Understanding and Awareness Part II

When I google for the meaning of awareness, I notice common terms like knowledge, perceptions, understanding, consciousness. Its online definition is “knowledge gained through one’s own perceptions or by means of outside information.” By that, it means I know I would need to see my Doctor if my daily functionality was severely compromised by depression. This knowledge came from my perception of past experiences. So I am aware . But awareness did not come to me easily.

Awareness and Me

Awareness The Knowing

Awareness is essential and to keep an open mind for the element Awareness is much needed. As awareness is elusive and spontaneous, I never see it coming and it arrives unannounced. Perhaps another term to describe the moment and feeling is ‘Ah Ha! So that it is!’ the case. Awareness is elusive, either I have it or not. Most of the times being aware is about learning more about myself. Not all awareness is well-received. There are times when being aware is a brutal awakening and an end of being in denial. It took me donkey years to be aware and convinced that I had been ill mentally. I seemingly know that I am sick but I could not understand the-how, as I have been physically all right.

The knowing that I had been anxious and worried on the eve of a major exam, skipping schools for days to weeks, speaking rapidly with racing thoughts, first attempt of suicide at a young age 12 years old — these behaviors blatantly glaring at me, I know and yet the least aware that I have been sick when I was a child. The knowing is present but the level of awareness is almost none. Perhaps awareness and denial are both ends of a continuum on each end. I know but I am in denial or I know, and I am awakened, conscious of its full impact on my life. I can say too, with understanding, awareness becomes more ready to befriend me. So what is the role of awareness on managing my Bipolar journey?

Managing Bipolar With Awareness

Being aware means knowing beforehand and knowing what steps to take for the next course of action. On a bipolar-depressed day, negative thoughts were unrelenting and I would show contempt and behave unreasonably. Often it comes with an abrupt emotional outbursts, loud shouting and screaming on top of my voice, directed at my siblings. At this point in time, it is obviously late to say I was aware as damage had been done, relationship had been scarred. However with awareness it can alert me when I have negative thoughts, I will be able to ask “is this a valid thought supported with evidence?” Should I get a Yes-answer, I can ask again, “do I want and/or need to act on it?”

Similarly on a bipolar-hypomanic day, I would encounter thoughts like “Am I spending too much for this grocery shopping trip? Buying too many biscuits, stocking up too many cooking oil?” Other thoughts like getting a party dress and a pair of new shoe to go with it, buy a new smartphone, a new labtop and a labtop bag, a luggage. Thank goodness no car nor a house loiter into my thoughts. Knowing beforehand, I’m aware of the symptom of hypomania has surfaced, I can act accordingly by asking “I seem to be experiencing hypomanic symptoms, I better not buy this item now? How about take a wait-and-see approach?”

My Ally AwarenessBest Ally

 

Awareness is a powerful tool to aid my thought processing and search for the underlying emotions. With awareness I have more autonomy to make responsible choices on my behavior. It certainly ease the pain of regrets should I not be aware of my thoughts and emotions on day-to-day happenings. On a wider scope, awareness allows me to be pragmatic on frustrating life issues like “Why am I unable to hold on to a job like any other normal being?” The emotions of envy and sadness can be overwhelming. What I perceived has limited my confidence and ability, I have drawn a circle that I walked into it, believing I am unable to deliver and perform. I become aware that I have subconsciously blame my inabilities on my Bipolar illness, using it as an excuse to hide behind my fear of failure or rejection.

In the nutshell, it is fun to ally with Awareness as at any instant one may have an ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment. My two best friends Awareness and Understanding (Part I) will be my lifelong companion. They help me to recover, manage my illness, and grow into a better person I desire to be.

Habits Its Relevance With Well-being

By Mahatma Gandhi, “Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.” Habits, what is its relevance with wellness?

I was advised to draw out a schedule and follow through it faithfully. And practicing Gandhi’s saying, I make sure my behaviors are positive, first to ward off Bipolar-depression, next to keep to my schedule. In my case, cultivating positive behaviors with a schedule in place is challengingly difficult especially when I was in the midst of depression.

