Friday, April 30, 2010

What is Bipolar?

I have been thinking a lot about this over the past few months.  There is a wide range of experiences reported by people who are diagnosed bipolar.  It is not true to say that bipolar is swinging from happy to sad and back again.  Lots of people who are manic or hypomanic are not happy.  I think the emotions are so compelling that they distract people from what is really going on.

It seems to me, and certainly based on my experience, that bipolar is really about fluctuations in energy.  Physical and mental energy.  Low energy may correspond to sadness, hopelessness, or often in my case, apathy.  High energy corresponds to happiness, exuberance, or many times to irritation, anger, confusion and delusion.  I think we are entirely mislead by looking for psychological or psychiatric causes for bipolar.  The psychiatric irregularities are a symptom, not the cause.

Now that that's solved, I can update you on my doctor's appointment yesterday.  My blood test results were all good.  Blood sugar is down, not as much as I hoped, but down.  I expect that as the last dregs of Risperdal leave my system my blood sugar will continue to improve.  So, success!  It looks like I am out of the woods as far as developing diabetes is concerned.

My thyroid levels were also good.  You may recall that in December I drastically reduced my Synthroid dose, and it looks like that was the right move.  I mentioned to Truehope Support that I was doing this, and they said that others have also found that they need less while on Empowerplus.

So, it's all good.  And now, when people ask me what bipolar is like, I finally have an answer that makes sense to me!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sun Also Rises

I have been thinking of a new slogan:  "Empowerplus.  Putting the fun back in bipolar."  Somehow, I don't think that is the image Truehope is looking for.  But seriously, bipolar is a lot more fun these days.  These days I've been grateful for my bipolar mind.

Spring is usually a good time for me anyways.  Physically, things are still challenging, even though the protracted withdrawal is pretty minimal now.  I was in poor shape before I started Empowerplus, and 10 months of sitting on the sofa has not helped.  Mentally, though, there has been steady improvement.

Well, I have been saying that my mind has been clear since the fall, which is true, I do not think I am any sharper now than I was in November.  The difference has been in my level of engagement.  I am out taking pictures again, this forsythia is just one example of all the hopeful spring photos I've been taking.  I've signed up for a couple of art classes and I actually went, which is a major breakthrough.  I have a superabundance of project ideas, although I have been a little scattered about which one to actually focus on first.

And two days ago I was positively bathing in happy brain chemicals, without any of the usual drawbacks of hypomania like sleeplessness or irritation.  So we'll see how it goes.

I've been taking care of business, too.  I finally went to the doctor and had my blood test done.  I get the results next week.  It will be very interesting to see where my thyroid and blood sugar levels are.  My weight is exactly the same since Christmas, so no more weight loss, but no gain either. 

My biggest problem has been overdoing it.  I feel good, do a bunch of stuff, and then I am wiped out for a couple of days.  But I think that is just the process of getting my strength back.  Things are certainly looking up!