Losing Weight, Bipolar Style

I’ve just realised something about my many attempts to lose weight in the past six years; every time I decide to lose weight, I’m in a manic state. This means I’m pumped, excited, ready to exercise and eat right and conquer the world. As soon as the depression or mixed state kick in, I immediately lose the momentum and completely give up. This is a huge aha moment for me.

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I’ve joined a gym a few times and in my normal or manic state I can really enjoy the gym. Of course as soon as my mood shifts to depression or mixed state, the Social Phobia accompanies it and I have no ability to leave the house, and I want to eat all day long.

It all seems so obvious now, but I had no way of understanding this before. So, and I’m just thinking out loud here, I have the usual amount of human inertia about eating healthily and exercising, with the added difficulty of unpredictable, uncontrolled mood shifts. Give me a break.

I’m wondering if I can create a plan that shifts with the moods? Sounds revolutionary, but that could be my current manic state speaking. One plan for each of my four states, and I act accordingly each day. The speed at which I cycle between moods could be an issue; at times I can experience four states in one day.

I’m going to work on this and get back to you. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it’s a book in the making. Maybe I’m all hyped up on manic endorphins?

be you xx Rachel

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Home Is Where I Hide

I think I’ll be staying inside my house for the rest of my life. I like my house. It’s very old, usually messy and definitely needs renovating to bring it from well-loved/old to quaint/cute. I like it just the way it is, though, which is why I’ve lived here for about six years with no improvements except insulation and air con.

I need fences, though. Nice, high fences. So I can go out in my garden when I’m depressed/social phobic. It would be so nice to be able to tend my veggie garden any day of the week, and not just the ones where my mind isn’t as black and low and paranoid as it can get.

I Met A New Friend Today

I met a new friend today. That’s how it happens when you use Facebook – you connect with people and get to know them, and then you meet them in real life. I love that.

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It was one of those easy meetings where we sat down with a cuppa at her home and chatterboxed for hours. I loved getting to know her, we have lots in common and that is always fun. I’m really looking forward to spending more time with her.

Friendship is a tricky thing in my life. I often either give way too much, or keep a wall up. It’s the Bipolar, but it’s also childhood stuff about staying separate from everyone else. I was raised by extreme fundamentalist Christian parents who had their own way of interpreting the bible. They believed that people who went to church were misguided, hoodwinked and in error, thus to be avoided at all cost. They also believed that people who did not go to church were the Unbelievers; corrupt, sinful, evil and to be avoided at all cost. This meant that I was taught to trust and respect nobody outside my own family.

You can imagine what this did to my child heart. I developed an internal binary switch for strangers that allowed for only two states of trust: complete and zero. Not many people scored my complete trust. Almost everyone fell in the zero trust category. I was very good at putting a polite and friendly face on my utter lack of trust, learned by watching my parents and the way they acted towards customers, school teachers and shop assistants.

The people I felt compelled to trust completely inevitable hurt me. I would pull back from them and reassign them to zero trust, then beat myself up for failing so badly at correctly divining their trustworthiness. What an idiot! What was wrong with me? When I was a child it had been so simple, with my parents doing all the judging and me completely trusting their choices.

Of course, as I grew up I became aware that I needed to see people in a much less black and white way. I watched people do good and bad to one another and I learned that most people are well intentioned – which was pretty hard to take on board and live with at times.

I met a new friend today and, by nurture, I am tempted to trust her completely, believe everything she says, do whatever she wants me to do, be whatever she thinks I should be. But another thing I’ve learned over the decades is that real, true friends seem to understand my urge to be the best best friend that has ever lived, and instead of taking advantage of this, they choose to give and take. I am trusting myself to live one day at a time, choosing to give and choosing also to take. These are the ingredients for a happy, healthy connection. I know it.

be you xx Rachel

The Bipolar Boogie – A Lot Like the iPod Shuffle, Without The Warning of an Imminent Transition

GOOD morning! I hope you, like me, are having a good one. I hadn’t planned to post today, but I’ve woken up in heaven, and I just have to share.

Heaven, in this case, is a nice, smooth mood. No high, no low, just breathing in and out and thinking about what to do in my day. Beautiful. Heaven.

I am so grateful to be alive today, in this smooth mood. I know from experience that while in this headspace I’ll be able to handle whatever comes along in my day. I’m so grateful for how relaxing this is, and I’m grateful that I can share this with you.