TimeAs said schedules would lessened the likelihood of a Bipolar relapse. Time, which everyone has, is a fixed component of a schedule. It is like we have three meals a day breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon, and dinner in the late evening. Human beings plan their behaviors along the time-line to get things done. So I go to work from 9am to 5pm on a daily basis, I do my grocery shopping on a weekly basis and I visit my dentist once every year, are plans I made. Ideally, with schedules, positive behaviors becoming good habits, should be able to counter my depression.

More often than usual, I observed I could not follow through the schedule. The list of tasks planned to be done in certain blocks of time would be interrupted, at worst disrupted. Unable to complete whatever that was scheduled, could turn on the tap of my anxiety, or discourage further my already depressed mode to a state of inertia. Schedules seem not to sit well on me, yet I need them as it is a helpful tool to fully optimize it. Time efficiently used is a form of well-being.

I was delighted to enjoy a shift in perspective from drawing up a schedule to cultivating habits. They work hand-in-hand for my sanity and effectiveness. More often than not, schedules do go awry and habits do not, however they are different concepts in cultivating wellness.

My job scope includes taking care of the plants and keeping the garden neat (at least no falling leaves). Should I schedule it before breakfast, I would find myself skipping it to breakfast directly. How about after food, the likelihood of getting it done seems higher but not foolproof. I always find the garden strewn with falling leaves at the end of a day. That upsets me as I have not followed my plan nor honored my promise to be a good worker. Schedule is apparently not working to my advantage.

Should I change my approach and schedule a time allotment of 30-45 minutes, I am to do the garden tasks on a daily basis. There’sPotted Garden no fixed time to do it. I can choose when to do, as long as I complete it before I knock off for the day. Here I have a daily schedule that develops a habit, not bound by time but aided with flexibility. What I find it attractive is I have begun to enjoy the work – taking care of the garden. My motivation to water plants is not out of sympathy (Oh these plants, poor souls, they’re unable to move to reach out for water). I am more proactive in caring for them, removing fallen leaves in the pot (that block off sunlight and hinder the soil from breathing), removing weeds or creepers to prevent them from encroaching the plants.

This change in perspective smooths out the rough edges of Bipolar disorder. It has empowered me, given me opportunities to enjoy being, as a living person with an illness, meeting my goals on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. As time unfolds, I get to focus on the task, not about having to do this by 12 noon nor get the report out in an hours time. Schedules are there to give us a framework of how time need to be spent while cultivating habits gives me confidence, freedom, a sense of well-being.

Understanding and Awareness Part I

Understanding and awareness are two powerful ‘tools’ on my journey in managing Bipolar disorder, I am fortunate to own them.

Why Why Why Me?

At the start of my journey, I have asked the sky, the trees, the One Up There ‘Why Me, Why am I ill mentally?’. Searching for the answers has been a futile endeavour, as the knowing is not a practical coping strategy for my Bipolar condition. Rather I have gotten enmeshed in a web of possible answers that makes me feel more lost and dejected, and the act of finding answers gives me a false sense that I had been problem-solving. This is not genuine understanding, the least for awareness.

Hypomania and DepressionShould I ask the question what causes Bipolar-disorder, I’m likely to find that there are several factors attributing to this physical yet invisible illness. Scientists explain that certain brain circuits and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) is responsible for the mood swings along the bipolar mood spectrum.A person like me either experience the high of hypomania (or mania) or the lows of mild to major depression. Genes and biological differences (significant physical changes in the brain) are the usual suspects (for almost all mental illness), and risk factors like stressful life events either develop or trigger the onset of Bipolar disorder. Seemingly I have a better understanding. So how now?

