Weekend Vlog Hello to My Friends – XoXo

photo-on-10-5-16-at-9-55-am-2Only 24 days to go! 

Dear Friends,

How are you? I hope you’re doing well. I know it’s a tough month for many of us due to the change in season. I didn’t get a chance to write my typical rambling weekly post, so I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my vlog.

I share a couple tools that help me deal with challenges such as seasonal affective disorder and anxiety.

I meant to talk a little about my friend Ulla, creator of the blog Blahpolar. Although I didn’t bring her up, she has been on my mind a lot. (Some of you know the awful news: last month Ulla died by suicide.)

If you’re not familiar with Ulla’s blog, here’s the link to the About page. It contains some salty words, so you’ve been warned. 😉 I encourage you to read her blog – it’s one of my all-time favorites. I’m grateful it’ll remain active thanks to her friends. (Be sure to check out her quotes & memes too!)

Here are the links to the resources I mention in the vlog:

The Sunbox Company

Mayo Clinic Water Intake guidelines 

One of my fave green teas: Yogi Green Tea Blueberry Slim Life

Rescue Remedy Plus homeopathic lozenges for anxiety

The Lose It! Update

Extraordinary blogger Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I are still trying our best to be healthy. It ain’t easy. My knee injury put a damper on my redwood forest walks with Lucy.  Due to stress, I’ve been overeating every night. Binge eating is a topic I want to address in a future post – unfortunately it plays a significant role in my life.

I’m happy to announce that the dynamo blogger Marie Abanga has joined our Lose It! group Wondrous Writers! If you’d like to try it (why not?) you can sign up for free at www.loseit.com – to join our group, search for the Wondrous Writers group.

See you next weekend, my friends!

Lots of love,

Dyane

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

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Missing My Blogging Pals Soooooo Much!

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 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!)

 

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 🙂

Booted out of Puppy Class! (Bipolar-Related)

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Some of you already know about what happened to me and Lucy last weekend.  The Incident took place just before our third Petsmart puppy training class began.  

Indulge me in a little bit of backstory.  During our first two puppy classes, my American Collie pup Lucy, my two girls and I were asked to remain behind a blanketed fence during instruction for the duration of each sixty-minute-long session.  We were asked to do that so Lucy wouldn’t bark constantly and distract Belinda, our young instructor, or provoke the other three puppies in attendance.  I understood the need to be “in hiding”, and while I was less-than-thrilled about it, of course I acquiesced.  I was also advised to buy Lucy a harness; it was supposed to safer on her trachea area in her neck when she pulled forward relentlessly and control her much better than a standard leash would.  I bought one right away.  I’d do anything I possibly could do if it meant helping Lucy be healthy and happy.

After the first class I asked Belinda for her opinion about the doggie calming bites, calming gels and calming sprays I noticed for sale on the supplement aisle.  She told me using those products for Lucy would be like giving chamomile to someone with a full-blown anxiety disorder!  I understand exactly where she was coming from with that analogy, as I’ve suffered with anxiety for years, but I bought the stuff anyway, hoping for a miracle!  (Belinda was right – the calming bites and gel didn’t work, but  I was soon tempted to try them myself!)  

As we headed out of the store, Belinda walked beside us and told me, “Lucy will probably need additional training apart from what this class can provide, such as private lessons.  I’ll get you a flyer  -hang on a sec!”   As Belinda got us the information, I knew in my heart that Lucy was special and I wasn’t offended by her suggestion.  However, I was stressed out about our finances and the private fees were not cheap!  I put the private session topic on the back burner in my exhausted brain and we headed home…

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Last Saturday was a heatwave and our third Petsmart class took place at 3:00 p.m., the hottest time of the day.  I gathered Lucy and my daughter Marilla, grabbed the required bag of puppy treats and drove us to the store.  It was quite a workout for me to simply make the thirty-minute drive because my anxiety had skyrocketed due to a medication change.  I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of Lucy’s canine education, however.  We arrived at the store early so we could walk Lucy up and down the air-conditioned aisles to bring down her massive energy level – my fluffball could light up a city with the exuberance she has at almost five-months-old.  (In hindsight, this was not such a wise decision.)

Then a few things happened that got me even more anxious than I already was.  

Lucy decided that it was the perfect opportunity to relieve herself in the middle of an aisle.  It had to be #2, and it was a lot of #2 – she was saving it up for a special occasion, I guess!  

Now, when other dogs get near my beautiful beast, she pretty much goes batsh*t woo woo around them.  Barking, lunging, you-name-it.  All twenty-eight pounds of her.  Honestly, it’s as if she’s possessed or auditioning for the role of Cujo’s kid sis in “Cujo Two”! 

