Bipolar Disorder

Boiling Pots


Psychologist. Psychiatrist. Primary Care Physician. Gynecologist. Dentist. Orthodontist…

I was updating the calendar that I share with my boss (I am an executive assistant and it’s pertinent that I keep the calendars up to date), and I was adding in all the appointments that I have scheduled so far for the month of February.

First Week of February

  • 5th – Child Doctor Appointment in the morning
  • 7th – Therapy Session with Psychologist in the afternoon
  • 9th – Nerve Blocks at PCP office in the morning

Second Week of February

  • 14th – Sleep Institute Follow Up Check In in the morning
  • 14th – Psychiatrist follow up appointment in the afternoon
  • 15th – Ultrasound with Gynecologist in the morning
  • 16th – Orthodontist appointment for child in the morning

Third Week of February

  • 21st – Therapy Session with Psychologist in the afternoon
  • 22nd – Dentist Appointment for child in the afternoon

Today I am feeling quite overwhelmed with what is scheduled as every week, at least once a week, I will be at a doctor appointment at one point during the week.  This means I will be taking time off work to accommodate the doctor appointments and will increase the amount of time I am driving as the locations for my doctor appointments and the office where I am currently working at on the opposite side of town.

Not only is it a grand investment in time and energy to have so many appointments, but it is financially draining.  I recently filed my taxes for this year and my medical costs for 2017 were 45% of my total income.  This is heart wrenching for me.  Nearly half of my salary goes to my health, whether it is co pays, office visit costs or prescriptions.  I have major debt because of medical expenses and past years spent overspending due to mania fueled shopping sprees.  I feel like I am drowning in debt with no light at the end of the tunnel.  I work part time because of my schedule and what I can handle mentally and physically, which means I make less than I have in previous years, only compounding the financial stress.

After our appointment this morning, both my son and I were discussing how we just wanted to go home, even though it was just nearing the lunch hour.  We were spent.  Attending appointments is not only time consuming and are financially a burden, but they wear you out mentally and physically.  Sitting, waiting, answering questions, receiving feedback all leads to processing what is transpiring and that can take a lot out of a person.  It also forces you to come to terms with the reality of situations and that can be hard to do.  We live each day knowing that we have obstacles to overcome, but somehow it is different when you are facing them head on and really being in the moment discussing your ailment.

I am taxed in many ways each and everyday dealing with my illnesses.  The Bipolar disorder takes center stage, but I also suffer from chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, Sleep Apnea, Hormone Imbalance as result of a Hysterectomy and a few other mental illnesses.  Much like a person who has multiple pots boiling on the stove, once you get one pot simmered, another pot starts to boil uncontrollably.  This is my life.  Jumping from one boiling pot to another.  Making small progress, but still being overwhelmed by the whole picture as to what is going on.

I tell myself that I will persevere, and I will press on.  That I have never given up and don’t plan to ever.  That this sense of being overwhelmed will pass.  That I can look back over the last handful of years and see how far I have indeed progressed and am in a far better place than I have been in the past.  I am not sure if I will ever conquer this, but I will not allow it to make me feel like a failure or ever be too much for me to handle.  I’ve got this!

Bipolar Disorder

Salt in my Shaker: Lithium

salt-shaker-on-tableLithium is derived from the Greek word lithos which stands for stone.  We pronounce it as LITH-ee-em.  It is part of the group Alkali Metal on the periodic table of elements and holds the the atomic number three while bearing the symbol of “Li”. defines Lithium as being a “component that affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body.”   It started to be used in the field of psychiatry in 1949.  Lithium is used to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder, by preventing or lessening the intensity of manic episodes.

When I saw my doctor on Friday, we determined that increasing my Lithium would provide benefits to the anxiety that I was experiencing.  I was to start with an additional 150 mg that night, and remove the Wellbutrin that I usually take in the morning.  I was fine with the prescribed change, but worried about how it would affect me.  My body can be quite sensitive to medication and I usually experience numerous effects as my body is getting used to the change.

Per, the following are common lithium side effects:

  • drowsiness;
  • tremors in your hands;
  • dry mouth, increased thirst or urination;
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain;
  • changes in your skin or hair;
  • cold feeling or discoloration in your fingers or toes;
  • feeling uneasy; or
  • impotence, loss of interest in sex.

