Day 214, Accepting My Medication
I woke up very early again this morning. I watched three videos on FMTV. They were each about overcoming depression and anxiety.
One woman, Rhiannon Reese, was living in a tent with her toddler son and worked her way into becoming a top business coach. She had to work a great deal on herself before she was successful at it.
A young man, Luke Hines, overcame his depression and became a trainer. He made a delicious treat of cacao, coconut oil, maca, raw honey, coconut flakes, blueberries, and hazel nuts.
Gary Martin, gave examples of people without limbs who had great energy and accomplished much because of the way they thought. He said that biochemicals such as adrenaline, endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine are controlled by our thought processes and can make us feel better.
By taking thought, can I make myself happy? Gary said the people at his office showed excitement about life the day after he talked to them about it. Soon, customers were staying at the office rather than leaving right away. The whole team became more creative and thought of solutions that improved their business. He said, “You’ve got to be happy.”
So what is the take away from these three videos for me? I have been struggling with my mood and my medication lately and searching for answers.
Yesterday, I read The Honey Moon Effect by Bruce Lipton, in which he talks about how we are biologically programmed for bonding. He talks about how he overcame negative programming to have a happy relationship.
For 17 years, he used a mantra while shaving that he would never marry again. He thought all of his relationships were doomed to failure. Bruce found the love of his life, and even wrote a book about relationships, which years before he never thought he would do.
I actually created passwords that had the theme that I would never marry again and drilled them into my head. I believed there was no one on earth who was right for me. Gradually I changed my mind, and the love of my life was already my long-term friend.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day reading Human By Design by Gregg Braden. I was especially intrigued by what he said about our heart’s wisdom, which he has learned to trust so much he risked his own life and the lives of forty others in Egypt. However, he was safe, as he intuitively predicted, and had a fabulous experience. Gregg gave a five-step formula for tapping into intuitive wisdom. He said:
I believe this is very similar to what I do when I converse with the Lord. I listen to my heart for answers. Gregg said intuitive knowledge from the heart gets easier to obtain with practice, and I have found that to be true. I have shared some of my conversations in this blog, not to provide answers for others, but to show how I tap into my heart’s wisdom and encourage people to get their own answers.
Last year I read several books about intuition. Some of the authors were in favor of intuition and sought it regularly; others discredited it. Some of the books had stories of people receiving knowledge they could not have simply guessed.
Gregg also mentioned the importance of good nutrition when he talked about telomeres. I read Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel’s The Telomere Effect last year. Telomeres are pieces of DNA that function like caps on the ends of shoelaces. When cells divide, telomeres shorten. However, with telomerase, an enzyme in the body, they can be repaired. Lifestyle factors such as getting enough sleep, meditating, exercising, getting optimal nutrients, and reducing stress promote lengthened telomeres. Elizabeth cautioned against supplements designed to increase telomerase but advocated lifestyle changes.
Today, I have been struggling with inner tension. I thought it might be caused by my medication, but I have had difficulty finding a connection. Maybe I should call inner tension something else.
Maybe the solution for the tension is meditation. I still have not resumed a daily practice of meditation since praying about Insight Timer. I prayed about Insight Timer and FMTV and got the go-ahead to get FMTV.
I also started re-reading Anthony Robbins’ giant of a book, Awaken the Giant Within. I believe I have read it twice already, but I think a third read may be of value. It certainly was valuable to read Psycho-Cybernetics the third time.
Mania in 2016
In July 2016, I had a serious manic episode. I experimented with my medication, and got out-of-control. As part of my manic behavior I bought a Cadillac. I had enough money for it, but it drained a good portion of my savings. Now, through selling the car and saving money, I have more than recovered my savings and gotten completely out-of-debt again. I can thank my husband for his financial support, which has allowed me to get back on my feet.
I realize I could easily sabotage my finances again with another manic episode if I do not stay steady with my medication. So even if my medication was the cause of my inner tension, it would probably not be wise to change it. I just wish there was a way that I could stay stable without having to be dependent on medication. I know a lot about natural cures, but I do not know of anything strong enough to reliably prevent episodes. However, I think it is still advantageous to do what I can naturally because that will support the medication and make it work better.
Writing My Blog
I am also trying to think of what I can write in my blog that is fresh and interesting, while also relating to my overall theme of vibrant joy. Anthony Robbins talks a lot about emotional issues in his book, which is one reason I want to give it another read. People who are not familiar with bipolar I disorder may think that it is something you can control by taking thought. The only control I have found for it is taking the thought to take my medication.
