Monthly Archives: January 2014

The mind/body infinite loop

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So, there are only 2 things that I’ve always struggled with, my mind and my body. Weight has always been a struggle to keep in check, for both mental and physical reasons. When I was finally correctly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 (rapid cycling) back in 2005 I started taking all sorts of drugs. My brain began to slowly stabilize but my body grew. Since I was taking a complex cocktail it was hard to pinpoint the source of the accelerated weight gain. That plus the unhealthy 100% travel lifestyle I was living at the time made it even harder to figure out. Even though I stabilized mentally, I was never happy with the drugs I was on. I always felt foggy and underwater and I knew they were contributing at some level to the weight. Years later they also started to eat through my stomach so I decided a medical overhaul was due. I took a bit of a sabbatical from the drugs, let my insides heal, and moved on to a new job, a new city, and a new psychiatrist. She was convinced that Depakote was *the* drug for me….the best for rapid cycling. When I began taking it I felt great, as if my brain was working properly for the first time ever. I was no longer under water or foggy. The thing was, the weight gain was insane. When I finally bothered to look it up (I know, I should have done that first) I realized that of all these drugs, Depakote was the most notorious of them all. Most of the bloggers I have read have tried and abandoned it for that reason.

I had a hard, unfair decision to make. Do I choose a healthy mind or a healthy body? So for the past year I chose my mind. It’s been a great year professionally but my body reached that tipping point, more like a domino effect, where I was in serious danger. My liver blood work was dangerously bad which can ironically be caused by either or both obesity and Depakote. I won’t list the trail of ailments that have plagued me the last year but let’s just say when I flipped the coin on mind vs body I may have made the wrong call. I have to do something fast. So, I’m having surgery next month…a sleeve gastrectomy (for weight loss) ,gall bladder removal (already have a huge stone and the majority of the people who have the sleeve end up losing the gall bladder anyway later on). They will also biopsy a lesion on my liver (likely unrelated but they’re right there so why not go for the organ trifecta?)

I’m hoping with this quick weight loss I will undo some of the damage I have done to my body recently. I don’t know if the Depakote will hinder my progress and whether or not it’s the culprit on my liver enzymes. I’ve dragged my feet on a drug change since my brain is so highly functioning right now but I guess a badass brain doesn’t do you much good if you are dead.

My point being, should we have to choose between mind and body? It hardly seems a fair choice, I mean, we kinda need both. Maybe I’ll get lucky post surgery and everything will fall into place. If not, I guess I will have to find a part of me to compromise….literally and figuratively. I wonder, given that choice, what the correct mind/body ratio is. Sort of makes you think. With me luck on Feb 11!

I Pledge to Blog for Mental Health in 2014

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“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  To learn more or to participate, please refer to A Canvas of the Minds: Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project .

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since my last post. I began this blog last September during some rare down time as I was starting to reevaluate the priorities in my life. I got off to what I thought was a good start but saw very quickly the posts began to devolve into what I felt was a whiny soapbox for a life which, considering my circumstances, was not all that bad. That nagging sensation caused me to back away from posting. I have been here all along, reading what others have written, empathizing with their stories, and commenting on occasion. I think the new year is a perfect time to start things back up and I am proud to participate in this year’s Blog for Mental Health effort.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I am type 1 bipolar with rapid cycling and mixed states. That being said, I am lucky to have been able to parlay this challenge in recent years into an uncharacteristically high-functioning existence, I don’t know whether it is pure stubbornness or ego, or residual manic delusion, but i know I am one of the lucky ones (as much as I may tend to forget at times). There were some years prior where I wasn’t so lucky, or responsible, or aware of the consequences of my actions and I continue to feel those effects, but I can only now look forward, change what I can, hope for the best, and help others when I am able.

It is my hope that the more of us who gather together to support one another and educate those around us, the faster we can begin to eliminate the stigma that still surrounds us. We are taught to hide in shame from our illnesses in fear of loss in relationships, friendships, and professional credibility. People fear what they do not know, so let’s educate the fear away, raise our voices, and support each other in the cause.

I pledge to become a more active participant in my own transformation as well as the transformation of public perception. I am not quite yet ready to “go public” with my real identity (as I see some of you…much braver than i…have started to do) but from this small, anonymous platform, I will toss my tiny pebble into the lake and see if I can make a ripple or two along the way.