A dose of hypomania…

A dose of hypomania…

For the longest time in my life whenever I felt sad or was having some type of day I would turn to shopping.

I spent excessive amounts on money on things I wanted so badly but didn’t need, and unfortunately it’s still one of my biggest problems. It feels as if I am going through a mixed state (which is one minute they are extremely happy and the next minute they drop down to being extremely sad). It goes something like this: I experience a bad day or I feel manic and I whole heartedly decide to spend money on something like makeup. I feel totally happy doing it, but once the deed is done I go right back to feeling depressed.

I have been trying to compose myself when it comes to spending money, because I tend to spend a lot of it in a small time frame. It started bringing problems into my relationship and my spouse couldn’t deal with my spending habits anymore. So, for her I promised to do better, but it’s really hard.

Shopping helps me escape my reality sometimes. New clothes, new makeup, new this and that and I’m like “yes I feel like a totally new person.” A happy one. Sadly it’s only for the time being. Don’t get me wrong when the stuff arrives I am truly just as happy, but it’s always the same song and dance – it’s never enough! I need more, I want more. I crave more.

I had to cut back a lot. I used to shop nearly every single day to now maybe once a week or once a month, but it’s still excessive. I have almost everything I want when it comes to material things but I’ve learned it never fills that void truly. This isn’t like something I can control though and sometimes I wish people understood that more. I know I don’t need more things but I can’t help but get them.

I’m at that age where I need to start thinking about a family and a house, so my shopping sprees need to get cut off completely. It’s a work in progress because once I see something I want there is no off button. I think it has a lot to do with the impulsive side of me. I don’t think about “well if I buy this tomorrow I may not have enough money to pay my bills.” I see something I like and there isn’t a thought of I can’t have that. I don’t have any warning lights going off.

How do I get a warning light in me? Most people can control themselves, but what happens to the rest of us who can’t ? Where does that leave us? Luckily I have never went broke because of my expenses but the crippling fear of that happening lurks in my mind. Sometimes this makes me feel like a child especially when I get told “stop” or “enough” or “don’t do this anymore” and it upsets me because in my head it’s like why can’t I have nice things? I work hard, I go to school… I deserve the nice things!

Simply put, who doesn’t deserve to enjoy pleasures of life? We all do! But what if you’re like me and you can’t stop. It is a problem! This was just something I’ve been thinking about when it comes to myself.

Thanks to my spouse, I’m working on bettering my life and my approach. Still though there isn’t a time during the day where I don’t think “I want this” when I see something that grabs my attention. Grasping control is something that is new to me, but I am trying. I am taking baby steps and beginning to think of the long haul rather than the short. I hope one day when I want something that I don’t actually need – I’ll be able to say no and truly mean it.

Have a blessed day everyone.

Rewired

Rewired

In my pervious blog post, I discussed the prevalence of substance abuse in individuals with bipolar disorder. I honestly haven’t yet discovered as to why this actually happens. I do have some theories that I would like to share and of course put up to discussion with all of you.

My future seems complete to me when I imagine my profession. I am en route to earn my PhD in psychology and I aspire to work in a rehabilitation center. I feel like that there is where I can do my best work. I love helping people and engaging with someone on a very deep level. I work so hard in school to be able to achieve this dream and bring change into this world. I believe that in a rehab facility – one can see the embodiment of transformation and revitalization.

Substance abuse is a disease. Bipolar is a disease. When compounding both together – an individual needs all the help they can get. But why are the two so closely related? I believe it has something to do what wanting to escape reality or numb the pain. No one wants to feel like they are hurting, especially when the pain is mental and completely indivisible to others. People who suffer from a mental illness can never explain the excruciating pain they go through to someone who doesn’t suffer from such an illness. So they find an escape. Drugs is an easy one and one that is readily available. It’s easier to pop a pill than it is to talk to a counselor. It is easier to pop a pill than go through the ebs and flows of one’s emotions. It’s easier to pop a pill than talk about what’s happening inside of you. But popping a pill is only easy going in, but coming out – the road is most difficult and most debilitating. There are major consequences – dependency, physical illnesses, loss of loved ones, homelessness and even death.