Less Common Side effects include:

  • Confusion, poor memory, or lack of awareness
  • fainting
  • fast or slow heartbeat
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • irregular pulse
  • stiffness of the arms or legs
  • troubled breathing (especially during hard work or exercise)
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weight gain


It is day three/four (third night, fourth day) and the nausea that I have had since Saturday is still lingering and getting worse after each time that I eat.  I am exhausted, regardless of the amount of sleep that I had the night prior.  Sunday afternoon after lunch I slept for three hours and still managed to sleep all night that evening.  The shaking in my right arm has increased, but thankfully it is only present when I am tired.  My head is pounding and I can’t think.  It took me 30 minutes this morning to remember a password for a site that I log into every few days.

I already have a problem with excessive hair loss from the last time we increased my Lithium, so I am hoping that does not get worse, or I may need to go all Britney Spears circa 2007 and shave my head.  It’s too early to tell if I will suffer from weight gain, but that seems to be something that I am more prone too as my past has shown me.

Driving this morning was not as bad, I left a little bit later so there would be less traffic on the road.  My heart did not speed up each time I saw a red brake light and I did not freak out when a car pulled up beside me.  I was listening to the newest Taylor Swift album, Revolution, so perhaps that was the key to my success, but most likely it was the effects of the Lithium increase.

Time will tell how this change in medication, the increase in Lithium and decrease in Wellbutrin, will affect me.  I am optimistically hoping that good changes will come.  That I will not sink into a depression from the lack of the Wellbutrin like I did the last time that we removed it, and that I will not gain weight as I did when we first started the treatment two years ago.

I trust that my doctor is making the best decisions for my health and overall well-being.  I will be patient and will persevere through the less than appealing side effects as my body becomes used to the changes in my body.  I will produce nurture and love to myself through words of affirmation and focusing on the positives in each and everyday while allowing myself to be slow to any emotion when it comes to dealing with others, as who knows what battle they are fighting at this time (as they do not know the battles that I am enduring myself).  I will succumb to my stubbornness and make some much needed changes to my diet and focus on the long term benefits and not the struggle that I am enduring to eliminate certain foods from my diet.

This too shall pass…

Bipolar Disorder


401628_700669492599_1736905561_nI bee-bop through life trying to deal with the things that come up.  I try and act like ordinary things do not bother me, that they are just no big deal, that I am able to dismiss them and move forward.  However, that is a bit of a lie.  I hold onto these things like they are earth shattering mistakes that will ruin the rest of my life.

I am stressed over the fact that I don’t feel like the servings of food last night for dinner were large enough.  That I question if the children received enough nutrients, were they deprived?  And at work, I yet again made another mistake with the accounting program and I fear that my boss will be frusturated with me, thinking I should be at a point where I am no longer making mistakes.  Then my brain goes to a communication I had with a friend.  “Is she mad at me?” comes to my head and I dwell on it.  The “I should have done this” and “should not have done that” races through my head, and guilt and insecurity fills me.  Did I happen to mention that this all occurred while I was driving?  In addition to the fears of being rear ended, side swiped and the stress that comes each time I see a red break light, I have all these thoughts crowding my brain.

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist this afternoon.  As usual, I wrote a summary document about what I have been experiencing over the last few weeks.  I provide her with this information so she can see what is going on and we can immediately get into discussing the events that have transpired, allowing more time for discussing any alterations to medication and coping mechanisms.

In addition to the normal anxiety that fills me, today I am anxious about this upcoming appointment.  Will there be a change in medication?  How will the change in doses affect my day to day activity?  Is exhaustion a side effect I can expect?  Is mania something I will need to contend with?  What about weight gain?  And, I don’t even know if we will do a change in medication, these are all what if’s, but what if’s are the story of my life it seems.

It is aggravating and somewhat depressing to know that this is Bipolar Disorder.  This is the ups and downs that are notorious of the disorder.  Is this what I can expect this point going forward.  Is maintaining stability for an extended amount of time even a possibility?  If I stay on my medication, and do what the doctors say, why am I still having issues?  Is this the best that it will get?  Do I just need to accept this as my new normal?

I practice my deep breathing.  I focus on the truths.  I trust my psychiatrist and know she will suggest only what is best for me and my condition.  I know I will get through this, don’t know exactly when, but I have always persevered and now is no exception.  These are the cards that I was dealt and I will make the best of what I have.  There is no option to fold.  I will pick myself up by my bootstraps and I will put one foot in front of the other and press on.


#bipolardisorder #anxiety #depression #OCD #bootstraps #psychiatrist

Bipolar Disorder

When ok, isn’t really ok


I am in a good place.

