Missing My Blogging Pals Soooooo Much!

Lucy & Dy Xmas

 Dyane and Lucy on Christmas Day, Alpine Valley

 Hello my friends!

I’m thinking of you while we’re in beautiful, snowy Alpine Valley. We’re staying in a small cabin called “The Munchkin” (the place lives up to its name!) with no internet connection. For those of you aware of my ‘net addiction, this is a definite challenge. I’m publishing this post at a “hot spot” in the Alpine Meadows parking lot – brrrrr!  It’s more like a freezing-cold spot.

What I miss the most about the internet is my daily dose of reading your blogs! I went from an hour a day, keeping current with your posts, to nothing. I remind myself that I can catch up when I return home. I’ve also been Facebook-free and Twitter-less, which has been much easier than I expected. I check email every few days as I’m expecting some work-related messages, but I stay online under five minutes instead of my usual….oh, I’m too embarrassed to tell you!

When it comes to changing schedules, even during a vacation, I get nervous about how my mood will be affected. Having a predictable schedule over the past sixteen months has been good for me. Up here without any concrete plans set in place, I’ve had anxiety in the mornings, which sucks. But thank God depression hasn’t struck; this is significant. I’ve been depressed in this idyllic area before, which shows that depression doesn’t care where you are or what the circumstances may be – it can descend when you least expect it.

A powerful tool that’s keeping my bipolar depression at bay is following the guidelines of my exercise hero, the psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan

(For specific details about what to do and why to do it, please read Dr. Alsuwaidan’s brief blog article at:

http://kuwaitmood.com/exercise-mood-part-iii-from-science-to-action/

– please read it before the New Year! I don’t want to sound like a cult member, but this brilliant psychiatrist’s advice, which he follows himself, can change your life for the better!)

Each day I’ve walked on the steep, icy Alpine Valley roads for thirty minutes as recommended by Dr. Alsuwaidan. Yesterday a moderate snowstorm hit the area as I took off on my walk, and yes, I hesitated going, but the snow wasn’t falling that hard! I could always turn back. I’ve seen freaky athletes running on these treacherous icy roads, so if they can run, I can walk. I wore good cold weather gear, and I went my merry way. It was actually fun to walk in the freshly fallen snow, a gorgeous, peaceful sight! Every day that I’m able to stick to my exercise routine I feel that I accomplished something positive. Moreover, I feel more grounded, and alert.

Yesterday I took the girls ice skating at Northstar’s rink while Craig hiked with Lucy in the snow. I noticed a couple of pre-teens clutching their i-Phones on the rink. They stared at their phones instead of ahead of them. Talk about not being present for the experience! I felt sorry for them. There was also the danger factor, as some speedy skaters circled the rink who gave me the impression that they wouldn’t care that much about colliding with a tween glued to her phone. I don’t have a fancy phone but even if I did, I’d put it away on that rink. I had my two girls to protect as well as myself!

Taking a break from staring at my computer screen to keep track of Facebook status updates and tweets is resoundingly healthy for me. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve derived an enormous amount of pleasure, education (yes!) and more from social media. I had simply gotten too enmeshed in it. When I get home, I plan to reduce the amount of time I spend online once and for all because I’ve proved to myself that I can do it without spontaneously combusting.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Solstice, Kwanza, Hanukkah or whatever holiday you celebrate. I’ll post next year (next weekend, ha ha) to let you know if I’ve suffered internet withdrawal symptoms yet. I’ll reply to any comments made here and on my previous post after I go home. In the meantime, take good care of yourself.!

Love,

Dyane

p.s.   If you haven’t had a chance to read my December International Bipolar Foundation blog post about my different take on exercise you can find it here:

 http://www.ibpf.org/blog/different-take-exercise-and-why-i-want-you-join-me

p.p.s. I can’t help but lovingly nag/encourage you to start doing 30 minutes a day of exercise, especially if you have bipolar disorder. It’s my A.C.E.-certified personal trainer background emerging once again. If your depression is so bad that the idea of exercise makes you want to hurl, please put this info. in the back of your head for when you start feeling a little better.   If you can try to do 5 minutes (read Dr. Alsuwaidan’s blog post first about what/how to work out) and then build up from there, I’ll send you a little gift!

 p. p.p.s Visit the link copied below at my friend Kitt’s blog to listen to Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan’s International Society for Bipolar Disorders-sponsored webinar. It’s about eating chocolate to lose weight and gain muscle – just kidding! – it’s about exercise for mood disorders with the focus on bipolar. 

