Understanding Bipolar Disorder – Part 1 – Causes and symptoms.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder – Part 1 – Causes and symptoms.

May being the Mental Health Awareness Month, I am doing a two-part post on Bipolar Disorder–a mental illness I have witnessed from close quarters and learned to deal with over the years.

Bipolar disorder:

Meaning:

As the name suggests, Bipolar Disorder is an illness that alternates between extreme depression on the one hand, and extreme euphoria on the other.The mood swings, the energy levels and the activity of a patient oscillates between extreme highs and extreme lows that makes leading a normal life immensely difficult.

If left untreated, it can play havoc with a person’s Life, career, relationships and overall health.

The episodes of extreme elation, or manic episodes as they are called, can leave the patient sleepless, hyperactive and extremely positive and outgoing.

The episodes of depression, on the other hand, can leave the patient feeling totally negative, with no energy or enthusiasm about anything in Life. It can also make the patient suicidal.

Causes:

Bipolar disorder does not have a particular cause.

It could be genetic, in that, it could turn up in a person who has a family member ailing from the illness.

It could happen as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain.

And, it could also emerge as a result of hormonal imbalances, or circumstances, like, unbearable stress or a traumatic incident that could trigger the extreme mood swings.

Symptoms:

The mood swings related to Bipolar are very unlike the mood swings others experience every once in a while. While a mentally healthy person can get over his/her moods, patients of Bipolar find it difficult to get a handle on their moods.

Their mood swings are severe and they experience either a euphoria (manic phase), hypomania, or a serious bout of depression during an episode.

The manic phase is when it gets tremendously difficult managing the patient as their energy levels are uncontrollably high, as is their aggression.

They find it difficult to focus on one particular task and keep flitting about from one task to another.

The patient has grandiose plans for his/her life. They think big, as in, planning to buy a huge house, or a costly gadget, a high-end vehicle, in short, anything that exudes extravagance.

Patients in the manic phase often avoid reporting to work or school/college.

They are aggressive, angry, and can lose their temper for the minutest of issues.

They go on a spending spree and (in the words of a Bipolar patient) a Rs 500 note resembles a Rs 5 note, which encourages them to squander it away without a thought. In short, they spend recklessly.

Their confidence levels are at an all-time high, which results in the grand plans and squandering. Their speech is clearly not normal and they speak rapidly and in a loud voice.

They find it difficult to sit still in a place and get excessively restless.

They also find it difficult to sleep and find a mere couple hours of sleep enough.

They also experience hallucinations, and fear that the people around are trying to harm them.

They might display signs of Multiple Personality Disorder and/or schizophrenia while in the manic phase.

Indulgence in drugs, alcohol and smoking is also high in this phase, and any amount of cajoling them to slow down only has a negative effect.

At times, they also experience a high libido, which could lead to promiscuous behaviour.

The depression phase either precedes the manic phase or succeeds it.

The patient in a depressive state finds no meaning in Life.

He spends a lot of time in bed, sleeping away the hours.

No activity excites him and nothing you do can change their mood.

They feel helpless, hopeless, depressed, and despair over everything.

Because of the hopelessness, they worry immensely about every little thing.

Having lost interest in Life, they also find it difficult to eat and, as a result, lose weight and energy.

In the depressive state, too, they find it difficult to attend to their work or studies and prefer staying cooped up in their room. An atmosphere of gloom hangs heavy in their surroundings during this phase.

There is a high chance of suicide in this state if the patient doesn’t receive timely help and treatment.

Although Bipolar Disorder DOES NOT have a cure, all of the above symptoms can be treated with medications, therapy and counselling.

I have witnessed my hubby exhibiting most of the above symptoms when in both the phases–manic and depressive–hence, this post is based on what I have experienced as a care-giver.

In the next part, I will discuss the treatment and care for a Bipolar Disorder patient, which I will be sharing next Friday.

So, do visit Metanoia to know how you can look after your close ones if they are diagnosed with the illness.

Love,

SHILPA..

What causes Bipolar Disorder and what are its symptoms?

T – Therapy for your troubled soul. #AtoZChallenge

T – Therapy for your troubled soul. #AtoZChallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

Stress was a huge part of my life for quite a long period. Dealing with mental illness patients wasn’t easy. It took its toll on me, but I had no one to talk to. I did attend a few therapy sessions after learning about hubby’s bi polar disorder, but then, Life got in the way and there was no time to think about myself.

It was last year that I decided, on the spur of the moment at our psychiatrist’s, that I needed to deal with my stress and anxiety. I was exhausted holding it all in for almost 19 long years and I just wanted to get rid of that fear that hampered my growth.