I wake up nearly every day and I feel refreshed.  Focusing on positives makes me happy.  In regards to some aspects of my life that are not ideal, I press forward, knowing that the situation is temporary and “this too shall pass”.

With the start of the new year, I have resurrected goals that I had the beginning of last year.  I have powered through anxiety attacks to get back in the gym and yoga studio.  Rising an hour earlier in the mornings to hike and walk with friends has been possible due to the very mild weather that we are experiencing in our region.

I am aspiring to step up my normal attire.  Working in a more laid-back environment means that jeans and a flannel are completely acceptable.  Wearing a dress, a nice pair of boots and taking the time to do my hair and makeup, make me feel simply, better.  It helps me stay in that positive mindset, makes me feel good in my skin.  I can tell myself, “you look pretty” and that makes me smile.

The weekends are now filled with time spent with family and friends, crafting, baking and socializing.  The days of isolation, darkness and existing in a bleak place are something from the past.  I am now living for the weekends, longing for that time to be carefree and have fun.

This all sounds amazing, right?

Why would I write a post about this?  Am I just bragging? Sadly, no, I am not bragging at all.


Being a person that has been diagnosed with Bipolar 1, one needs to be very cognizant of changes in one’s mood.  A slight variance could be nothing, but also could be a sign that trouble is on the horizon.

Per the Bipolar Caregivers website (, signs of mania or hypomania may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Sleeps less
  • Is more active or pursues more goals (has lots of energy)
  • Is more sociable
  • Is irritable and impatient
  • Talks much more than usual or speaks very fast
  • Can’t concentrate well or is easily distracted
  • Has increased self-confidence, self-importance or optimism
  • Has an elevated mood
  • Is agitated or restlessness
  • Thinks much more quickly or has racing thoughts
  • Has lots more ideas and plans
  • Starts doing more risky activities
  • Has an increased sex drive
  • Drinks lots more alcohol
  • Has heightened senses (e.g. everything looks more colorful or scents are more intense)


As I look over this list, I have identified that I have eleven (11) out of the fifteen (15) of the signs.  Wow, just wow…

Over the last ten years, my mood around my birthday has been mostly more manic, but there have been a few years that I was wavering between stability and depression.  The whole “it’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to” was definitely part of my life.  With my birthday fast approaching, it is appearing that this year will be a mania year.

So, what’s a girl to do?

How do you moderate your life when you are already in a spiral?

Although I see my psychiatrist at the end of the month, it may be beneficial to get in to see her within the next week or so.  Catching a change in mood before it is fully in place means that it will be easier to balance the mind and get to a place of stability in a more expedited fashion.  Handing over my credit card and disabling the “one click payment” options on several of my online shopping accounts would be in my best interest.  I did share with my family, that my therapist was worried about my mental state and suggests that we keep a close eye on the mania symptoms.  Obtaining support from a good support system is critical.  Finally, ensuring I stick to a sleep regime that will grant me the amount of sleep that I know I need to best enable me to function is imperative.


Managing a mental illness is not always easy.  Identifying that there is trouble on the horizon is very important.  Asking for help is a critical action, although hard to do, that can make the situation so much more manageable.


#bipolardisorder #mania #hypomania #depression #anxiety #birthday #stability #socializing #crafting #baking #yoga #gym #resolutions2018 #pressforward #troubleonthehorizon #bipolarcaregivers #elevatedmood #birthdayblues #birthdaytime #moderation #psychiatrist #psychiatry #psychologist #psychology #hiking #walking #exercise #family

Bipolar Disorder

Wide Angle Perspective

RWXVvyDA wide-angle lens is used primarily in photography and cinematography.  It refers to a lens whose focal length is substantially smaller than the focal length of a normal lens.  A wide-angle lens allows there to be more scene in the picture.

Although I have dabbled in photography for years and own two DSLR Nikon cameras, I do not own a wide-angle lens.  It’s an expensive investment that I am not quite ready to make.  I have several lenses, some short and some long, and depending on the lens and how much I either zoom in or zoom out, what I capture with my camera can change, at times looking nothing like the other images that were obtained.

With a regular lens, the view is limited, but not as constrictive as when you maximize the zoom.  In the same light, when you zoom out, you capture more of the environment.  With a wide-angle lens, you can capture even more.  It changes the perspective of what you see depending on how you look at it, or with what devices you use.

I became very aware of the wide-angle lens through my therapy sessions.  I tend to be narrow minded and I don’t allow myself to look past what is directly in front of me.  This can be a major problem when you suffer from an illness, either chronic or mental, as I believe that half the battle with chronic conditions is how you conquer each day mentally.

