BP Naturally

My Drug-Free Journey of Managing Bipolar Disorder


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Bipolar Mood & Health Management Chart

Bipolar Health & Mood Management Tracking Chart

Bipolar Health & Mood Management Tracking Chart

Well, those who know me, know I make dry-erase charts as a profession. I had been planning a chart especially for mood management for a long time and now that I’m finally taking my treatment more seriously, I finally got around to it and I must say, the results are pretty awesome! I asked around in various BP Support Groups and dug around on the web for ideas and inspiration and this is the final products. I should probably create and instruction/suggested use sheet and I will when I get around to it, but in the meantime, I’ll explain each section here and you can print it out if you’d like.

I am making the chart available as a PDF free of charge (probably for a limited time)  and for those who want it already printed and laminated professionally with dry-erase marker included, it will be available in my Etsy Shop for $14.99 + shipping. Its the only product of its kind in my shop (I primarily make and  sell children’s educational products, lol) and as far as Ive seen, the only product of its kind available, so I hope it will help lots of you get your lives in order and on-track!

How it Works:

Section: Supplements, Vitamins, Medications & Dietary Requirements
Use the Medium Green Squares at the top of each column (in the “Items” row) to write down the name of your medication, vitamin, etc.
Use the Light Green Squares below those to record the Recommend Dosage & Frequency
Each column has 5 sections that can be used as individual dosage markers (up to 5 doses per day) and can be checked off as you take each dose, or you can use the space to record side effects (nausea), timing (taken late), effectiveness (less depression) or length of time taking (4 days), etc. Whatever fit your needs best.

Section: Water Intake
Use the light blue square (in the “dosage” row) to record how much water you need to drink per day (lets say 80 ounces)
Use the alternating white and blue squares to record separate instances of water intake, i.e. you could say “16oz, “8oz,” etc. OR if you have a set amount that you drink in (say a 16oz water bottle) you can just check off each time you finish one bottle. I included water intake because dehydration has a very powerful effect on mood stability. Read my other posts on water intake and the water intake challenge.

Section: Meals
There’s a lot of room for flexibility here, so be creative. I included this area because I very often forget to eat and I know others complain about overeating when depressed, so use it in the way that works best for you. In my case, I use the “dosage” square to write a letter above each little column below, so I have “B” for breakfast, then “S” for snack, “L” for Lunch and so on. Then I simply check off whether I had that meal today. Very simple. For others you could write in a calorie count to maintain, then record the calories for each meal, or even use the 2 orange columns to record things you want to avoid (caffeine, sugar, etc) and the white columns for your regular meals or things you want to eat more of  (lets say veggies, whole grains and protein) and just record how many servings you had each day.

Sleep, Exercise & Misc. Tracking
Use the Sleep rows to record the # hours and quality of sleep each day, the Exercise rows to record the # minutes exercising and the quality/rigorousness of the exercise each day, and the blank areas are to customize a tracking element that’s important to your treatment plan. For example,  personally, 
Im using that  as an “outdoors” tracker, meaning how often I get out of the house and get fresh air/sun, its a real challenge for me… and hopefully Ill be able to see how it relates to my moods. But I figured not everyone has that problem, so you could use it for “socializing,” “journal writing,” “relaxation time,” “prayers/religious devotion,” etc Whatever is important for you personally. 

Mood Tracking
Use this area to track your moods throughout the day/each weekIm a rapid cycler and my moods can change drastically within a single day/week, I havent found any charts that allow you to track varying moods through out the day, so I figured “morning, afternoon, evening” ought to be sufficient for rapid cyclers like me, and you can easily look and notice patterns [like Im always manic at night, etc] and hopefully make lifestyle/nutritional/med changes to normalize a bit. So the “M, A, E” stands for Morning, afternoon and evening, and the squares get progressively darker as the day progresses. There is a little key, which you may or may not need, that I’m using allowing me to record whether the mood occurred naturally, was triggered by an event (like an argument) or by my environment (like the kids are home and being wild or I went to a party, etc). You can also use the key to add in whether youre experiencing irritability or anxiety along with the mood. The color chart portion allows you to mark where you fall on the depression/mania scale… that’s pretty self-explanatory… however, if you are feeling a sense of numbness/apathy, you may want to create a special symbol for that and mark that in the green “normal” row, as there’s no special area for a lack of emotion/feeling.