I am currently reading this book “Rewired” by Erica Spigelman. I read a lot of books (as most of you know). She doesn’t live with bipolar disorder, but she has suffered with substance abuse. This book is a self help book for those who have had (or are having) this problem or for those who want to help someone who may have this problem. Even though she does not have bipolar disorder, she is an individual who has endured suffering and came out from the bottom becoming one of the most influential writers and doctors who ever came face to face with substance abuse.

If anyone with bipolar disorder has ever had a problem, I think seeking out this book to help get and stay on the right path is a great idea. I’m not close to being done with it, but this step by step process is very intriguing and I can see that if you apply the work in this book you may just become a survivor of this ugly epidemic.

Substance abuse is killing millions of people and it is honestly one of the most saddest things ever. Imagine having bipolar disorder – which is a struggle in itself and also hitting rock bottom and abusing a certain substance. It’s like the worst kind of cocktail to try to swallow. Before my diagnosis, like most young adults I would drink a lot (being a bartender didn’t help). I partied a lot and and truth be told there wasn’t a night in my early 20’s where I wasn’t drunk or drinking. Sure, most people around that age would say there is nothing wrong with that; we all love to party! Well, I was impulsive, irritable, sleeping around, spending like a maniac, etc etc. I wanted to numb my pain and in turn numb the reality of my life. Of course then I didn’t know I was struggling with bipolar disorder. I took the easy rod and blamed it on my drinking. I didn’t want to even think about mental illness as being my reason. Little did I know that I was hurting myself more and more. Drinking made me more manic, drinking didn’t help my disorder one bit, in fact in only made everything worse.

Nowadays I barely have anything to drink. I still go out, but I control myself. I don’t have more than one drink because I know what happens next. I have people in my life who also care about me and make sure that I don’t abandon my willpower. Being responsible when you have bipolar disorder is very important. One, because of my medications, and two because I rather keep my drinking to a minimum to not create a cycle of loosing control. One glass of champagne for a celebration and I’m more than good with that.

Was I an alcoholic back then? Probably. I had easy access to alcohol, I partied every single night, and I didn’t care to stop. Thankfully, as soon as I got diagnosed I realized I didn’t want to be that person, I wanted to be better. Not everyone can just stop a bad habit, some may need rehab and help. My rehab was therapy, and my diagnosis. I knew that having this disorder was chaotic enough, I didn’t need to add to it. Unfortunately, many who suffer from bipolar disorder don’t see it that way, and I don’t blame them. Escaping the truth always feels better than reality. I do hope though, if anyone is having substance abuse problems that they can find someone to talk to. There are many therapists available, also don’t be afraid to seek help in family and friends. And always remember that your friendly blogger is here for you as well. I’m only one message away and I will find time to give you my ear and try to help the best I can.

Addiction is a disease and we all know it so there’s no one to blame, but knowing something is bad for you and continuing to do it, well that’s a choice. Break the habit, get better, read this book, learn something and become the most authentic self you can be. I’ll never judge anyone if they are suffering from this disease but I hope they will find the strength and see there is a light behind that darkness. You don’t have to be a statistic. Rewire your brain to have a better lifestyle and better habits. Perhaps, start here. After reading my blog, read the book, talk to a friend. Help is everywhere if you need it. Don’t let substance abuse ruin your life.

Bipolar or not, your life is worth living. Trust me.

God bless everyone. Have a great day

“Pill shaming”

“Pill shaming”

I read a lot of articles on bipolar disorder just so I can stay on top of the educational part it brings that’s is up to date. Recently, I’ve read this article on pill shaming, which isn’t something that I never heard of before. The article first stunned me because it expressed how Kanye West ( a rapper, who I use to be obsessed with), is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and wasn’t taking his medications like he should have been.

