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 kind of alludes 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

 

Hard can be good

Some of the best lessons we learn in our lives, come from something that was extremely difficult to get through.  And some of those lessons seem to be ongoing.  In hisOctober 2017 talk Stanley G. Ellis said, “Hard makes us stronger, humbles us, and gives us a chance to prove ourselves.  Hard can be good!”

Hard can be good

As I studied the words from his talk this weekend, I was taken back to many experiences that were extremely difficult at the time, but that now I can look back on and see the personal growth that came through or because of those experiences.  I’m sure that you can too.  But what can we do when we are in the midst of those hard times?

One of my favorite people ever, Zandra Vranes (I got to meet her personally in October this year), gave this wise counsel. “Rely on the lord, for only He can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph, and whats broken into something beautiful.”  I love that so much! And it reminded me once again of the scripture found in the Bible, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thy own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Very many times in our lives we experience pain, suffering, hard trials, challenges, etc.  that threaten to break us.  But it is through our trust in the Lord that we can become strong.  I know that there are people that will argue the statement “Things happen for a reason”,  but I strongly believe that.  We don’t always see and may never see it in this lifetime.  But God does have a plan for us.  It’s important to note that He does not make or intend for bad things to happen in our lives, but He is definitely there to pick us up and carry us along the way.

I also believe the fact that there are no coincidences. It seems that whenever I feel that all is lost, the Lord finds a way to remind me that He is always there and always will be even when it feels like he is not.

I believe that God is always working behind the scenes to build us and shape us.  Are there things that happen that are horrible in this world and in our personal lives? Absolutely! And sometimes we see people go through challenges that may be completely unbearable.  But if we are always putting a negative spin on things that happen in our lives, we will never truly be able to see the lessons we have or need to learn from our experiences.  And sometimes (a lot of the time) we have those experiences so that we can empathize and have love for and help one another.

Again quoting from Stanely G. Ellis’ talk, “Do we trust His commandments to be for our good? His leaders, though imperfect, to lead us well? His promises to be sure? Do we trust that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do know us and want to help us? Even in the midst of trials, challenges, and hard times, do we still trust Him?”

Hard is part of the plan.  Think of a baby chick who has to break through the shell unassisted.  A seed that has to break through the hard soil to grow into a beautiful tall tree.  A butterfly who breaks free of the chrysalis that binds it.  All of the examples from nature are a beautiful reminder that hard can be good!

I know it’s not easy especially in the midst of something hard, to think about it in a positive light.  But if we can rely on the Lord, trust that He knows what the bigger picture is and then look to Him to help us get through the hard things, we may be able to see that there is a purpose after all.

Please know that you are never alone in your struggles.  And if you ever feel like you are, please reach out. There are angels among us that are meant to help us through hard things.  Please don’t suffer in silence.  God is always there, even when we do not understand the whys.

XO Wendy

 

Triggers and obstacles

trauma triggers

When the physical body goes through something extremely dramatic the after effects can last a lifetime.  Many situations can “trigger” a setback or a fall back into old habits.

First of all the definition of this type of trigger is:  is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback.

Having to be admitted to the psych unit a handful of times over the last 20 years has left a significant amount of trigger trauma in my life.  And while I am learning how to deal with it, it still finds ways to come up and sort of pull me back into those past feelings of reliving the situation.  So I thought I’d give you a few ideas of how I have come to deal with some of these triggers.

Trigger #1. A loved one that was there, makes a comment about something that happened during my past experience.  These are probably the hardest types of triggers to avoid.  Know that it is usually not intentional and the person is not trying to trigger you.  They have memories of the experience too and may be affected in a negative way as well.

I have found for me, that the best way to deal with this type of trigger is to talk openly about the memories.  Not in a negative way, but it a way of “look how far I’ve come”. Talking about it, can be therapeutic for some and definitely is for me.  But I have also found that I need to set a mental timer of how long to talk about it.  Dragging a conversation on for more than, say ten minutes is usually unproductive and can cause you to dwell unnecessarily on the previous experience/s.  That is unless it is in the presence of your therapist or Dr. in my honest opinion.

