I have had bipolar disorder for as long as I can remember too but wasn't diagnosed until age 39 while in a psychiatric hospital. I am now about to turn 44 and have also gone through horrifying episodes of nightmares, wondered if I'd ever be happy again, wondered if I'd ever be able to work reliably and felt more afraid of life than of death. My heart goes out to you.
Each of us has a unique story, but some of us have common threads. I will share perhaps what I hope are the pertinent things that have made a positive difference in my life.
The most important anchor and lifeline for me has been God and my faith in Him and my willingness to depend on Him. Were it not for just the thinnest thread of willingness to obey Him during the darkest times, I would have easily taken my life, and that would have solved nothing.
After a number of not-thoroughly competent doctors and 7 years of medication changes in which I probably was on no steady medication regimen for longer than 6 months, I did find a doctor who kept listening to me and tweaking my meds until the current successful regimen. I had been rapid cycling for several years (one hypo manic episode and one depressed episode every two weeks). I have now had only three episodes in the last 10 months. (Just for the record: Paxil and Zoloft did not work well for me because they are stimulant anti-depressants, which nudged my mania. I have had wonderful success with Serzone for depression and Tegretol for mania.)
I was blessed with a psychologist for talk therapy who had a very mild form of bipolar disorder herself and had treated numerous people with the disorder. Some of the very helpful guidelines she gave me were:
Just this past November I looked at nutrition as a way to improve my functioning. I have had difficulty with overwhelm, and the more my manic-depressive cycles came under control, the more problematic the overwhelm became. I was having an enormously difficult time filtering out and managing stimuli. Music that was at a volume others had no problem with, people talking too fast and multiple people talking at the same time all could drive me to the point of tears and sobbing or, if provoked, unreasonable rage. I realized a year ago that I would have to shut down my business (which was only a very part time venture). My doctor said if it got too bad, I could consider going on a mild level of anti psychotic. Boy did that drive me to pray!
A huge part of the answer was nutrition. I read up on the effects of nutrition on various disorders (manic-depression, depression and hypoglycemia, which I have also) and determined to follow the guidelines to the extreme, just to test the role of nutrition thoroughly. It basically meant eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and eliminating or greatly reducing meat protein, sugars, refined flours, processed foods (bags, cans, boxes, fast foods and most restaurant foods), and most fats (the good fats to eat are those found in nuts and seeds, especially flax seeds, plus cold-pressed olive oil). It meant eliminating soda, fruit juices and caffeine. Essentially artificial or processed foods are hard on your system and deprive you of the nutrients you need. The results were phenomenal. In two weeks I went from a weepy, stressed-out person who couldn't think her way out of a paper bag most days to a person with even moods and the ability to do high-level analytical problem-solving I hadn't been able to do in the last 7 years.
During the course of this year I have been able to work successfully, but still not full time. I think it will take some time for my system to recover from years of inadequate nutrition and stress, but I am seeing progressive improvement in stamina for work and relationships. There is hope. I pray that you will find the resources you need and the motivation to try when trying is so hard.
Feel free to write me.
God bless you,
EllenReturn to main page