The nice thing about this chart is that its flexible… you can place your mark in between moods if your not quite feeling it at the level described and when you step back and look at the end of the week, you’ll see if any pattern emerge.

So I think that’s about it. Let me know if you have any questions. Hope that helps! 

Available for PURCHASE here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/153285627/mood-health-management-tracking-chart

PDF Available for FREE Download Here: BP-Tracking-Chart (Note: This is designed to fit on 11×17″ Tabloid/Ledger Sized Paper, ideally you would have it printed and laminated so that it can be used as a dry-erase chart)

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Pyroluria Testing & Other Tests

My Pyrolles Testing Results

My Pyrroles Testing Results

When I went into the Riordan Clinic for my first appointment, I had already planned to get the basic Pyrroles Testing. When you go in for an appointment the test is only $45 (rather than $79 via mail), so it was pretty much a no brainer, and to me, a great place to start. After my initial exam I was walked to the lab and took a simple urine test. A week later I received the above results via mail, the letter attached to the result explains that I may not understand the results totally, but the doctor prescribed 2 supplements and said we’ll go over what the results mean in more detail at the next appointment.  So, as it is, all I can tell you is I got the test, my pyrroles count appears a bit high, and as a result my doctor prescribed some supplements to help. If you dont know what pyrroluria is or why Im getting this testing, here’s my first post about it with a lot more detail on how it works + links and resources with more info about it:  https://bpnaturally.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/method-pyrroles-testing/

The supplements Ive added to my regimen are:

Zinc Picolinate – 30mg 2x/day
Vitamin B6 (P5P) – 50mg 2x/day

Today is my first day starting them and it will take several weeks to see results, so we’ll see how it goes (God-willing)!

Now for the other tests…

When I went in for my first appointment, my doctor recommended the following tests:

ASI-Adrenal Stress Index – Riordan: $160
Complete Metabolic Profile – Riordan: $46, Atlas MD: $4.50
CBC-Complete Blood Count – Riordan: $39, Atlas MD $2.00
6 Hour Post DMSA (Heavy Metal Challenge) – Riordan $126 (I requested this myself, concerned about the high number of mercury fillings I have)
Thyroid Profile (TSH, FT3, FT4, RT3) – Riordan: $341 total, Atlas MD: $3 each
Vitamin D – Riordan: $108, Atlas MD $25

I know what you’re thinking what is Atlas MD and why are the Riordan Lab Tests so expensive? Well, the Riordan prices are the retail industry standard. Atlas MD is a concierge medical service I recently signed up with (I’ll be posting about that awesomeness in another post soon) and part of the benefits of the program/membership ($50/month) is that I get labs at wholesale prices (what the doctors pay). So, yes, your doctor is charging you an arm and a leg for those labs and its robbery!  So I bet you can guess which office I got most my labs done at, lol. I’ll actually be getting those results today for my first full appointment at Atlas, so Ill be sure and post the results 😉 Who’s excited?


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The Journey to Wellness – The Riordan Clinic

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RIORDAN CLINIC

What:  Intake Appointment
Cost: $125 (I need to find my invoice, but Im pretty sure that was it)
Time: 1 hour
Who: Dr. Jennifer Kaumeyer Nd
Why: To assess my concerns, symptoms and potential nutritional needs; schedule labs; and begin designing a treatment plan

So I finally went in to see a doctor at the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, KS! I am seeing Dr. K, who is very nice and was very comprehensive for our first appointment. We discussed my symptoms, health history, experiences from childhood, general diet, health and nutrition, my concerns, habits, etc.

The environment is lovely… long winding roads surrounding by nature and wildlife leading into the building complex, the indoors was not clinical… but a refreshing, warm but modern decor with an edge of nature-nut, like all the supplements were available there in the waiting room in a mini shop-shelf configuration, as well as books/literature, a bowl of fresh organic apples, coffee, tea and the usual goodies. The exam room left something to be desired, could have been as warm and inviting as the rest of the facility, but it seemed lacking, like it needed a few plants, though the walls were all rounded (due to the dome configuration) which was a nice touch.

