Anxiety · Bipolar Disorder · Depression · Mental Health

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

I was really triggered this week by the news of Kanye West publicly going on “rants” and saying a lot of things that seemed “out there” to people. I noticed a lot of hate against him and a lot of memes making fun of him. Kanye was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about four years ago and publicly had a manic disorder which is symptom of bipolar. I am not excusing hurtful words he said or words that anyone says during a mania episode, but it is important we understand the mental illness aspect. A lot of people struggle with bipolar and some people are misdiagnosed and some know they are bipolar but are to embarrassed to share that they have it or struggle to believe that they do. To be honest, I have called Kanye crazy and have been like what is going on with this guy!? It is human nature to judge when we don’t understand the full gravity of the situation or what is truly going on with an individual. He is a celebrity and so it is easy for the media and people to tear him and his family apart. This is why empathy is so important to have and I have to even remind myself this as well.

The thing is, why did this recently trigger me? I have had an unbelievably emotional past couple months. Well let’s be real the past ten years. My mom was diagnosed with Bipolar a few weeks ago and so this hit extra hard. I have dealt with her for all my life but in the last ten years it has been very difficult to have a relationship with her. It has been difficult for her to want to live because of her intense mood swings. My mom used to go to a Psychiatrist back in Iowa who was pumping her with prescriptions but not finding the real problem. She has always been very depressed, anxious, excited, mood swings, sleeps for days, manic episodes, delusions, obsessions, rants, conspiracy theories, etc. A few weeks ago, she was suicidal because she just wanted the pain to go away and didn’t think she would ever get better. This broke my heart to hear and scared the heck out of me. I immediately called the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255. I was able to speak to a trained professional and figure out what to do. When someone says they don’t want to live anymore WE HAVE TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! This can be so overwhelming and in the moment of panic it can be hard to know what to do. They were able to recommend a hospital for her to put her on a 72 hour hold, then to inpatient, and hopefully outpatient after. Finally, the Doctor said my mom has diagnosed bipolar but was never diagnosed properly. He said he can’t believe that previous Doctors never diagnosed her before. I did a lot of research on bipolar so I could better understand it and now it all makes SO much sense.

Here is some of my research on bipolar to help everyone better understand it and to spread awareness about it but tune in to the bottom where I share more of my experience of being the daughter of someone who has it and how it has mentally impacted me and my family.

What is Bipolar?

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020)

Bipolar, is also known as manic depression, and is a chronically recurring condition involving moods that swing because the highs of mania and the lows of depression. Depression is the most pervasive feature of the illness. The manic phase usually involves a mix of irritability, anger, and depression, with or without euphoria. When euphoria is present, it may manifest unusual energy and overconfidence, playing out in in the bouts of spending or promiscuity, among other behaviors.

Misdiagnosed is common; the condition is often confused with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder. Biological factors probably create vulnerability to the disorder with certain individuals, and experiences such as sleep deprivation can kick off manic episodes. (Psychology Today, 2020)

(This part really got me because my mom was diagnosed ADD when she was in Iowa and they pumped her full of medication for it and a very high dose. The Doctor makes a lot of money on Pharmaceuticals and so instead of caring for the patient it can be all about the money, unfortunately. I even thought my mom was schizophrenic because of her intense conspiracy theories; which schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in these situations since they don’t look into further testing for bipolar)

3 Types of Bipolar Disorders

  • Bipolar I Disorder– Defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depressive symptoms and manic symptoms the same time) are also possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder– Defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypo-manic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes that are typical Bipolar I Disorder.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) – Defined by periods of hypo mania symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years (1 year in children and adolescents)

Signs and Symptoms

During manic episodes they may:

  • Feel very “up,” “high,” elated, or irritable or touchy
  • Feel “jumpy or “wired”
  • Have decreased need for sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Talk very fast about a lot of different things
  • Feel like their thoughts are racing
  • Think they can do a lot of things at once
  • Do risky things that show poor judgement, such as eat and drink excessively, spend or give away a lot of money, or have reckless sex
  • Feel like they are unusually important, talented, or powerful

During depressive episodes they may:

  • Feel very sad, “down,” empty, worried, or hopeless
  • Feel slowed down or restless
  • Having trouble falling asleep, wake up too early, or sleep too much
  • Experience increased appetite and weight gain
  • Talk very slowly, feel like they have nothing to say, forget a lot
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feel unable to do even simple things
  • Have little interest in almost all activities, a decreased or absent sex drive, or inability to experience pleasure
  • Feel hopeless or worthless, think about death or suicide

(Sometimes people may experience both manic and depressive symptoms in the same episode)

Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis and treatment can help people with bipolar disorder lead healthy and active lives. Talk to a Doctor or other licensed health care professional first. The Doctor can do a complete physical exam and medical tests to rule out other conditions. A mental evaluation is important as well and then referral to a trained mental health care provider, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.

