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

Your words matter…

IMG_6784

I was listening to my second cousin, the amazing Stephanie Tarnasky, she owns Olive Ave: A women’s clothing store, @oliveaveboutiqueif you want to follow her on IG.  She is basically one of those most positive and uplifting person that I know.  And she doesn’t all while being super real.

Anyway, she was talking yesterday about how she has suffered from hair loss for years.  She started losing it after she lost about 60 pounds and before she had any children.  It has been a tough journey, but she handles it with such grace and has been really open about it this past year as she started wearing wigs because she was just tired of not having good hair.  As I listened to her yesterday as she was talking about it, at one point she became emotional, I could sort of relate.

Not that I have had to deal with the same trial but there are definitely days when I say, “I hate that this is what I have to deal with in my life every day (having bipolar).  I hate that it’s always at the top of my mind and even though it’s not something that can be physically seen (maybe especially because it’s not), it’s still really, really hard! And just talking about it can sometimes make me emotional.

But as I was listening to Stephanie, I thought about what she was saying and you know what?  We all have HARD things to deal with in this life.  Rarely are they the same things that others around us struggle with.  But hard nonetheless.  And the truth is we can choose to handle it with a positive words and actions or negative.  Easier said than done, right?  Right!  It’s kind of like a muscle that we have to work out to get tone and developed.  We can’t just wish it to be, or workout once and hope it gets developed and beautiful.  It takes a lot of hard work.  And to be honest, a lot of focusing on the positive aspects that come from what ever hard thing you are dealing with.

It’s the same with our attitude.  It takes hard work to develop that positivity that seems to come naturally.  And it takes an extreme amount of focus to catch yourself when negativity creeps back in.

It’s funny because I had this dream the other night and when I woke up I was thinking about a couple of scriptures that I had read in the Book of Mormon this past week, (We are studying it as a worldwide church this year in a program called Come Follow Me).  I dreamt that in one of our youth organizations, the girls (teenagers) were being really mean and ugly to their leaders and just disrespectful with their words and actions.  And the thought came to me, “be careful of the “manner of language“…. which you use”.  Immediately I recalled my study that had used these exact works a few times throughout the study for this week.  I had noted it which is probably why it was on my mind.  It is found In 1Nephi 5:3,6 and 8. You can view the story of this family here.

In this particular part of the story the mother and father are probably having a somewhat heated discussion.  This story is being told by one of their sons.

1 Nephi Chapter 5:3  it reads And after this manner of language had my mother complained to my father.  And then in Chapter 5:6 it reads And after this manner of language did my father Lehi comfort my mother, Sariah And then once again (after the ordeal they were arguing about was over), Sariah says in verse And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons,…..and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.

So as I pondered that I thought about the way we use our words (language).  Do we use them wisely? Are we kind, loving, positive and hopeful like Lehi was in verse 6?  Or do we use those words to be unkind, belittle people, disrespect and be negative to ourselves and others?

I feel strongly that this is a tool that Satan is using, and most effectively I might add, to cloud our thinking and cause distress and anxiety in our lives.  The manner of language that we use can be a force for good and abundant living.  Or it can be a thorn and a hinderance for all that we are meant to do.

My point is that I want you to consider the “manner of language” that you use to speak to others and to yourself.  We have a great opportunity with the rolling in of the New Year to make a resolution that we will build our positive and uplifting muscles so that the “manner of language” which we speak and the actions that we show, will draw others toward us and toward God, rather than away from.

Just think of the good that we can do, not only for others, but for ourselves if we build, respect, love, and speak kindly. Let’s build that muscle in 2020!

Remember, we all struggle with HARD things but positive words and actions can change everything!

That’s it for today.  Make it a great day!

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

 

2019 has been…

A great year!  I have so many things to be grateful for this year.  Has it been hard at times?  Yes of course.  But I feel so incredibly blessed to have lived this life for another year.  You know, I AM getting up there, haha.  The 50’s haven’t exactly been my favorites.  But I am working on having a better attitude about them :).

So I know it’s only been a few months since I started writing daily but I feel like the holidays are so important for all of us to be spending time with our friends and families.  So I will be taking the next few weeks off of writing to spend building those relationships.  I may possibly write one or two in between (just have to see how it goes), but that is the plan.