I can’t stand listening to webinars, but this one is worth taking the time! The second half is especially convincing as to why you should aim to work out for mood – listen for the part about using exercise as a “panacea” for bipolar disorder….

http://kittomalley.com/2014/12/05/exercise-treatment-for-mood-disorders/

Avi and Ril

Rilla & Avi a.k.a. my munchkins in the Munchkin House

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Avi & Lucy loving the snow!

(It’s nine-month-old Lucy’s first time in the snow and she’s having a blast!)

 

A Temporary Farewell Video & Chocolate Nutrition Guidance

Photo on 2014-11-29 at 17.59 #2

Me on “Kitt Jr.”, my NordicTrack Elliptical – this is where I read your blog posts and

yeah, I need a lot of light to do that as I’m getting older…

Hello my wonderful friends!

I hope your week went well despite everyone being so stressed out with the holidays rapidly approaching.  

I’m preparing myself for sudden internet withdrawal “syndrome”. 😉  Beginning tomorrow I’m taking myself offline and it’s going to be hard.  While our three chickens will be lovingly cared for by friends at our home, we’re going to explore the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe…the very slopes where the extraordinary Shane McConkey used to ski. (To learn about my getting inspired by Shane’s incredible life in the documentary “McConkey” check out: https://proudlybipolar.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/and-now-for-something-completely-different-mcconkey/ )

Shane’s wife Sherry teaches a Squaw Valley yoga class that’s supposed to be very special, so I may try it, even though I’m not a yoga aficionado.  Given that she created a remarkable foundation in Shane’s memory helping many worthy organizations, it would be an honor to meet her, let alone be taught yoga by her.

Today was a super-gloomy and rainy.  On a whim I made a silly video to share with my Facebook network.  I thought some of you might enjoy it as well.  It’s me being wacky; this is who I am when I’m not depressed or suicidal, and I’m glad to be able to write that.  I never forget for even a second how grateful I am to be in a better place, and I want the same for of you.  

To that end, my next post is going to be an in-depth discussion of exercise specifically for bipolar disorder because I’m still amazed that I came out of a recent, brief depression so quickly.  (I’ll try to make it interesting – I promise.) I credit my meds for helping me get out of that awful state, but my intuition tells me it’s also because of the exercise I’ve been doing.  Speaking of exercise, yesterday the International Bipolar Foundation posted my monthly blog which is about exercise & mood:

http://www.ibpf.org/blog/different-take-exercise-and-why-i-want-you-join-me

but ironically, I found out some groundbreaking, convincing information on Tuesday specifically about exercise and bipolar that I’m excited to share with you very soon.  As I already had turned in my post to IBPF, I asked them to amend it, but they haven’t done it yet.  So please stay tuned for my post about that.

In the meantime, I wish you a weekend in which you take time to treat yourself well.  

Much love to you!

Dyane

My wackadoodle video link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOco8pDj_P0&feature=youtu.be

Coming Full Circle

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Years ago when I suffered with unrelenting bipolar depression, I wanted to connect with other people who understood what I was going through.  During that time I wasn’t using the internet very often.  The internet, in the form of online bipolar support groups and forums, could have helped me feel less alone with my agony, but it simply wasn’t on my radar. 

To this day I don’t know how I did it, but I formed a chapter of the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).  First I had to raise $125 to create a chapter. (I wish that DBSA could have underwritten the cost, but unfortunately they didn’t have the funds.) I had no money to spare, so I approached a popular Halloween haunted house located in my town.  Each year they selected a community organization to receive its proceeds, and I qualified for their generous donation!

Although I was very depressed, I hadn’t lost every bit of my sense of humor.  I found it funny that of all things a haunted house helped create a group dedicated to bipolar & depression support. I LOVE Halloween – it’s my favorite holiday, so I was pleased with the outcome.