First, I was like “wow, I can’t believe this, do you know how awesome it is for a celebrity to come out and say they are suffering from a mental illness”. Celebrities bring a lot of awareness, because let’s face it, most people look up to them and often listen to them. Although, I’ll never wish this disorder on anyone, I was honestly thrilled that someone who is so big in the industry understands what’s like to have bipolar disorder. I hope this gives motivation for those who are ashamed of bipolar disorder the courage to accept their diagnoses and take their medications, while following a treatment plan.

The article didn’t specify on why Kanye wasn’t compliant with his medications however, he was advised to get back on his medications and to not feel any shame on being on them. There are a lot of reasons people feel shame when it comes to taking their meds, as well as many reason to why they don’t take them at all.

According to Hu, who is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology stated, “Many people with mental health issues lack insight and do not believe that they have a problem”. This is very true, a lot of the time when someone gets diagnosed they are in denial for a really long time. I know that because I was one of those people. I was so convinced that if I just pushed it far, deep into the back of my mind, it wasn’t true. “Out of sight, out of mind” kind of thing.

Let’s go down the list of why people stop taking their medications, because after all medication adherence is one of the most difficult & challenging factors when it comes to those with mental health illness.

1. As I said before, most people think “I don’t have a problem”.

These people fail to realize how serious their mental illness is and for the most part it’s because they in are in straight up denial. If they start taking medications they believe that they can’t handle their illness on their own. Sorry to burst this bubble, but you absolutely can’t handle it on your own. It is simply out of your hands, you need all the possible help you can get, and medications is the first and important start. There is nothing wrong with you if you need medications, you’re not weak, you’re not not independent. You are simply just someone who needs medication to deal with the kind of mental illness you may have.

2. Some people think that needing medication says something bad about them.

Anyone who suffers from bipolar disorder or any other mental health issue has to take their medications on a daily basis. That alone is a continual reminder to them that there is something “wrong” with them. This often leads to one thinking less of themselves, because they do in fact have a disorder/illness because they need the medication. These kind of feelings feed shame. It perpetuates behaviors and emotions leaving someone feeling alone and isolated for the most part and when that happens, it can make symptoms of any mental illness more severe. I like to think of it this way, yes I suffer from bipolar disorder and yes I have to take my medications daily, but bipolar disorder does not define me as a human being. I am more than this disorder, and more people need to think of it that way and continue their drug regimen.

3. “I feel better & I don’t need medicine now”.

That is one of the most and I mean most common reason people stop taking medications, and quite honestly the dumbest reason of all ( not to be judging ). But come on people that’s like common sense 101, of course you feel better, that’s what the medication is doing. To stop it isn’t going to continue allowing you to feel better, it’s going to do the complete opposite. It’s only a matter of time before symptoms reoccur once you stop taking your medications and believe me that “I feel better” feeling will disappear in a snap of a finger.

4. ” I don’t have money.”

Unfortunately, some health insurance companies do not provide mental health treatment and pay for psychotropic drugs. Which I personally find disgusting. It breaks my heart knowing there are a lot of people with mental health illness who don’t have the means to get the help they need. I wish this was something that was a priority when it comes to someone’s health and insurance companies treated this situation as a must and change the game on this. Providing full coverage when it comes to mental health. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Perhaps going to a free clinic they can offer medications without any cost. Doing more research on this is highly important, so if you don’t have the funds, try to find a medical office that provides samples of medications that they can give you for free. My psychiatrist office gives me samples of Latuda while I wait for a prior authorization on my medication. There are doctor offices that do this.

5. “The side effects are worse than the symptoms.”

While it’s true, side effects of antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicine, and psychotropic drugs can include sedation, insomnia, drowsiness, dry mouth,weight gain, sexual issues, and so on. Often, side effects subside after our bodies acclimate to the medication, but some do persist. You have to find the right drug for you. That takes time and a lot of patience, but in the long run it’s well worth it and the pros start to outweigh the cons.

6. ” I don’t like feeling shamed.”