Admittedly I am curious about the concept of Understanding and its role in helping me manage my Bipolar condition. How much I understand as in having a sharper visual of the malfunction in brain circuits and neurotransmitter, gives me clarity. With this piece of information, I am more willing to accept the inevitability that I need medication (Thank Goodness there are medicine for this illness). For how long? Do I really need to know? With medication, I can function productively on a daily basis. That overwrites all other thoughts, perceptions, and biases.

With better understanding, I can differentiate recurring negative thoughts and energy consuming emotions from being the real me. In the past, I was misled into believing that I was always an angry person, not the least a grouchy one under the facade of Depression. I doubted my intentions, did I become mentally sick so that I could get attention and support, and also shirked off house cleaning tasks at home. Rather, I am able to say “Depression is not me”, what really happened was by-products of being ill with Bipolar-disorder. The understanding and the perception of myself gives me strength to move on, and be not in the dumps of depression.

The Way
The Open Door

Understanding opens the door to compassion. Knowing how impactful my life has been disrupted by the illness, and how much anguish, worthlessness, the “pain syndrome”, recklessness, the job opportunities I miss, this sense of injustice is intense. How am I going to reconcile and move on? Compassion is a gentle partner to my recovery. Have I not understood that these injustices I had lived with it for donkey years, is like the spilled milk, gone and irretrievable, I would have bolted my gate, close all windows, and sunk into a deeper and dangerous pit of depression and/or hypomania.

In the nutshell, this sympathetic awareness and tolerance of my intangible physical illness, understanding, like a key, has opened up the door to recovery. How it intersperses with awareness brings about countless “Ah Ha” moments, and serves me a strong, sturdy walking-stick on my journey. I am and will count my blessings.

In my next sharing, I will be writing on awareness, what exactly it is and how it helps me in managing Bipolar disorder. In the meantime, I will part with a question for you, “how does understanding serves you?” I hope it brings about “Ah Ha” moments, the point in time that let you understand yourself.

Am I hypomanic?

Yes, I am concerned.

And I am always worried when would be my next relapse, it is like there is no tomorrow, as at anytime I could be down in my dumps or high on Cloud 10 (yes, not cloud 9). Both ends are unwelcoming, they disrupt my work, sour my relationships, demoralize my spirit. Often, relapses challenges my resilience to get better.

In The Tunnel

It took me a very long while to begin charting my mood. I am reluctant to write and record my mood status on a daily basis. It is simply too troublesome to make out whether I am in the mood brought about by a full throttle of energy and a act on impulsiveness, with racing thoughts, delusions that all things are possible. Or I am in the deep trench of low mood, when holding a pen to record how depressed I am is as challenging as climbing the Mount Everest.

But mood tracking is essential for recovery. With my mood data on records, it provides a realistic overview of how my mood journey is in the weeks and months, how in a period of six months, the mood fluctuates. Which part of the year my low mood surfaced or could the season festive periods say around December to February, bring me to the hypomania level. Sometimes, the tangible graph line depicting my highs and lows, provides
mood trackingassurance that my mood is manageable. It is like ‘Hey, you came out of your lows pretty quickly’ or ‘not bad, this time you have kept your elevated mood in check’. Mood charts and records are my managing tools and they are vital to my mental wellness.

On shorter time frames, mood charts provide information to assess my day-to-day mood status. Am I heading downhill or in the midst of being hypo-manic now, what interventions can I garnered to counter my bipolar condition? Knowing my current mood level, I am able to find out with a set of criterion whether a relapse has presented itself.

So am I hypomanic now? I will ask myself a set of questions should I feel my mood is on the down or up side.

The Questions I ask when depressed

  • Am I depressed for most of the day, nearly everyday?
  • Are you feeling no pleasure for most of the activities most of the day, nearly everyday?
  • Am I eating more or less than usual?
  • Am I having insomnia or sleeping excessively?
  • Am I feeling fatigue or loss of energy nearly everyday?
  • Do I have recurrent thoughts of death and suicide?