After discussing everything and getting an exam, Dr K. prescribed a few supplements, I got one lab done to test for pyroluria (most of the rest of the labs I got done at my other healthcare provider as it was way cheaper, Ill detail that in another post) and I made an appointment to return in 4 weeks. I felt energized after the appointment, very hopeful like I am on the right track. She also educated me on a few things, namely, it sounds like my adrenal gland is absolutely worn out, many of my symptoms indicate the likelihood of a thyroid-based source for my BP symptoms, the alopecia and thinning hair is very likely connected to the same problem, and a few other little tidbits that shed a lot of light on what Im experiencing.

So here is a list of the supplements prescribed:

Orthobiotics – 1 scoop 2x/day 30 min before a meal
Omega 3 Fish Oil – 1/2 tsp 2x/day
Vitamin D – 5,000 IUs/day

…and then when I got the Pyroluria results back a week later (in the mail) the Dr requested I add these (Ill make a separate post about the pyroluria testing):

Vitamin B-6 (P5P) – 50mg 2x/day
Zinc Picolinate – 30mg 2x/day

Naturally, Ive struggled a bit with consistency, but I recently made myself a pretty awesome dry-erase chart (another post to follow) that seems to be helping TREMENDOUSLY and which Ill make available to all of you. So I think that’s about it. I feel really good about beginning to take a more serious approach to managing my BP. I hope to share some amazing results with you all in the next few months. Cheers!


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Product: Citrus Zinger

CITRUS ZINGER WATER BOTTLE

I was thinking this might be cool for my Challenge #1… Increased Water Intake.

Looks like I’d need to drink 2+ bottles per day to meet my 60+ oz requirement, but that seems totally doable and this makes the addition of lemon a bit easier.  Now, I’ve read that it’s important to squeeze the lemon fresh with each new glass of water… so I wonder if taking say an hour or so to drink this would mean I’m missing out on important enzymes and such. Not sure. But I do like how this is totally encapsulated and mess free… no messy sticky juices all over the place and nothing going to waste. What do you think? Just another unnecessary gadget or a good way to keep me focused on the challenge by having a dedicated tool to achieve it?

 

You can see my Challenge #1 Post about Increased Water Intake  HERE.

And here is where to buy the CITRUS ZINGER.


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Challenge #1: Increased Water Intake

INCREASED WATER INTAKE

So let’s begin the challenges and begin simply. I do not expect this to have a huge effect on my BPD symptoms, but several studies have shown that dehydration does, in fact, have a significant effect on mood, not just in BP patients, but in all people, and especially in women. Since I know I am dehydrated most days and I do suffer headaches, poor concentration, kidney pain and am prone to UTIs, I figure this is a good place to begin. My goal is to drink 50% my body weight in water (in ounces) per day. So, since I weigh 120-125 lbs, I plan to drink 60+ ounces of water each day, insha’Allah (God willing). I have done some research both online and in books about the effects of dehydration on BP and have drawn my parameters from this research. I’ll list resources at the end.
So, who is going to take the water challenge with me? 

PARAMETERS:

  • I will drink approximately 60+ ounces of water per day.
  • Our water, in Wichita, is not fluoridated, so I may be drinking tap water, though, when possible (and preferably) I will try to drink as much spring water as possible.
  • I will drink at least 16oz 30-60 minutes before I eat each morning.
  • I will avoid caffeinated drinks (though not quit completely, that’s a whole other challenge, lol) as they are known to dehydrate tissues, which is counter-productive.
  • I will add 1/4 – 1/2 of the juice of a lemon to my morning water and drink it warm. (This aids in digestion, adds vitamin c, and helps level out the pH… all indicated in several studies to aid in BP symptoms, amongst other things). I may add pure, raw, organic honey… hey, I don’t know how much I’m gonna like the taste of this stuff, lol.
  • I will avoid drinking water during meals (which impedes digestion) and will, instead, try to drink it throughout the day.
  • I will keep track of my approximate daily water intake and differences in physical and psychological symptoms throughout this challenge.
  • I will continue this challenge for a minimum of four (4) weeks and will make adjustments, as necessary, along the way.
  • If I notice improvements in my health/symptoms, I will continue this program as I add in additional challenges to find the combination of adjustments to aid in the management of my BP symptoms.
  • The challenge begins tomorrow morning. September 18, 2012.
Pretty easy, right? I often go days without drinking water, it’s awful. So this is a big deal for me. And the headaches and depression are always quick to follow. When that happens, I usually drink coffee in order to curb the headache and lift the depression which further exacerbates the dehydration. Vicious cycle. So, here’s to a step in the right direction. CHEERS!