Trigger #2. Walking into a place where smells or noises take you back to the experience.  This trigger is usually unexpected and comes out of nowhere.  And unless you know that this particular activity is going to be a trigger (for example it’s happened before), it can also be hard to avoid.

One of these triggers for me is a place where there is a lot of noise, distractions, busyness or chaos happening.  For me, when a manic episode starts to manifest, my senses are heightened so big gatherings, or parties, restaurants where there is a lot of loud music and bustling around, or sporting events where people are yelling and cheering and commentating and especially Black Friday shopping haha, all of that sort of thing.

During the holiday season, there can be a lot of those types of events happening, so if your loved one decides not to attend, don’t judge them too harshly.  They are just in survival mode and trying avoid situations that could be threatening to their well being.

Trigger #3. Working or participating in high level stressful environments. This is sort of similar to #2.  knowing that a situation is going to involve a large amount of stress can increase the likelihood of the situation becoming a problem.  Most situations like this can be avoided by simply saying no. Which can also not be easy.  It is simple but still hard to do. Other people have expectations (or at least we think they do) and we feel like we have to live up to the expectations.  But the truth is, our health and well-being is more important than anyone’s expectations of us.  If saying “no” will eliminate the trigger then that’s what you have to do.

I hope these little reminders have helped today, as we move through the busy holiday season.   Happy holidays and stay healthy!

XO Wendy

 

Joy and Spiritual Survival

Hi there, welcome back!

Continuing our discussion on Joy.  I came across this talk given by the prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the October 2016 General Conference.  You can find the whole talk here.  Joy and spiritual survival, it’s AMMMazing.  So go read it!

The one statement that stuck out to me was this:

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

I absolutely love that statement.  It’s so beautiful.  you see, we have the power within us to feel joy when we choose to focus on the Savior.  He is the one and only true source of light, love and true joy.  Granted, sometimes we can not change our circumstances but we can choose where our focus will be.  Even amidst the struggles and the trials of life, we can seek to feel joy in the little seemingly unnoticeable things.

I remember several times as a young mother when I was deep in the throngs of depression.  Every menial task seemed like it would overtake me.  It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never gone through depression.  But the feelings of doubt and inadequacy were so real and raw.  It was so hard just to get myself out of bed in the morning.  But I had 4 littles that needed their mama and that’s the only thing that kept me going. That, and my trust in the Lord that He had a bigger plan for me.

One morning everything seemed to be going wrong.  I felt I couldn’t even function normally.  As I reached up to grab a box of cereal, it came crashing down. Cereal scattered across the kitchen floor.  And all I could do was just sit down in the middle of the kitchen and cry.  “I can’t do this Lord”, “Please help me,” I pleaded.

As I opened my tear stained eyes and started to clean up the mess I hear pitter pattering across the floor.  “It’s ok mommy”.  All at once there it was an incredible, indescribable feeling of peace and joy that enveloped me as I scooped my daughter into my arms and just hugged her.  At that moment, I I felt the arms of the Savior around me like a warm blanket.  I know He was sending me a message that if I focused on Him and forgot the little unimportant things, in this case, cereal scattered on my floor, lol, that He would be there to pick up the pieces and help me get my life back.  That simple moment of joy, though brief, carried me through many moments as I learned how to battle my illness.

Life is not easy, all of us have things that we bear and struggle with, but if we can put our focus and trust in the Lord.  He will guide us…. always.  And we CAN have moments of joy scattered across our lives instead of cereal scattered across our floor.

Focus on the Savior.  He is the source of all joy!

XO Wendy

 

 

 

What does it mean to “Be Still”?

Be StillI have found a pattern for me in writing, posting on FB or instagram, or other forms of social media.  I get really motivated and I go full steam for a while and then I fizzle out.  I really don’t mean to ghost you.  It’s just that a lot of times, life just has a way of getting in the way of some of these things.  We have moved twice in the last 6 weeks, once from our home into a hotel (all of our belongings in a storage unit) , and then again from the storage unit into our new home.  And the moves were 2 Saturdays in a row!  It was crazy.

