LIVING WITH

BIPOLAR DISORDER

Strategies for Balance and Resilience

BY LYNN HODGES

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Lynn Hodges Blog

By saraneville, Mar 15 2014 06:08PM

I have been living in a blur for the past couple of months, having the odd good day but generally finding myself in a Bipolar low, struggling to operate at my normal level. I think the weather plays a very big part in the life of a bipolar person, maybe more so than for other people generally. The fact is, I need the sun to start feeling good in myself.

Now, at last, I feel that this is the start of a new awakening.....hearing the birds sing in the morning, seeing the flowers bud, the lovely Daffodils and Irises forcing their way up through the ground; it feels like life is in bloom and there is hope all around! It might seem airy fairy, but I can only write what is true to me – perhaps you recognise the way I feel and understand the difference the sunshine makes to you? I also feel more energised and motivated; lighter in step as I decide to take myself off on country walks, where nature is all around. Life is regenerating and I feel regenerated with it, gaining mental strength and feeling more resilient than I did during January and February.


This is a recognisable annual pattern for me and I have come to know from experience that I feel at my best during spring and summer. These months help me manage my mental illness and appreciate that I will come out of the darkness into the light and I will smile and embrace life once again. How do you feel this spring?



Lynn Hodges


By saraneville, Mar 2 2014 12:08PM

Today I spent my time delivering a speech on Advance Care Planning to a group of health professionals who all work with vulnerable adults. I am in a strong position to speak on the subject because I have Bipolar and have been admitted to hospital with and without a plan. I know from painful experience, that having an Advance Care Plan gives you a voice when you may have lost mental capacity.

An Advance Care plan is an opportunity for you to inform the health professionals what you want to happen when you are in hospital. My advance decision is to ensure that I am NOT given sleeping pills to bring me down from mania, nor do I want to be given ECT as a treatment. My wishes and preferences are that my children are looked after by my sister Kay, my utility companies are informed of my situation by my care co-ordinator, my mother is not to be informed of my illness due to her own ill health. I also state in my advance care plan that I would like to go into a female only ward. I also mention that I am an active person and enjoy walking as a way of helping my mental health. I state that I am an extrovert by nature and should be given lots of activities to keep me interested on the ward.

I typed my Advance Care plan and dated it and got my care co-ordinator to sign it as proof that I was in my right mind when I wrote it. Once this had happened I was then advised to give a copy of it to my two sisters, my GP and my psychiatric doctor. I also gave a copy to my children so they could give it to the doctor on the ward should I have a relapse.

I have been in a Mental Hospital three times in my life. When I went in for a third time I had an Advance Care Plan that was given to the Doctor. I was pleased to say I had a very different and more positive experience when I had a plan. I was not given sleeping pills allowing me to come down from my manic episode naturally. I healed just as quickly without the side effects of the drugs.

I would strongly recommend writing an Advance Care Plan. We all know with Bipolar the chances are we will relapse and have to spend a period of time in hospital. Remember the Advance Care Plan gives you a voice.


Contact me if you need advice about how to put an Advance Care Plan in place, or how to write one.


Lynn


By saraneville, Feb 19 2014 04:09PM

I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2004 and I have had three manic episodes that have had me hospitalised. After the last time, in 2009, I was put on an anti-psychotic and I’ve remained on a dosage of 15mg for the past five years. When taking the drugs I noticed an increase in weight, a lack of emotional engagement and a decrease in my sex drive; and once I was on the drugs no doctor ever mentioned changing my medication, reducing the dose or coming off the pills all together.


I decided this year that I would think about that – and maybe come off my anti-psychotics. So, I spoke to my doctor who agreed that over a course of six weeks I could reduce my medication by a certain amount every two weeks. My care-coordinator kept a very close eye on me, to make sure I didn’t begin to get high (because it’s the anti-psychotic that keep you down). I am pleased to say no signs of mania have occurred.


Today is my first day without medication, other than Lithium. I feel elated in a positive, calm and controlled way. My feelings or emotions for want of a better word are now working properly. I can cry when I want to, laugh and engage with people once again. .....I feel I have lived in a blur for five years and now I have been set free. It is a wonderful feeling!


It is important to remember that anti-psychotics have a place when treating mental illness, though how long you have to stay on the medication depends on the individual. It’s imperative that you speak to your doctor. Don’t feel that you have no options, especially if you’ve been on the same prescriptions for years. Have a frank discussion about how you feel about your meds and how you can work with your medication, rather than feeling that it controls you. Finally, don’t make decisions on your own; speak to friends, family, care co-ordinators and medics. Never come off medication unless you’re advised to do so.


But think about this: Is it time for a change? If the answer is yes, then maybe you should make an appointment or begin a dialogue that can make it happen.


Good luck.


Lynn


By saraneville, Feb 11 2014 09:33AM

Bipolar can make you fat and unhappy and often it’s the medication that plays a big part in weight gain. I’ve put on nearly a stone a year since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’m now 16-stone; that’s hard for someone who used to be a size 10. So, this year I knew I had to do something about it.


I spent the whole of January in depression, so when I started to see the light in February I decided to set myself a challenge. I wanted it to be something that would make a difference to the quality of my life. It had to be my weight.


I’ve chosen the Lighter Life programme, which is based on 3 meals a day of sachets with all your nutrients in, and a milkshake plus two litres of water. You are restricted to just 600 calories a day! It’s intense.


Before you start the programme you need to get permission from your doctor if you take anti psychotics, or drugs like lithium. This does NOT need to be a hurdle, just another challenge. I’ve signed up for 100 days and should lose three stone in three months...at least that’s the goal!


Even though I’ve barely started, it’s already boosted my confidence. I feel in control of my weight AND my bipolar. Why should my illness make me fat? Well no more I say; enough is enough.


If you’re overweight due to medication, why not try and find a solution for you? It’ll give you an enormous thrill just to be taking control. Having bipolar doesn’t mean you have to be fat, take the plunge today and join me with your own 100 day challenge. Find a diet that works for you and let’s get slim together.


Good luck


Lynn.


By saraneville, Jan 19 2014 06:09PM

It’s true to say that you expect the highs and lows when you suffer from bipolar, but the January blues for a bipolar sufferer is such an understatement. For some it's weeks of struggling through the dark days and the turmoil of increasingly dark thoughts.

Christmas and New Year is full of the expectation of meeting people, going out and celebrating and socialising on a big scale. This is not true for everyone of course, though for many including me it is.

I now find myself in January and unlike many people I have started the year with no resolutions - no goals and for bipolar sufferers it's vital to set goals.

I feel flat...I know I should have goals because they give me something to work towards and I always feel better with a structure in place. It would definitely make me feel better about myself and It does not help to hear other people speak about what they are going to achieve during the year.

I find getting out of bed and having a shower - these are two big goals that I struggle with during January. I know I am in depression though thankfully able to work.

The weather doesn’t help my state of mind, endless days of rain and wind. I long to see blue skies and the sun shining.

I know the only way I am going to get out of this state is to get some structure back into my life. I am so much happier when I am working. I have decided to see my sister twice a week and go for walks to help stimulate my mind, continue working for KCC giving speeches and workshops on bipolar. I am also going to attend workshops for physical fitness.

My mantra for this year will be ‘JUST DO IT’. One of the downsides of bipolar is spending time analysing everything you do in case it flares up the illness. I have decided to ‘live’ for today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Writing this blog has helped me realise that I have started to put goals in place and with the right structures I will survive January!!!!


I hope you have the strength to get through too.


Good luck


Lynn