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THE SUPPORTIVE SPOUSE

A must-have book for any loved one or significant other of a BPD sufferer.

Let me start by recommending this book. It’s the reason why I am able to write this post today. My husband is working through this book (with me) and after just one day of reading the book, I saw huge changes in his approach to and understanding of bipolar disorder. The book is very easy to read/understand and gives workbook style activities for both the suffer and the significant other, as well as extensive, easy-to-understand, yet in-depth information about Bipolar Disorder and it’s various diagnosis, symptoms, triggers, and treatment options. If you haven’t yet begun to build your BPD library, this is a great place to start. It’s ideal for parents, friends, etc as well, but especially effective for the spouse, who, when married to a sufferer of BPD, should be the core of the support network. Now to begin…

Much of what makes it possible for me to continue on this journey is that I have a very supportive husband. Although he knew about my disorder before we got married, it wasn’t until recently (a few years into our marriage) that he truly began to research it in order to take a more educated/active role in managing my treatment. BP is hard, especially on your loved ones. And often times, we’ll find relationships are under tremendous pressure, not because of bipolar disorder itself, but because little is being done to manage it. The ups and downs of depression and mania, rage and irritability, excessive spending, paranoid or delusional behavior, social anxiety, an erratic or inconsistent sex drive… all of this can easily come between you and your spouse and can turn feelings of love and compassion into hate, confusion and resentment.

It’s important that your spouse has a clear understanding of what BP really is and is taking an active role in helping you managing it. NOTHING ELSE WILL WORK. You cannot be in a healthy, happy relationship if your spouse ignores or discounts your condition, refuses to understand it, denies its existence, or is unwilling to take an active role in helping you manage it. In some cases, your spouse may try to ignore it because they don’t want to treat you like you’re sick, they don’t want you to feel disabled or sick in some way, or they don’t want to feel like they’re married to a crazy person. Mental illness has a huge stigma in our society and you must remember that that stigma applies and is felt by not only you, but your spouse as well. So sometimes they may ignore it as a coping method.

Other times, they simply may not be willing to deal with it. And denying it is only denying the inevitable and making it even more difficult for you to manage your condition effectively. A support network is absolutely necessary in managing BP, and your spouse (if married) should be the core of that network. If they are not capable or willing to begin to understand BP and support you, then they may not be ready/right for this relationship. I know that sounds harsh. But I can tell you from experience, being with someone who is supportive versus someone who is cruel, humiliating, or in denial can make a WORLD of difference, not just in how you feel, but how your BP functions.  So its important that you give your spouse the opportunity to understand BP fully so that they can decide for themselves if they are capable or willing to help you through it, insha’Allah.

So it’s important that you sit down and have some honest discussions with them about your condition; about how they feel about it/how its affecting them (without discounting or being angry about their feelings). A person can love you, but they don’t have to love BP. Let me say that again, your spouse may very deeply and wholeheartedly love you, but it doesn’t mean they have to love BP as well. You are not your disorder, that’s not what your spouse saw when they fell in love with you and its not why they love you now. While BP affects our behavior, it doesn’t change our souls, our cores, the essence of who we are. And when someone truly loves you (and they must if they’re willing to stick it through with BP) its that core that draws them to you. Not your pleasant/wild manic behavior or your dark needy depressed behavior.

So, have a little mercy. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Be patient. It may be time to sit down with your significant other and have a serious discussion about the future. If you’re afraid that they’ll leave you if they knew

the whole scope of what you’re dealing with, then realize that when things get really bad, they’re far more likely to leave if they weren’t prepared (and it will be when you need them most). So give them the benefit of the doubt. If you don’t know where to start, try this book. We are working through it and it is helping us tremendously. I hope this advise comes at an optimal time for you. Take care.