Monday, July 29, 2013

Living Well with Bipolar

I've been feeling like I should write about the FPWR conference I went to the other weekend because that's what I usually do *immediately* after returning home. But there are other things on my mind, and I'm glad that it's not always just about PWS (as much as I loved the conference!).

The last time I gave you an update about my living with bipolar disorder was two years ago!

In short, I am enjoying a quality of life that I didn't know would ever quite be possible. I have three kids and I'm dealing with that I think about as well as anyone could. :) I'm not perfect and I'm positive my kids would tell you that, but I think that applies to almost any parent.

I have been working out pretty intensely for a while now, mostly through workouts connected with Beachbody. I found that doing intense, focused workouts 5-6 times a week has done more for my mental health than low-to-moderate intensity workouts 3 or so times a week. I have incorporated yoga in my routine as well, because I'm at a point in life where I'm actually enjoying the time to sllooooowww down some.

I'm trying to be even more conscious about what I put in my body, because food is fuel for my body and my brain. Again, not perfect, but I'm aware of the balance that is needed and I'm finally in a place where I can have a healthy relationship with food that this is even possible....

Sleep is so crucial, I can't even tell you. In my mind, just thinking about this topic, I see large flashing signs that say, "WARNING! NEED SLEEP!" I had to drill this into Bob's head because he can't know what it's like to be in my head when it comes unglued and we are *both* very tired... seemingly always (our children are allergic to sleeping)... but after I read an article about how women with bipolar in particular have certain biochemical changes that occur with lack of sleep... and after my psychiatrist told me that sleep was something I was going to have to guard fiercely.... Since I'm on medication that is preventing the hypomanic episodes that used to pass me over night after night of limited sleep like a crowd surfer at a rock concert, I feel a lack of sleep even more than I used to.

And yes, medication. Lamictal has been working for me pretty well for about two years now, although I felt like there was something missing. I wouldn't have guessed it was an antidepressant, but once Lexapro was added to the mix, it was like it identified what was missing that I couldn't quite put my finger on before it.

There are lots of little tweaks that I make to make it all easier. Something stresses me out and feels toxic? I dump it. I almost only watch light-hearted movies. I have great friends who help me laugh. I ask for help with my kids. I let myself fall apart when I need to. I get right back up. I hug my family excessively. :) I'm lucky to have immediate and extended family members who "get" it. It's a mixed blessing of having something that runs in families.

And all jokes aside that may come around, we are D-O-N-E with biological kiddos. I cannot be pregnant ever again. When I was pregnant with Emmett, my hormones caused my bipolar struggles to go bananas and my options for medication were so limited. :( It was really, really hard. I had my tubes tied as a measure of protecting myself and the rest of our family. This was part of my taking care of myself (obviously others might not have to do this).

I have bipolar II, which is the less-severe form, but it greatly affects me nonetheless. I have worked really, really hard over the years to get to this point and I'm so blessed to have people who love me and haven't given up on me so that I could get and stay here. This is a lifelong issue, as bipolar typically doesn't just go away, and it runs in my family, blah blah blah. Every day, one day at a time!

And part of why I post is to give a voice to those who are going through the same thing. I appreciate your stories so much! Would love to hear from you on the blog or in private. I value your sharing!


Laurie said...

Congratulations, Ali! What an awesome advocate you are in more ways than one. I have a dear friend with bi-polar and stories like yours help normalize and erase the stigma. Thank you for sharing.

Cindy Matejka said...

You value yourself and you value your family. Great job for doing what you do!!! :) Love keeping up with you!

Unknown said...

It is so refreshing reading your posts. I am also a mother to a PWS child. Well she is not a child anymore. She just turned 20 and we were the ones who were in all those "trial" clinics to see what can work for our PWS babies! I have lost so much through the years, a husband, finances, loves and parents who helped me immensely, but I have not lost my determination to fight and go forward in my constant battle to help my daughter achieve some kind of normalcy in her life. I am now happily married to a wonderful loving man who is crazy about my baby and helps me in so many ways with her. My faith and belief in our God has gotten me through all of our battles. My mom always said to me growing up, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." I use that as my motto for everything. When I get stressed I just say "I surrender to you my God, Thy will be done" Keep your posts coming, keep encouraging all of us and as a whole we can all stand united and make good things happen for ourselves and our beautiful children. God Bless you! <3

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Hi Kathy!
Thanks so much for posting. I'm so glad that this blog has been helpful to you! I wish I had more time to post. :(

You sound like someone who is full of strength and courage and I applaud you for that!! Keep on keepin' on, sister!
God bless.
A ;)