I’m a pretty strong mama, but when Lucy decides to act as if she’s channeling demons, it takes every bit of my strength to keep her leash tight in my hand and restrain her as much as possible.

So there I was, crouched low in the aisle using items needed to clean up the poop while simultaneously holding onto Lucy’s leash.  Petsmart has convenient cleaning stations scattered throughout the store, thank goodness.  

While I frantically cleaned up the mess, a hip couple came strolling towards us with their dog, and you can guess what happened – Lucy started flipping out.  Now these idiots didn’t do the kind, intelligent move, i.e. walk in the opposite direction so I could clean up the shit in peace and so my dog wouldn’t go after their dog.  No……they had to continue to mosey on by while birds chirped and violins played in their heads.  I wish I had a video clip to show you of this scenario as my words don’t do it justice  – it was one of those moments that pales in the writing.  

The good news is that I didn’t throw shit at the self-absorbed Wonder Twins and Lucy didn’t walk through her poop mountain either – at least I was quick enough with the clean-up.

It was time for class to start.  I was ready to get it over with.  I stood near the room’s entrance with Lucy andMarilla and lo and behold, a customer and his little dog walked near us.  Lucy went off in her inimitable “The sky is falling!!!!!” style in which she practically levitated.  If her pretty little head started circling around a la Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”, I wouldn’t have been surprised.  

The teacher strode up to us.  My first thought was, “Dammit!  I’m in trouble.”  Although Belinda is in her early twenties and I’m twice her age and I’ve been a junior high school substitute, I actually get intimidated by anyone in an “authority” position.  It’s ridiculous.  I’ve cried in front of police officers for the dumbest reasons you can imagine.  My authority fear factor is grist for another blog post, though.  Back to being booted out….

“I think that it would be best if we don’t have Lucy in this class,” she said.  “She’s barking so much and she’s aggressive – technically we’re not supposed to have aggressive dogs in class.”

My face turned red and I got even sweatier.  I could feel  rivers start to flow underneath my arms.  Marilla wasn’t aggrieved by our being singled out, as she’s a very confident six-year-old, but  I felt like a BAD PUPPY MOM!

“Why don’t I call you and see about transferring a credit for you to have private lessons?”  I nodded my head in assent.  “That sounds like a good idea,” I mumbled.  I just wanted to get the hell out of there and find some gourmet chocolate ice cream to soothe my humiliated soul.

How is this bipolar-related?  Well, it’s going to be a stretch, but I can do it.  When Marilla, Lucy and I reached the sweltering parking lot outside Petsmart, a handsome young man called out to me.  He sat on a sheltered bench with his enormous Malamute mix, a magnificent dog who had so much dark shaggy hair that I felt sorry for him. (He looked a little like a Wookie!)  

 

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He asked if Lucy would want to meet his dog!  

Well, while my jaw dropped as I took that in, a pretty girl walked towards us and when she passed me, she said in a rude, snarky tone, “That would be a train wreck!”  It was an innocent-enough sounding sentence given the situation, but  it was her tone I had the problem with.

At that point I was so physically and emotionally depleted, plus it was 85 degrees and I was sweating from every pore.  When that girl snarked past us in her flouncy dress that probably cost three times as much as my outfit, she pissed the shit out of me! 

Now, the unstable Dyane, i.e. the woman on wrong bipolar meds or no bipolar meds, would have called out to her in rage.  

“Fuck you!’ might have been one zinger I would have spat out at her.  Or “Why don’t you come and say that to my face, bitch?” would be another.  Oh, there are plenty more ribald sentences I could have hurled at her despite Marilla’s presence

But I held back.  Meds do that for me now. But they don’t totally squelch my vibrant personality!

This is what I decided to retort off the top of my head:

I love nice people!” I said, loud enough for her to hear.  This is progress, bipolar-wise, as far as I’m concerned.  I’m no longer easily triggered, looking for a fight.  While I was angry at the girl and wanted a target for my frustrations, I was able to move past it and focus on the matter at hand.  Without an F-bomb!

“Snarky” didn’t look back at me but she continued flouncing into the air-conditioned store.  I feel sorry for the cat, dog, fish or rodent that she must own.

Meanwhile, the young man left his dog sitting calmly behind him as he walked our way.  I swear that dog was the Dalai Lama of dogs, and he was fine about his owner walking the twenty feet over to us.  The young man had observed Lucy’s behavior in the store.  “I’m Matias,” he said.  “I used to be a dog trainer.”  He had a kind face and I didn’t feel judged or intimidated by him in the least.