Then, the very next Saturday we got on a plane and flew to Utah for my son’s wedding for a week (my last child to marry).  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and I got to see so many of my old friends and family!  Being in the Salt Lake City temple with all four of my children and their spouses was an experience I won’t soon forget.  The tears were flowing before the ceremony even started!  For those of you who may not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of the things that we believe is that families can be together forever through temple ordinances that are performed there.  We also believe that this blessing extends to those who have passed before us.  And so we do what we call “proxy” work for the dead so that they can have the promised blessings if they so choose.  For more information about temples and what we believe you can click here.

Now we are back in Tennessee and settling into our home (but still trying to unload the storage unit, haha).  And then in about another week, we will be moving my husbands office space to a new building. Phew!  It has been a crazy summer!

Amidst all of this craziness it has become apparent to me how important it is for us to learn how to “be still”.  What do I mean when I say that?  Well, it’s more than just sitting quietly cause we all know that rarely happens (although it’s great if you can), or praying, or reading scriptures.  While all of those are good means of being still, do you think that there is more to it than that? One of the reasons that I attend the temple as much as I can, is that it is so peaceful inside.  As soon as you walk in those doors, the whole world just melts away.  It is quiet, everyone is equal, there to serve and to love.  There are no sounds from traffic or other outdoor noises.  Just a peace and a reverence that can’t be found elsewhere.  However, I’m not gonna lie, it’s been REALLY HARD this past few months to maintain my regular attendance with everything that is happening.  (Which I am positive Satan is getting ready to put a little tic on his side of the board, lol.) However, as I contemplated what I would write about, I kept just coming back to “be still”.

So again, what does it mean to “be still”?  In the Bible in Psalm 46:10 we read Be still, and know that I am God..

and in Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, aPeace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great bcalm.

When I ponder on those scriptures, I feel that being still is more than just the action of quieting our mind.  It also requires an action of believing that God will enlighten our minds as we do so. Faith to know that He wants us to be still so that we can be given revelation for the direction He wants us to take.  To grow and progress in ways that we can not do on our own.

Twice in the Doctrine and Covenants it mentions the words “stand still”.  first in section 5:34 Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and astand still until I command thee, and I will bprovide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee.

and then again in Section 123:17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us acheerfully bdo all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the csalvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

In the dictionary, one of the definitions of “stand” is to face or encounter.  And the definition of “be” is to take place, to happen or occur.  And then the word “still” in the dictionary, silence, or at this time. If we put those words together, I think that maybe God is telling us if we can BE (something is about to happen), STILL (silent), STAND (Face me, pray, ask!), He has something important to give us, tell us, or show us.  An encounter or something special to take place.   I am in awe of the greatness that those scriptures offer to us.  “Stand still, with the utmost assurance”.  “Be still and KNOW that I am God.”  There is so much that He wants to tell us that He wants to share with us that He wants to show us!  But it’s not just the act of silence or being quiet, it requires us to be willing to face or encounter what it is He is trying to share with us. And then… the most important part….believe Him!  And if your answer involves action on your part (most often it does) then you get up go and DO! Even if that answer is a calm peaceful feeling.  Go and let that resonate with you, don’t just brush it off.

I had an experience a few months back when I was stressing out about everything that was happening in my life and I was having a particularly bad day with my illness.  I was angry, frustrated, felt like it was unfair that I had to deal with this every day.  See that’s the thing with mental illness, chronic illnesses, mental health issues, diabetes and so many other illnesses.  You never just wake up and it’s all gone.  It is with you every ding dong day!  I was SO ANGRY and I knelt down and I was kind of shaking my fists at the Lord saying why? WHY do I have to deal with this every day of my life? Why did you do this to me?  And within seconds of my tantrum, I had one of the most incredible experiences.  It’s like the curtain opened for a minute and I got to see all the miracles that have taken place since my diagnosis.  All the answers to prayers, all the changes in direction (that have been so positive for us) all the experiences that have happened since then.  It was like He was saying:  “Oh my daughter, look at all the good that has come through this illness, look at all the ways that you are better, look at all the ways that you have helped others.  STAND and LOOK (FACE).  I have not forsaken you.  BE STILL!”