So is Tony Robbins going to be of any help? Actually, he has helped me in the past. He helped me focus on just four major goals at a time, which allowed me to get them all done. In November 2003, I set four goals: 1) to lose 12 pounds from 132 to 120, 2) to keep a scrapbook for me and my boyfriend, 3) to write my personal history, 4) to play the piano for prayer meeting in the temple.
I accomplished all four of these things. The most life-changing goal was to lose 12 pounds. Afterwards, I lost even more weight. My weight is currently 121.1 pounds. I believe if it had not been for Tony Robbins, I would weigh a lot more.
My Big Four
I have a Big Four right now: 1) keep a complete diet diary and exercise log in Cronometer, 2) meditate daily, 3) keep a blog with images, and 4) score and analyze my activities with JV Life Tracker.
I could re-focus on those four goals or change one or more of them. Maybe a completion date is needed for each of these goals. However, if I let any of them slip, I do not do as well. Maybe a new goal would be a good idea. Perhaps I can consider my Big Four to be a single goal and I can take on three others. Would that work, or would it stress me too much?
One new goal I have just taken on is FMTV. The material I learn from that feeds into my blog and sometimes my lifestyle. Also, FMTV is an activity on my Master Task List in JV Life Tracker. I do not want FMTV to deflect me from reading and studying. Lately, I have actually been reading more. So perhaps that could be another goal. However, I should have a goal that involves interaction with other people. I could interact with people on Facebook. Maybe it is not as effective as face-to-face interaction, but it would give me a chance to share my blog.
So if I do: 1) my Big Four, 2) FMTV, 3) reading and studying, 4) interacting with people on Facebook, would that work? That combination is a bit isolated and does not involve travel, but to be honest I think it is me. However, I have already done all of these things. Perhaps I should venture into something new. I am always cautious of doing that though because when I do something new, the old activities tend to slip.
I spent some more time reading Tony Robbins last night before turning in. He asks himself a lot of questions. If I were to question myself right now, what would I ask? I could say, “What do I want to do with the remainder of my life?” I think I want to influence more people. I want to overcome my discouragement about situations I have found myself in with family and friends, when I was criticized for my attempts to persuade. Is there something I did wrong? Maybe I somehow implied that their viewpoint was wrong and put them on the defensive. I do not want to do that anymore. What is the effective way to persuade?
How Can I Be Joyfully Vibrant Without Getting Manic?
How can I keep my joy and vibrance? How can I get more of that without getting myself manic? I want my mood to go up, but not out-of-control. How can I do that? It is almost like I am addicted to my manic state, and it is always tempting to ditch my medication and get a high. However, then I think of what that could do my finances, what a hospitalization could do to my waistline, what mania could possibly do to my marriage, and what an ensuing major depressive episode could do to my self-esteem. The risk is not worth it. The embarrassment of mania alone is almost unbearable.
How Can I Recover Fully From All Episodes?
How can I fully recover from all the episodes I have been through in the past? Is there a meaning I can give them that would bring me power and give me the ability to enlighten others? Is it a matter of just forgetting everything? I do not think so. Tony described a time in his life when he worked as a janitor, lived in a 400-square-foot apartment, was overweight, did not make much money, and felt like his life was going nowhere. He climbed out of that situation. His message is how he did it. What if that situation had occurred over and over in his life? What if it felt like no matter what he did, he was doomed to end up in the same situation over and over again?
How Can I Eliminate Manic Episodes Once And For All?
That is what it feels like with repeated hospitalizations. In 2016, I was just starting to make headway with life. I was in the middle of writing a book. And then I had to be hospitalized over again. However, since 1998, my hospitalizations have been getting further and further apart. I had one in 2016, which was eleven years after my previous one in 2005, which was four years after the one I had in 2001, which was almost two years after the one I had in 1999, which was a few months after the one I had in 1998, which was a few weeks after an earlier one I had in 1998.
How can I eliminate manic episodes once and for all? Though other types of medication have not worked, I have never had a hospitalization while taking Risperdal. It seems to be my best defense. However, do I have to endure toxic medication? It seems like that is the only way. The safest assumption is to believe that is the only way. If I try other alternatives, I will probably regret it.
Acceptance of Medication
Kay Redfield Jamison, a renowned researcher on manic-depression, had to come to terms with the manic-depression she had herself. She came out of the closet about it for one thing. She feared for her career, even though ironically her career was researching and teaching about bipolar disorder. Then she accepted that she needed to take lithium. Even though she had researched the value of lithium in treating manic-depression, she did not think she needed it for herself all the time. She too was addicted to her highs. However, tough experience taught her that she needed it.