“Hmmmm!” I thought.  “I wish he had been our teacher!”  While I wasn’t able to hire Matias on the spot, he seemed open to giving us a little free advice.  One example is that recommended offering Lucy a treat in the split second when a dog walked near her and she hadn’t yet barked as if it was an Olympic sport.       

I was upset from my store experience.  I asked Matias if he thought that Lucy was a hopeless case. “Far from it,” he assured me.  “It’s certainly not tragic.  She would need consistent training, but she’ll be fine.”  Matias gave me hope and made me feel better.  I figured he knew what he was talking about as his dog was incredibly well-behaved.  As we drove out of the lot, I saw Matias riding a bike with his dog trotting perfectly beside him.  Heads turned at the pair – they were quite a sweet sight.

As I drove back home, Marilla and I agreed that some locally made Polar Bear Ice Cream at our local coffee shop was in order.  I looked forward to getting my favorite flavor, the fittingly named “Dirty Paws”.  (SO GOOD!) Life would go on and I knew that I’d feel better after I blogged about my Petsmart afternoon.  And I was right about that! 😉

 

 

 

Another Meetup? Whaaaat??

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Have you heard of Meetup.com?  I don’t even remember how I came across it, but I’ve been a member of Meetup.com for several years.  Last year I attended only one Meetup –  a mom’s night out in my little town.  Over dinner at a new Italian restaurant I found that I didn’t have much in common with my dining companions.  Coincidentally the three of them recently relocated to our community from the fast-paced Bay Area, unlike me, so I felt a bit out of it from the get-go.  While the evening wasn’t excruciating, I wanted to make an early exit nonetheless. (I did it as gracefully as possible!)

I was the only mom present with older children.  That fact also didn’t help me connect with the other moms, despite my trying hard to be friendly and even, ahem “normal”.  (yeah, right!) Even the food was an expensive disappointment. 

To top things off, I had given up alcohol due to my MAOI bipolar medication. The other moms drank red wine and none of them stuck to just one glass. My social anxiety was in full force and I craved a few glasses of wine like the others apparently did.  I didn’t drink a drop, for to combine my medication with alcohol is a huge no-no and potentially even fatal!    

Although the evening was a let-down, I felt very proud of myself for giving it a shot.

Despite that bummer of a Meetup, I hoped that someday I would find a group that fit me well.  Browsing through Meetup’s website you’ll find a multitude of eclectic groups offered in my area.  It’s fun to take a look!  Some groups are pretty out-there, with occasionally hilarious themes. (“Cuddling Groups” and “Bigfoot Searchers” anyone?)  Of course there are the tamer-styled Meetups, such a book clubs, a WordPress group with a whopping 500 members, dog walking groups, movie nights and writers’ groups.  Oh, and don’t forget the Alien Sightings Meetup and Tantric sexual arts!

I arranged for Meetup.com to email me whenever a group matching my pre-selected interests is formed.  Specifically I’ve wanted to be contacted when a mental health group is created.  Once I spotted a social anxiety Meetup that sounded cool, but it met an hour away from my home so I passed as that was too far away for me.  A few months ago I started yearning to be around others who hate their social anxiety as much as I do, so I went in search of the “faraway” group only to see it had disbanded.

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Boo Hoo!

In 2013, I decided to taper off my bipolar medication, and I promptly became hypomanic. Whenever I’m hypomanic, my social anxiety vanishes.  So last spring I started my first Meetup group.  I shelled out $18 for one month’s organizer dues, and decided that the group’s theme would be for women interested in natural healing for mood disorders.  While in the planning stages of that Meetup, my hypomania turned into full-blown mania, and then sank down into suicidal depression.  I admitted myself to the hospital yet again. Needless to say my Meetup group folded before our very first meeting.

Three days ago Meetup emailed me offering a 50% reduction in first month fees if I created a group within five days.  It would only cost $9.50.  At first I thought, nope!  But I didn’t delete the email.  

I couldn’t ignore a little voice inside me that said, Well, you could try it and see if there’s any interestI thought about it some more.  No…I’m not gonna do it.  You don’t need one more thing on your plate.  And you need to work more on your damn book, not plan support groups!.

The pesky little voice grew stronger, adding, You’ve been wanting a Meetup do-over.  Even though you haven’t made time to see your closest friends (you know who you are, S.!) you know you’ve been struggling with social anxiety and you’ve been lonely in your isolated mountain town.  The internet has given you some wonderful online friendships, but you need more ‘IRL’ community with women like you.  Maybe having a group like this would really help your smorgasbord of mood disorders more than you realize!

So I took the plunge.  