With the credibility of the DBSA behind me and with access to their resources, I created a free support group for women with mood disorders.  As you can imagine, it definitely was NOT the right time for me to take on such a demanding project.  I was a complete mess with my bipolar disorder, but I felt motivated to form something that could help with my sense of isolation and help others as well.

The silver lining of that experience was that I learned what to do and what not to do regarding support group leadership, promotion, and management.  I contacted a therapist who agreed to accompany me pro bono to the first meeting who could give me me feedback.  I found a church that let me use their community room for free.  I publicized the DBSA group all over our county, and I drew upon my promotions experience which I gained while working at a Silicon Valley special event production company.

I contacted Peter, the young, ambitious editor of the Press Banner, our local newspaper.  I interviewed with Peter despite the depression and on top of that, horrid social anxiety. I still don’t know how I pulled that off either!  Peter wrote a feature article complete with a color photo of me and my girls, so I came out to my community in a big way about my mood disorder. Every residence receives the Press Banner in its mailbox each week, and almost everyone reads it.  I didn’t let the fear of social stigma stop me – I was focused like a laser on the DBSA group.  I think that knowing I’d be meeting women with mood disorders gave me the strength to reveal my own struggle in newsprint.

Here’s a snippet of the article at BP (Bipolar) Magazine on Facebook, as the article is no longer available in the Press Banner archives.  My girls are so little in this photo, unlike their Mom!  I wasn’t exercising at the time, and I was eating comfort food all day long, so I was much heavier back then.  

I love the optimistic title Peter chose for his article: “A New Day Dawning

https://www.facebook.com/bpMagazine/posts/214165082055695

Unfortunately after several months of DBSA meetings, I became too depressed to function.  Another member took over the leadership, but she was unable to sustain the group until I got well enough to return and didn’t renew the chapter.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t finished with forming support groups!  A couple years later I made the ultimately disastrous decision to taper off lithium.  When I first started tapering and became hypomanic, I created a new, independent group with a “natural, holistic” theme.  While I tried desperately to be able to live without medication, it didn’t work.  I relapsed and I had to be hospitalized for 3 weeks.  

After that nightmare hospitalization experience, I began seeing a new psychiatrist.  He was the one who eventually figured out medications that I credit with saving my life. I resumed taking lithium during the hospital stay, but when I was discharged I was still depressed.  My psychiatrist added an MAOI (monamine oxidase inhibitor) called Parnate, and Seroquel for agitated insonia.  This is the cocktail that restored my creativity and my quality of life.  Yep, I’m a walking pharmacy, but it’s totally worth it.

So next year I may try once again to offer a free support group for women in my area. I’d make it simple. It can be independent of the DBSA and I can do it through Meetup and/or Craigslist.  As far as I know, there are no support groups for women where I live in the mountains, and I know there’s definitely a need.   I know there are other women living with mood disorders in my community who are “closeted” and who would appreciate connecting with others for encouragement, a social outlet, and more.

What does “Coming Full Circle” have to do with anything?  Well, today the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance featured a profile about me called “Life Unlimited” on their website.  Here’s the link:

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_life_unlimited#Dyane_Leshin_Harwood

I’ve come a long way since I formed the DBSA chapter.  Someday after I finish writing my book, maybe I’ll swing by my favorite haunted house, apply for another grant, and bring a DBSA chapter back to life for our county.  You never know! 😉

 

And now for something completely different: McCONKEY

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Hello my friends!

Last Friday night I watched the documentary “McConkey” & it affected me much more than I expected it would.  The film portrays the life of a revolutionary, brilliant, often-hilarious ski/base jumping pioneer named Shane McConkey.  Its poignant, remarkable footage from all aspects of McConkey’s life makes it one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.

Over the past few years I heard about Shane McConkey during annual visits I made to Alpine Meadows, California.  Alpine Meadows is just a few minutes away from the stunning Squaw Valley, home to the McConkey residence. Squaw Valley is also where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held.

Until Friday, all I knew about Shane McConkey was from reading in Tahoe newspapers that he was beloved by Lake Tahoe residents and that he died at age thirty-nine in a base jump accident in Italy.  I had NO idea about his incredible life.