And then of course the reprimand, “now get up, wipe those tears and do what you need to do!

I picture a child throwing a temper tantrum and the parent becoming frustrated and just getting down to the child’s level, grabbing that child by the face saying, Look at me! Listen to me! I’m going to tell you one more time! Now, go and do what I have asked you to do (of course in the most gentle of ways ;)).

What a beautiful opportunity we have at any time of day or night, in any situation, with all that the world throws at us.  We can “be still” or “stand still” (face Him, talk to Him, be open and ready to what His plan is)  and we will receive the strength to move forward, to be stronger, to be as He would have us be.  I say it all the time, His plan for our life is a MUCH BETTER PLAN than the one that we think is going to be great!  But we have to be willing to be ready for the encounter, be silent so we can hear it and face Him.  He has all the answers.  Trust Him!  Be still, and Know…

XO Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

What does a manic episode look like? Part 1. | Bipolar disorder

I have been putting off writing this post.  It’s not easy to write about something that is so personal and risk being judged or labeled because of the stigma surrounding mental illness that still exists.  However, I feel so compelled to share and educate people on what those with mental illness really struggle with, Bipolar in particular.  Then maybe we can remove that stigma together.  So today I am going to share these deeply personal experiences in the hopes that it can help someone who thinks they might have Bipolar or maybe friends and family who may be seeking answers.

It’s important to understand that this illness manifests itself in many different ways for different people.  I can only speak from my own experience and it’s super important that if you or someone you know, think you might be experiencing some of the symptoms that I am going to share, that you seek the advice and counsel of a trained Psychiatrist or Psychologist to be properly diagnosed.

What I am going to share is the way that a manic episode manifests in me.  The easiest way that I know how to describe what happens for me is to give you bullet points.  So Here are 5 ways that a manic episode starts to show for me.

*One thing that is important to mention about Bipolar and mania is that sometimes the one experiencing it can’t see it when it’s happening, but someone close to you can.  So having support from loved ones during times like these is especially important.  Although, it can also be frustrating and draining for those witnessing it and trying to help.  Don’t give up on us.

So here we go:

  1. Creativity spike or over excitement.  One of the first signs for me that a manic episode is coming on is that I start to feel kind of a pressure build up of creative ideas.  I will start feeling really bold and strong like I can accomplish anything.  Which really isn’t that strange because a lot of people are list makers and goal setters and go getters.  But what this looks like for me is list making and goal setting on steroids, lol.  It’s like I just keep adding more and more to the list and I just feel super powered. And I start attacking each item on my list and I just can’t let it go until it gets accomplished.  I get really exuberant about everything so I talk louder and faster and more excited than usual.  Normally I’m a pretty quiet and reserved person.  So this is pretty out of character for me.
  1. Can function on very little sleep.  I feel like the energizer bunny.  I am so on fire that I can’t shut my mind down at night and I start to lose sleep.  This isn’t just a few hours, this is like pulling all-nighters for several days in a row.  It’s very frustrating because I know I NEED to sleep, but I just can’t shut my brain off.

In one of my recent episodes, when I was through it, I had a huge bruise on my chest from where I kept poking my self.  In my manic mind, I felt like there was a button that I could push that I could just turn it all off.  So I just kept poking my self trying to shut all the thoughts off.  I know it sounds crazy but remember this is a disease or disorder.  So if we think of it like a disease, it would be similar to a diabetic having insulin shock.  It’s very serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

3. Rapid weight loss.  This is caused by a lack of eating normally because I think I have to get so much done I don’t stop to eat.  I actually forget and I am not even hungry.  Normally, I am very aware of when and what I eat and how much water I’m drinking.  I’ve learned to be very careful about this over the years.  I’ve been reading a lot lately about how the brain and the gut are connected. There is so much that happens in the gut that can change the way the brain functions.  So it makes sense that cutting off the nutritional supply that your brain is used to would cause significant changes in your body.