Treatments

Certain medications can help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder and it may take trying a few different medications before finding one that works best. These generally include mood stabilizers and atypical anti psychotics. Other medications can help with sleep and anxiety. Health care professionals will often prescribe antidepressant medications to treat depressive episodes. Combining the antidepressant with a mood stabilizer can help prevent a triggering manic episode.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, is also called talk therapy and can be an effective part of the treatment plan. Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of treatment techniques that try to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. They can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Treatment may also include CBT or Cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Everyday things you can do to help

  • Regular Exercise
  • Keeping a life chart: keeping track of moods and talking with a licensed provider
  • Therapy
  • A structured and regular schedule
  • Healthy environment
  • Safe outlets to talk to

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

Genetic and environmental factors can create vulnerability to bipolar disorder. Life events like childhood trauma are thought to play a huge role in bipolar disorder. Research know that once bipolar disorder occurs, traumatic events precipitate its recurrence. Incidents of interpersonal difficulty and abuse are most commonly associated with triggering the disorder. I have noticed that unresolved trauma really plays a part in bipolar which is important for individuals to try and work through the trauma, in order to help manage the manic or depressive episodes.

Resources

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 which is available 24/7

Crisis Hotline: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7

If you are thinking about harming yourself or thinking about suicide

  • Tell someone who can help right away
  • Call your licensed mental health professional if you are already working with one
  • Call your doctor or health care provider
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency department or call 911

If a loved one is considering suicide

  • Do not leave him or her alone
  • Try to get a loved one to seek immediate help from a Doctor, health care provider or nearest hospital or call 911
  • Call the suicide hotline (that’s what I did and they were a wonderful help)
  • Remove access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications

Coping with Bipolar Disorder

  • Get treatment and stick with it. It takes time and its not easy but it is necessary
  • Keep medical and therapy appointments
  • Take all medicines as directed
  • Structure activities: keep a routine for sleeping and eating, and exercise
  • Learn to recognize your mood swings and warning signs, like decreased sleep
  • Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment
  • Be patient; improvement takes time. Social support helps
  • Avoid misuse of alcohol and drugs.

How it has impacted me and my family

I have been dealing with this emotional roller coaster since high-school but my mom has lived in Iowa and hasn’t physically been around for years. I always prayed for her and hoped one day we could have a good relationship. There are other factors of why we haven’t had a relationship but I know a huge one is because of mental illness. It has been hard for me to be emphatic to her because of some hurtful things she has said to me and how she has been missing out of my life for the past 10 years. We have gotten into a lot of arguments and it can be difficult on me and on her. I get mad when she sleeps all day and get mad when she does other things that I don’t agree with. I am frustrated with the mental health system right now. I finally got her some help and she agreed but the inpatient facility she was in was horrible. The workers treated them bad, there were constant fights that would break out, and my mom felt unsafe so she left. I don’t blame her but it’s so disappointing how the system failed her. When someone doesn’t have money they are put into terrible facilities and really just comes down to money. We aren’t rich and don’t have the means to put her in a good treatment center but I wish she could get actual help. I know she would succeed if she was in the right environment that cared for her and made her feel safe. She has always been a great mother and she has a heart of gold. She means really well and she is one of the most selfless people I know. I wish she knew how wonderful she truly was and how we all need her. My brother and sister love her a lot too and I am thankful to have my sister to talk to about all of it. We will not give up on our mom. We know that she can be better but sometimes it gets very discouraging that she won’t. When she recently came back into my life in Georgia a few months ago I was so excited to have her around but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. It wouldn’t be easy to be to connect right away, it wouldn’t be easy to relive a lot of past pain and trauma, it wouldn’t be easy for me to watch her suffer, it wouldn’t be easy for me to watch this roller coaster of emotions, and it hasn’t been easy. I struggle between wanting to do everything I can to help and feeling like I can save her or fix her but then I struggle with knowing that I can only do so much.