And Questions I Ask When Hypomanic

  • Do I sleep less hours than usual?
  • Am I more talkative than usual?
  • Do I feel energized and not feel tiredness?
  • Do I experience irritable mood?
  • Do I have inflated self-esteem or feelings of grandiosity?

Keeping check of my responses, I can make good guesses that my mood is in an upward, downward trend or in the normal range. In a case when I observed I was leaning more on the hypomania mood range, my responses could be sleeping on average three to four hours daily, very chatty, easily irritable, and no sense of tiredness. Out of 5 questions, I had 4 positive response, indicating a moderate level of elevated mood (on a scale of none, mild, moderate, and severe). Moderate level means orange signal (the 3-color system) implied that I had to make sure not to overstretch my pace of living on the day-to-day basis.

This color system is an alarm signal, which meansTo Alert

  1. green, mood in normal range, daily functionality able and acceptable
  2. orange, mood in hypomania or mild depression range, daily functionality not impaired, and less acceptable
  3. red, mood in very high elevated or severe depression range, daily functionality disabled.

In another words, the answer to my question of whether I have been in the hypomanic range is yes, a positive indication to take note and exercise caution for my Bipolar disorder management. This illness management recovery system is my intervention tool to counter my illness, an essential and vital strategy to actualize and re-position my action plan for a sane way of living with Bipolar Disorder condition.

Therefore, what is Action plans, and what is its relationship to awareness and understanding. With this question, I will conclude my concern and worries about “Am I hypomanic?”. And to sincerely invite you to find out more about my next topic on Awareness and Understanding.

Mental Illness

 

How I Subdue my Depression with Physical Activity

Depression and activities are on friendly terms, when I get more depressed, I would do less activities and when I am in my normal mood range, I am relatively more active. Knowing that this two elements are somehow correlated, I like to share my personal journey about taming my Depression with Physical Activity.

Perhaps it is how this illness present itself. When depressed, I lose interest in many things to the extent that I am not concerned of its progress nor outcome. In this apathetic condition, I am not motivated to cook meals nor do the laundry. My family will be the first to feel its effects as taking meals is a daily occurrence. By the end of the second week, clean clothes become short in supply. Do I feel bad for not preparing meals? I felt numb then. Do I feel irresponsible for not doing my job for laundry washing? Yes and no as I felt lifeless most of the time.

Often I wonder about my behavior, is it my illness or is it me being a lazy and unreliable home-keeper? I no longer know and the more I ponder, the more unmotivated I become. Or perhaps my thinking are just excuses to avoid work.

So be it an illness or a character flaw, the reality is how to counter my spiritless apathetic lifestyle. How is physical activities related to depression. It seems that by doing one thing, followed by another thing, then after another thing, being active physically proves to be effective in tackling depressive symptoms like lethargy, sleepiness, overeating or not eating, apathy, helplessness.

My Morning Challenge … Waking Up

Mentally I do not look forward to waking up, so to kick-start the day (standing on my feet), I will think of watching online drama as a beneficial token for my effort to get up from the bed. Before I enjoy the benefit from visuals, I need to wash up and change into my day attire; and to prepare the breakfast, I will need to boil water to make coffee, spread the butter on the bread. While waiting for the water to be boiled, I’ll put the clothes into the machine for washing. The broom and dustpan is at the laundry area, I pick them up and begin sweeping the floor. Last but not the least, I return to making coffee, and have my breakfast while watching drama, and wait for the washing machine to finish its job.

I know the downside of online drama-watching, it’s a passive activity, in the sense that I will likely be stationary in front of my lab top for countless and endless minutes. This passiveness will ensue with sleepiness and my return to the bed for long naps. To counter it, I have clothes to hang dry when the machine finishes the washing cycle.

For me, online dramas is the bait I used to get myself out of my bed. It’s also the positive reinforcement that I reward myself after doing undesirable household chores. Strangely, the momentum I kick-start with a fair bit of physical activities, builds up bit by bit. It serves as a distraction from my negative thoughts and feelings.