When it comes down to mental illness diagnose & treatments they still carry a large amount of air in shame for many people. According to a therapist in New York, Dr. Robin Gold, ” In society, there is a common misconception that if you take medication for mental health diagnosis, it means you are not as strong as you should be, or that you’re crazy.” I think that’s a loud of bullshit. You are strong, you’re strong enough to know that you have an illness like any other that needs medications. You’re a fighter, that fights the disorder with medications every single day, and you’re far from crazy!!! Don’t let anyone ever call you crazy, because there isn’t anything crazy about you.

Finally: ” what is pill shaming?”

When someone is consistent and adhere their medical treatment they may start to feel as if some people around them are pill shaming them. Especially if they open up to some close people about the medications they are on. Some friends or family may say you don’t need pills. You just need to work out more, or eat better, or spend time mediating. That is a form of pill shaming. When people express negative opinions when you share the fact that you’re using medications to treat a mental health issues. You start to assume-wrongly- that taking medication signifies weakness of character to work through tough times. But, you got to remember these people pill shaming you aren’t doctors. They have no idea what you’re dealing with on a daily basis. Their opinions do not matter in this case and the best thing to do is ignore them and continue to believe you’re on the right path to recovery. You’re strong. Don’t let societies stigma & lack of knowledge stop you from taking your medications. Don’t let others shame you. You’re better than that to believe they know what’s best for you. You and your doctor know what’s best for you, and what’s best is taking your meds and seeking therapy.

People need to understand that it is never helpful to shame individuals struggling with mental health issues and to discourage them from getting the right help in the same way they would for any other medical condition. We didn’t choose to have these disorders, just like most people with cancer or heart problems chose to have those. And if they are compliant with their medications, why shouldn’t we be ? Treatment for mental health conditions can help end symptoms, restore quality of life, and allow you to feel healthy once again. We need to seek out and receive on going treatment if we want to destroy the disorder. It is the only way.

Stop pill shaming today, share the truth, expand people’s minds, and don’t let them get in your head. Have a blessed night everyone.

8 major myths & facts about bipolar disorder.

8 major myths & facts about bipolar disorder.

It is esstentially harmful for people to have the wrong type of information when it comes to bipolar disorder. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, which can cause stigma, therefore I want to be as informative as Best as I can.

First myth: Bipolar disorder is a rare condition & does not affect a lot of people.

Fact: Bipolar disorder affects 2 million adults alone in the United States. One in every five Americans has some kind of mental health condition.

Second myth: Bipolar disorder are just mood swings and everyone seems to have that.

Fact: The highs & lows of bipolar disorder are very different from common mood swings. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience extreme changes in energy, activity, & sleep that aren’t typical for a person. An anonymous psychiatrist stated “just because you wake up happy, get grumpy in the middle of the day, & then end up happy again, it doesn’t mean you have bipolar disorder–no matter how often it happens to you!” This is because when it comes to bipolar disorder doctors don’t look at just emotions. What they look for is symptoms that don’t just last for a couple of hours during a day. For someone to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the “mood swing” has to exist on a daily basis for at least two weeks.

Third myth: There is only one type of bipolar disorder.

Fact: If you have read any of my previous posts regarding bipolar disorder you’ll know that there is bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, & bipolar disorder otherwise not specified. People tend to put individuals who suffer from bipolar under one whole category, NO! That is wrong! Individuals suffer from different kinds of bipolar disorder.

Fourth myth: Bipolar disorder can be cured through diet & exercise.

Fact: As much as I would love for this to be true, bipolar disorder is a life long chronic illness & there currently isn’t any type of cure for it. It can however, be well-managed with medication and talk therapy, avoiding stress, maintaining regular sleeping patterns, eating well, and getting exercise. Not a cure! But definitely doing the leg work helps in more ways than one.

Fifth myth: People who are in the midst of mania are productive. They are in a great mood & really fun to be around.

Fact: In many cases a manic person may feel great at first, but without treatment things can become detrimental & even terrifying. An individual may go on a huge shopping spree, spending way beyond their means and falling into debt. Some individuals become overly anxious or extremely irritable. They easily get upset over small things and snap at people they love. A manic person may lose all control of their thoughts and actions and sometimes they can even lose touch of reality.

Sixth myth: People who are artistic will lose their creativity if they get treatment.

