BP Naturally

My Drug-Free Journey of Managing Bipolar Disorder


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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.