The therapy sessions helped me share things I had pushed to some dark corner of my mind and find a much-needed release. I also discovered that i suffered from Generalised Anxiety disorder–the most common of anxiety disorders in today’s world.

Today, after more than five months of my first therapy session, and with the help of medication, here’s how I find myself in a better space:

HOW THERAPY HAS BENEFITTED ME:

I am in a much better mental health than before.

I have learned to deal with the fear and the anxiety that would torture me earlier.

I have realised that my anxiety was a result of my imagination going wild.

I have become aware of how my mind works and how the negative thoughts disturb me so.

I have learned to change my thought process and look for positivity in even the most trying situations.

I have learned a few facts about my panic and how to deal with the uncertainties with a calm mind.

And, most important of all, I have learned to live in the moment and take Life as it comes.

It is such a relief, being able to live life without fear or anxiety interrupting every step of the way!

YOU NEED THERAPY IF:

1. If your loneliness gets frightening and leaves you feeling crippled.

2. If your anxiety comes in your way and controls your everyday functioning.

3. If you have sleep issues: have trouble falling asleep/have a disturbed sleep/feel fatigued at the beginning of your day.

4. If you have thoughts that control you and leave you distressed on a daily basis.

5. If you have difficulty dealing with issues arising in your relationships.

6. If you have anger issues.

7. If you suffer from uncontrollable mood swings.

8. If fear/jealousy/sadness et al are the emotions that rule your world.

9. If you feel depressed all the time.

10. If you find yourself unable to deal with difficult situations with confidence and courage.

There is really no shame in visiting a counsellor or going in for therapy. Your mind and your soul deserve to be cared for the same way you care for your physical health and appearance.

All it needs is a phone call to make an appointment, and complete faith in your therapist. Oh, and complete honesty on your part, too!

Cheers!

Love,

SHILPA…

Therapy is a necessity for a troubled soul

I am participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, and my theme this year is, ‘SELF-CARE’. You will find all the A to Z posts here.

M – Practise Mindfulness. #AtoZChallenge.

M – Practise Mindfulness. #AtoZChallenge.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

Our mind has this uncanny ability to wander off at the drop of a hat. It either goes away to some faraway land, or imagines some worst-case scenario that fills us with dread and anxiety.

Our mind rarely comes up with something favourable, something positive. Rare are the times, too, when it stands still, in the moment we live in

A hundred thoughts float around in our mind every minute of every day. We are not even aware of the many activities we do. We just go about our routine, mechanically, oblivious to the many experiences every minute holds in it for us.

Seldom do we make efforts to push away those thoughts and concentrate on the moment, live the moment, fully.

Being mindful of every moment helps us experience the moment in its entirety. Be it good or bad, difficult or painless, every moment has the potential to help us live life to its fullest, experience life to its fullest.

So, how do we practise this thing called, “mindfulness”?

TIPS TO DEVELOP MINDFULNESS:

What is that one activity you enjoy the most? While doing it, how does your mind work? Does it wander off on its own, or does it stay with you, in that moment, enjoying the activity?

For me, it’s when I practise Yoga, or draw and write, that my mind accompanies me…almost every moment. I still haven’t been able to tame it a 100%! I am glad I chose this topic, for, now I need to work on it in earnest.

Sharing today, a few tips from what I learned about taming the mind.

  1. Quit multi-tasking. It does not make you a superwoman, it makes you an exhausted woman. Do ONLY ONE THING AT A TIME.
  2. During a workout, for example, focus on: a) your breath, b) the part of the body that you workout on, and c) how it feels as you exercise. For instance, is there less flexibility that leads to discomfort? Does it pain while doing the particular exercise/bend/pose?
  3. While indulging in a creative activity, like art, cooking, or even your daily chores, put on your favourite music. Choose something upbeat, peppy, that entices you to dance along. Of course, you can’t dance while you draw/paint/cut/chop, in short, you cannot multi-task! But, the music will bring you into that moment as you work on your creation.
  4. Prepare a to-do list the night before, and tick off the tasks you complete the next day. A list helps you focus on the moment so that you fulfil the tasks, efficiently.
  5. Whatever you do–even small things like doing the dishes–do it with all your heart and soul. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it will help you control your wandering mind.

Sharing this link to a post on mindfulness written by my blogger friend, Vidya Sury. Her blog has loads of helpful posts on mindfulness. Do visit her!

Mindfulness is something you need to work at, each day, every day. Making it a habit will help you stay focused and keep your mind under control.

Begin today!

Love,

SHILPA…

Being mindful of every moment, helps us experience the moment in its entirety,

I am participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge and my theme is, ‘SELF-CARE’.

