Be grateful for today.

Be thankful for how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned along the way.  We only have one life!  

Don’t waste it away worrying about what you haven’t yet been able to do.  Make today great and full of gratitude and everything else will take care of itself.

5 Things not to say to a person with bipolar disorder

Some of you have requested that I post more about my experiences with living with bipolar disorder.  So I figured this year I would try to write about it at least once a week (maybe more depending on the week).

I will say that it is much easier to write and talk about these things when I feel healthy and that the disorder is in control.  The sad part is that just because I’m healthy now, doesn’t mean that I don’t have it or that it will magically go away.  I like to think of it as it’s “in remission”.  Hopefully it stays way but just like cancer, I need regular checkups with my Dr. And for me personally, making sure I take my medication and always strive to keep up the 10 habits.

There can also be many side effects that never go away.   And it doesn’t mean that things that people say (well-meaning) don’t affect me in a negative way.

So today I thought I’d give you an idea of what NOT to say to someone who has bipolar disorder.

1. You seem so normal. This is probably the one that I hear the most and it’s frustrating because just because I look or seem normal doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling.  Plus, you never know if someone is between cycles of mania or depression.  And some people are just really good at hiding it or wearing a mask.  Think about how this would feel if you said it to someone with cancer!  It is a lack of empathy in my honest opinion.  A better way to approach this would be to say.  “You seem like you’re feeling good at the moment, what can I do to support you?”  Just showing you care and recognize it as a disorder, will go a long way.

2. I saw so and so the other day and she was acting so crazy, I think she’s bipolar! First of all, we are NOT the disorder, we HAVE the disorder. Second, making assumptions that someone has a disorder just because of their actions is rude and disrespectful.

Remember how I talked about your manner of language yesterday?  When you say it like that, it makes us feel like if you think that about them then you must think we are totally bonkers!  It’s a generalization that doesn’t help the situation.  And most often just makes us feel worse.  A better way would be to say, “I saw so and so the other day, she looked like she was really struggling, it’s possible she could be suffering with a mental illness.  Is there anything that you would suggest that might help?” Be genuine.

3.  Come on let’s go shopping, you just need to get out. It’s not that easy to just snap out of it.  This is a real honest struggle for those who suffer, and just getting out doesn’t make it go away automatically.  Most often it feels physically impossible to do the easiest of tasks. However, I will say that continued support is extremely helpful.  Check in often ask sincerely how they are feeling that day and if they might like to get out?  And then be supportive and understanding if they decline.  Again a little bit of empathy can go a long way.  Genuinely care about the person and do not make it seem like what we are going through is fake or brought on by something we are doing or not doing.  Don’t give up on us.

4. You are acting crazy, phsycho, deranged, out of control, bonkers, or any other negative terms used to describe someone who is probably really struggling to stay in control.  Again, just be careful of generalizations and assumptions.  Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

A better way to handle this situation would be to gently say, “I feel like you are not quite your usual self today.  Is there anything I can do to help?”  Be prepared for a person to become defensive.  And if that happens, it’s best to just give them time to process your observation.  The last thing they want to have happen is to have the disorder sneak up on them.  Pointing out an observation and then giving them time to adjust and process would be a good way to handle it.  And again, lots and lots of support.  Don’t just walk away and never come back to it. Give it time and then try to sort it out when they are ready.

* A note to the person who has bipolar: Personally, when this has happened to me, I find it therapeutic to document how that made me feel in a journal, just let it all come spilling out on paper.  It saves me from saying something that I will probably regret.

5.  And finally… You’re just making all of this up to get attention. While it may seem illogical to you, it usually makes perfect sense to the person with bipolar.  Bipolar is a disorder of the brain, so it makes sense that sometimes certain behaviors or statements may seem irrational.  When observing behavior that doesn’t seem normal, brushing it off with blanket statements like this is NOT helping. Give the person validation by saying something like,  “I understand that what you are seeing/saying/doing is very important to you, what can I do to help you with this?”  Again you may encounter some defensiveness, but be gentle.  Yelling and trying to make your point is actually just a way of escalating the symptoms they may be experiencing.

I hope that helped a little and made you think about your words and the way that you support someone who is struggling with bipolar.  It’s very difficult for a loved one to see someone they love struggling and not acting like themselves.  Give each other grace and be gentle.  And encourage them in the kindest way, to get the help they need.  They need your support more than ever when times are tough.  Checking in regularly and genuinely is a great way to help someone who has bipolar disorder.  And above all, never, never give up on them!