I laughed and cried while watching this film. I felt free to express myself fully since I was alone – I like it that way. (Everyone else was in another room watching an inane Disney show that sets my teeth on edge.)  

I’m not an expert skier or base jumper, but I had a couple things in common with McConkey.  I was born almost three months after he was. When McConkey was three, his parents divorced and his mom Glenn brought him to Santa Cruz, the area where I live.  He eventually moved away, ultimately trying out for the United States Ski Team.  It’s hard to believe he didn’t make the team, but he was clearly meant for bigger and better things.    

At the time of his death Shane McConkey left behind his three-year-old girl Ayla and his extraordinary South African wife Sherry.  Sherry eventually started the Shane McConkey Foundation with the mission to “carry on his legacy through random acts of kindness and charitable giving, and to inspire others to make a difference in the world at large.”  Sherry was heavily involved in the making of “McConkey” and was interviewed extensively on camera for the film.  I was amazed and inspired by this remarkable woman’s strength in the wake of her soulmate’s death.  

I must admit that it felt great to get lost in a film that didn’t mention bipolar or mental illness in any way, shape or form.  While the word “crazy” might have been used once or twice to describe McConkey’s off-the-hook feats, that was it. It seems that I’m always thinking about bipolar-related topics, which is obviously something I need to work on.  To take a two-hour-long break from all things bipolar felt so healthy for my (bipolared-out) brain!

I want you to have a break too! I encourage you to treat yourself to an activity that will give you a well-deserved vacation from worrying about your mental challenges.  You can watch a movie or even a silly Disney Channel show like “Dog With a Blog” or “Liv and Maddie”.  You could read a great book, play games on your device (I like “Flappy Wings”), go on a nature walk, or drive around at night looking at Christmas lights.  Tell me what you like to do in the comments section.  

I hope that your week is filled with things that make you feel alive, or “stoked”. Check out “McConkey” – I bet you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

As McConkey would remind you,

You have one life.  Live it.”  

XO, Dyane

The Lighter Side of “McConkey”

I laughed so hard during scenes of McConkey’s alter-ago “Saucer Boy”. (He’s carrying a bottle of Jack Daniels in the photo.) It’s all in good fun! 

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vail

I don’t want to give away the whole story about the photo above, (the incident is fully explained in the film – well, full frontal and more!) but I giggled so much that I had to watch the scene three times! 

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Here’s a beautiful shot of Shane, baby Ayla and Sherry 

And here’s a brief video taken from the Shane McConkey Foundation website. It features an older Ayla (who is the same age as my oldest daughter) that brought tears to my eyes.  The way this beautiful little girl talks about her late father is so moving, and you’ll learn about all the good works they do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHBFYm8g6QY

Hi!/Asking for your WEGO Help (even if you already voted!)

Happy Friday everyone!

I want to thank those of you who commented on my last post about my setbacks.  Reading your responses made me feel so happy!  I could honestly feel your encouragement through your words.  I kept thinking how glad I was that joined the blogosphere and how I was lucky enough that each of you took time to reply.

And now, on to the topic du jour.  I’ve mentioned here before how I thrilled I was to be nominated for the WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show: Blog” Award by the bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson.  Wendy wrote the hit “I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar” memoir, and “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival” and she’s an amazing advocate for bipolar disorder awareness.  

This is a short-but-sweet post to ask for your support once again!  Could you please endorse me for the WEGO “Best in Show: Blog” award if you haven’t already done so, and if you have voted – THANK YOU! – and…could you consider sharing the link below with your friends and acquaintances?

When sharing the link with your friends you could add “Please endorse a mom with bipolar disorder who wants to help other mothers with bipolar. Her goals include mental health advocacy and providing free support groups for women with bipolar.”  

The main reason I want to place as WEGO finalist is that they will help me reach others with bipolar through their powerful social media platforms. There are other reasons I’ll cover closer to the end date of the voting period, which isn’t until January 31st.  For now, that’s enough, especially since  I need to go pick up the lovely young lady who appears in this Youtube clip: my Marilla.  (I’m rushing as I write this, so I apologize for typos and syntax boo boos.)