You will find my posts here.

A letter to my anxiety.

A letter to my anxiety.

My dear Anxiety,

So weird that I call you “dear”, considering you have caused nothing but distress for years together. But, since you have been an old companion, I’ll be polite with you.

I did think that it would be easy getting rid of you, you know? With the help of therapy and my meds, I had started to feel so much better, as if a load had been lifted off my chest. But, as a dear friend pointed out, it isn’t easy getting rid of you, completely.

You still exist in my system. You hide in the shadows, like a bandit, waiting for the perfect chance to pounce on my mind and destroy all the peace. You are very very wicked…oh yes, you are!

Haven’t you had your fill feeding on my mind all these years? Why can’t you just let me be? Why do you have to rear your ugly head every now and then and tease and taunt me so? Is it your mode of entertainment?

I know you so well now. I can instinctively sense you approaching when my heart starts to beat in that peculiar manner and my breath gets shallow. The restlessness and the panic and all those horrid thoughts that suddenly appear and crowd my mind speak loud about your vile intentions.

But, I have had enough.

I have decided to work harder at getting over you and not cower in fear.

I know, you will always be loitering around, somewhere on the periphery. But, I am working on getting stronger by the day, and learn how to deal with you, rather, make good use of you to face the fears you scare me with.

Yes, I am working on using you to my advantage; making use of my anxiety to get over my anxiety!

Like, the other day, when hubby disclosed his plans for the next month. My instant reaction was PANIC, followed by fearful thoughts of every kind.

But, then, something clicked, and I thought to myself how I didn’t need to think about the moment that’s still to come. How, we can take precautions and be prepared for any untoward events that might take place. How, those untoward events I fear, might not even take place, after all, and, it’s all just YOU trying to put those fearful thoughts in my mind!

What a relief it was, I tell you! Not because of what I had realised about you and your evil ways, but about being able to find solutions to eventualities that might happen.

it was our Scouts and Guides motto, back in school:

“BE PREPARED”.

So, that’s what I am going to work on.

On being prepared for anything and everything that comes my way.

And, making good use of you in looking for a way out of a difficult situation I might find myself in.

All I need to do is, BE PREPARED and BE ALERT.

Ah… That does feel so good now!

Try as you might, dear Anxiety, but I am NOT going to allow you to win.

I am going to fight you till my last breath.

So, YOU be prepared, too!

Love ‘n’ luck

SHILPA…

 

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Doodle away the Blues!

Doodle away the Blues!

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Do you remember how you would doodle away on the last page of your notebook while your teacher taught you a topic you found utterly boring? Or, when you try solving puzzles in the newspapers and fill up the blank spaces on the paper with your squiggly, swirly doodles as you think of an answer? How calming it must feel, isn’t it, making those doodles?

Doodling has this calming as well as mesmerising effect on our mind and that’s why therapists often advice their patients to try and doodle when feeling anxious, sad and gloomy, or even angry. Doodling gives your mind an escape into the world of squiggles and curves, and helps distract your mind. Any pattern that you make continuously with your fingers–be it with a pencil on a book, or with your fingers on the soft sand at the beach, takes your mind away from all that disturbs your peace of mind and helps you focus on the present moment.

It’s a therapy for the troubled mind and soul.

It helps you come up with solutions to your problems, too, as it de-clutters your mind.

Have you observed your little one doodling with his crayon in his drawing book, or even on the wall, lost to the world, totally engrossed in that activity. It helps build concentration in children, which is why, as kindergarten kids, this is the primary activity they are encouraged to indulge in.

And, for those of you, who feel you have not a single creative bone in your body, doodling helps bring that hidden creativity to the surface and express your innermost thoughts.

It is the one activity I have indulged in since childhood and, which, today, helps me keep my anxiety under control. Drawing is more of a therapy for me today, than just an art form–if I don’t engage in this activity, I feel I have missed out on something very important. It’s part of my survival kit today.

Sharing today, some easy-to-make, really basic doodle patterns to begin with. All you will need is a paper and a pen and you are ready to get going!

Do drive away those nasty thoughts that tease you about your lack of creativity. Just make the pattern that comes to your mind, or look around for inspiration–nature, children, toys or patterns like zigzag lines, curvy shapes, concentric circles–there are countless examples.

I am sure in a matter of days you will be hooked on to this activity and making new patterns of your own!

The patterns may appear childish, but, believe me, making these will really amuse you and quieten your mind!

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

My winged babies provided the background score for some of the videos!

SHILPA…

How doodling can help you focus on the moment and get over your stress.