Taking A WalkExercises … Keep the Body Moving!

In my depression dump, when apathy sets in, I push myself to exercise, which is a physical activity. Walking is a convenient and cost-free strategy, and its intensity level can be adjusted to my level of mood along the spectrum. The challenge is how I get myself out of the house when I am withdrawn and hiding in the comfort of home. The bait with a reward system helps sometimes. Quite often, I have nothing to do or rather being too much preoccupied with negative thoughts and feelings, a short walk becomes a break from the vicious downward spiral of depression.

So when my mood is very low, I walk in the neighborhood for 10 to 15 minutes and I can do so twice a day, morning and evening. For me, taking walks by myself helps in the sense that I look around at buildings, gardens, the clouds, the traffic, anything that will keep my focus away from my negativity.

When the mood is better, I will start brisk walking and increases the exercise to 50 minutes. My pedometer keeps track of the number of steps I cover, and looking at the number increasing to 10,000 steps each day is constructive strategy (I want to maintain the 10k record). When the mood has normalized, I will go for the weekly badminton games, a much more intense and physical activity.

Mid-way Setback … how now?

The morning challenge bait-and-reward system and exercises are two forms of physical activities that are not fail-proof. Often, rather many times I find myself refusing to wake up. Countless times I am unable to go for a walk, even for a minimum requirement of 10 minutes. The feelings are numb, lacking in responsiveness while I go through the motions in living. So what to do … how now?
Record Setting - an Upward Trend

One thing for sure, when I set the record to be up and doing some form of physical activity, there is unknowingly a deep desire to keep the record going. Usually with the momentum kick in, I yearn silently for the uplifting ride up the normal mood range. What about stubborn setbacks that are challenging beyond my means, I have to reach out for help to anyone.

Making connection with my inner circle of friends is critically essential. Companionship do works like taking a walk with my sister, talking about anything or everything with a friend (though most of the times it’s the other party doing the talking), and email to my psychiatrist. Likely an appointment with the psychiatrist will be brought forward, and to make sure I keep to the ‘date with my Psychiatrist’, I strongly request someone to go with you.

Do Physical Activities Always Work?

Personally I believe it does. When I lack mental strength and being submerged in the deep sea of depression, physical actions lighten my mood. I may be overwhelmed with pessimism while doing simple task like brushing my teeth or making coffee for breakfast. The range of physical and mental challenges to do something opens up to a ray of light through the window of opportunity, a chance to feel good.

The Way …

SpeedometerOne way (or rather the way) to subdue negative thoughts and feelings is to do physical activities. The body movements are like the car engine being ignited, ready to push my energy level up to Gear-One-mode. I may stand still (neutral gear) then after or the car dies off on me, it is all right. Keep keeping on, seek for the slight ray of sunlight seeping through the window, strive for the life chances to feel better.

My 10 Signs of Bipolar Disorder (BD)

What are my 10 signs of bipolar disorder? Do I really need to know?

Many mental health websites provide a list of symptoms for Bipolar disorder. Mainly, it is for psychiatrists to make their diagnosis, or as information for concerned family or friends to understand the illness better. What about mentally ill person, is it helpful for someone with bipolar disorder to know their symptoms or signs that a relapse is on its way? Yes, it is not only helpful, it is critically essential for bipolar patients to know their signs.

On that note, I like to share my observation on my signs of Bipolar II; how I track the course of my Bipolar episode; and why do I put an effort in knowing my warning signals.

Bipolar-depression

Relatively speaking, bipolar disorder is a more severe mental illness. I thank God that my diagnosis is Bipolar II. Not that it is less dreadful and dangerous, just that I need not be fearful with hallucination or delusions. My Bipolar II has more spells of depression (low mood) than hypo-mania (mild elevation of mood). Observing and finding out the signs of depression is challenging, it will need patience and help from people who resides under the same roof. I am blessed to be close in proximity with my family. With their help, they can tell me straight in my face that my long sleeping hours in the day is indicative of a pending full-blown depressive episode.