Loving someone who has mental illness is really freaking hard and especially when you deal with mental illness yourself. I am diagnosed with anxiety, panic, depression, and PTSD. I am still working through some of my own experiences and trying to heal and be the best person I can be. For years, I stayed away from my mom and other people because I had to set boundaries for my own physical and mental health. To be honest, I am scared to even speak on this publicly for the retaliation I may get. I know that this is personal and some of this isn’t my story to tell, but my heart strings are pulling on me that it needs to be shared. People need to start to do more research, ask more questions and have more empathy. I am trying to have more empathy but the fact I am a very emphatic person means I need to set boundaries and make sure I am taking care of my mental health and myself first. These past few weeks have been really draining and I have had a lot of anxiety. We don’t know what the outcome will be but I will keep praying and hoping for recovery and for change. I will keep learning about bipolar and many other disorders. For the ones who are feeling like me, just know you are not alone! Make sure to go to therapy, journal, baths, walks, breaks from your phone, learn to say no, and take moments for you.

Thank you for reading and I hope this blog post can spread more awareness and help someone in need. Feel free to comment or reach out to me if you would like to discuss this more!

Love & Light,

Tuscany

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Mental Health · self-help · self-love · Uncategorized

8 Ways to Deal With Negative Thoughts

You wake up in the morning but you are rushing because you snoozed for the last hour. The night before, you planned on getting up early, drinking some cucumber and lemon water, stretching, walking the dog, and having time to get ready for yoga. That snooze button just was too easy and the bed was too comfortable to get out of. Yoga is in 20 minutes so you rush out of bed, eat a piece of toast, don’t even brush your hair or teeth, and basically throw clothes on and rush out the door. Already, you are anxious because you have 10 minutes to get to class before it starts. You are upset because you planned to have a good morning and to start it off right but that dang snooze button got the best of you! On the drive, you are talking so negatively about yourself and upset that you didn’t just get up. You get to class with 1 minute to spare and to your luck, the only spot left is in the very front and center of the class. GREAT just to my luck this would happen! The negative thoughts start creeping in… “This is going to suck,” “What if I get sick and can’t lay down,” What if I can’t keep up with the entire class since I haven’t been in a month,” ” I am front and center so I have to keep up or else I will look weak,” “I work here so I have to be a good yoga role model to the other students and to the ones online,” “I am scared I won’t do well,” “I am so mad about myself for not getting up earlier to get in a different spot.” The mind is going wild with so much negative thinking before the class has even started.

Instead of continuing this negative thinking and letting this mindset completely ruin the next 75 minutes of this hot yoga class, you make a huge shift in your thoughts! You start to look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I got this,” “I am strong,” “I don’t have to be perfect,” “I am thankful I made it to the mat,” “I showed up and didn’t fully bail on class,” “I just have to breathe and take it a step at a time,” and just like that…..you feel strong, brave, happy, excited, and you take on the entire 75 minute class like a rock star! What a concept right? If we switch our negative thoughts and start speaking positive affirmations then it can completely transform how you feel about a situation.

Does this happen to you? Do you have moments before going into a situation and you completely already talk yourself out of it before you even had a chance to attempt? This happens to me A LOT! I don’t know if it stems from my anxiety, depression, or lack of self-confidence and trust in good things to actually happen. Along the way, there have probably been situations in your life where you have been let down. Instead of letting yourself down without fully knowing the situation yet, you tell yourself that it already isn’t going to work, so no big deal. This can be a defense mechanism and a reaction to replaying past events and worrying about the future. Unfortunately, these negative thoughts really take a toll and can hold you back from enjoying life experiences, distract you from focusing on what’s really important, make you feel anxious and depressed, and drain your energy. 

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is a psychological treatment that can be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol, and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. CBT helps you manage stress and anxiety by learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, coping self-talk, identifying situations that are often avoided and gradually approaching feared situations. This type of therapy is focused on present problems and is works with problem-orientated situations.  A great resource to find a therapist in your area that does CBT is searching on Psychology Today online.

Cognitive Therapy Exercise:

(My Psychology teacher gave us this example of what a Cognitive Therapy Exercise looks like so feel free to answer these questions for your own personal reflection)

  • I often worry that I _____
  • What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? What do you fear most of all?
  • When you think the worst thing that could happen, do you really think that it’s likely to happen? If so, How could you learn to cope with it?
  • I accept myself even though I ____ (do not use the word “am”)

2. Recognizing where your thought distortions are coming from

When you can recognize the core of where these negative thoughts stem from then it can be very beneficial. We tend to tell ourselves these stories of things that are really not true and these inaccurate thoughts can reinforce negative thinking. When we can really recognize them then we can challenge them.

