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Posts Tagged ‘bipolar disorder’

Statistics show that if one parent has bipolar disorder the chance of a child developing bipolar disorder goes up somewhat, to somewhere around 10-20%. If both parents are bipolar, the likelihood that a child will develop bipolar disorder at some point in their life approaches 50%.

I have a good friend who frequently likes to tell me how fortunate I am not to have children, because, after all, if I did, they’d probably be screwed up.  Now, I know my friend sounds mean, but she’s not.  She is certainly blunt, but has good intentions.  She has two teenagers, and when they were little, their dad suffered from deep depression and “flat-lined” emotionally.  Therefore, he had little interaction with them, and they were primarily raised by their incredibly stressed-out mom, my friend.  She recalls feeling like a “single mom” during that period.

And now her kids are, in her words, “screwed up.”  She begs and pleads with me not to have children, and she may very well get her wish, due to medical reasons.  But it does dredge up a painful issue for me.

Growing up, I dreamed of having a husband and a couple of kids.  I was your typical girl in that respect.  Long before the thought of writing books ever entered my mind, I knew I wanted to be a mom.  Now I’m 29 years old and my husband is 37 and I hear the clock ticking.

But having biological children seems so risky.  I wouldn’t wish my bipolar on my worst enemy, so how is it any better taking a chance on your kids inheriting it?  So I figure, well, I can always adopt.  But is it fair to raise a child with the roller coaster of emotions that is bipolar?

Is bipolar a sentence for loneliness and dreams lost?  When all the little pamphlets say that people with BP can live “happy, productive” lives, does that mean happy and productive by mentally ill standards?

Is trying to have a normal life too risky and dangerous?

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Hey everyone. Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. Been working hard on the book, and feeling a little blue. I got no sleep last night and I felt pretty trashed today. But I’ve noticed that ever since I went on Zyprexa (mood stabilizer – helps with sleep when the restless legs don’t attack me), I have felt very emotionally “flat.” Like it’s nearly impossible to really take an interest in anything. I do what I do because I have to do it, and nothing more. I guess I need to follow my own good advice and go see the doctor.

The problem is, before Zyprexa, I was on Seroquel, which is very sedating and great for sleeping, but it kept me rather sedated all day – to the point where I was falling asleep at my computer. Zyprexa is sedating, as well, but it doesn’t “hit me” as hard, and it wears off enough to allow me to function. The problem with some of these meds is that you’re darned if you do, and darned if you don’t.

I am happy to report, on a related note, that I haven been gathering quite a few interviews of random people for my book. I belong to a few mental health groups on Facebook, so I put the call out in the groups to e-mail me if they wanted to tell me their story. It certainly has been interesting. One woman gave up on Christianity because she was schizophrenic, and when she went to church she believed that she was Jesus’ wife. No more religion for her. I’m not quite sure where or if that fits into my book, but I certainly did find it interesting.

I am having to water down my language, unfortunately. One of the goals of the book is to reduce the stigma attached to the term “mental illness.” It’s to make people realize that heart disease is a disease of the heart, diabetes a disease of the pancreas, and mental illness and disease of the brain. But as it turns out — and I should have known this — people hear “mental illness” and freak out. They don’t want anything to do with it. So I’ve gone from saying “mental illness” to “emotional issues.” Hopefully that is coddling enough to reduce everyone’s anxiety.

Like I said… darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

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I read this article today with great interest.

My own father was 43 when I was born, however this article seems to indicate that this applies to men age 55 and older.  Even so… kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  My husband is currently 37 years old, and if we are able to have children, he will probably be at least 40 when that happens.  With the history of BP so strong on my side of the family, it makes me wonder if it’s a good idea to bring little Fidlers into the world… especially since the research indicates this:

Children of older mothers also had an increased risk, but the risk was less pronounced than that associated with older fathers. In cases of early onset bipolar disorder (diagnosed before age 20), the effect of the father’s age was much stronger, while the mother’s age had no effect, the study found.

It may be a small number, but that’s 3 strikes against our poor kids.

Bipolar disorder is a common, severe mood disorder involving episodes of mania and depression. Other than a family history of psychotic disorders, few risk factors for the condition have been identified, according to background information in the article.

The more we know, the better.

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I am writing this from my dining room, as my husband and nephew play Wii boxing in the living room, and my niece and step-nephew listen to music on my niece’s cell phone. Just another Saturday night at our place.

I talked to one of my Nashville friends for several hours today. She and another friend of mine have a PR business together, and they’re going to help me promote my book. I was extremely grateful for her input and expertise. Good friends are hard to find.

One thing has become obvious – if I’m going to get readers, and interviewees, I’m going to have to change my wording. “Mental illness” repels people like a cat and a bathtub. I have to soften what I am saying, which is frustrating to me because part of the reason why I am even writing this is to take the stigma out of it, and get people to realize that all mental illness REALLY means is an illness in the brain, just like diabetes is an illness of the pancreas, and heart disease is a disease of the heart. But not everybody sees things the way I see them, and I really can’t expect them to, so I have to soften my wording.

Really, it’s such a broad category. It can mean depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, addiction, etc., etc. So when I’m talking about this, I have to be more specific, I guess.

Live and learn. But for now, Saturday, play and enjoy family.