What the hell,  I rationalized.  It’s just $9.50 to get started, and if no one joins, I can cancel it!  I knew I’d be creating a group with very specific parameters, so I wouldn’t have high hopes for many responses.  Still, I’d keep an open mind all the same.

TWO DAYS LATER…

After spending an inordinate amount of time playing around with my Meetup group’s title, description, its appearance, and researching other bipolar wellness Meetups’ agendas, the gung-ho wind completely vanished out of my sails.

I had an attack of massive “Meetup Remorse”:  

What the hell was I thinking???? I’m not ready for this! No way!”

Luckily Meetup’s policy is to wait two days after a group’s creation before its announcement and listing goes live to members and the public.

Despite the fact I’ve felt better in a lot of respects after last summer’s hospitalization for bipolar depression, over the past year I haven’t felt social. I’ve rarely hung out with longtime friends.  My idea of creating a group given the antisocial state I’m in is nothing short of preposterous.  

As I’m sure you’ve figured out already, a more realistic goal would be for me to join a group already in existence.  Sadly there’s nothing like that in my area. When I researched other similar-themed Meetups around the world, I was surprised and envious to see such awesome, welcoming descriptions.  Cool examples include a “New York Women with Bipolar brunch” group, and a “Sydney, Australia Women with Bipolar group”. There are many more mental wellness groups that look so cool and again, I wish there was one in my backyard.

It was fun to dream about forming a group that I’d like to be a part of, but the time isn’t right. Maybe someday I’ll have a change of heart and I’ll be in a better place with my social anxiety to pick up where I left off.

 

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The Road of Disturbing Memories – Part Two

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After I published part one of “The Road of Disturbing Memories” I received great feedback from some of you.  Best of all, I didn’t feel so alone with the depersonalization/derealization that I’ve suffered since taking Geodon in 2012.

My theory is that the atypical antipsychotic Geodon actually triggered these two conditions in my brain, but I know it’s just that: a theory.  Then again, I haven’t done any research, so who knows? But I sense there must be some kind of connection between these terrifying states of mind and Geodon, for I never experienced either feeling before taking this medication.  The disorders struck  just days after I swallowed my first Geodon pill.  That just seems like too strong of a coincidence.

All that aside, I still suffer with depersonalization and derealization.  In some ways the “Two Damn D’s” freak me out more than even bipolar depression, and that’s saying a lot!  

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As a book lover I sought books that addressed these bizarre mental states.  Most importantly, I wanted to read experts’ opinions about effective ways to deal with them.  The first book I bought was supposed to be the most comprehensive book available on the topic:  Overcoming Depersonalization Disorder – a mindfulness & acceptance guide to conquering feelings of numbness and reality.  It was written by Fugen Neziroglu, PH.D., and Katharine Donnell, MA.  

In it the authors discuss ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and MCBT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) skills for coping with numbness, mind and body disconnection, and the bewildering feeling of living in an unreal world.

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As soon as I received my copy in January, 2012, I dove into it, but unfortunately I didn’t e complete the whole book.  I didn’t even try any of the techniques.

Ugh.

I did the same exact thing with another highly acclaimed book: Feeling Unreal – Depersonalization and the Loss of Self by Daphne Simon and Jeffrey Abugel.

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Double ugh.

Reading only the first part of a self-help book has been my “tried & failed” approach to reading 99.9% of the self-books I’ve ever read over the years.  When I first get a self-help book I feel hopeful at the possibility of feeling better.  Then I become overwhelmed by the information and exercises, and I start shutting down.

Although I’ve been very disciplined in other areas of my life, I haven’t been able to possess enough discipline when it came to following self-help books exercises.  Additionally, I didn’t set up an accountability factor (i.e. alerting my therapist and psychiatrist of my bibliotherapy plan) to do any of the exercises.  As a result, I set aside my books and gave up.  One became covered in dust on my bookshelf – the other was ignored in my Kindle.   

I’ve mentioned the “The Two Damn D’s” to both my therapist Tara and my psychiatrist in passing, but then I minimized what was going on with that to focus solely on my bipolar depression.  So even though it has been over two years since I’ve suffered with the “Two Damn D’s”,  it’s still early days for my dealing with them.  I know that I can’t keep shoving these perturbing states to the wayside; they’ll only fester.  

Just for the neck of it, today I searched WordPress blogs using the keywords “depersonalization” and “derealization”.  Imagine my excitement when I found a blog post titled  “Finding the peace of mind – or how to beat depersonalization and anxiety – this is my way of doing it”!

