Posted on 15 Comments

Bipolar Recovery Update 6

So it’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these and, since I can’t really come up with anything else to write about at the moment, it seemed like a good time to do another bipolar update.  The last one of these was done quite some time back so it’s really overdue.  You can find all of my other bipolar updates here.  But I’m not going to recap everything over and over again even if it pads out the word count.

The Bipolar Itself

I’ve mentioned previously that both my hypomania and depression tend to be excruciatingly seasonal.  I have typically ramped up around April/May (when the weather changes I think) and sink back down in November (when the weather changes and I run out of gas from hypomania).

The good of this is that I’m at least better able to watch out for impending signs; at the same time it made approaching that time a bit terrifying. Like seeing a train coming at you. As I entered, I think it was late April or early May, I did start feeling a bit of a ramp up.  Some of it was probably due to a lot of caffeine use since it usually went away in the evenings but I noticed a change. It was subtle but it was there.

Entering May or so, the biggest difference I really noticed was a set of stereotyped thought processes.  I’m not sure how to describe this exactly but there is a certain way of thinking along with a certain type of thoughts that I remember from previous episodes and they were starting to intrude a bit more.  My old obsession had also come back in spades over my work on The Women’s Book.  This was something else I had been missing for a while.  Along with that came something else that I’ll mention in a second.

Now, I have repeatedly mentioned that I have a number of safety nets put in place, friends I see at varying intervals so that they hopefully catch the problems.  And for some weird confluence of reasons, I ended up not seeing them around this time.  I was supposed to have a birthday dinner with a friend; something came up. I hadn’t seen my two female friends in a while although I was scheduled to see them the week after this started.  And I hadn’t gone to DBSA meeting that week.

However, luckily I had a followup with my nurse practitioner.  I usually Skype with her once a month and the meeting with her came up that Tuesday.   And this is where you can really see the insidious nature of this disease.  Before talking with her, part of my brain was already trying to convince me “You’re fine, don’t tell her about this, you’re about to get awesome.”  That was the other part of the “voices” for lack of a better word.  My sleep was still good and even that was a way for me to convince myself that everything was ok.  But it clearly wasn’t.

And I still had some of that urge during the first part of our Skype session; to not tell her about what I was feeling or thinking.  It really is a tough disease in that way; part of it is convincing you that you’re fine.  And then it gets out of control.

Thankfully it was early enough in all of this that I was able to maintain enough self control to remind myself that not telling her honestly what was going on defeated the purpose.  So I told her.  It wasn’t easy and it’s the first time I’ve proactively realized that things were about to get out of control.  She pointed out that this was a huge step for me and she’s not wrong.

I called my mom that night and told her about all of it; I always check in with her after my Skype sessions.  Another first for me, usually I can fake it with her on the phone or just tell her everything is ok.  I would tell two of my other friends to watch me a little bit closer in the upcoming month or two, that I was feeling the problems cropping up.  And they did for which I am, again, very thankful.

I happen to be on the lowest effective dose of my medication and the simple solution was to double it to see what happened.      I can even go higher before even getting close to the maximum dose.

I happened to see my two female friends the next day and I was definitely ramped up; some of it was excitement over the current book project but I was definitely doing my talking a mile a minute (think of someone on cocaine and that’s me during this phase) thing that happens when I get like this.  I would tell them about what I was feeling and to maybe check in on me a little bit more frequently.  Which they also agreed to.

And then, the next day, it was gone.  The imposing thoughts, the style of thinking, my energy stabilized, the obsessiveness over the book went away.  I’ll be honest that I was stunned that it worked that quickly.  But I’m already on an effective dose and it was just a matter of increasing the effects; it would have been far more delayed had I just been starting.

But two days later I felt fine.  I mean really fine, not convincing myself I was fine.  And two-ish months later, I’m still stable.  Or as stable as I ever get.  No obsessiveness, if anything I feel a little bit on the low end energy levels but that’s fine too.    I’m getting my work done, Arkham Knight not only ruled but ended up being a facilitator of my work since I made a deal with myself that I couldn’t play until I did my work.  And it was so awesome that it made me want to do my work that much more.