To endorse me simply visit this link below.  I can’t tell you how AWESOME it would be if you could share the link and a “plug” with your mighty Facebook, Twitter and other networks so they can endorse me too.  

Thank you SO much! 🙂  Have a great weekend!

Dyane

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/4811

One Step Forward, Two Seroqueled Steps Back

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Happy Monday, everyone!

After I wrote my last post about my setback, I received such wonderful comments from you.  Some responses praised me for keeping my rage under wraps from my precious girls.  I can’t tell you how much your support meant to me.  The affirming remarks made me feel so good, but after my excitement dissipated, I became too complacent.  While I spoke with my counselor about what happened (we planned that I’d call her if I needed to when the next setback occurred) in the back of my mind, I assumed I’d have a good, long reprieve.  I certainly didn’t think I’d be tested so soon.

Enter the phrase “pride goeth before a fall“.

Here’s the Dictionary.com definition:

Pride goeth before a fall:

“People who are overconfident or too arrogant are likely to fail.  This saying is adapted from the biblical Book of Proverbs.”

Up until a few weeks ago, I thought that I was in recovery mode.  

I had concrete signs:

I regained trust from relatives I hurt while I was manic.  

I received some heady (perhaps head-swelling is more fitting!) recognition by members of the bipolar community who I admired.  

The International Bipolar Foundation asked me to be a “Story of Hope & Recovery”.  

The bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson nominated this blog for the WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show Blog” Award.  

These were heady achievements indeed.  Even better, I was becoming enthused to once again create a free support group for women with bipolar disorder.  To top off this groovy stuff,  I was featured by Greg Archer in his Huffington Post article “Inspiring Agents of Change”.  

None of those wonderful things came to mind when I had Setback #2 last week.   

Last Thursday night I got more bad news that triggered me big-time.  I should have called my therapist according to our action plan, right?

Well, I didn’t I call her.  I think I was in shock that I got another chunk of bad news so quickly.  Moreover, I had just taken my three meds after a long day. One of those medications, quetiapine (Seroquel) is for sleep, and it was kicking in.   Take my word for it, the stuff is powerful!

As my eyelids grew heavy, I told myself that I’d handle my reaction to this bad news way better than I did during Setback #1.  Then I repressed everything and fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up groggy, since surprise, surprise, I didn’t sleep too well.  Despite my brain haze, I remembered what I had been told the previous night and, like a death or a break-up, I wanted to rewind back to ignorance.

Running late due to my sluggishness, I frantically helped my children get ready for school.  We were almost out the door into the pouring rain.  The finish line was close! There was only one final task that needed to be done, and that was for one of my girls to brush her hair.  She petulantly refused, and that silly thing was enough to set me off.

All parents lose their tempers in front of their children.  However, I passed the point of no return into a major tantrum that was not appropriate in response to a child refusing to brush her tangles.  At least I knew that I needed to sequester myself immediately and calm myself the hell down.  I went into the bathroom and locked the door.  I called out to Craig, who thank God was home, and to the girls that I was giving myself a “time-out”.  

I sobbed loudly for ten minutes.  To my own ears I sounded hysterical – I guess I should have grabbed a pillow on my way into the bathroom.  Then I stopped crying and took some deep breaths.  I felt ashamed for losing control and especially for needing to separate myself from my family.  I opened the door to find that our girls stood close by.  They asked me what was wrong and I was vague in my reply – luckily they weren’t in their typical interrogation modes and they didn’t press for details.  

I enfolded them in my arms and told them how sorry I was for getting so upset. I told them that I loved them more than anyone in the world.  To my surprise, they didn’t seem that disturbed.

In the past I would’ve asked Craig to take them to school, which I used to do frequently during my seemingly never-ending depression.  This time I didn’t want to delegate and, anyway, he needed to work.  I wanted to show our girls that despite the fact that I had to remove myself for a while, I could calm down enough to safely drive them to their classes.  I dabbed some “Serenity” doTERRA essential oil on my wrists, which is supposed to have calming properties.  (I was tempted to use half of the bottle, but I didn’t…everyone in this family hates its smell except for me!)  It helped on a subtle level.

