Rest: Five Minute Friday {2}

This week I've been short on it. My mind shifts into high gear as I settle into a sweet little hypomanic state. Don't freak out parents - I know I need to catch up on my rest. I just had so much to get done before kissing the kids goodbye, hugging my mother-in-law, and giving my husband a bear hug and a sensual "thank you" kiss at the airport as he dropped me off. He encourages me more than he knows. He trusts me with his loving smile.

It was a long day of travel yesterday.

Five hours on a plane, twenty minutes on the lightrail, three hours on a bus.

But I am finally here.

Dinner last night was amazing - so fresh and full of vegetables and fruit. Sleep came easy to me once I shed my traveling clothes and slid into cozy jammies.

Rest was refreshing.


Five Minute Friday

Checking in with the doc & Kony 2012

Had a checkup with my psychiatrist today. I brought the kids with me since it's only a 30 minute appointment and it was right at 12pm, so I fed them before we left and brought the ipad to try to keep them occupied. She brought in a few toys for my little man to play with and my daughter sat in the stroller happily tapping away at the ipad. A tiny bit distracting, but nothing a mom of two toddlers isn't used to. I like how my doctor asks about my writing. She knows it is important to me and she supports my voice. My last psychiatrist didn't read my book draft since I became emotional during the one appointment when I told her about it, handing her the draft to read. She told me at the next visit that she hadn't read it since I became so upset. The fact that she didn't read it (or so she said) made me sad. I was handing her a glimpse into my thoughts, feelings, and emotions having lived with bipolar disorder and she turned around and told me what felt like "you're not worth my time outside of paid appointments."

I would have stopped seeing her, but didn't really have a choice since insurance was covering my visits at almost 90%. So I stuck with her until our insurance changed and I was forced to find a new doctor. I was lucky enough to find a very good one whose office is only 5 minutes from our house.


We talked about my mood during today's visit and I admitted I've had some hypomanic periods over the past two months, but they are manageable. I always have a good sense of awareness about my moods and when I feel an elevated period, I know that I need to get more sleep and nap when the kids nap. I take Ambien if my mind is still buzzing when I know it's bedtime. I'm also fortunate in that my husband stays on top of things too and encourages me to get rest when he knows I need it. We work as a team to keep me healthy and I like that.

My doctor and I discussed the recent news of the Kony 2012 movement and how Jason Russell, the filmmaker who was the voice of the campaign, was recently hospitalized in California under a 5150 psychiatric hold. He was trying to raise awareness about a horrible war that was going on which most Americans probably knew absolutely nothing about until news of the viral video his organization created hit the evening news. When I first watched the video two weeks ago, I'll be the first to admit, I was kindof shocked by the message of "Making Joseph Kony famous". But then it hit me. What better way to slap the world in the face to get them to realize how much shear devastation this one person has caused to so many innocent children? The campaign had a call to action too. They want to get the word out to have Kony arrested and put to justice. By the end of the 30-minute video I was a follower. I even shared it on my Facebook wall, encouraging my friends to watch it.


And then the story broke on Friday about Jason's detainment by police after he was found naked on the streets shouting obscenities and pounding the pavement with his hands. The first thing I did was remove the share post of the Invisible Children Kony 2012 campaign from my Facebook wall.


How incredibly narrow-minded and judgmental of me to act in such haste. I immediately didn't want to be associated with the guy just because he had suffered a public mental breakdown? Wow. Talk about needing to have an introspective weekend.

All I could do was think back, all weekend long, about how his story has some similar characteristics to my own. Not nearly on the same scale, of course, but in small part, similar. At the time of my first psychotic episode, I was under a great deal of stress from my career and the goals management had set for me in the coming year, in addition to being in the midst of an emotional affair with a co-worker and mid-way through building a brand new single-family house with my husband. Talk about having a lot on my plate.

I feel so blessed to have had the support I did when I went through that most trying time of my life (and theirs, I'm sure.) My husband did not abandon me, my parents and in-laws wrapped their arms around me in support, and my closest friends were there to listen to what I was going through whenever I needed to talk. I was so lucky that I didn't have to suffer in the public eye like Jason is right now.

I'm sure there were things said behind my back by people wondering what the heck was going on with me. But I didn't have to read about it online or hear about it on the news like his friends and family are doing right now. I pray that they don't read or hear the negative words being thrown about on the Internet and news talk shows, and that if they do, that it only strengthens their defense for him and their efforts to help him get well. I'm praying for him. He's done so much good work. He does not deserve all the hate. Not one bit of it.

I am not proud of my initial reaction to what happened to him. I wanted to write about it here to help teach myself, someone who suffers from a mental illness which caused four psychiatric hospital stays, not to turn my back on someone because they are going through a trying time. Let this be a learning experience to myself and the other 83 million people who watched the video. Don't turn away because I believe that some people come into our lives as blessings, and others come into our lives as lessons.

