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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Self-Care

Self-care During A Pandemic

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

I can’t believe what is going on in the world right now and 2020 has already been such a weird year. Most of us went into 2020 with New Year resolutions and goals with the excitement of a fresh slate to conquer anything. Obviously, none of us expected this pandemic to happen and most of us are really struggling with it. My hope for this post is to give you some self-care and self-love tips that you can use right now and carry with you afterwards in everyday life.

We are so used to staying busy with going out, being around friends/family, having a routine, and constantly being on the go. It is necessary for us to be productive and be on the go so we can financially afford to support ourselves and for our overall mental health. We love to plan ahead and know what the future holds or else it can cause some panic and anxiety. A lot of us are planners and love to have our weekend planned out, from going to brunch with friends or going to a concert. We are social creatures and we need others and crave that human touch. A lot of us do not have extra money saved up and we basically live pay check to pay check. Some of us are working still and are on the front lines like healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, and any essential businesses. Some people do long distance with a loved one and can’t travel to go see them. People have had to cancel their weddings, birthdays, and other important events. Some people have low immune systems and are terrified of getting sick. Some people are working for the airline and still having to travel with the worry of getting sick. Some people are new business owners and are terrified of losing their dream and their financial income. Some people have grandparents or parents who they love dearly and are terrified of them getting sick and the possibility of their immune system not being strong enough to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. A lot of mothers and parents are now home 24/7 with their children and are going mentally insane with everything. To the parents who are used to sending their kids to school and relying on the teachers to teach them and the school to feed them, they now have to think of things to occupy their children and have enough money to feed them. A lot of people have lost their jobs or are nervous they won’t have a job when this is all over. There are a lot of people who are currently at home alone and are struggling with depression. There are people who are already dealing with suicidal thoughts and now they are adding all this stress with wondering if they can afford things, and the fact of them being alone in their own head terrifies them. There are SO many fears right now and this is just a short list of them and the people struggling. There is so much unknown right now and it is leading to a lot of fear, worry, panic, depression, and isolation. I want you all to know that we recognize you and that it is okay to feel this way right now, but know that it will pass. Here are some tips that have helped me manage rough times and I hope these can help right now, and always.


Mental Health

For any of you already struggling with mental health issues I am sure this is just adding more stress onto you. I encourage you to talk to a therapist if you can. I know there a lot of therapist who will talk to you over the phone or even on Zoom. This can be great to have some extra support right now and someone to vent to. If you are struggling with suicide call: 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They are there 24/7 and you can easily call them from your phone. If you are on medication remember to keep up with that and know that it is okay if you need to start medication right now during this. Writing in a journal can be great way to get your thoughts down on paper and release them. I encourage you to stay connected with people and get outdoors if you can.


Yoga & Meditation

This has helped me SO much in the last few weeks and in general. Yoga can be a great way to recenter and disconnect from the news and social media. If your new to yoga then this is a great time to start and in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t have a yoga mat then you can use a towel! There are so many free online classes right now that people are offering and I would definitely take advantage of it. Lately, I have been setting up my guest room with candles, Himalayan salt lamp, essential oil diffuser, and pillows and a blanket. If you can, you can make a little spot in your house so zen that you will feel like you are in an actual yoga class- or even better sometimes! Yoga is a great way to learn how to take deep breaths, relax your shoulders, and just be in the present moment. We are so used to constantly being on the go and moving that we hardly have time to check in with our thoughts. It can be difficult for a lot of people to stay still and really be in the moment. This can be a great time to practice this and feel safe in doing so. A lot of us are sitting on the couch and probably feel sore and blah from laying around, so yoga can be a great way to stretch out and move your body. I also love that there are so many live classes because you are doing the classes with others and so it helps you feel connected. Meditation is so important because it can really help recenter you and you can release any fear or worry you might be having.

  • Yoga with Adriene (Free on You-tube)
  • Lululemon work outs (Free on You-tube)
  • Check in with your local yoga instructors and see if they are offering any live classes right now. A lot of my favorite instructors have been teaching virtually and it has been amazing!
  • Tone it up (App-Free for 30 days and then after $12/month)
  • Ember Yoga (This is the yoga studio I work out and they are now offering live classes- check out their website)
  • Insight Timer (Meditation app)

Social Media

I know most of us are very attached to social media and with all this time on our hands we are scrolling more then ever. People are posting their opinions, some facts, fears, how they are enjoying this time, etc. This can be very hard on your overall mental health and it can sometimes cause more harm then good. If you are stuck inside and you are seeing people really enjoying this time then it can lead to anger. When we are constantly seeing sad things on social media then it can lead to feeling helpless and fear for our own life. We usually want to be in control of every situation and when we can’t control others then that can be very frustrating. I have really loved seeing the positive side of social media where people are sharing work outs, recipes, self-help tips, work out challenges, live concerts, and sharing different organizations or people to donate to right now. If you are really struggling mentally, then I would say take a quick break from social media and focus on the present. It is easy for me to get caught up in social media and I’ve had to really be more aware what I post lately. The last thing I want to do is make anyone upset or seem insensitive to other peoples situations. I think it is important now more then ever to really spread more positive messages on social media and to reach out to others who might be struggling. Although, know that it is okay if you are enjoying this time at home and you need to worry about yourself. Sometimes, I feel guilty because I have been enjoying this time because my Husband is finally home and I am lucky enough to have a back yard, rough over my head, food, and still have income coming in. I know that I have to see the positive because I struggle with depression and I don’t want to go down that path right now, or ever. If you are upset because you are sitting in your house complying and others are not, that is completely valid and I would urge you to send them a private message but be kind and do not lead with anger. Lets spread love and awareness but be kind the way you come about it. I am noticing a lot of anger coming out of fear and it is separating loved ones, and if anything we need to come together more then ever right now. Please be kind! Know that every state has different things in place and everyone has a different circumstance.


