Living with Bi-Polar
Hello, my name is Melanie Booth.
Welcome to this online session on Living with Bipolar. I have my own business, Butterfly Holistic Services, where I give a range of massage therapies.
I like to think that a person flies free, like a butterfly, as a result of their treatments.
I am also a writer of, “Melanie’s Memoirs: Bipolar and Me”, and have a second book, “Reflections of My Heart”, about to be published.
I am a volunteer at the Recovery College, having run Bipolar Awareness, holistic and relaxation courses there for almost 4 years. I like to give something back and the Recovery College has aided and helped me in my development.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar is an illness in which there are extreme changes in mood, ranging from highs (elation or mania) to lows (depression).
Bipolar disorder is also sometimes called manic depression, bipolar affective disorder or bipolar mood disorder.
Everyone has times in their life when they feel very happy (such as when you are about to go on holiday) or very sad (such as when a loved one dies).
But it is when the mood changes become extreme or unusual, that a person may have Bipolar Disorder. This can range from being extremely elated (known as mania or hypomania), to being very low (depression).
What causes it?
There is no proven reason why people get Bipolar. It can be a mixture of reasons, such as the following:
Largely thought to be a chemical imbalance in the brain (as is the case with endogenous depression).
In people who have Bipolar Disorder, episodes may happen at times of stress or disrupted sleep. Even “happy stress” can bring it on.
There may be a genetic cause.
Symptoms that can occur during a ‘high’ or manic episode
- Feeling incredibly happy or ‘high’ in mood, or very excited.
- Rapid speech and talking nineteen to the dozen.
- Fragmented thoughts and sentences.
- Endless energy, jumping from one activity to the next.
- Not being able to settle to anything.
- No time to eat properly.
- Overspending of money or other types of reckless or extreme behaviour.
- Not looking after yourself, poor hygiene, decreased need for sleep.
- Felling irritated, racing thoughts, increased activity.
Different types of Bipolar
Fully blown, usually manic first, followed by depression.
Not as severe as Bipolar 1.
Not as exaggerated as Bipolar 2. It can be a creative or productive time. – Artists, Writers.
This is where you have fluctuations in mood, from high to low, within a 24 hour period or within a few days.
In between periods of mania and/or depression, there can be months or years of good mental health and wellbeing:
For many, the build up to mania can be a very creative, happy time. There can be a lot of ideas and plans, that are realistic at first, but as the condition progresses, they become too grandiose to carry out. A person can begin to think they are very important, a king, a queen, or even a god(dess).
It is in that time of creativity, that you might be able to ‘catch’ it and prevent full blown mania, but it is hard because there is a fine line between mania and normality, plus the person
People may feel well and happy. It is usually others who can see something is wrong.
In order to stay well, it’s important to be closely attuned to the way you feel. By the time obvious symptoms of mania or depression appear, it is often too late to
intercept the mood swing, so keep a close watch for subtle changes in your mood, sleeping patterns, energy level, and thoughts. If you catch the problem early and act swiftly, you may be able to prevent a minor mood change from turning into a full-blown episode of mania or depression.
It’s important to recognize the warning signs of an oncoming manic or depressive episode. Make a list of early symptoms that preceded your previous mood episodes. Also try to identify the triggers, or outside influences, that have led to mania or depression in the past.
These are some of my triggers. Yours may be different:
- Too much spirituality/Christian thought (because of my disordered mind)
- Live music/bright lights (make my head spin)
- Concerts – some okay but “feet on the ground” – literally
- While the highs can be very exciting, “buzzing”, it is not worth the devastation (terrible lows) afterwards.
- Too much time spent on my own
- Not having enough structure to my day – “fixed points”.
“Before I die I'd love to see my name on the Famous Bi Polar list I'm not ashamed of my Illness I believe most of my talent comes from it.”
― Stanley Victor Paskavich
Symptoms that can occur during a depressive episode
- Feeling very sad most of the time
- Lethargic: just a struggle to get through each day
- Decreased energy and activity. Lack of interest in life
- Withdrawal. Social Isolation
- Not being able to enjoy things you normally like doing
- Unable to communicate
- Lack of appetite
- Disturbed sleep
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
How is it Treated?
Treatment of bipolar disorder may include support groups, medication, talk therapy, or other strategies that you and your health care provider may want to try. The right treatment is the one that works best for you.
Medication can play an important part in keeping the balance in the brain right. It may take time to get the right combination to work for you.
Talking is vital to recovery also, either to family or friends, or in a professional capacity, such as counselling, CBT or family therapy. A mixture of both might help.
Tips for better treatment:
Be a full and active participant in your own treatment. Learn everything you can about Bipolar, become an expert on the illness.
Study up on the symptoms, so you can recognize them in yourself, and research all your available treatment options.
The more informed you are, the better prepared you’ll be to deal with symptoms and make good choices for yourself.
How do I keep myself well?
Keep my feet on the ground – my slogan – clay feet
Pace myself – don’t take on too much
Regular sleeps during the day (medication)
Take time out for “me” – I’m important. Do what I enjoy. Appointment with myself.
Practice relaxation – creative visualisation and breathing techniques.
Quality Time with Family and Friends (People who Matter)
Cultivate Positive Thoughts, Change Your Mindset
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought”.
Be around positive people. Not too many drainers.