My therapist suggested that I change my lens to a wide-angle lens and increase my perspective.  Instead of looking at the Bipolar diagnosis as the end all of everything, look at it as a medical condition that can be managed with medication and several types of therapy.  When depressed, instead of focusing on how daunting life feels at that given moment, take a few steps back and see that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and acknowledge that the depression is only temporary.

Since I have applied this way of thinking to my life, I have been less overwhelmed with the events that happen each day.  For example, I have very fair skin (I am mostly Irish) and most recently, I had three moles removed and one did come back as precancerous.  When I processed this with a narrow lens, this news was so incredibly frustrating to me.  I jumped right into the “why is there always something wrong with me and why do I have so many health issues?” But, when I use the wide-angle lens, I can focus on the fact that I am being proactive and that the doctor took a large enough sample that I did receive clean margins and I don’t have to have a punch biopsy.

Training our brains to challenge the way it thinks isn’t an easy task.  However, the rewards that are in store for those that can accomplish this are astronomical.  Much like when we take a picture, if we zoom in on the chair that sits in the dining room, that is all that we see.  But, if we start to zoom out, we begin to see the table that it is sitting under and the fat orange cat that is breaking the rules and napping on top of the table, basking in the sunlight that is pouring through the backdoor and creating a quite entertaining shadow.

If you realigned your perspective and started to use more of a wide-angle lens perspective, how would this improve your life?  Would it enable you to work through intrusive thoughts and be able to successfully challenge and squash anxiety that rises from the great unknown?

#wideanglelens #wideangleperspective #forestthroughthetrees #steppingback #bipolardisorder #depression #anxiety #OCD #intrusivethoughts #photography #cinematography #lens #psychology #psychologist #psychiatrist #psychiatry #narrowminded #openminded

Bipolar Disorder

Day In, Day Out


A large part of treatment for Bipolar Disorder is the use of medication to regulate and stabilize moods.  Many people who are in treatment for the condition take a “cocktail” of medication including mood stabilizers, antidepressants and at times anti-consultants (which happen to work very well for people with the disorder).  It is also quite common for people to go off their medication due to side effects and the cost associated with treatment.

Taking the cocktail that is prescribed to me is part of my routine.  I have a dose at night and one in the morning.  In the evening, I retreat from the living room and grab my refilled water bottle.  In my bathroom I set down the bottle on the counter, crowded with an array of makeup and hair product containers.  I open the medicine cabinet, while taking a quick glance in the mirror.  I look at the bottles, all standing in a row and tell myself, “I need to take these.  These help me stay stable.  My life is better when I am stable.  This is non-negotiable!”  I open each of the four pill bottles and take the prescribed dose.  When finished, I brush my teeth, then wash my face and get into bed.

When I wake in the morning, I remove my CPAP machine mask and take a deep breath.  As I get out of bed, I am again thinking about my medication.  I go back to that same mirrored cabinet and open it.  I look at the third shelf that contains my morning medications and I take a deep breath.  I say to myself, “I need to take these.  These help me stay stable.  My life is better when I am stable.  This is non-negotiable!”  I swallow the two pills and look in the mirror.  I remind myself again that my life is better on medication.  That my brain does not operate as efficiently as it should, and the medication helps it to do so.

I leave the bathroom and head to the kitchen with my boy cat leading the way (I often think that he thinks I may get lost if he did not guide me to my destination).  I pour a hot cup of coffee and grab creamer from the refrigerator.  I carefully walk from the coffee pot over to the chair that is on the right side of the table, the one with the broken ties that is always falling off the chair.  I sit and scrunch my legs up under me and sip the amazing, light brown concoction.  I check my emails, social media accounts and text messages, responding to those that require a timely response.

Over the next hour, I am ready to head to work listening to an audio book or singing along to music.  The commute is between 30-45 minutes depending on traffic.  Most days have similar components, while others are more filled with spontaneity.  At 4 PM I get in my car and commute back home.

I arrive home, put down my things, greet my cats, my children and remove my shoes.  Before you know it, it’s time to make dinner.  Dinner leads to family time, then to bedtime and we start things all over again.

Recently, I have felt like I am on autopilot.  The same things happen every day.  It gets monotonous and my brain gets dull.  Prior to being medicated, each day was unpredictable.  I would be fine one day and a hysterical mess another.  I would be happy in the morning and then so incredibly pissed off I could punch a hole in a brick wall.  I was nothing close to routine.  There was not predicting what each day would bring, and which Michelle would be present.