I quickly scrolled down my Kindle screen to find that the blogger of “The Borderline Personality Bliss and Mess” (great title) wrote that taking long drives would throw off her depersonalization.  My heart sank.  Driving was the exact activity that made my depersonalization and derealization much worse.

How different we all are!

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It’s sooooo tempting to just not address with “The Two Damn D’s” and keep them on the back burner.  I already have my hands full with dealing with bipolar disorder every day as well as taking care of my children.  But I can’t ignore these lame-ass sensations.  I still have my “The Two Damn D’s” books; in fact one sits by my laptop, reminding me that I have to do something, anything about depersonalization and derealization.  

As I’ve only mentioned this problem briefly to my psychiatrist, I think I need to make it our primary topic of discussion at our next session.  I have a feeling he knows about ACT, DBT, and all the “T” therapies out there, since his forte is therapy!  (He almost became a psychotherapist instead of a psychiatrist; I believe this explains why he is such a compassionate doctor.)

Unless I spontaneously, miraculously heal, (hey, never say never!!!) I’ll write a “Part Three” later this summer.  My psychiatrist always has cool insights and practical suggestions, and  I’d like to share them with you.

Have a great 4th of July and I’ll see you next week!

Dyane

p.s. as always, I’m open to your suggestions and I love your comments.  Please comment away to your heart’s content!

 

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The Road of Disturbing Memories – Part One

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I drove on Highway 236 today.  It’s a windy, mountainous road high up in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains of California, surrounded by towering redwood trees.  While driving this route I’ve often spotted families of deer along the wayside.  For all I know, I’ve unwittingly passed a mountain lion or two!  (There have been recent sightings of them over the past year.)

It was a slightly cool, sunny day as I wove my old, white Suburu Forester up and around the curves of the steep highway.  It takes me over forty minutes to reach my therapist “Tara’s” home office, and while it’s a total pain in the ass to get there, a session with Tara is worth the effort.  When I’m not feeling up to making the rigorous drive, I opt for a phone session, but Tara prefers to see me face-to-face.

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The “Green Tara” Buddhist Goddess

Over the past four years I’ve driven this road to visit Tara in all kinds of emotional states. A few times I met with her when I felt fairly stable, a handful of times I was hypomanic and manic, but most of our visits have occurred when I’ve felt deeply depressed.  She has been supportive and available to me and my family in ways that have gone above and beyond what most counselors offer their clients.

I first met Tara at the co-op preschool where each of our daughters were students.  At first I found Tara a little intimidating.  She looked like a tall, blonde supermodel and she appeared confident and serene.  As soon as I found out what Tara did for a living, however, my intuition prodded me to ask her if we could meet.  

We had a good rapport, and I felt that Tara not only knew what she was doing, but she genuinely cared about helping me feel better.  It didn’t hurt that she hailed from Germany and had a beautiful, scholarly German accent.  Tara and I were able to keep our boundaries clear; it never became problematic when I saw her at the preschool or around town.

When I was hospitalized a year ago, Tara invited my daughter Avonlea to stay at her house to play with her daughter so Avonlea could have a good time, and to help make things easier for Craig.  Tara was also one of the very few people who offered to visit me at the hospital last summer.  She lived over two hours from the hospital, and I was very moved by her willingness to make such an arduous journey for a client.  

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Nowadays, every time I drive to a therapy session, I can’t help remember the Geodon incident. Several years ago, I was prescribed the atypical antipsychotic Geodon by my former psychiatrist.  I hoped with all my heart that it would make a dent in my bipolar depression, but since I was “medication-resistant” I felt dubious any pill could help me.   

The first few weeks it seemed that Geodon was truly helping me.  I was in shock to feel the weight of depression finally lift.  It was a sensational feeling as I hadn’t felt happiness like that in a long time.  But then my bipolar depression returned with a vengeance and along came some brand-new, terrifying sensations: derealization and depersonalization.

Before this experience happened in my life, I had no idea what deprealization or depersonalization even meant.  I’ll paraphrase their Wikipedia definitions: “Derealization is an alteration in the perception of the external world so that it seems unreal.” Depersonalization consists of “a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation.  The world has become vague, less real, and lacking in significance. ”  Both sensations were over-the-top horrific, as I’m sure you can imagine.

When I first experienced these conditions I was driving down a steep, super-windy hill on Highway 236 after a session with Tara.  The unnerving states came upon me suddenly.  I didn’t feel like myself.  Worst of all, I felt like I was losing my grip on reality.  I clutched the steering wheel so tightly that my hands cramped for hours into the night.  I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to keep my car from veering off the road.  It was a miracle that I made it home safely.

Unless you experience depersonalization/derealization, you can’t understand it, and I hope you never will…

to be continued

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