Fact: This is absolutely not true! Do not believe this one! Treatment often allows you to think more clearly, which will likely improve your work. Think about it, when you’re off your medications do you think as clear? Can you streamline your thoughts off your medication? I know you don’t because I am you. Our minds are racing a thousand seconds per minute. This isn’t healthy nor helpful for creativity.

Seventh myth: People who suffer from bipolar disorder are always either manic or depressed.

Fact: Individuals can experience long periods of even, balanced moods known as Euthymia and sometimes some may experience something known as a “mixed episode”, which means a person experiences both mania and depression at the same exact time. This is highly dangerous, as I stated before.

Eighth myth: All bipolar medications are the same.

Fact: What might work for me, may not work for you. All medications work differently on different individuals and that’s why it is important to work with your provider to find the best medication that suits you. Responding extremely well to the right treatment can benefit your lives in a very satisfying way. A clear mind and a balanced life will bring happiness in all aspects of your life.

Find the right provider. Work together as a team to find the right medications & treatment plan for you. All of us who are doing our best to live healthy lives will end the stigma. If we all do this together – it will set an example for those that are just being diagnosed. We can improve ourselves and those around us. We can help save lives.

Share your knowledge & bring awareness! Stop the myths & learn the facts!

God bless everyone. 🙂

“It’s just a bad day…”

“It’s just a bad day…”

I’m always trying to stay positive in every aspect of my life because I’ve been on the other side for so long that now I just want positive vibrations & energy around me. I don’t know what’s going on, but the last two weeks, I’m constantly irritable. My mood is drastically low. Everything and everyone is bothering me. I feel like I am mad at life and I don’t know why.

All day long today I felt bothered, and for no apparent reason. I didn’t want to be at work. People and work were annoying me. I just wanted to get away, be somewhere else…anywhere else. If I had a specific location in mind I would share it, but I didn’t and I don’t.

I think I’m missing therapy, I haven’t been for awhile now, and honestly when things were this bad it helped me in so many ways. Just talking to my therapist about things would feel like a relief. Now I feel like I am constantly suffocating, searching for something, anything to make me feel better about myself.

I just want to get home and get under my covers. I’m not in the mood for conversation, I want to be left alone, I just want to sleep. I try to tell myself “it’s just a bad day, not a bad life”, but it’s been just a bad day every single day for the last month it seems. Maybe more. I haven’t seen my therapist since then, if not longer.

I know better than anyone else, with this disorder medications aren’t enough; therapy is crucial. It is a must for a healthy balance, and for some damn reason I can’t seem to get myself to therapy. I’m either too tired, or say “I’ll go next week”, etc.

It’s not even 8 pm yet, and I feel extremely exhausted. I’m running on low battery. I feel snappy, I think it’s time to go home.

Once upon a mania…

Once upon a mania…

Earlier I shared how happy I was. I got home from work & started looking through my planner. I started filling in dates that needed to be filled and I went into August. Besides putting in my work hours I had no idea what else to add. September is right around the corner; I’ll be right back in school. Working and going to school. Where the hell did my summer go ? All I’ve been doing is recovering from this surgery and working. I haven’t gone to the beach not once, I haven’t went out once, I haven’t done anything but stay home.

Doctors orders; no sunlight. Once upon a time during a manic episode I decided to let someone who I thought was a friend & actually good at her job do microblading to my eyebrows. For the record I didn’t need it; my eyebrows were perfect. I don’t know what on earth I was thinking but after allowing her to convince me–I let her do it. For those of you who do not know what microblading is, it is when you tattoo your eyebrows to look fuller. I didn’t research her work. I went on her word on how good she was. After it was said and done my eyebrows looked horrendous. They were uneven, and way too thick. Of course during this time I was manic and thought “why not, just do it..whats the worse that can happen”. The worst that did happen was that I looked like a cartoon and without makeup I couldn’t dare be seen.