I am so appreciative of those that follow me and those that read what I have to say.  I am humbled by those of you who have shared with me your feelings, experiences, emails, comments, and love this past year.

My health journey is on going and something that I will continue to progress through.  I am determined to be able to continue on a good healthy path and hope that I can help any of you along the way who might be struggling.

Mental illness is no joke!  It’s can be debilitating and life threatening.  If you or someone you know suffers with any type of mental illness, please, please, please seek help or help them get the help they need.  It’s out there and it can make your life livable and breathable again.  Please don’t suffer in silence. Make it your goal in 2020 (a new decade!), to get your life back!  Make it your goal to get healthy and happy, make it your goal to not just survive but to thrive!  And above all, have joy!

I love you all.  Merry Christmas!

XO Wendy

Sharing the light of Christ

IG of Shining the light of Christ 

Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do… 3 Nephi 18:24

When I was a little girl, my mom had a really special friend.  She was one of those people that just cared so much about my mom.  She would show up on Valentines, birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, and many times in between with special little gifts, notes, or treats (I loved her!).  My mom loved this dear friend who was always attentive to her needs and would just sit and listen.  And then one day, her friend moved far away and I was so sad.  Not just because there would no longer be treats, but because I was just so sad for my mom because I knew how much she loved her. And how much she would miss her. But guess what?  The gifts didn’t stop and the notes and phone calls kept coming even years after she had moved.  I found out later that this incredible woman was assigned to be my mom’s ministering sister (in our church this is a way that we make sure everyone is being watched over) .  I think she really took “hold up your light that it may shine forth” to a whole new level.  And I loved her for how she ministered to mom and what a great example she was to me.

During this month, many of you may be participating in the Light the world Initiative.  It is a great way that the first presidency has given us to help us with ideas of how we can let our light shine forth.  And most of the acts are very simple easy ways that we can touch the lives of others by sharing the light of Christ.

But what I love so much is that in the scripture I shared in the beginning, Christ gives us the way of exactly how to hold up our light that it may shine into the world.  He says: Behold I am the blight which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do…

That which ye have seen me do.  So that got me thinking about all the things we see in the scriptures that tell us of the way that Christ lived and ministered to the world.  And I think an important point to make is that He did not appear to the whole entire world and try to change it all at once did he?  No, it was usually through one person at a time or small groups of people.  I love that He simply says:  do as I do… just follow me and do what you see me do.

Much like a parent models behavior for a child.  How does a child learn to walk, to talk, to laugh, to play, to love, to serve?  They learn through following what they see others do, namely their parents and family.

In Sister Sharon Eubank’s talk April 2019 conference address she said, “The New Testament shows the great efforts Jesus made to reach out to all kinds of people: lepers, tax collectors, children, Galileans, harlots, women, Pharisees, sinners, Samaritans, widows, Roman soldiers, adulterers, the ritually unclean.”  He did not forsake anyone.

Jesus cares for us, he knows us, he knows our needs, He loves us, He carries us, He lifts us, He leads and guides us,  and yes, he walks beside us.  These are the ways that He has shown us that we are to light the world.

As I was thinking about this a couple of scriptures came to mind.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

and “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

President Thomas S. Monson said

“We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. As we do so, our lights will shine for others to see.

Each of us came to earth having been given the Light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.”

So the way that we can light the world would be through our good works and also by our example.

This year we have been asked to study the Come follow me curriculum individually and in our homes.  I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed studying about my Savior this year.  To be honest, I wasn’t very good at doing it in the beginning, but as the year went on I got better.  So many stories about the life of Christ have touched me this year and I have felt closer to my Savior than ever before. The great part about most of the stories that are shared about Jesus Christ’s life and ministry were shared by apostles that were with Him and got to see first hand, Him doing the things that He wanted them to learn how to do.

I believe that the more that we learn about the Savior the more we will want to become like Him.  He was just sooo good!  And loved others so much. One of the stories about Jesus that I love so much was at the last supper where he did the simple act of humbly washing the feet of each of the apostles.  When he was done He explained to them in John 13:14-15 If I then your Lord, and master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you.