I’d schedule my monthly followup, which would actually be fine and then she and I decided to move to an every 6 week schedule.  I wanted 8 weeks and she wanted 4 and we just split the middle.  But for the first time in at least the past 5 years, I not only caught the problem early but was honest about it to the people that mattered and got it under control.  I still know I’m not fixed but this was a huge step for me and really is the key aspect of this piece.

Everything Else

I’ll be honest that my gym stuff has been a little sporadic of late.  Not having a goal at this point in my life never helps; not having any focus to my training just makes it kind of blah.  This was compounded by my shoulders getting wonky and making most upper body work uncomfortable.  I’m not sure what it was.

Could be sitting at the computer too much, probably jumped into the OL’s a little bit too quickly given that I’m an old fart.  I had some tubing stuff at home and was at least doing rehabby stuff for rear delts, rotator cuff, stretching out everything on the front and it’s starting to feel better.

But between that and being super-involved in this book project, it just sort of became easy to use writing as a displacement activity for going to the gym.  When I’m in the flow of writing, I don’t want to interrupt that and since it usually happens in the early afternoon and I detest my gym in the evenings, it was just easier to skip.  And it’s really just a habit thing for me.  But I’m back into it as of this week.

Along with my training tends to go my overall diet.  It hasn’t  been awful but it hasn’t been fantastic.  I’m one of those people who really couple good eating with regular training and when the second goes away, so does the first.  There were other reasons my diet took a bit of a nosedive but I’m also back to that.

I’m still going to the  DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Association) meetings every other week or so.  It still bores and depresses me a little bit but I consider it part of my recovery and expect to be involved with it for some time.  My mom is going out of the country and said she would feel more comfortable if I kept going. But my intention/belief is that until I’ve made it through my potential depression and at least one more potential hypomanic episode, it’s part of my life.  It may be longer than that; some people have been going for a decade and meds can always stop working, etc.

Socially, I have basically given up on the nerd stuff, too boring, most people still annoy me.  But I am dating someone not from what was a previously very unhealthy environment for me.  Which is also a first in a lot of years. It’s probably part of why my diet has been off, we go out a lot. It’s very casual which is also a step change for me: usually about this time I fall head over heels for someone and it’s just super-intense right off the bat. This is much more casual and that’s a good thing.

And that’s it for now.  I came up on a potentially very bad time, caught it early and admitted it to everyone in my life and got it under control.  That’s a huge step for me.  Once again, I know that bipolar is not ever cured, only managed.  But so far I am managing it.  Now I just have to finish this damn book…

Read Bipolar Recovery Update 7

Similar Posts:

Facebook Comments

15 thoughts on “Bipolar Recovery Update 6

  1. Well done! Not that you need to be coddled by some random internet person, but it needed to be said. I’m a mom to 2 teens that struggle with mood disorders and I suspect my oldest (soon to be 18) is more on the bi-polar spectrum. Reading your story gives me hope. Although it’s been a long road for you, you kept on it. I’m happy for you.

  2. Thanks for this interesting and insightful peek into the inner-workings of the mind of a genius.
    Coincidentally my friend told me about your bipolar during a conversation at work 7:30 this morning then you put the post up today.

    I find it kind of fascinating and quite ironic that such an accomplished person has the personal struggles and suffers the cognitive dissonance that you do pertinent to your illness.

    From my point of view it seems that you are accepting it, embracing it and conquering it slowly by becoming more self-aware and courageous.

    Just thanks for the honesty and genuinity. You are inspiring people with every post you write and all the free stuff you give away.

  3. Not that I am in any way trying to compare myself to others in this fashion but there is at least one idea that hypomania/hypomanics are responible for many of the creative ideas of our time along with success. When you’re hypomanic, your brain works differently, and better. It’s part of why the disease is so dangerous. It has pros and cons. The same can be said for many artists; they do amazing work during their mania but crash into depression afterwards.

    For example.