My 5 warning signals of Bipolar-depressionWarning Signs

  • sleeping 22 hours daily for 3-5 days in a week

  • skipping shower and shampooing my hair in this hot and humid weather

  • snacking on biscuits or crackers while watching excessively online dramas like a couch potato

  • laundry piling up for washing or not preparing nutritious and tasty meals for my family

  • all tasks are halted and only task(s) done is on a need-to-do basis.

Bipolar-hypo-mania

The fine line separating my Bipolar hypo-manic and normal range is tricky to recognize, I have expressed my concern to the psychotherapist. In fact I was very worried whether I had been in the high mood range for the past 2 weeks. With a straight-face, I requested my therapist to let me know at the end of the session, was I in the normal or mania phase. Thankfully, I was in my normal mood range, I was happy to know my past doings were my ‘normal self’ .Often the confusion between ‘Am I hypo or am I in the normal range’ makes me anxious, and less confident to do things. I really dislike being someone who does not turn up for prior engagements. More importantly, my psychotherapist taught me how to differentiate my normal span and hypo-mania phase by asking four questions.

  • How many hours do I sleep?

  • Do you have racing thoughts or unrealistic ideas?

  • Do you feel energetic and not tired?

  • Is your mood irritable?

So it means when I have 2 to 3 hours sleep daily with racing thoughts and awe-inspiring ideas, energetic and no signs of tiredness, very irritated when things are not going as plan, I need to see my psychiatrists preferably immediately. My Doctor will adjust my medicine dosage level to push my mood into the normal range.

My 5 warning signals of Bipolar hypo-mania

  • sleeping about 2 hours daily, and do not feel tired

  • reconnecting with friends whom I have not met for a long while

  • buying more things for home or more groceries for cooking (I enjoy cooking)

  • getting irritated when things did not go as plan

  • being more friendly than usual like initiating small talks with bus or taxi drivers, cashier ladies at the supermarket, or the person beside me in a queue.

The Proactive Way to Fight My Illness

Like a typhoon, my Bipolar causes damages to myself, and to my Loved Ones (especially those close in proximity). So knowing my 10 signs of Bipolar disorder will be essential and using a mobile app eMoods (Android; Amazon) to track my high, normal or low mood range on a daily basis is important. With these two strategies, I can reach out for help from my Doctor, and family or friends for support. In addition, a color warning system will be helpful for me to be on a proactive mode to counter high or low mood. Orange, Yellow, and Turquoise are the three levels of the warning indicators, where orange is severe, yellow is mild and turquoise is normal mood range. With a weekly mood report, I will know whether I have been mildly depressed or in an elevated mood for the past one to two weeks. This will give me a general sense what it will be like for the coming week. I will be able to carry out measures and be actively engaged to fight with my mental illness.

The Role of Medication Medication

On a side note, these strategies can be effective only when I am taking medicine faithfully. For my case, medication is necessary for any above strategies to kick-in, to live a purposeful life. When I fall sick with a full-blown episode, either in depression with anxiety or in hypo-mania, I am fully occupied in being sick. There will be no way to monitor my mood and talk about noting it down. Medication is critically essential to place me in the normal mood range. It is an exclusive focus on be being well and competent.

To sum up, knowing my signals of BD and the information collected from mood tracking are helpful and essential for recovery. Together with medication, mood tracking and knowing my 10 signs of BD do put me in a better position to manage my bipolar disorder.

What about you, what are your signs of Bipolar disorder and your strategies to counter it? I am open to discussions. Do feel free to comment.

Beating Bipolar – “The Live We Live & The Life We Choose To Live”

Blake LeVine rise above his mental illness and write the book, Beating Bipolar, it is about practical and tested strategies to manage Bipolar Disorder. With his shared experiences, he could relate to and encourage ‘mentally handicapped’ adults to pursue a life that many do not see it as possible.