The suicidal, down, dark mood I had been coping with in the past few days has lifted. I have a clear head and so I can plan my day and get some things done like housework and Christmas lists. While in this headspace, I try and take advantage of every minute. I often write myself notes, to read later in the week when my mood has shifted again. Encouraging notes for a dark mood and calming notes for a manic spike day.

Bipolar mood shifts are so random at times, with no trigger or warning. This makes life impossible to plan. I’m only now learning to give myself permission to say to friends and family “Yes, thankyou for the invitation, and if I’m in the right headspace on the day I’ll be there with bells on.” It’s such a relief to be able to do this! I have worried for many years that people will think I’m giving myself an easy out by saying things like that. Now, honestly, I AM giving myself an easy out by saying things like that. I need an easy out. I deserve an easy out. Not being able to choose to do the things I want to do when I want to do them sucks. I’m giving myself a break at last.

It is so great to be able to share these things with you. I feel liberated. Thanks for reading my blog.

I hope you like my design, above, for a Bipolar Boogie app button. Maybe one day someone will discover a way to achieve control over Bipolar Disorder brain chemistry, and we can download the app? In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my smooth mood.

be you xx Rachel

Holistic Therapy and Social Phobia

I had Reiki for the first time yesterday. It wasn’t what I’d expected.

I think I’d expected something between acupuncture and a seance. It was nothing like that, as it turned out. It was much more like body energy-centred counselling.

It’s hard to choose what to share, partly because it was such an intense session and partly because I’m still processing what happened. I was really impressed at the truly holistic nature of reiki. The word holistic is used so often, and applied to so many different therapies, I was happy to discover that I’d found something that truly earns the label holistic.

In one of my favourite movies, actor Tom Hanks says ‘There’s no crying in baseball,” but I’m here to tell you that there is crying in reiki. One of the odd experiences I had was discovering that my eyes were full of tears and my face was very wet, and I hadn’t been aware I was crying. It was as though healing was occurring in such a connected physical/emotional way, it was all just happening in concert. Unlike most other therapies I have experienced, this one seemed to engage the brain almost without conscious thinking. Okay, I did say I needed time to process this, so if my words sound strange, maybe I just need more time, more reiki and more tears.

I found reiki really nurturing and healing and I’m looking forward to going back for more.

Social Phobia

I have a friend who is deathly afraid of spiders. I mean, he is scared to death of any tiny little black thing that even looks remotely like a spider. The instant screaming and Gangnam Style moves he starts making are immediately recognisable. The spider dance, we call it. At times, the spider dance has been triggered by a big, hairy, scary looking spider. At other times, we’ve found the object to be not a spider, but something more like a little piece of black lint blowing across the floor. We all have a laugh, my friend points out that it might have been a spider, and everyone should look out for spiders, because this might not have been a spider but who knows what might come crawling out from under the fridge next?

Now, if you can, imagine that instead of a huge fear of spiders, someone has a huge fear of people? But, I hear you say, spiders bite, and some spiders can kill. Yes, yes, I agree with you. But honestly, have you ever met a true spider phobic who has been bitten really badly by a spider?

Social Phobia (SP) really, really, really, really sucks. I love my friends, my family, my clients and colleagues, but SP, which is a strong component of my BD, really messes with my ability to interact with people. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to speak in front of a large group of people, and felt uncomfortable in the extreme, to the extent where your fight or flight response is overridden by a sudden lurching in your stomach and you wonder if you’re going to throw up, or pass out before that can happen? This is what SP is like, in any given moment of the day, often without a clear trigger.

Most people experience SP moments in their life, and yet I think that out of all of the problems associated with BD in my life, SP is the hardest for other people to understand. Having lived with this for as long as I can remember, it’s probably equally as hard for me to walk a mile in the shoes of someone who has only had one or two SP moments in their life, and these were probably brought on by some nice, logical trigger event.

Here’s an example of how SP can mess up a perfectly good day: You plan for a whole week to get together with a friend for coffee. On the day, you wake up and WHAM, you feel screamy-Gangnam Style-dance scared. Nobody did anything to you. Nobody said the wrong thing. Nothing happened to you except brain chemistry. That’s it, brain chemistry.

One shrink explained it to me like this: “If you were diabetic your body wouldn’t balance your blood sugar levels by itself. Having an imbalance in your brain chemistry is similar.” That makes sense to me. When I explain it to people like that, they seem to get it as well. The cruel thing about SP is that you can be a gregarious person by nature, and plagued by SP. Brain chemistry can be incompatible with your human needs.

If you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, thanks for staying with it! I know it was a bit heavy. If it made you feel a little heavy, take a moment to shake it off. Life is good.

be you xx Rachel