Much like the self-talk that I engage in when I take my medication, I still need to remind myself that having a routine life is a good thing.  That when I was pinging between depression and mania, that those were times of sickness.  And that my goal is to maintain my stability and with stability comes normalcy.

Am I considering going off my medication? No, it is working, and I have far too much to lose if I make a drastic decision like that.  But, I am looking for ways to change things up, so I don’t self-sabotage.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, I love the people in my life, but when you spend most of your life be bopping along to the beat of your own Bipolar drum, when you achieve recovery, it can feel unnatural and uncomfortable.

I am a better me right now.  But, there are times, when you get to romanticizing about the past and it is hard not to long for the way it used to be.

Being in recovery with any mental illness has its drawbacks.  For those that do not personally suffer, but have family or friends that do, it seems like the most logical choice is to choose stability, but it is far more complicated than that for us.  Be patient with us.  Speak positives to us.  Let us share how we are feeling.  Try to understand that at times we can not process things as rationally as others can.  Love us for who we are.


#bipolardisorder #bipolar #depression #anxiety #ocd #mania #medication #treatment #psychiatry #psychology #counseling #routine #life #mentalillness #patience #love #positivity #autopilot

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Choice is Ours

todays-decisions-tomorrows-impactEach day we are given the opportunity to make choices.  There are the choices of what will I eat for breakfast, and the dreaded, “what will I wear?”  Although these are choices that we make, those are not the choices that I am talking about.  I am referring to the choice of what kind of a day we are going to have.  Are we going to have a positive attitude kind of day, or are we going to have a day that is filled with despair?

When I wake up in the morning, I tell myself that I am going to have a positive day.  That I am going to conquer my fears and not let the negativity of others affect how I feel throughout that day.  Daily we encounter people who are all going through their own trials and tribulations.  There’s a saying that you should be nice to the people that you meet because you don’t know the hell they are going through.  This is a saying that I keep forefront in my mind.  Everyone has bad days, but with a mental illness, they can linger.  I would hope that people would be forgiving and understand that I am going through some challenges and need a bit more understanding than usual.

I struggle with consistently providing grace and understanding to those that act in a way that is not positive or uplifting.  I lose patience with their anger, frustration, verbal lashings and overall negative disposition.  Many days I would like to avoid all contact with people like this, but that is not a possibility.  So, what do I do?  I remember that people who are suffering lash out.  I tell myself that they are using the back part of the brain, the older, more archaic part of the brain, rather than using the front part of the brain that processes things with reason.  I remember that they may have more going on than what we can see at the surface, they are overwhelmed and they just don’t know how to handle their stress.  I remind myself that I am not to blame.  I know that should the situation get too hot, I can leave, as I need to protect myself from harm.  Perhaps the hardest thing that I do, is remind myself that I used to be like that.  I used to lash out at my friends and family (and co-workers) when I was overwhelmed, turning into an ugly person because I was boiling over.  I remain thankful for the progress that I have made and how my life is better.

I go back to the exercise that my therapist taught me about identifying three positives things each day.  My items for today are: (1) Getting to work safely (2) Having a blueberry muffin and hot cup of yummy, strong coffee for breakfast and (3) Being in a place of mental stability for a few months now.

What choices are you making today?  Are you choosing to be positive, uplifting and happy?  What’s standing in your way?  Are the things standing in your way within your control?  How can you be more positive today?


Positivity and Mental Illness: Please get help

Being a person who has suffered from depression, I know that there comes a point in time when we are unable to make the decision to be positive.  That the bleakness of the depression clouds our vision and we are not able to see past the dark, lingering clouds, to see any light.  How, if we could, we wouldn’t be down and out, thinking only on negatives and wishing that all the darkness would just end.  When I have been in this place, I sought out assistance from my Psychiatrist and my Psychologist.  With their help, I used medication to regain balance in my brain and learned techniques to help keep the depression at bay.  Having depression is an extenuating circumstance, a medical condition that needs to receive medical attention.  If you are struggling with depression, please seek help.  (In Arizona, Crisis Network 1-800-631-1314 and Nationwide, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1‑800‑273‑TALK , )


#depression #positive #positivemindset #happiness #mental strength #anxiety #bipolardisorder #focus #threepositives #psychiatry #psychology #mindset #mindovermatter #choices #rightchoice #mentalillness #anger #frustration #lashingout