Strategies for Balance and Resilience












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Lynn Hodges Blog

By saraneville, Apr 11 2014 05:42PM

It's 50 days since I decided to take drastic action and get my ever increasing weight down. I’m on an extreme health diet programme where I eat only 600 calories a day. So far I've lost 2 stone 4lbs. Whoop! whoop!

It hasn’t been fact this challenge has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I realise now just how much I was eating. You probably know that one side effect of taking Lithium and anti-psychotics can be weigh gain. I used to be a svelte size 10 until I was diagnosed with bipolar and put on medication. Over the next 10 years I put on a stone a year.

For years I’ve blamed being fat on my medication; and there is some truth in it, but when I think more objectively I realise I’ve been using the medication as an excuse.

Eating less and exercising more seems to be the simple answer for me. I’ve found that focussing on my goal of losing three stone and visualising what it would feel like to be slimmer, has helped me stay on track.

It’s interesting how negative people can be, saying things like ‘well, the weight will go back on after the 100 days!’ I am here to prove them WRONG. I refuse to go back to my old eating habits. I realise that food has been my emotional crutch. Well, no more I say! I already feel so much better about myself. And I’ve noticed basic things, like I can put my shoes on more easily and get off the sofa unaided, whereas before I was struggling. What a way to have lived!

If you suffer from an increase weight gain due to your medication, trust that you can still lose weight with the right health plan and guidance. The diet I’m using may not be right for you, so consult your doctor before you make any changes to your lifestyle.

I’ll keep you posted on my 100 day slimming challenge.


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.


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.


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 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


By saraneville, Jan 3 2014 11:02AM

It’s that time of the year when we all make resolutions....and generally break them a couple of weeks later! But why not make this year different? Take a fresh look at yourself and your Bipolar.

I was diagnosed a decade ago, and it took me a long time to come to terms with my condition. I was in denial, I skipped my meds, my moods were unpredictable and I lurched from mania to depression.

Now things are very different and I’ve been well for more than two years. Why? I made friends with bipolar. I have learnt to embrace it as a positive part of me. It gives me energy, vitality, drive, enthusiasm and creativity. But I also respect bipolar. I’ve taken time to research it, and think about the impact the condition has on my family.

Here are some practical changes you can make to your New Year with bipolar:

1. Get your medication right. If you’re not happy with your medication, arrange to see your doctor to discuss how you feel. Make some notes beforehand and perhaps take a family member with you for help and support

2. Take your meds. It’s important to give you stability and keep you well. Believe me, you’ll feel so much better for it. Resist the temptation to skip them, even for a day.

3. Discuss your key indicators with your family. This could be a tough one to go through with, but it’s sensible and will make a huge difference to you and your family in the long run.

4. Write an advance care plan. This is a document that you give to your friends, family and social worker, so that if you find you are unwell and suddenly unable to communicate your wishes, you already have them written down. It’s vital to make a fast recovery if you do become unwell. ...I know because I’ve been hospitalised with and without an advance care plan. Read more about that in my book. Click here.

5. Be honest with yourself. Living with bipolar is a tough journey but it’s so much easier if you don’t try to walk it on your own.

Good luck