In the bumper-to-bumper traffic, I checked in with my daughters to see how they were doing.  “I’m fine!” said my eldest.  “Yes!” echoed my younger one. They didn’t seem to be overly upset about anything, and they were chattering and laughing during the commute.  That was the high point of my day.

I returned home, and all my emotions came back to the surface.  I still didn’t call my therapist.  I was utterly exhausted, and I wanted to escape and take a nap to escape the world instead of doing my usual routine of writing, emails, laundry, dishes and other exciting housework.  

When we first met, my psychiatrist told me that if I ever had a daytime crisis, I could take 25 mg of my Seroquel.  Despite being tempted a few times, I never wanted to take it due to several reasons.  Even at the relatively low dose of 25 mg, the medication is super-powerful, and taking it would zombify me during day.  

I hemmed and hawed about taking the tiny, innocuous-looking beige orb.  At least I gave some thought to the consequences of taking the pill, whereas years before I would have popped one without any reservation. 

Even so…I took the Seroquel.  

Next I crawled into bed and got my puppy Lucy to join me for some much-wanted comfort.  

As I write about that awful day just a mere seventy-two hours later, I’m already forgetting about how terrible I felt.  I napped for a couple hours and when I got up I felt the claws of depression grip and squeeze my soul. 

“NOOOOOOOO!” I thought.  “Not again – I can’t go back to this hell!!!  Not now! Just when I thought I was finally doing better, I’m back in this hole again!”  

My sobs returned.  Lucy licked away my tears, and for the zillionith time I was so glad we had this furry beast in our family.

Lucybed

I shuffled over to the coffee machine and made a pot of French Roast.  (Note – I don’t advise mixing coffee and Seroquel…I know it can’t be healthy!) After two cups I felt more coherent and I got through the rest of the day in one piece.  I picked up the girls at school and I even worked out in the late afternoon, which was a minor miracle.  My depression had already begun to subside.  Yes, the bad news was still there to deal with, but between the Seroquel and the exercise, my anger had melted along with my depression.  

The next day I woke up more groggy than usual. I took a long, hot shower, which always makes me feel better.  That afternoon I had a serendipitous visit with one of my best friends who I hadn’t seen for far too long.  Our friendship has lasted over twenty-five years.  She’s one of the few friends who visited me in the hospital when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  

Hanging out with her in a nice sushi restaurant last Saturday reminded me of the happy times we shared before the word “bipolar” entered my vocabulary. I was even able to talk with her about my bad news, and I put it into a healthier perspective.  While I was still daunted by my reaction on Friday, I was SO grateful that my depression had gone away.  In the past, it would have stuck around like glue to a shoe.

Now, I can’t take Seroquel every time I flip out.  Believe me, as someone with an addictive personality, I know that.  I wish I could have simply napped without taking the damn pill.

I have appointments with my counselor and psychiatrist coming up next week – they’ll be earning their fees, that’s for sure.  I wish I had wise words to share with you, but I don’t.  I almost didn’t publish this post, but I wanted to let you know where I’m at:  that not everything has been peachy-keen after my last setback, and I’m still stumbling.  

Sending you love, strength and hope this week…and see you next Monday,

Dyane

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Could you please endorse me for the WEGO Health Activist “Best In Show: Blog” Award? Visit the link below – it’s quick and easy to do.  I want to thank bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson (“I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar” and “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival”) for nominating me.

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/4811

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setbacks and What Can Help in Tough Times

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This is one of the rare occasions that I wish I could be an anonymous blogger.  If that was the case, then I’d write in detail about what recently happened to me.  Since I can’t reveal specifics, I’ll stick with the basic facts….

Ever since I became stable on my meds in the fall of 2013, I knew that eventually I’d be challenged with an awful situation, such as illness or the death of a loved one.  I was hoping that challenge would come later (much later) rather than sooner, of course!

A couple weeks ago I was hit with a completely unexpected situation which sent me reeling. 

The incident had nothing to do with me, which felt like a novelty, to tell you the truth, since I was used to being the one who “screwed up” because of my bipolar disorder.    