XO Wendy

Hooray for 2020!

New decadeIt’s time!  I had a little break and now I am back.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my break from social media and posting.  But, I have realized something about myself in the process.  This is something that I was already aware of but I guess I just hadn’t figured out how prominently it plays a part in my life.

It’s a symptom of Bipolar and one that I don’t like (not that I like any of them, but there are some positives for having Bipolar. But that’s another day another post, haha).  The symptom is that I start something and then because of the illness I have a hard time physically and emotionally completing it.  Maybe that sounds like an excuse but it truly is a symptom.  It is one of the reasons that people who have bipolar sometimes can’t hold down a job. Or move from one job to another.  It’s crazy but true.

So what I realized is that I totally do this with my blog, social media, work, and other projects that I take on.  The reason is that when we are closer to mania or manic we are like energizer bunnies who are super motivated and driven, big risk takers and willing to take on a lot of different projects, filling our plate to overflowing.  Then when we crash or move down the cycle into the depressive side we get stressed out and overwhelmed and just want to give up on everything.  When in reality what we really need to do is figure out where the balance is.  Medication and therapy can go a long way in fighting to find this balance.

As I said more recently, that this year is probably the best I have felt in a really long time.  And I think it is in large part due to the fact that I am learning to find that balance.

Believe me when I say that this blog can be a double edge sword.  In part it works as therapy, but if not handled properly, can become a source of stress and overwhelm. I love helping others who may be suffering in silence, but not at the expense of own health.  So one of the goals that I have made this year is to recognize that and give myself grace.

I am still going to do all that I can to post regularly, but some weeks it may be everyday and some weeks it might just be once or twice.  And that is completely acceptable and ok!

I have a lot to look forward to this year, this decade!  I am excited to continue moving forward with my health and well being and one of the main goals I want to focus on with my health (besides balance) is my nutrition.  Nutrition plays such a HUGE part in the life of all of us of course, but is particularly important with someone who suffers with mental illness.

I am so excited about this because it’s something that has been a big issue in my life.  So my goal is to stop the yo yo dieting.  Eating terrible and gaining 10-20 lbs and then feeling awful and eating great for a period of time and losing it, only to continue the cycle.  I know this doesn’t just apply to those with bipolar or mental illness but in my case, I know myself well enough to know that it is definitely part of the manic/depressive cycle.

I would like to get to the point where I recognize how what I am eating is making me feel physically and emotionally. Believe me I’ve tried every diet out there and have been trying to stay keto for a long time now.  There are so many studies out there that show it helps the brain and I really want to heal my brain.  But truthfully, I would lose a few pounds then gain it back.  I felt deprived and unhappy most of the time on it.  And I didn’t really feel like I saw improvement in my brain.

In my religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints.  We believe in something called the Word of Wisdom.  It’s found in section 89 of The Doctrine and Covenants. That’s the reason that we don’t drink alcohol, coffee, tea, or consume drugs, and tobacco.  We believe in moderation in all things, that fruits and herbs should be consumed with prudence, and that proteins should be consumed sparingly.  We are also told that grain is the staff of life and good for food (I think that kind of rules out keto, haha).

Also that which yieldeth fruit , whether in the ground or above the ground. 

Then the really great part about this is that it comes with a promise from the Lord.

In verse 18-21 That we will receive health in the navel and marrow in the bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures (I would say that is in reference to our brains being strengthened).  That we shall run and not be weary and walk and not faint (energy!).  And the best of all, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, and not slay them (which can be interpreted in many ways but definitely sounds like a good thing!).

So to recap, fruits and vegetables in moderation, meat sparingly, and grain in moderation.

I started working on this about 2 weeks ago.  I had been in a gain cycle for about 3 months (12 pounds worth) and knew I needed to do something.  I felt inspired that this is the answer.  So in practicing these principles, so far I have lost half of the weight, I have energy, I eat when I am hungry, (making good choices).  And I if I’m honest, this is something that I definitely think will be easier to maintain for a lifetime.  Oh, and I don’t deprive myself of anything, I just remind myself that MODERATION is the key.   But because I have the sugars in fruit I haven’t really craved many sweets (which has always been my nemesis, hense, why keto was so hard for me to stick to).

Sooo, you are welcome to join me on the journey in search of balance emotionally, mentally, and physically in large part through health and nutrition.  Just message me if you’d like more info on exactly what I am doing.

That’s all I have for today, I hope that everyone is having a good start in 2020.  This is the year for clear vision of what we want to achieve.  Let’s do this!

XO Wendy