My youngest nephew turned 7 this past week, and his birthday party is tomorrow, so I’m off to find him some Lego goodies at Walmart. I can’t believe how big he’s gotten. He was born 2 weeks before 9-11. I remember going to see him in the hospital. When he was a toddler, I was his nanny for 4 months. I have been head-over-heels for the kid since the first time I saw him. My oldest nephew leaves to go into the Navy next year. They really do grow up too fast, you know. Enjoy them while they’re here. I love each and every one of them. They’re beautiful.

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Last night I was talking to an acquaintance on the phone about my book progress among other things, and in a rather cautionary tone, she told me her experience with Bipolar Disorder. I must admit, I had a laugh over this.

One time at an event for one of the ministries she’s involved in at church, she struck up a conversation with a woman who was drinking can after can of Coca-Cola. This woman complained to my acquaintance that she couldn’t drop any weight, and she didn’t know why. My acquaintance, who is pure of heart and had no idea that this girl was even bipolar, told her to stop drinking cokes and start drinking a lot of water to flush out her system.

A few weeks later, my acquaintance gets a call from a church friend who says, “Hey, have you talked to Sue lately?” She says no and asks how she’s doing. Her friend on the phone goes, “Well, she’s been drinking tons of water and she flushed the Lithium out of her body and went kinda crazy, and now she’s in an Asylum!”

That’s one of those situations where it’s not funny, but it is, you know?
Impulse control and common sense, unfortunately, are not among our bipolar symptoms.

I always tell people that I like to talk about my disease as if it were a head cold. No big deal. I’m sick, I deal with it the best way I can, you can’t catch it (although after more than two years at my last job, I was beginning to think you really could “catch crazy), and I talk about it because I believe once you give something a voice, it stops being a taboo subject. This was also the idea behind the sexual abuse counseling I went to. The events of your childhood cease to be dirty secrets once they come to light and are faced head-on.

I think the same is true of mental illness. People are afraid what they don’t understand, but they’re never going TO understand until we come into the light (because, after all, Jesus calls us out of darkness anyway), and be honest about what ails us. And, yes, it means enduring jokes and stereotypes, but isn’t work to be acting strangely at times and not have anyone know why?

I know a lot of people don’t like to talk about ANY of their problems, and I can’t blame them. It’s a free country where we can say whatever we want, or opt not to, if that’s the better choice. However, I really do feel that if you’re sick of the lack of understanding, as I am, then you have a responsibility to educate people.

I take meds for diabetes, I take meds for my high blood pressure, and I take meds for my brain illness. That’s how I look at my life. And if someone has a problem with me because of it, even after having everything explained, than so be it. At least they’ve been told the truth.

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Now that I’m medicated for Bipolar Disorder, I have to say that I am not free of depression, bur rather it is less of a frequent/severe visitor. Even so, when it does pay me a visit, it’s always noticeable and unpleasant. I have been suffering through a bout of it recently, and I’d have to say the worst part about is that I often feel like nothing on this planet interests me. It’s almost like a case of severe boredom, despite having plenty of work to do right now, and things to look forward to. Depression causes me to look around my world and ask, “Why?”

Often times, I will get very excited and motivated about something, and moments later feel that “why” coming on. I’m pretty sure it’s not a BP cycle. I’ve decided it’s one of two things, maybe both. Either my brain, in it’s state of depression, can’t handle too much happy overload, or it’s a result of having been sexually abused – feeling like I don’t deserve the happiness, or waiting for the other shoe to drop. All I know is, I have spent my whole life struggling to enjoy pure joy.

I take notice of the things we all know but don’t dwell on – well, the things healthy people don’t dwell on. I see how short life is. I understand when the Bible says that this is all meaningless, because I see the meaninglessness of it. And somehow, in the meaninglessness, we have a purpose here… which is a theological concept I don’t grasp and it really bugs the snot out of me when I’m down.

So I fill my mind with the things of God I do understand – His loving kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. I found myself forcing myself to verbally remind myself today. It’s like this world is a beautiful lake, but there’s this sludgy film on top preventing the lake from showing off it’s natural beauty.

Which isn’t to say I don’t have bad days that have nothing to do with depression. Maybe work was too hectic, or the car isn’t running properly, or I’m stuck on a writing project. And then the people that know I suffer from depression often incorrectly assume it’s because I’m “being bipolar.” I wish I could give them a glimpse into my world, not because I want them to suffer, but because I want them to understand, to push away that slimy film on top to reveal the beauty of the lake underneath, so they see that although it’s beautiful, it’s complicated beneath the surface.

Truthfully, I don’t always know when I’m depressed, but I do know when I’m not.

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I stink at art - especially pastels - but every once in a while, the bug bites me.

I stink at art - especially pastels - but every once in a while, the bug bites me.

When you’re sick and things don’t go your way, doesn’t seem like everything is 10 times worse than it really is?  Being bipolar is hardly the exception.

I cleaned the apartment today and decided I need to go for a swim.  Swimming definitely squeezes the endorphins into me, so I packed up my gym bag off I went.  But once I got there and went to change into my bathing suit, I realized I had packed everything but my bathing suit.  What’s a bipolar chick to do?  So I started crying and told my husband the entire world was out to get me.

After a long shower and some caffeine, I’m seeing things more clearly and I recognize the melodrama.

I have been struggling with depression because the time I take some of meds changed, and I have to really fight to remember to take them… which I haven’t, more than a time or two.  So I’ve thrown myself out of whack, and that’s how it goes.

Ten lashes for being irresponsible.

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