LeVine, an Author, Life coach, Documentary Filmmaker (Rap Therapy), and as a Therapist, has been in private practice for many years.Blake LeVine's Beating Bipolar

  • Title Beating Bipolar

  • Author Blake LeVine

  • Place & Publisher USA, Hay House, Inc.

  • Publication date 2012 November

  • Edition & Pages (pp) First & pp186

  • Special features NIL

  • Price US$14.52 (Paperback), US$9.99 (Kindle) (Amazon)

  • ISBN 978-1-4019-3951-9

Beating Bipolar Overview

The book Beating Bipolar is intended to be a teaching tool for individuals with Bipolar; it is a compilation of experiences and what the author has learned. LeVine is willing to share, to help people with Bipolar Disorder to manage its symptoms and to reach one’s highest potential. He earnestly hopes that patients boldly accept the diagnosis and its challenges to recovery. With acceptance and being in the right treatment, patients will move forward with purpose and enthusiasm.

Who can control Bipolar?

Are individuals with Bipolar dangerous to the society?
Should not they be locked away or permanently hospitalized?
Should not they just suffer the deteriorating mental illness silently and ill-fatefully?
The author’s line of reasoning to these questions is Self. With Bipolar, individuals who receive treatments are able to control the chronic illness, without limiting to living a life with a job and/or career, loving family and friends.

Afterword: Into The Light, Revisited

LeVine has a heart for people; his illness has bring on his resolution to illuminate others with Bipolar to face their illness squarely and courageously. He cherish his chance in living a life fully – a life with a job, family, friends and life fulfillment. He strongly believes that individuals with Bipolar have control over their chronic illness; they can and are able to manage, and more importantly, overcome the conditions. He encourages everyone with Bipolar to keep learning more about the illness; the knowledge allows us to be aware and proactive in self-care. He reiterates the notion that on the path of recovery, good things can happen. He has instilled confidence to his readers to transform the darkness of mental illness into light.

He hopes that his book, Beating Bipolar serves as a resource and guideline to create strategical plans for treatment, maintenance, and stabilization phases of a recovery process. Also, it can be used as an advice-dispenser to initiate a support system group and a navigational tool to befriend or re-connect with old and new friends. Should you fear of getting well and the possibility of achieving success, Beating Bipolar provides inspirational anecdotes. Importantly, LeVine hopes that individuals with Bipolar have a deeper understanding to the personal responsibility adhered to coping and managing the chronic illness.

I thoroughly …

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Beating Bipolar. As a patient in the treatment phase, I am profoundly encouraged by LeVine. My first reading gives me an idea of what he had been through, and how he believed in patients like me can lead a reasonably contented life. The second reading allows me to logically understand his perspectives and objectives in sharing his experience with Bipolar Disorder. His standpoint is inline with my inklings, medication treatment is inevitable for most of the patients with Bipolar Disorder; psychotherapy or talk therapy is essential to go hand-in-hand with medication. Life tools is a must-have-it for operational or functional activities on a daily basis.

With these basic treatment approach, the next reasonable aspect to be a mentally healthy individual is relationships; any relationships deteriorate whenever Bipolar illness takes control. Building and rebuilding the new or old connections with people around Bipolar patients is an uphill, and can be a demoralizing course in life. LeVine has included the ways to establish a support group or network, and the systematically how-to connect and reconnect with new and old friends.

“Wherever You Are On the Road to Recovery, I Hope Is Becoming Clear to You”

LeVine concluded Beating Bipolar on clarity and compassion. Knowing my past hurts and wounds as well as fond memories, he approach the past with compassion, embracing the Self. Gently, he prod me to open up my mind to new ways of thinking, and patiently, he encourages me to be brave and just go for it. He acknowledges and reminds me to cherish my inner circle of support – family and/or friends. Finally, he gives me many sign-posts, letting me know what the cues are when I am on the road to stability and recovery.

Final Note

I am thankful to Blake LeVine for his book, Beating Bipolar.