  • Personalizing: Assuming you are to blame for anything that goes wrong. When someone doesn’t say hello to you in the morning at work and you feel that it is your fault and you must have done something to upset him/her. When really, it is more likely that person is having a hard morning and it has nothing to do personally against you.
  • Black and white thinking: Seeing things as one way or another with no in between.
  • Filter thinking: Choosing to see only the negative of a situation
  • Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst possible outcome is going to happen.

References: Psychology Today

3. Questioning your thoughts

We tend to make up stories in our heads and these stories become what we think is true. When we can step back and look at a different perspective then we can try to see the full picture and defuse the negative thoughts. If a good friend was telling you a story how would you react to what they were telling you? Try to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see if that can help.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this thought true?
  • Is this thought important?
  • Is this thought helpful?

4. Separate from negative thoughts

It is important to try and take breaks from negative thoughts and put in positive ones instead. I know this can be difficult and honestly it really takes practice, patience, self-awareness, and time. Take control of your thoughts and allow yourself a few minutes with the thought but then take a break and start focusing on something positive. When we spend too much time on these negative thoughts then they can completely take over and consume us, to the point we start to believe they are actually true.

5. Let go of the judgment!

I know it can be so easy to judge ourselves and put ourselves down without even realizing it. I feel like it is even harder now a days because of social media and social comparison. This happens to me especially while scrolling through my Instagram feed! I see how people are handling their Instagram for blogs and think wow mine sucks, it could be so much better! These people get to travel the world, ugh, I will never get to do that! I will never be that skinny! I feel so fat! I won’t ever get that promotion! I feel like all of us do this without even realizing sometimes and this can have a huge impact on your negative thought patterns. When you start to have these thoughts recognize your reaction to them, observe it, and then let it go. Another way, is when you are noticing you are judging yourself or someone else in a negative light then start to look for a positive quality as well.

6. Gratitude!

Practicing gratitude is by far one of the biggest helps when it comes to negative self-talk. I highly recommend meditation, writing in a journal, and yoga. These three things have helped me so much because you get time with yourself to really take a step back and be with your thoughts. You actually feel your breath and your heart beat. I always feel so grateful to even be alive and to be able to breathe. It’s those little things that can really put everything in perspective and help you see the bigger picture.

7. Starting the day with affirmations

I work at a yoga studio and one of the students I talk to could feel that I was very stressed. I was very stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. The next day, she gave me a note card with these journal prompts and affirmations and told me to give it a try. At first, I was like how will I have time to do this first thing in the AM? As we heard above I LOVE to snooze my alarm and usually am running late. What if I got up a little earlier and spent 5 min or less answering these questions? Well, I did and let me tell you it really did set the tone for the day and I encourage you to give them a try!

8. Focus on what your strengths are

I know it can be difficult to focus on what you are good at and especially because you don’t want to sound conceded. But let me tell you, it is okay to talk good about yourself and be confident! It is human nature to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive sometimes, but the more you practice focusing on your strengths and how to move forward then the easier it will be to feel positive about yourself. Sometimes, we look into the past and can be upset of how we handled situations, who we surrounded ourselves with, and any thing that has happened that has made us feel less then. I know it is easier said then done but you have to forgive yourself and know that you made that decision for a reason. Every single life decision happens for us and leads us on the right path. When we can be more self-aware and think, “I put myself in that situation because I didn’t have the healthy coping skills as a teen and that is the way I got by.” Sometimes, we didn’t know better or maybe didn’t even have a choice. That is okay! Love every single inch of you and your heart.

I want you to know that I am posting this because I have a really hard time with negative thought patterns. I don’t even realize how much I am negative but I am a lot. The other day, I was driving to the dog park with my Husband and I said, “I really have to go to the bathroom.” He said, “There is a bathroom there we will be there soon.” and then I said “No, they are probably closed because of COVID.” See what I did? I didn’t even wait until we got there to actually see and instead already made up my mind that they were closed! Did I do this to protect myself in case there really wasn’t and I peed my pants? Probably! There are a lot of situations like that where I always shut things down right away without giving it a chance. I know that this will take effort and practice and honestly will probably be a forever thing to work on. The thing is, if we can work at it little by little and realize that we are doing this and why then that makes all the difference. I would love to hear your thoughts below and I really hope this helps!

Love & Light,

Tuscany

Here is me after Yoga this morning feeling AMAZING!

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