4.  Everything resonates. So this symptom is where it really goes off the rails.  I start to see signs in everything.  I believe the technical term for it is grandiose or delusional thinking.  So for example I might see a billboard and say something like “Oh, I get it now, that’s what this all means.”  Or “Oh my goodness this is so big, it all makes sense now.”  I start to say things that make complete sense to me in my head, but when they come out of my mouth it’s making no sense at all.  At one point I start to think that people can or should be able to read my mind.  So I’ll just look at them like I’m telling them something and expect them to understand. This is when it’s getting really scary and on the verge of the episode.  Usually once it’s to this point, a manic episode can not be avoided.  So the idea is to recognize the early signs above, or someone close to you recognizes what’s happening and points it out so you can bring yourself back down.  Usually you can’t do that on your own, you need the help of someone else making sure that you are getting enough sleep and that you are eating and staying hydrated, etc.

5.  Senses overload.  So for me personally, this is when I’m in full blown manic mode.  It’s like all 5 of my senses are extra sensitive.  I hear everything louder.  Everything around me seems amplified.  From the voices of people around me to the natural noises of traffic and hustle and bustle.  And then I feel like everything is interconnected like I mention in number 4.  I feel like I can see things more clearly.  I feel things more fully.  And my talking becomes very chatty.  I have to talk about everything I’m seeing, hearing and feeling.  So it can be very annoying to someone around me.  I just can’t shut up, lol.  I joke about it, but it’s a very scary place to be.  In fact the other thing that happens at this point is that I get the worst headache.  My head is pounding so hard that I think I’m gonna die.  It’s just like massive overload of all the senses.

The way that I always try to explain to someone what it’s like, is to compare the body to a computer.  When you keep opening window after window and giving your computer more jobs to do, it finally just freezes up and won’t do anything.  The only way to fix it is to do a reboot.  It’s kind of the same way with me.  Once I get to that point, my body just shuts down and has to be rebooted.  I imagine it’s like a short circuit in the brain. My brain is just saying “enough is enough” I have to shut this baby down.

Usually at this point I am pretty much out of it.  I can’t function at all.  It really is like my body just goes into freeze mode and is waiting to be rebooted.  It’s super scary because I literally have no control over my body at this point.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have only gotten this far 3 times in my life where I have had to be hospitalized.  But looking back now I can see many times in my life where I was in the manic zone but then managed to work myself out of it, usually by sleeping it off.

So wow! Yes, that is what a manic episode is like for someone who is experiencing it.  There are many more symptoms that manifest for other people such as uncontrolled spending, excessive drinking, or drug abuse, extreme rage, etc.  But the 5 symptoms described above is how it works on me.  And like I said in the beginning, I can only speak from personal experience. This is why I mention so much that it feels like being “broken”.  It literally is like the brain is broken.

I know this can be extremely hard for a loved one to hear and witness.  But just know that it is even harder for the person who is going through it. I hope this has been insightful and helpful for those who have Bipolar or those with friends or family.  I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to get the proper help and diagnosis.

I want to leave this on positive note though, because there is help and a lot of good things that can come from this. I have been so blessed to have had great support in my life and have been able to get the help that I’ve needed.  If you have found this helpful or insightful, please like and share.  And if you want to know more, I am happy to share my experiences.  I believe we are all here to help each other on our journeys through life.

XO Wendy

P.S.  Part 2 coming soon.  A different perspective.

Update:  In this post I talked about how my husband was going to be posting about Bipolar from his perspective or rather what a manic episode looks like to someone who may be experiencing it with their spouse, child, or loved one.  Turns out, it was much harder for him than he originally thought it would be.  It’s extremely hard for family and friends to understand what is happening with you and to see you that way  It isn’t exactly a walk in the park for.  So I let him off the hook.  I think from this post you can learn a lot about what it’s like.  The one conclusion that we did come to is that you really have to learn to trust each other.  The person having a manic episode, usually feels like they are just fine, while the loved one can see it more clearly.  So it’s important to trust your loved one and get help if you can, whether that is through your Dr. or working out a plan beforehand with your spouse of how you’ll handle it.