BP Naturally

My Drug-Free Journey of Managing Bipolar Disorder


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Today’s Bipolar Mood is: Neutral… Maybe

I didn’t write yesterday. I was irritable. The kids were seriously on my nerves. I did a round of half uninvolved and very disinterested before I finally retired to the room in a bout of “I’m not doing this today” brand escapism. Regretting it this morning cuz there was stuff I needed to get done. But I have yet to start my day, so who knows? Maybe neutral will become hypomanic and Ill smash it today and be uber productive. I hope.

Yknow, I used to be able to trigger mania with lack of sleep and major caffeine consumption. Since I’ve been sleeping more frequently, its a lot harder to pull all nighters. But maybe that’s a good thing.

I need a seriously productive manic boost man. I’m behind in like everything I need to do. :/

What’s your BP mood today?

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Today’s Bipolar Mood is: Neutral

I’m not feeling particularly manic or depressed, pretty neutral actually. Ah, but the day is young. I have created yet another daily “Get Your Sh!t Together” To-Do List and enlisted the kiddies to help me… I dont actually expect success, as consistency seems an impossibility with this disorder  but I hope for improvements.  Side note: I’m turning toilet seats blue… not sure what that’s all about. But apparently, Im not the only one.

BP Tracking Chart


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Back on the Wagon

I fell off for a while, as is typical with us BP people, lol. Ive reinitiated several times but haven’t gotten back to the blog. So I’m back! Just day two… But I owe it to you all (and myself and my family) to stay on track and work toward some results. So here’s a shot of my tracking chart. Added a few more supplements to my regimen. Comment if you have any questions. 🙂


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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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Just to Start…

This is where I will list the various methods I intend to try out in order to manage my bipolar disorder (under the “METHODS” category, surprise!). The list will be updated periodically as I receive suggestions, do research, and make progress. I will add the relevant links to info about each method + links to my progress reports as each method is tried out. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to post, guys, and if you want to try a a technique/remedy out with me, just let me know. Id love to work with someone and have a BPBuddy!

My technique will be to try out a natural remedy, coping technique, or management method for a set number of weeks, 4-6 weeks ideally. I will make at least weekly posts about my approach, experience, and progress with each method I try out. I will also be sure to not lapses I have in utilizing the approach properly. etc. My goal is develop a lifestyle complete with proper nutrition, exercise, stress management and supplements, if necessary, to manage my BPD in a manner that allows me to live a balanced, healthy and happy life. Lofty goals indeed, but I am determined and convinced that it’s possible.

I will trying out methods that I learn about via research, recommendations, etc. I am not a doctor and I am not under the care of a physician, so do not take any of my advice as actual medical advice. You are witnessing my own personal experience here as it fits with my lifestyle, personal health, and manifestations of my condition. How you or your body and mind will react to these different methods and treatments depends on your own condition, lifestyle, and present state of health and may vary tremendously. However, I think the key to any natural treatment is finding the right balance and being consistent. So if you do try out some natural methods for managing your BPD, keep those things in mind.

I will be trying out dietary changes, supplements (vitamins and minerals), stress management techniques (like meditation, deep breathing  and yoga), stress reduction (keeping a schedule, reducing responsibilities, changing the layout of my home), exercise, sleep regulation, daily journaling, mood tracking, and faith-based exercises (Islamic – Duaas, Dhikr, Study, Consistent Prayers, etc), and anything else I come across that seems promising.

Feel free to ask questions and make suggestions! Cheers!


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JOURNAL ENTRY #1

Recognizing Triggers

Yesterday started out great, I woke up in time to pray fajr (morning prayer before dawn), had a light breakfast, took a shower. Then as I lay on my bed, all dressed and ready to go make myself brunch, I debated between taking a nap or going outdoors for a bit (sunlight is therapeutic). But I felt sleepy, so I laid down for a nap. The nap went too long (1.5-2 hours) then the baby woke up and I had to run down and start her day. I had a headache from the poor quality-too long nap, but it passed and my good mood returned. Note to self: Naps that are TOO LONG or of poor quality (uncomfortable, too much light in the room, etc) cause me to have headaches and feel irritable. Then my husband came home and all was still well. We went to pick up the kids and it was uncomfortably hot outside, so I was a little irritated, but not too much. Then I got into a very small spat with my husband.  I tried to tell him it was silly to argue about, but he felt that convincing me to his side would somehow help me calm down and see why my getting upset in the first place wasn’t necessary. Ah… the road to hell is paved with good intentions, lol. So we argued and immediately after depression set in. Just that quick. Arguing with my husband is a huge trigger for me. No matter how small the argument, it causes my mood to drop almost instantaneously. I hate that I feel so dependent on him in regulating  my moods, but there it is. 

Later, the kids were off task, being loud and wild and this sent my irritation level waaaay up. Which led to me snapping. I mean, really snapping. I had to walk outside to the backyard to gather myself. Making wudu crossed my mind, but I was too angry. (I know, that’s the point) But I went outside into the sunlight, sat down, breathed deeply and calmed down. When I came back in I talked to my husband about it… took him through my day so that he could see how quickly my mood can flip from something so small. It was a good talk, masha’Allah, and he had been cognizant of it and just wasn’t sure how to handle it right. That’s progress for us. His awareness of my potential mood swing is a big deal.

He then teased and joked until he got me to laugh and took me to make wudu and pray. That helped and by the end of the day the depression had lightened a bit. Today is a new day. Im not in the same bright mood as yesterday, I didn’t sleep well, woke up late, and am on this comp instead of in the shower (being off schedule is all bad). But I’m gonna go ahead and start my day, even if it’s late and see if I can recover some balance today, insha’Allah.

Mood Tracking:

September 5th, 2012
Happy –> Sleepy –> Irritable –> Angry –> Depressed –> Irate –> Depressed –> Sad –> Neutral

Lessons Learned:

  • Oversleeping and poor quality sleep cause headaches and irritability.
  • Sleeping in rooms with too much light cause poor quality sleep.
  • Arguments with my husband lead to depression.
  • Temperature discomfort (too hot outside) lead to irritability.
  • Chaos & noise/kids being off task leads to intense irritability.