1. How My Personal War Affects My Son

    October 1, 2013

    by Matthew L (personal story)

    During my last hospitalization the ex wife and I came to the decision that my son would not come to visit me while I was on the psych ward. At the time he was three and we did not think that a visit on the psych ward was appropriate for him. Normally the ward is a rather calm and boring place to be but there is times when the floor goes off so we did not want to take the chance plus I was going through withdrawal off of Effexor, Wellbutrin, Remeron and Lithium which had my brain going every which way but the right way. Not exactly the image I wanted to be presented to my son.

     

    Every couple of days I would call my son to see how he was doing and what he was up too. These phone calls were essential for the father son relationship but at the same time they took their toll. Mentally I was in an awful place so I needed to psych myself up for the phone call so he wouldn’t have any reason to be worried. My son was told the reason I was in the hospital was because my medications were not working right so the doctors were trying to find the right ones which is basically the reason I was there simplified.

     

    During every phone call my three year old would ask when I was going to be coming home and if I was better which tore my heart out but I always managed to answer him that Daddy was working very hard and would be home soon. After the calls mentally I was a wreck as I felt I was a terrible parent causing stress on someone so young and a couple of times it put me right over the edge. Thankfully every time this happened a good nurse would be on and helped me to work through it.

     

    When it came time for me to go home and my son started his routine visits again every time he saw me he would ask if I was okay which is a brutal question to answer for a parent as it makes you realize that you are not the only one being affected by mental illness. Since my ex wife became pregnant I promised my child to be the best father possible and always be there for him and my personal demons are preventing this from happening to the full extent.

     

    There have been occasions when I have compared whether or not my son would be better off if I was dead and there is a lot of reason on how it could be viewed as positive but I also know that the odds of a child committing suicide because his or her parent did is sky high. The part that always stops this train of thought is that even though at times I am not on top of my game at least I am still there trying and the hope that with time I can be the parent I want to be so I continue to fight.

     

    My son is what stops me from ending this hell that I live in, my son is the reason I have been trying so damn hard to win this war and my sons laughter is what fuels me for the battles ahead. I don’t really care what happens to me but I care what happens to him and that is all I need to keep going.

    Image Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini – www.flickr.com/photos/dhammza/100817327


  2. Extra Tools to Help Effectively Manage Bipolar Disorder

    August 3, 2013

    bipolar disorder

    by Tricia Chilcott

    Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric disease. I know because I live with it. Every day. I know from firsthand experience how much it sucks. I understand the major negative impact it can have on all areas of your life, including things like personal relationships, job performance, and your finances. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, or are having medication management problems, the debilitating effects can throw you into a deep depression which you feel like you’ll never get out of. I’ve been there myself, and I can assure you, the right combination of meds is out there, don’t despair!

    But besides medications, what else can you do to effectively manage your disorder? There are a multitude of tools that you can add to your arsenal to help combat this illness. These are things that have been proven to help by numerous research studies. One of those tools you can use is seeing a therapist regularly, even if you don’t think you need one. A therapist can help you identify what you triggers are, and teach you effective, and healthy coping skills to deal with those events.

    Another thing that can help is practicing good sleep hygiene. I don’t think I can emphasize this one enough. Just a personal example, but I have a 3 day window for poor sleep habits before they trigger an episode in me. I know if I got more than 3 days without sleep, I’ll start cycling into a manic episode, and I contact my doctor. On the flip side, if I go a week or more being unable to get out of bed and sleeping 18 hours a day, it’s time to call my doctor as well. Healthy sleep habits is one of the most effective tools a person can use in stabilizing their disorder. This means going to bed at a reasonable hour, and getting up in the morning at the same time every day. I know some of you are shaking your head at this because insomnia can seem impossible to overcome without medications, but just trying these things can’t hurt,, and I get it where you’re coming from. I take a sleeping pill to get me to sleep every night. But doing what you can to try and establish healthy sleeping habits can potentially have positive effects. This includes things like turning off the TV and computer at least an hour before bed, not drinking caffeine after 6 PM, and not exercising right before bed. Also, keep your bedroom as tranquil as possible and keep electronics out of it. Use your bedroom for sleeping only.

    Of course, exercising regularly can help keep your disorder in check, there are numerous studies that have empirically proven the benefits of exercise in regards to mental illnesses such as major depression and bipolar disorder. In addition to keeping your body healthy, it is recommended that people with bipolar disorder abstain from drinking alcohol, as this tends to exacerbate their symptoms. As much as I hate getting out, I force myself to zumba twice a week, and although I dread going every time, I leave feeling reinvigorated and glad I went. So even if you don’t feel like getting up and moving around, do it anyway! I promise it’ll make you feel better.

    One thing that has proven helpful to many bipolar patients is keeping a mood journal. This is a very useful tool that you use to track your mood everyday, and to also add in what activities you did that day that might have impacted your mood. You can also add how much sleep you got the night before, if you napped or not during the day, if you worked out, and how your eating habits were. There are several apps that you can download to help you keep track of these, or you can find an example online and print it off. This is also a very helpful thing to show your doctor when you meet with them.

    The last suggestion I have is for you to adopt a routine and stick to it. Have a list of things you need to accomplish each day, and work towards accomplishing them. Not only does this give you a sense of purpose, but it also helps you build your self esteem as you are able to cross off activities you’ve accomplished each day. These don’t have to be huge projects your taking on, they can be as simple as taking a short walk outside, watering your garden, doing the dishes, getting one load of laundry done, or even showering and getting dressed for the day.

    These might seem like mundane activities, and unlikely to help you manage your disorder better to boot. I can assure you that by making these small changes to your life, you will feel more in control of your disorder, and happier and healthier overall. I know this for a fact because many of the things I’ve touched on are things I do myself to manage my disorder. It’s true I’m on an effective drug cocktail, but medications can only take you so far. At some point, you have to start putting more effort in as well. I promise if you do, you’ll be amazed at the benefits you will reap from it. I hope you’ve found this an informative read, good luck in managing your disorder, and God bless!

    Image Credit: Giulia Bartra