In 2014, I asked a psychiatrist if he would help me get off lithium. My mentor said if I got off lithium and went back to work, it would be good timing. My psychiatrist introduced me to different sizes of pills and gave me some pointers about tapering. We tapered down for a long time and did okay. I felt better than I had in a long time and was able to program my JV Life Tracker app. However, in 2016, my strategy backfired on me. I had had some symptoms, so my psychiatrist reversed the taper, which I resisted. I had some anxiety about the possibility of mania, but the feel-good feelings I had at that time sucked me deeper into it. I stopped taking Risperdal as well. It was almost like succumbing to an addiction.
Before long, I had abandoned all my projects and goals and was running around town like I had never done before. It was exhilarating to have the freedom to get out of my apartment. However, I was just wandering. I had no steady sense of purpose. As I said before, I bought a Cadillac. I did not even have a dream to own a Cadillac. I bought it on impulse.
That mania lasted quite a while. One evening Mom attacked me, pinned me to the floor, got on top of me, and asked Dad to call the police. An ambulance took me to the hospital, where I stayed (against my will) for 24 days. Even after I got out, I was still disoriented. Mom tried to help me get rid of the Cadillac, but that led to even deeper problems with my finances and credit. A young man who was staying with my parents was “helping” Mom get rid of my Cadillac. He turned out to be a thief. I trusted him for a time and got myself in serious trouble. I did what I could to protect my identity and credit.
Aftermath of the Mania
I decided to keep the Cadillac. For the next two years, I had mixed feelings about it. I tried to enjoy it, but it was a symbol of my manic episode and being a victim of identity theft. After I came to Colorado, my mother sold it for me. I was very relieved, and the money helped mend the hole in my finances. But what about the hole in my self-esteem? What about the hole in my self-confidence? And what about the book I had been writing? What about the other books I want to write? Where do I go from here?
Finding Role Models and Medical Help
Tony Robbins suggests finding someone who has done what you want to do and follow them. My aunt has bipolar disorder and has had only one hospitalization. She has also had five children but all of them before she was diagnosed. She says the key to her success is that she has always worked with a psychiatrist. She encouraged me to find a good psychiatrist. I worked with a psychiatrist from 1992 to 1998, and he tried me on many different medications, which caused all kinds of weird side effects. I lost four different jobs during that period of time. I am not currently taking any of the medications he tried me on. Eventually, that psychiatrist was no longer willing to treat me. He was having trouble of his own. His patients would or could not pay, so he stopped working from home and took a hospital job. Since then, I have sometimes had a psychiatrist, sometimes not. They are not that easy to find.
I could find a role model in Kay Redfield Jamison who writes and researches about bipolar disorder. She got her Ph.D. and has been married three times, including twice to doctors. I noticed though that there was no mention of children in her biography. If she wanted to do that, she never figured out how. I just found an interview where she talked about how a doctor told her to not to have children. She cried because she wanted a house full of children. It does not appear that she ever had any. However, she did have a career and marriage.
Is Working a Realistic Option?
So what do I want with my life? If I am to “awaken the giant within”, what should I do? I have my goals mentioned earlier, but will they take me where I want to go? Continuing education has always been a priority for me, but what should I do with it? For a long time, I wanted to resume working. I went to vocational rehabilitation for years. However, I am beginning to feel that is not a realistic option. After being out of the computer field for so long, a lot has changed. I am out of practice. Software engineering is very stressful, which could trigger more episodes, and I would have to deal with the stigma of my illness or completely hide it, which with the Internet is not an option for me anymore. One serious episode could put me out of work again.
Dangers of Travel
Writing is an option. Writing books and blogs is an option. What should I do to promote them? Do I need to go out on the road? That is something that is really hard for me to do. Or can I overcome the obstacles? I could become disoriented and lose track of who I am. I could have hallucinations and delusions. If I ran out of medication, I could be in serious trouble. Thankfully, I have never been far from home when I had episodes. However, that did not keep me from losing my Cadillac while manic. My parents held a family reunion in Branson, MO in the summer of 2016. They wanted me to come with them. However, I am glad I remained home, because I would have almost surely been hospitalized while there. It could have even been a life-threatening experience.