Getting back on track

I'm feeling extremely guilty for not having blogged in three weeks. When I initially started this blog, it was my goal to write a post a day and that has definitely not happened. Life happens, and unfortunately for me, sometimes gets in the way of my goals and ambitions. After I started the blog, I had a long weekend with my high school girlfriends, a trip with my kids to visit my parents while the hubby was on a business trip, then came home and got packed up for my trip to California with my husband for a cousin's wedding. Then our little man turned 3 and we threw him a birthday party with friends and family. So yeah, we had a lot of stuff going on that made it difficult to keep up with my lofty goal for this blog. But hey, I'm back at it now, so I have to at least give myself credit for getting back on track.

I've noticed recently that I am the type of person who gets started on an involved, long-term project, gets really excited about it and dives in with exuberance, only to find that my dedication dies down slowly over time until I'm no longer working on the project at all and have instead moved on to the next big idea. Kind of frustrating to say the least. I feel like I have lots of big ideas in my head which I've only just begun to scratch the surface of their potential. Part of the problem stems from my bipolar disorder, and the fact that when I become hypomanic I tend to feel like I can conquer the world so that is usually when I start something new and as the hypomania dies down, my interest in the project tends to decline as my mood winds down. But another big piece of it is the kids and the time and energy that they both require on a daily basis.

Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love spending time with them and doing things like reading to them or taking them on walks to the playground. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't sometimes wish for just four straight hours to dedicate to a project or a hobby like writing or sewing. Luckily for me, my wonderful husband sometimes will take the kids on a Saturday morning to give me some "Mommy free time" which is awesome. We'll tend to do that for each other - since it's football season he enjoys having time on Sundays to watch the games, so when he takes the kiddos on Saturday, I'll get them out of his hair on Sundays. It's our way of pampering each other I guess.

I definitely want to get back on track - with my writing and with my exercise regimen too. My 5k is coming up in less than two weeks (13 days to be exact!) so I'm aiming to get as many workouts under my belt as I can before the race. And if I'm not able to keep up with a post a day, I'll at least try for 3-4 a week. So my attempt to solve my "dwindling dedication to long-term project" syndrome is to modify my goals. Good place to start I guess.

Do you ever feel like your bipolar disorder causes you to lose focus? If so, how to you cope?

Exercise - finding the right balance

Living with bipolar disorder I find that I constantly have to find a balance with everything. From my diet to my sleep to the amount of exercise I get on a daily basis, all these things affect my mood and have to be carefully monitored to keep me "in the middle" as my Dad describes it. I'm like my own personal see-saw, and the goal each day is to make sure that it stays as close to horizontal as possible. In a future post I'll get into sleep, but for this one I wanted to focus on exercise because it is at the forefront of my mind lately. I decided that I wanted to lose my squishy mid-section - leftover from having two bouncing babies who grew inside me - and in order to do it I thought I'd train to run a 5k. I've never been very good at running, but it seems like such a great exercise to do when trying to lose a little bit of weight. Also, I felt it would be a good goal to say that I accomplished.

I recruited one of my best friends to join me and I began training using an online training tracking website called It is so motivating for me to use the site to track my progress and so far I've done a really good job of keeping up with the program I found online: The Cool Running Couch-to-5-k training program. You basically jog/walk on increasing intervals for six weeks until week seven when you're jogging 2.5 miles at a time. I am really excited about it.

This morning during my jog/walk, I realized that it felt really good and that when my timer beeped that the two minutes were up and it was time to walk, I felt as though I could actually continue jogging. Pretty good sign, right? Hopefully the program will work for me and I'll be able to jog the entire 3.1 miles for the race in October.

What I need to be careful about with exercise is that sometimes it can catapult me into a hypomanic state. I've discussed it with my psychiatrist and we came up with techniques to help me recognize the mood lift and how to make sure it doesn't go too high that it leads to mania. For me I have found that sticking to about 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, done in the morning or early afternoon, is the best way for me to keep my mood at a good level. When I exercise I feel strong and it also helps me to watch my diet more closely because after putting in all that effort to burn calories, I usually don't want to negate it then.

Yoga and pilates have also been other forms of exercise which I have enjoyed tremendously. When I was first diagnosed and was having trouble sleeping, my parents gave me a yoga DVD for Christmas that year. It's called zYoga and was a tremendous help to me in dealing with my insomnia. The woman in the video is so calming and has such a relaxing voice, it became a wonderful sleep ritual for me. I practiced prenatal pilates when I was pregnant with my daughter last year and I truly believe that the class helped me to recover so quickly and easily from childbirth that I would recommend it to any pregnant woman looking for a prental exercise class. It became more and more challenging as the weeks went on, but I found that I gained only 24 pounds with that pregnancy compared to the 43 I gained with my first pregnancy when I did not exercise.

There have been numerous studies on the benefits of exercise for people struggling with mood disorders. If you can find even ten or fifteen minutes a day to walk outside, I am sure that you will quickly feel the benefits and will continue to notice them if you commit to it.

Given today's busy lifestyles, how do you find time to exercise on a daily or weekly basis? Do you think it helps you to manage your moods?