I received the bad news with my girls in the same room.  I held myself together with all my might so as not to alarm them. 

At first I considered my ability to contain my emotions in front of my children to be HUGE progress!   I was wrong about that.

Ever since my diagnosis with postpartum onset bipolar disorder in 2007, whenever I became very upset, my typical pattern was to rage whether or not my children were in the room.  Everyone who has bipolar one disorder behaves in a unique way, of course, and what manifested for me was that I became a frequent rageaholic.

I’ll regret the times when I lost it in front of my little ones until the day I die.

After I received the upsetting news, my attempt to keep my rage under wraps was obviously a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem.  My anger needed to be released, and when my daughters were gone for the day, I erupted.  I didn’t hurt anyone, including myself, but I “went there”.  

I raged and raged, becoming a monster version of myself.  It took me a couple days for my emotional hangover to dissipate.  I was absolutely mortified with myself.  I thought I was doing so much better, dammit!  Over the last year, my psychiatrist has told me how well he thinks I’m doing.  He’s not one to say things like that for no reason.  My therapist has made the same type of comment during our sessions over the last six months.  

Despite this positive feedback from my therapy team, deep down inside I knew it was only a matter of time until I’d be tested and I didn’t know how I’d do. When that test arrived, I wanted to score a frickin’ A+.  Not an F-.

After my setback occurred and I calmed down, I didn’t email my psychiatrist for advice because this wasn’t a crisis per se.  I felt that meeting with my therapist would be most helpful.  Our standing appointment was coming up in a few days.  I could have called my therapist for an emergency phone session, but I decided to wait because I felt confident that I wouldn’t “go there” again so soon.  She uses cognitive behavioral therapy among other techniques, and  I knew she’d help me process what happened so that I’d react in a healthier way the next time my rage is triggered.  We have only just begun to work on this, so I’ll share more details about working with her in a future post.  

Aside from therapy, I want to share with you what else (both small and bigger things) has helped me over the past few weeks in the hopes that when you face your own challenge, you might utilize one or more of these options.  

1) I connected with an understanding friend, and our exchange helped me a great deal. 

2) I worked out on my elliptical each day for an hour, even on the setback day, and I sweated up a storm.  I believe that activating endorphins may have prevented me from spiraling into depression.  You don’t have to work out nearly as long as I do to benefit.  I’m a former A.C.E.-certified personal trainer and 10K runner, and I love working out for long amounts of time! 😉

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3) I hung out with my puppy Lucy and I hugged her a lot.  (She seems to like hugs!)

4) I read your blogs every day – oh, how I did (and do) love reading your blogs.  Thank God for them!  Even when the subject matter is dark, I’m inspired.

5) I read memoirs (Current books: British actor Terence Stamp’s “Stamp Album” and athlete Gabrielle Reece’s “My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper”).  I don’t care if I’m reading non-intellectual material – I simply welcome getting lost in the minutiae of another person’s fascinating life

6) I eat some high-quality, snobbylicious chocolate.  

7) I use essential oils.  You can use any high-quality essential oil brand that contains lavender and/or citrus (these are calming and mood elevating essential oils, respectively) and they truly are helpful. I used to work at the College of the Botanical Healing Arts, an essential oil practitioner college and I studied the efficacy of essential oils for mood.   (For information about using essential oils for anxiety, consider joining my friend/anxiety coach Meagan Barnes’ Facebook group “Essential Oils and Mental Health” at the link below.)

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https://www.facebook.com/groups/747292522020551/

8) Music.  Any music that soothes you, play it…immerse yourself in it.  The best place for me to listen to my music is in my car, but I’m sure you have your favorite spot.

9) Connecting with my girls and husband.  Sharing hugs. Hanging out. Listening to them. Being present with them.

10) Using my Sunbox bright light in the morning.

I feel like I’m forgetting something else obvious, so if/when it comes to me, I’ll include it in a future post.  

In the meantime, I hope you all have a good week, I’ll see you next Monday, and I can’t believe I’m already typing this, but… 

HAPPY DECEMBER!

take care,

Dyane

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I was nominated by the bestselling author/bipolar advocate

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