The Signals

 

My signals to sleep late and wake up early almost on a daily basis is an extraordinary happening.Sleeping Koala

During the day, when my head aches, it is time to take a long or power nap, depending on the severity of my headaches. The time to take after-dinner snacks can be long or short. The length of time use for snacking is a sign of ill-discipline or habit for emotional-eating. The degree on binge-eating indicates the tiredness my body no longer can shoulder. When I cannot stop snacking, all systems like lack of rational thinking and behavioral conditioning, will be on an orange alert warning-danger. Yes, I have a Danger Warning System in place.

Waking up has been one of my forte. I have this incredibly strange bio-clock that wakes me up, never on time, but 15-20 minutes earlier. At worst timings, I will be up one hour earlier than the real, tangible alarm clock. When there is a need to overwork, coffee usually after 1400 hours tends to be the bio-clock booster. I would get into a deep and restful sleep for less than four hours, and will be awake and alert to do whatever needed to be done as the deadline draws nearer.

With these efficient yet ‘unhealthy’ signals, my physical health has been compromised. What to do then?

For catching my anti-sleep bug in the late and later evening, ideally I would be rational and discipline to do so, that is to get onto bed and sleep. Unfortunately, my snacking bugs would urge me to continue eating when my brain system encountered misfires of go-to-sleep-messages. To counter it, I have discovered that drinking milk or ginger tea at this late hour has quite a success rate. These two beverages seem to be able to send no-more-snacks signals to the messenger-system network of my mind.

Sadly but not so, my bio-clock is somewhat a fStress Headacheavourable lifestyle I have no earnest intention to do it away. Should I feel under-performing for the day, I will take a long nap, one hour or so of power-charge, sufficiently boost my energy level to the much awaited sleep in the night. In this way, my schedule will not be in a hay-wired mess because of lack of sleep. Unfortunately, I have not identified the early-warning signals for my headaches. I was told that we do have signs to pre-empt us when a headache is brewing.

Signals are one of the necessities in being an efficient and happy being. Without respect for it nor ignoring its presence is detrimental to one’s health. To know your body signals is inevitable, so that you and I can achieve well-being, and ultimately our life goals.

So what are your signals? Do you know you can own a body and mind signal system?

Do feel free to leave a comment for this topic. I am open to discussions. Should you want some help to discover your signals, let me know and I can work it out with you.

My Dreams Come True?

2015AD was a turning point,for me, and 2016AD is my dreams come true!My Dreams Come True

“If it is to be, it is up to me.” by William H. Johnsen is one of my favourite quotes.

With this mindset, I take an active and ‘now’ approach to make my dreams come true. ‘Active’ includes mind and behaviour: being persistent in achieving my short and long term goals, and keeping to my vows (vigilance in self-care).

My dreams are an ongoing ‘homework’. I am able to progress in my life-journey, and I am grateful for having experienced my turning point.

In the month of July, 2015AD, my diagnosis, suggestively changed, from Major Depression to Bipolar Disorder. This meant that my medical treatment would change from 60mg of Prozac to only 20mg; and with mood stabilizers like Lamictal, Zyprexa, and Dosulepin.

These four types of medicines are anti-depressant, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic, and tricyclic anti-depressant: they are believed (supported with scientific research results) to effectively treat Bipolar Disorder. This new treatment was to continue on a fortnightly schedule because my Doctor was cautious about the effects of the new medication regime.

My last doctor’s appointment was in April, and my next will be ten weeks down that road. Treatment intervals have progressed from two weeks to two and a half months…

My perception changed: what used to feel like ‘cloudy skies’, now felt like ‘rays of sunshine’ seeping through those same cloudy skies. I see hope!

I am happy with the new medications. After this treatment phase, I will make greater headway into the maintenance phase. I have no idea how long this will take to achieve stability but I look forward to my full recovery. Then my dreams will come true, one by one.

My Dreams Come True