentrated Yankee Candle Meyer Lemon spray I love. It’s almost empty 😦 We also use Zebra Sprinkles for more positive smells and light them at night in the living room.

    Congrats on the BBN kiddo. I should have said this first! Do forgive.

    1. Hey Lady W.,

      I should have mentioned in this post that my copy of your new (& may I mention ****bestselling***** woo hoo!!!!) “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival” has a section about essential oils – duh!!

      I remember when I first read it, I was REALLY impressed that you two thought out of the box and included that alternative option to try out, and I also loved your mention of light therapy.

      When I took the Level One intro. course at COBHA (College of Botanical Healing Arts school for essential oil practitioners) there was an entire class about the history of essential oils and yes, they go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back to being used in different cultures around the world. Pretty amazing when you come to think about it.

      I love good-quality lavender. Tons of the stuff grows up here in the Santa Cruz Mountains and so we have quite a few small businesses that distill their own oils and sell them at boutiques & health food stores. Lavender definitely chills me out. I brought a mini-diffuser, lavender & orange essential oils into the labor delivery room when I had Avonlea, my first daughter. The nurses all remarked on how nice the room smelled! 😉

      I LOVE lemon and orange essential oils & (you already know) that both are used to alleviate depression. My Dad had bipolar disorder & he *adored* the scent of the orange and lemon trees he cared for in his garden. He hung out around them a lot. The blossoms truly seemed to lift his mood. Dad always had some oranges sitting around in his Honda; some were fresh-off-the-tree, others not-so-much, as they were rotting. Unfortunately he tended to keep them all rolling around next to his Stradivarius violin case en route to his concerts. Luckily his case protected his violin from citrus harm.

      His ashes are beneath the orange tree. I just realized that the new owners of his house don’t know that, unless they read my blog!

      THANKS for reading! As always I’m honored!!!!!
      XOXOXOX
      Dy

  7. I have a ton of essential oils but I haven’t been using them regularly. I really want to get started but it always seems to get put off. I did use lavender through a diffuser when I was pregnant to help me fall asleep. It was really calming. I’ve always heard that grapefruit oil is good for depression but I haven’t read any statistics on it. I’m interested if there a have been others with bipolar or any mental illness that have benefited from them too.

    1. Hey there mamawithtrainingwheels! Thanks so much for commenting!

      That’s great that you have a diffuser & lavender + other oils. Yes, grapefruit is definitely supposed to help with depression as does orange and lemon essential oils. I remember other oils can help as well but I’ve forgotten exactly which ones

      The “Oil Experiment” blog I follow by Michelle Rocker has a whole section on how she has used essential oils to help her son with bipolar disorder under doctor supervision – here’s the link below.

      Take care and p.s. I’m really proud of you for the incredible hard, consistent work you’ve done over the past month as you’ve read Covey’s book! :))))

      http://oilexperiment.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/bipolar-essential-oils-introduction/

      1. Hey Dyane!

        Thank you for the link, I’m excited to learn more about this. My husband will love it too!

        Thanks for the compliments, I’ll be honest I’m glad the experience, but it’ll be nice to complete it too. Somedays I really want to crawl into bed early. Although most nights I am excited and eager to share my thoughts and my day.

        It’s also been a great to push myself to write, I’ve been liking that aspect of this challenge as well. Get the creative/journaling juices flowing.

  8. Congratulation on the BBN. You deserved it. I hope and pray that you keep on the path of success like this. I haven’t tried any of the essential oils at any time in my life but I do believe in their medicinal effects. Like my mom used to give me clove oil for tooth ache and it used to work. I am not sure if it the same thing but I would love to think about it. Although I dont wanna smell like salsa. We use cilantro as part of our cuisine so I will be smelling like one of my Indian curries 😀
    It was nice to read your blog after having a relaxed mind after so long. love ya… keep writing !

    1. I loved your story about your Mom using the the clove oil, Zeph! That’s so cool that it worked on your poor tooth!

      Thanks for your email about that question I had, by the way and congratulations on the good news you shared with me! ;)))))!!!!!!!

      I love you too and I promise to keep writing. I hope to read one of your blog posts soon, but I’m patient – write when you feel like it! sending you a big, bear hug xoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Dy

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