Addiction to Highs
I have committed myself to my medication. However, I know I am still addicted to my highs. During hypomania, which always precedes full-blown mania, I am always very productive and feel great. It is an addiction that is hard to break permanently. Though I have never suffered from drug addiction, except addiction to sugar and chocolate, I can sympathize with the difficulty of staying clean. In my case, I do not need drugs to get high. My body does it for me naturally. I need to take drugs to keep me from getting high.
Adverse Effects of Medication
Unfortunately, my medication has a lot of other adverse effects, many of which I have mentioned throughout this blog. One of the worst effects is the toll on my energy. I feel sleepy during the day. If I forget my meds at night and have to take them the next day, that day is totally unproductive. When I am manic, my energy seems to have no bounds and I lose weight very easily. However, when medicated, I have to constantly work on my energy, and losing weight is a struggle.
My biggest energy challenge is when I drive. I come home and crash. I am sometimes not able to accomplish anything for the rest of the day. I do not know if that effect is from my medication or the anxiety I have about driving. It could be both. The anxiety I have about driving could be a side symptom of my bipolar disorder. I have prayed about what to do, and the answer is to drive more frequently. So far, I have not done that. Maybe I am afraid of being incapacitated all day, every day.
Another challenge of my medication, Risperdal, is that it makes me more sensitive to sunlight. The Colorado sun burns me almost before I realize I have been in it. Getting out means more sun exposure. More sun exposure means more severe symptoms. That medication also makes me sensitive to extremes of hot and cold. It keeps me from sweating, so I cannot tolerate heat. Lithium, another medication, makes me extremely thirsty all the time, so I must drink copious amounts of water and stay near a toilet. It causes hypothyroidism, so I must be treated for that as well. For now, I am content to do most of my activities indoors and close to home.
How Do I Handle The Limitations Caused by Side Effects of My Medication?
Is that the right answer or should I push against my limitations? If I can get myself to drive more often, will the fatigue go away? If I got some sunscreen, could I get out in the sun more? Or should I accommodate my limitations and spend my time with FMTV? Barriers can be psychological as much as physical. Elephants are restricted as babies, and when they are older they are strong enough to break through the restrictions, but because they believe they are not strong enough, they are still held captive. Could something like this be affecting me? However, I keep trying and trying to drive, and every time … I get exhausted, and anxious.
Tony Robbins said says step two after step one, raising your standards, is to change your limiting beliefs. I did change my limiting beliefs about marriage, and I am glad I did. That allowed me to have a great relationship with my husband and enjoy living with him.
Now I am wondering what to do with this blog entry. Will it be of any use to any one? Has it been of any use to me to write it? Would my mother take offense if she were to read it? Does it support the relationship I have with my husband? What would my aunt think of it? Should I care what anyone else thinks of it? Does it give me a good foundation from which to build the rest of my life? Have I drawn the right conclusions about what to do with my life? Does it free me from or imprison me in my limiting beliefs? Is it really true that medication and counseling are required?
My medication, Risperdal, alone has the following common side effects:
- extrapyramidal effects (sudden, often jerky, involuntary motions of the head, neck, arms, body, or eyes),
- weight gain,
- feeling hot or cold,
- dry mouth,
- increased appetite,
- sleep problems (insomnia),
- stomach pain,
- sore throat,
- runny or stuffy nose,
- or skin rash.
Thankfully, I do not have all these side effects all the time, but I think I have had every one, and some of them a lot. Rxlist lists tiredness, drowsiness, and fatigue–three ways of saying your energy does not hold up. That is one of the side effects I have had a lot.
I walked a while just now and talked to my husband. He said not to dwell on the dark side. He said that taking medication is the safest thing to do. That is interesting because I had the impression that he did not think I needed it. I am glad he is coming around. Despite this list of side effects, my medication is the best choice. How can I be accepting of that? Maybe I had to go through something as horrible as my 2016 episode to finally accept Risperdal and lithium.
So, what is the best course of action for me to take? I plan to stick with my marriage, even if it gets hard again. It is working out well right now. My husband still requires a lot of care and may require even more as time goes on. I will do what I can and get extra help, if needed. In my spare time, I will do my Big Four, study, watch movies, and promote my blog.
I do not plan to fly a helicopter to and from venues or present to 5,000 people at once as Tony Robbins describes in his introduction. I am glad he achieved his dreams at such a young age. However, he too has not been free of medical and marital problems as he got older. We all have to deal with the unexpected. No matter how carefully or how passionately we live our lives, life can get to us.
If you would like to join me in this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.