Not only does Jesus show us the way to minister to others physically.  He also shows how to minister to them spiritually.  To succor the weak, lift up the hands that hang down, mourn with those who mourn, and strengthen the feeble knees. He says to us all in Matthew 28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

How did Jesus know who needed him and what they needed? It’s simple, He paid attention to those around Him.  He looked up! Can we look up past our electronics and cell phones? Can we look upon people with Christ like eyes?  Of course we can, it may take some work to drop our judgements at the door and really see them.  But as we do, the light of Christ will burn within is and help light the way for others.

As sister Sharon Eubanks said,  “Our individual light may be like only one light bulb on a tree. But we still shine our small light, and all together, like Temple Square  at Christmas time, we attract millions of people to the house of the Lord.” And might I add millions of people to Jesus Christ the light of the world.

I love how Christ also gives us a promise in D&C 50:24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

As we give love, and serve, and lift others.  Our light will get brighter and brighter.

I watched a video given by Elder Bednar about the light of Christ.  And he talks about the light being within us that when we see someone struggling for example, and feel a compassion and a desire to help them.  Many people would say that is just natural but Elder Bednar explains no that is the influence of God to be better and do better.  Every person ever in the world is influenced by the light of Christ for goodness.  When we yield to that influence to do good and become good, then the light of Christ increases within us.

So, as I see it,  if we are to hold up our lights and shine forth to the world…. even as we see him do.  And by following through with what we are influenced to do.  Wouldn’t we try to do all they we can to serve?  And that starts with just one person.  And then one becomes two and then three and so on.  Until your light is shining brightly before the world. We can’t light the world all at once by ourselves, but we can do it together, one person at at time, one small act at a time.

XO Wendy

 

Somebody’s angel

generous thought

It was Camilla E. Kimball who once said, “Never suppress a generous thought.”  As I have been participating in the #lightTHEworld campaign this year, I have thought about this quote quite often.  I’m reminded that even when you may think that no one cares or that you don’t measure up to what you think you should.  When you think that you’ve exhausted your last card, or screwed things up so bad that no one could love you.  Remember this; You are always somebody’s angel.

I know this because I have so many people in my life that are my Earth Angels. They probably have no idea they helped me in great times of need. From the moms that surrounded me when my children were growing up. To the family that brought us an Easter Lily when we didn’t think our baby would survive the night. To the women and girls who sat with me as I struggled with young children during church while my husband served in the Bishopric.

To the dance teacher that listened to me when I cried my eyes out on the phone.  To the young girl that knocked on my door on my birthday with a big hug and a thoughtful gift.  To the friend who always called at just the right time when I needed it most. To the woman I call mom, that raised and supported me through all of my rough days.  To the woman in my neighborhood who saved me when I didn’t know I needed saving, and then became my second mother. To the older couple that sat by my husband and I every week at church for months, as we made our way back and to the Gospel.  The list goes on and on and I’m positive that you have a list too.

This time of year can be rough for many people for all kinds of different reasons.  It may be the loss of a loved one.  Losing a child or longing to have one.  It could be a body that doesn’t function as it should.  Or an illness that is unexpected.  It could be that this is your first year alone after a divorce.  Or one of the many spent by yourself because you haven’t found your soul mate yet.  It could be sickness or depression, or loneliness, or homelessness.  No matter your situation, I want you to remember that you are ALWAYS somebody’s angel.

If you’ve ever called someone out of the blue because you were thinking about them.  Or had a generous thought to do something for someone, just because and then followed through. Never underestimate the power that one thought can have in someones life.  You truly can be their “angel” in a time of loneliness, distress, or trial.

In honor of the many angels among us, I wanted to share this video and hope you all have an amazing week!

XO Wendy

Hustle and bustle

In the hustle and bustle of the busy world this time of year, we tend to forget the reason for the season.  It’s easy to get caught up in the gift giving and Santa Claus and party atmosphere.

But the Christmas season is a time to celebrate the priceless gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His birth is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God and the Redeemer of all mankind.

I hope today you will enjoy this video that reminds us the true reason for the season.  I love my Savior with all that I am.  And I am so grateful that He was born into this world and laid down His life so that we could all live eternally.  What a gift that is!

#sharethegift

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16