Changing Bipolar

26 Dec

Can someone explain to me why nothing, save the bookstore, is open in this place on Boxing Day? I wanted to go out and get some stuff done, but it was not to be.

So I picked up a few books instead, since the bookstore is always open. So Merry Christmas to me, I got:

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (we LOVE Dexter!!!)

Fledgling (Octavia Butler’s last book-I’ve waited for the trade, but hey, the hardcover was 30% off-too bad she died in such a stupid way)

Bipolar II

And a small journal.

One of the suggestions in the Bipolar book, and one which I was thinking of last night, was to track your moods on a daily basis. Last night before falling to sleep, I started planning this elaborate data tracking system in excel for my moods, correlating food intake, sleep, and activites through the day, in order to try and determine any triggers for said moods. But, I also need to keep a notebook with me in order to write down any rapid cycling moments, which can then be moved into excel.

(Have we talked about how big of a geek I am yet? Because we should. Because I am. And I’m not even that good with excel)

What triggered all this? I cycled up to manic yesterday-I felt it building up and out, but thankfully, not to a crazy point. Just to a nice “normal” moods, but with an elevated sense of being able to get things done. So while burning through my Chapters gift cards, I picked up a nice red leather notebook. I can date each page myself, and it’s small enough to carry with me. I figure I’ll limit myself to one page a day, since in my manic periods, I can get very verbose.

I want to control the Bipolar. I don’t want it controlling me. I don’t want to be on any additional medications if I can help it. Hell, I don’t want to be on any if I can help it. Determining if there are certain external factors that are triggering further moods swings is one way to find a solution that does not involve medication. I’m not at the extreme end of either pole, I don’t laspe into extreme mania, or depression requiring hospitalization (although the last swing was rather scary). So I’m thinking it’s worth a try to “fix” me myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to stop the Trileptal. I don’t think this is something I can “recover” from. I will always be bipolar. But I can make it better. I can make myself better. My life can be better.

Reading through that book, I noticed that pregnancy and the aftermath can trigger Post Partum Depression and even psychosis. Knowing that it wasn’t my fault took a load off my shoulders. I always knew, but on some level, I felt like a failure, a fuck up, for not being able to handle it, to control it, for wanting to murder my child. Seeing it said that I couldn’t help what happened, reinforcing that women with bipolar tend to swing violently after birth, which is then made worse by sleep deprivation, quieted the revolt in my heart. It told me I am not a bad mother. I am just sick in my head, and always will be.

If only I had known before. But average onset for bipolar is 25, and most people go through many diagnoses before reaching this one. No one thought my prior diagnosis of ADD would cause many problems. But i didn’t know, and now, I’m slowly coming to grips with what happens, and with telling myself I couldn’t fix it, and I couldn’t stop it.

So now, I try to fix it. For me, for my husband, for my girls. I’m scared that one of them will be bipolar as well, especially with the mental illness in my husbands family, and my knowledge that bipolar is genetic (my aunt, it turns out, is bipolar as well). I want to have a life I enjoy all the time, not just a few days a month.

Shit, I want a life.

6 Responses to “Changing Bipolar”

  1. liprap December 26, 2006 at 2:11 pm #

    I so hate that PPD is still downplayed.

    I had moments after my son was born when I would be walking across heavily trafficked Queens Blvd in my neighborhood in NYC, and I would start entertaining thoughts about how good things would be if I just walked a little bit slower and a car sorta accidentally would hit me and spare the stroller, with my son in it, in front of me. I really felt that I was so lousy at motherhood and child rearing that the world, and my family, would be better off without me.

    Maybe if it had been somehow recommended to me that I do what you are doing, I would have gotten help sooner for my depression. I think the trick with all of this mapping of your highs and lows, however, is not to beat yourself up over it all. It is all about recognition of those times in yourself in order to better control yourself. It’s a good thing to try…just keep that forgiveness of yourself in mind.

  2. Jen December 26, 2006 at 8:56 pm #

    Wow, Liprap, I barely like to take my daughter across Queens Blvd at 4. I can’t imagine how hard it must be with PPD and those feelings.

    Thor, I’m glad you aren’t blaming yourself anymore. I hope the tracking helps you to learn more about your cycles and gives you more peace of mind.

  3. feartheseeds December 26, 2006 at 9:57 pm #

    “I noticed that pregnancy and the aftermath can trigger Post Partum Depression and even psychosis. Knowing that it wasn’t my fault took a load off my shoulders.”

    I don’t understand why this information isn’t handed out by doctor’s as soon as they start treating the pregnancy. The fact that a woman’s hormones and brain chemicals are going to be out of whack for years, and as a result they may be looking at several years of moderate to severe depression should be the second pamphlet handed out.

    “One of the suggestions in the Bipolar book… was to track your moods on a daily basis… I started planning this elaborate data tracking system in excel… .”

    Epiphany’s like this always trigger my manics. I’ve spend entire evenings obsessing about new ways I could design my blog-roll. Monitoring is important, keeping it simple is even more important. If there’s some kind of thirty step process to keeping track of your moods you’ll only do it when you’re manic, or at least manic while caring about keeping track of your moods. I’ve kept a calender next to the fridge for a few years… solid black circle for too depressed to function, empty circle for YAY! and a straight line for normal.

    “Hell, I don’t want to be on any if I can help it.”

    There’s a cure coming, or at least more targeted treatments. In the meantime diet and a daily routine, after the medications, are the most important factors in your recovery. Drink a lot… A LOT of water, stay away from caffeine and alcohol, take vitamin supplements especially vitamin D & C. If you can walk, walk. But make it a routine, something that, after a few months, you can do no matter what your mood is.

    “I’m scared that one of them will be bipolar as well, especially with the mental illness in my husbands family, and my knowledge that bipolar is genetic…”

    Manic Depression is genetic, but that doesn’t mean your kids automatically have the disease gene, and if they do have it there’s a good chance they’ll never actually trigger the gene. By keeping track and understanding the disease you have, as you experience it, you’ll be better able to see the warning signs in your children.

    “I want to have a life I enjoy all the time…”

    Even Buddha never had that life… or wanted it.


  4. puddlejumper December 27, 2006 at 6:50 am #

    Hello I’m back already.

    You should get Amazon to put you on comission. Just ordered the very book you were talking about. Then of course had to buy a new CD because then I get free delivery…(there is a certain logic.) For the record I bought Aretha Franklin Best of in the hope she’ll help me boogie through the housework.

    I have grand plans for writing a “proper” journal this year too.

    Feartheseeds idea for a wall calender with a simple code sounds pretty neat. May give that a try.

    Oh for New Year resolutions!

  5. thordora December 27, 2006 at 9:48 am #

    I’m doing a simple system (as suggested in the book) but my geekdom craves complexity.

    Just like seeds, that “plan” was the tide turning to mania.

    It sucks though, since I rapid cycle, I don’t get that much benefit out of my manias. They don’t last long enough, strong enough. Sucks.

    The book is pretty good. it’s better than many I’ve found, and I’ve already advised the Dorf he should read it so perhaps he’ll know what’s going on for once.

  6. astramillie April 29, 2008 at 7:03 am #

    I’ve thought about tracking my moods, but often they change so fast I’d be writing in the journal so often I’d have time for nothing else. Also, I’m afraid of what I’d see, even on my meds!
    Anyway, right now I have to keep a sleep journal. My sleep habits are all out of whack. I go to bed at like 6 pm and wake up at 1 am. This has to stop, I’m more concerned about that right now. I want to live more like a normal person in this part of my life.

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