I decided to remove it. At first I went to this specialist in removing tattoos through lazar removal. It became tedious to have to go every 3 months and not seeing any results. The pigmentation was far in too deep and it was costing me a pretty penny to do this. The girl (who messed them up) kept telling me to come see her for a removal and she would do it at no charge. So, I finally gave in.

Again, I was manic. I wasn’t medicated just yet. I allowed her to do the removal, she swore she done a million times and assured me it would heal in two weeks. In about two weeks I had this really bad infection. I messaged her asking if this was all normal and she told me to apply Neosporin..& so I did. Constantly. Once the infection subsided there were two huge dents on the side of each eyebrow. I was so devastated. I missed school, stopped going out, and when I went to work I was caked up in makeup.

Last year, my girlfriend realized how miserable I was and she found this plastic surgeon in NYU. By the way, he is the best hands down. If anyone ever needs one, he is the man you need to see. Dr. Edward Rodriguez aka the man. After 3 surgeries, three lazar procedures; my dents are totally gone. The only issue left was the scar tissue around it. My last surgery he grafted my skin to fade out the scars. I am still healing, the surgery was only two weeks ago. My doctor says this is the end of the road and although I will never look the same; this was the best anyone could do. He is totally right, we have done all we can do for this, it’s time to cut the cord.

In the meantime during my recovery I am not allowed in the sun. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the beach. How the beach and I are one. That is my favorite place in the world; especially in the summer. I regret to inform you guys, I haven’t been to the beach yet. I am sad. I want to tan, I want to feel the sand in my toes, and I wanna dip in the ice cold water. This is the worst summer ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I want my face to heal correctly, and I want to stop having surgeries. I am exhausted and this isn’t cheap. I just want to look like I use to and go to the beach. Am I asking for too much ? Summer is almost over, and if it ends and I don’t have at least one weekend in the sun I am going to severely hate life.

Life lesson: when we are manic we do the most dumbest fucking things in the world thinking it’s fucking genius. Although, somethings maybe; this wasn’t one of them. I completely ruined a beautiful face. I fixed something that wasn’t even broken and I’m paying more than anyone will ever know for this stupid decision. Add it to my list of regrets.

I pray that all of this was worth it and I feel comfortable enough in my own skin even when I don’t have any makeup on. God willing, I will be more than happy with the results when all of this is done. Maybe missing the beach won’t be such a bummer then.

God bless everyone.

The little things

The little things

Im sure you all have heard the saying “it’s the little things that count”. I don’t know about most people, but to me that quote is absolutely true. In life we tend to over look the small things done for us, given to us, shared with us. We tend to take them for granted because most people want too much. I have learned that those little things by far are better than the “big things”. Not that the big things don’t matter, however the small things let you learn to appreciate both.

Personally, the little things make my world go round. Like you know I love Carmel macchiatos for breakfast and every morning you get me one. Not because you have to, but because you know that’s what I need to get my day started. Like most people I use to take those kind of things for granted, although now I know better.

I love the little things. The small kisses when we first wake up, the cuddles we share throughout the night, and the cute names you call me during the day. My significant other is my best friend and without her and her “little things” my life would feel empty, small, shallow.

She has helped me not only with dealing with my bipolar disorder, but teaching me how to live a better lifestyle; I’m forever grateful to her ( even though sometimes I have a hard time showing it). I hope she knows. Life wouldn’t be the same without her, and I hope together our lives are better than ever.

Today I am feeling happy, I am feeling like my best friend and I are unstoppable. Her not being by my side makes this disorder that much harder. So, thank you love. Thank you for loving me, and thank you for those “little things” I so badly need.

I hope you all have some type of support system to get through this disorder because doing it alone is critical. It is the hardest thing ever, and I know because before her I wouldn’t let anyone in. That is not the right way to get about things. The bigger your support system is, the better chances you have at maintaining a healthier lifestyle. It is proven with any illness. Just google it.

Anyways, today I feel grateful and I hope everyone suffering finds something in their lives to feel grateful about. This disorder sucks ass, but there is light at the end of that dark tunnel. You just have to want to find it.

Have a blessed Wednesday everyone. Stay strong and appreciate those “little things”.