Face-time and Phone Calls

I have loved seeing so many people face-timing others and connecting with their friends. Most of us are social creatures and we are not used to being away from friends or family. Some of us live alone and are really struggling right now, and so it is very important to stay connected. Some people really struggle with even getting on the phone when they are depressed, so have compassion for those people and maybe send them a sweet text to check in on them. I have seen a lot of group face-times and even some people doing surprise birthday parties virtually. I have seeing A LOT of people go on Instagram live and staying connected. If being social is something you really need then this is a great time to catch up with your friends and family! Another great thing would be to go old school and mail someone a card or letter. I love writing cards and its such a great feeling receiving one!


Physical Health

This should always be important and a priority but with everything going on it should be even more important. I personally have hardly been drinking alcohol during this time because it doesn’t make me feel good, and when I am already anxious it can lead to more anxiety. I have a weak immune system and I get sick easily so it is important for me right now to stay healthy and strong. I have been making celery juice in the morning and fresh ginger, lemon ,and turmeric shots! This has been a great time to cook a ton of recipes and make healthy meals at home. Use this time to learn a new recipe and take a break from eating out. I’ve been making sure to go on walks in my neighborhood so I can physically feel good. When we look at screens for too long and are isolated inside it can be very hard on our body and mind. I encourage you to take vitamins and be very kind to your body right now.


Tackle the to-do list

Do you have a long list of things you’ve been putting off because you are so busy all the time? This can be a great time to go through your list or even make a list of things you want to get done. This can be a great time to organize your closet, file your taxes, clean the entire house (LOL), get rid of clothes to donate, work on the house, mow your lawn, write down some goals or dreams you have, write a book, read a book, work on your business plan, or anything else you have been needing to get done.


Spa Day at Home

How amazing does this sound!? This can be for men and women! Come on Men this is your time to relax and spend time with your girlfriend/wife and wind down.

  • Put a robe on or something comfy
  • Take an Epson salt bath with lavender
  • Face masks!
  • Cut some cucumber and put it on your eyes and lay down
  • Hair masks (you can even use lavender oil and coconut oil)
  • Spa music (Spotify, Insight Timer App)
  • Give each other massages

Get Creative

My best friend sent me a list of things she wants to learn and do. This is the time to learn the piano, a recipe, make a tik-tok, write a poem, paint, do a puzzle, sing, and tap into the creative side. I always miss being a kid and always doing something creative. I always felt so happy and content doing this, and as you get older we forget to do these things and we get caught up with being social and normal life demands. Use this time to finally try something you’ve been wanting to do and just be a kid again!


Give back

Do you know an elderly, disabled, or even a single mom who can’t go out to the store right now and get essentials? If you are healthy I encourage you to reach out to people, post on Facebook, text your neighbors and see if anyone needs extra assistance. Not only does this help someone else but it will also make you feel better for doing something good for someone. Right now a lot of Hospitals need face masks so you can get creative and make one if you know how to sew, or if you have one and don’t need it please donate to a local Hospital. If you are in a good financial situation help out local businesses and buy gift cards to use at a later time, or shop on their online store. You can donate food to local Food Banks because they really could use extra food to help people in need right now. Feeding America is a great source for food banks as well. You can volunteer remotely! I found an organization called Alone that you can have a companionship with the elderly remotely! You can also volunteer for the Crisis Hotline. You can donate blood with the Red Cross because there is a huge need for it right now.

Relax and do nothing

For some people this will be the only time off they will ever have and normally never get this time at home. My Husband is always traveling and working on the go. It can be difficult because we spend a lot of time apart and he always has a lot of projects he needs to get done at the house. I have really enjoyed being able to spend time with him and I really don’t know the next time we will get this much time. If you have hated seeing all these posts about work-outs and being productive and your sitting there eating a tub of ice cream and watching Netflix- THAT IS OKAY! Use this time to really catch up on sleep, rest, and take it easy! This is something that is essential and be thankful you have some time to really just chill. Do not compare your life to others and know that everyone’s journey is different.


Spread love

Most importantly, spread love to everyone right now and to yourself. Have compassion for yourself and know that you are doing the best you can do. Right now, a lot of people are struggling and have a lot of fears and so it is important to be aware and to spread positive messages and kindness. I know this can get annoying to see when you are feeling super down to see people being positive. I would always get so annoyed with my dad when he would say “THINK POSITIVE, BLAH BLAH,” when I was feeling super down and I just wanted him to be with me in my feelings and acknowledge them. Sometimes you just want to feel your feelings and be upset! That is OK! Just remember to not take it out on others and know that we are all in this together. I encourage you to start positive things on social media and see if there is anyway you can help others. It’s also okay if you are feeling happy right now and are enjoying this time! It is different for everyone so just have compassion for everyone. SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE 🙂

I hope this can help and I would love to hear some ways that help you! Please reach out if you have any questions or need any extra support. We are in this together and know this is temporary. If anything this is teaching us so much and resetting us. This is an opportunity to really look inward and heal yourself. This is a reminder that anything can happen so it is important to focus on what you can control and that is your thoughts. Self-care and Self-love are essential in everyday and maybe you will take what your learning during this time to life after the Pandemic.

Love & Light,

Tuscany