Lifestyle, Medications, & Compassion
Holistic Medicine is the way of the future
and there is no doubt it helps.
After being diagnosed with Bipolar, I started researching anything and everything about this illness. Awareness is a double edge sword and put me down far too many rabbit holes. My doctor was even impressed I had learned so much about the illness after one month. That's just my personality, I had to know the good, bad and ugly of this illness if I was going to beat it. I’ve always been a rip it off like a Band-Aid type of person. Actually, the same way I used to handle my competition in sales, given this illness will try to beat me if I let it.
I researched vitamins for brains, exercises to do, and daily habits (like quitting all my vices). Maybe it was mild hypomania that came but whatever it was gave me a glimmer of hope to start writing and share what I learned in attempts to help others. Suicide took a friend's life whom I cheered with in high school after a miscarriage and I have always regretted not making it more public regarding the struggle I faced after our first miscarriage. I can’t change the past, but I can maybe help change the future of someone’s life, also while changing mine.
Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.
However, anyone who shames you for taking medication or having a mental illness, please don't let them affect you. That's their own insecurities being projected on you. It's 2022, if you are a grown adult and still a mean person it's weird. Please evolve and adapt to the times.
Yes, you should be in nature more, you should change your diet, you should love yourself, you should change your mindset and just think positive. Absolutely, all of those things should be incorporated into your life + medication (if absolutely needed) especially if you have kids. Western medicine can be a Band-Aid in many circumstances and people are over prescribed, I've been one of them, I get it. It is crucially important to ask about family history and do research before you go into an appointment.
Do you know how many people that struggle with their mental health because of feeling shamed for not taking a holistic approach? It’s fucked up. I was one of them and well, you read how that turned out.
Those natural remedies work for people that are already living on the ground, not for those in a deep hole that they can't seem to climb out of, nor see the light.
Medications can help you to develop the good habits to incorporate the holistic narrative being shoved down our throats. I struggled way too long trying to fit this narrative and try all the things. Let me tell you, life without the correct medication wrecked havoc on my life. I never want to go back there.
So, most of you wake up and want to do those things meditation, exercise, journaling things to be grateful for and maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t but you still go about your day. If I don’t do those things + medication, I don’t have a day. Needless to say, I am now trying to wake myself up before my kids.
There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn't.
Anyone who struggles with mental illness could benefit from these vitamins so I thought I would share what I take:
Magnesium (before bed)
Q-Zyme Digestive Enzyme
Raw Vitamin D
D3 + K2
Work hard until you make yourself proud.
Lamictal: an anticonvulsant that is the only medication for bipolar that doesn’t make you gain weight. I’ve lost weight since taking it actually. Anti-convulsant means it treats seizers. My doctor said when you're in a severe bipolar episode your brain is having a seizer, but you are not aware. Hence, the difficultly in diagnosing it.
Most people suffer for 10+ years before accepting. Getting and staying on medication prevents this from this happening to a severe degree which in turn keeps your brain healthy. I’m still working on managing the depression during that time of the month because the way my brain handles hormones is not okay.
I just started the full dose of Lamictal last week (200mg). If you start on a high dose, it can cause a severe rash, so this medication takes longer to take full effect due to the slow increase. I started at 25mg, and every 2 weeks increased.
Valium: Due to the dark thoughts during that time of the month, my doctor added Valium to take once a week to allow my mood stabilizer to level out. I will hopefully eventually stop this particular medication, but we are taking it month by month currently.
People can take everything away from you, but they can never take away your truth. The question is, can you handle mine?
I also try (keyword here is try) my best to eat diary and gluten free as it’s been shown to help manage bipolar/mental illness. I don’t eat as much sugar (other than fruit) I’ve always had a sweet tooth and sour candy is my weakness. This is extremely hard with kids given we just started this new lifestyle and kids' birthday parties have all the good stuff, but I’m thankful my family is supportive about it. My 5-year-old daughter will now ask "Is this gluten free?" She loves it too because she says she wants to be just like mommy.
"Healthy and strong all day long"
That's our new motto, and the kids cheer it often. We may or may not have some dance moves involved, lol. Once a cheerleader always a cheerleader.
My exercise currently consists of running 15-20 miles a week. Although, to be totally honest during my cycle it's closer to 3. I switch between treadmill and trail runs. When I started running however, I could only walk for 30 minutes. Walk away from your house 15 minutes, no pressure to run, then it forces you to walk back. Don't get overconfident though, I have run/walked too far away from my house before and then was like oh shit and had to call my husband to pick me up! Haha.
I plan to incorporate yoga but haven’t made it out yet since it’s been a while since I’ve done a class and honestly, I’ll probably embarrass myself, mostly kidding. Orange Theory and CrossFit I am starting and will switch between the two a couple times a week, which is great strength training to incorporate. Building muscle helps tremendously with balancing hormones and mental health.
I’ll write another post in a couple months as I figure out and navigate what works and what doesn’t and solutions to get the F out of bed during my cycle, which I hope improves. But even so, hypomania and depression will never completely go away. Smaller doses, less severe, manageable with medication and new lifestyle help but never totally gone. I’m not completely upset about that because I kind of like the hypomania. Mania F you, I'm done with you. But hypomania, well I’m creative, extra positive, and motivated AF.
We are humans and living the full human experience. We aren't made to be happy all the time, we are here on earth to experience all ranges of emotions. We all signed up for this before we came to earth, and God/Universe does not make mistakes. My research has just begun even though I’ve already gone down too many rabbit holes to count. However, now my neurodivergent brain has something to hyper focus on verses dwelling in depression or my mind spinning. Here. for. it.