  4. As an ER nurse I cannot tell you how thankful I am to you for sharing this. It gives me an inside look At some of my patient’s life i would otherwise never see. It also helps people with the same issues see that it can be managed with hard work and it’s OK! I always say you wouldn’t be ashamed if being on meds for diabetes. Don’t be ashamed if being on meds for your brain!
    Thank you

  5. Congrats on the self-awareness milestone! As an OCD person myself I appreciate the effort it takes to recognize the signs while it’s still early enough to head off the worst, and the trade-offs between the heightened state and the inevitable downside.

  6. Lyle, I have been “following” you since the lowcarb-l back in the 90s. I am bipolar as well, but have been off meds since 2005 – not that I suggest that to anyone who hasn’t stabilized. If you would like to talk about what I did to get my bipolar under control, email me.

  7. i’m happy for you 🙂 moms are #1

  8. it seems medication is the foundation, along with awareness of symptoms and a safety net of people. but for november, what about getting a sun box of 10,000 k of light usually used for seasonal affective disorder? i follow another blogger, and she has similar seasonal mood symptoms as you do, but is not bipolar. maybe just a difference of degree. she finds a sun box, a ketogenic diet, and paying attention to light using blue blocker glasses and f.lux for her computer screen to be very helpful with seasonal changes. she also is a night shift worker and formerly obese, so she has really drilled down on these things and improved her life a lot.

  9. Good on ya! We all have our demons. Some of us learn to live with them, some don’t.

  10. I’ve been following you and your work for a couple of years now, so let me thank you for that first: Thanks Lyle!

    Secondly, I find it incredibly courageous of you to share and be so open about your illness. Having battled depression for almost two decades, I absolutely feel for you and it brings me happiness to know that while I have found my way out of a very tough time around December last year and am living the most stable and happy life right now that I have in 8 or so years, you have pretty much done the same and then some. I hope it keeps up, for both of us.

  11. Lyle,

    Thanks again for speaking up and saying it all out loud. Good luck on your recovery, make it a good one and keep the books rolling. The women specific book is one of the greatest news ever! Must-buy for a future PT or anyone else interested in body recomposition for women actually.

  12. Lyle,

    As someone who has pretty much read through your work in its entirety, which has helped me tremendously, I just wanted to say thank you, and good luck moving forwards.

    This remains the best source of information with regards to diet and exercise bar none.

  13. “I’ve mentioned previously that both my hypomania and depression tend to be excruciatingly seasonal. I have typically ramped up around April/May (when the weather changes I think) and sink back down in November (when the weather changes and I run out of gas from hypomania). The good of this is that I’m at least better able to watch out for impending signs; at the same time it made approaching that time a bit terrifying. Like seeing a train coming at you. As I entered, I think it was late April or early May, I did start feeling a bit of a ramp up. Some of it was probably due to a lot of caffeine use since it usually went away in the evenings but I noticed a change. It was subtle but it was there.”

    That awfully sounds like it has more to do with vitamin D as I’m sure you already know that you get more vitamin D in the warm months than the cold months. I wonder if you’re already taking vitamin D supplement at all during the winter… if so, we must be getting something else from the sun.

    My wife did accuse me of being bi-polar occasionally but hypomania is news to me. It would make more sense to me the way I’d act like that… Not too proud of it but after reading what you’ve had to say, I can understand that. Bipolar that everybody knows would not exactly describe me but what you talked about hypomania… it sure sounds like something I’d go through. Interesting. By the way, I’ve been around your stuff and website forever. Being an asshole doesn’t help much for everybody wanting to learn about fitness and nutrition. I can understand having to repeat everything a million of times whenever you get newbies visiting your website. I mainly quit caring about nutrition stuff. I just tell them to visit Paleo or Whole Wheat belly diet website and be done with it. Not going to waste my time on nutrition part. Most just don’t try.,,

  14. Yes I do (take Vitamin D and have consistently for 4+ years) and no it doesn’t (isn’t related)? If there is an effect of season it’s on melatonin (hence lightboxes for winter depression). So how about let’s leave the diagonosing to my NP.

    And if you’re going to refer them to nutritionsites, at least refer them to something not stupid. Paleo? Wheat Belly? Really?

  15. Lyle, you are awesome and I wish you all the best.

Comments are closed.