You are not the problem; you are the solution

I have been away from writing for a while. It was a period of re-evaluation. I needed time to gather my thoughts before I share them with you.

Today, I want to talk about living in the now. I want to talk about living without fear. I want to talk about hope…

I want to talk about waking up without wanting the day to end. I want to tell you that it’s possible to enjoy life even if circumstances are not ideal.

I want to share with you today my insight about a previously feared decision that I was very hesitant to make.

I was hesitant to live.

My fear blocked me. Doubt was consuming me inside out. I didn’t like the present (my illness) , I regretted the past (my recent diagnosis with depression and bipolar disorder, my genes, my upbringing…), and worried incessantly about the future (relapses, pain, facing myself or even another day).

This topic was my obsession. I thought of nothing but bipolar disorder. I was not sick with the disease, I was the disease itself. I couldn’t put a distance between me and “it”. Bipolar was the boss of me, and I didn’t know any better.

Little by little my dissatisfaction with the situation kept building up. It was sort of an unconscious rebellion surfacing. With hindsight, I understand why I opposed certain hospitalizations and certain drugs or doctors. I refused over and over again to be numbed. Because when I get numb, I forget why I am in this situation in the first place.

I knew something was amiss.

The healing system I surrendered to was treating my symptoms and not my illness.

Traditional psychiatry attempted to take my pain away without telling me that I will also lose myself in the process.

I have been aware for a while that my condition is psychological but to a big big extent also physiological.

I couldn’t accept that my childhood, no matter how sad it was could still affect me some 30 years later. I couldn’t accept that moving from one country to another is enough of a reason to have me sedated by force while I was trying to escape from the ICU after a suicide attempt.

What couldn’t they see? What is being told to me by this suffering? Why is my family witnessing this? Is it all coincidence? Is it all in vain? I was a mental health practitioner at some point, how could I be the patient now? What happened to me???

As my rebellion became my revolution, I weaned myself off drugs. But that was only the beginning. Slowly my cognitive abilities came back. Not all, I still have memory blockage, or loss. I lack concentration sometimes too. But in general I can tell you with confidence that this is my brain. Those are my feelings. This is my reality.

I began to put 2 and 2 together and made some parallels- and those made and still make sense to me. They might not be universal truths; but is there such a thing?

I thought that each hospitalization began with a series of blood tests. Why do they keep on saying that there is no bio marker for mental illness!! A lie. A big fat ugly lie.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a half truth than none at all. The medical community has knowledge about biological, pure physiological imbalances that accompany depression, or any illness to that end.

People just take the easy track and stop investigating, or they don’t want to claim responsibility. Tell me why is my sedimentation rate (ESR) abnormal? Why is my vitamin D so low? Why is my thyroid imbalanced? Why did I bleed for weeks with no end between my periods staining every surface I touched before I was diagnosed? Hormones anyone? My ferritin was low, my proteins were in the wrong values. Soon after I started treatment I began to have bad cholesterol. Is my mother the reason for all that? Or is it rainy Paris? Or maybe my then 2 extra kilograms?

I was prescribed “vitamins and supplements” yes, but no one ever told me that they would be key in healing me if taken religiously and monitored regularly. I was told not to miss my antipsychotics, my antidepressants, my anxiolytics; those drugs that alienated me further and further from me, from those around me and most importantly from the truth.

I was told I need to play sports and bathe when I was pinned to my bed by drugs. Yes yes, exercise is good for depression. Not once was I told that there is a link between what goes into my body (food yes food!) and my physical or psychological condition.

Not once was meditation mentioned. Not once was yoga mentioned. Not once was even coloring-in mandalas brought up. Just take the drugs and come back for more. I was offered psychotherapy, but I didn’t give it much importance then. I think now it was because I felt to a huge degree that talking about my problems wouldn’t make them disappear.

I realized that no matter the good will around me is, no one would help me but me. I decided to take charge of my life.

At 38, I finally decided to become an adult.

I will listen to the medical community orthodox or not, because yes they do have insight. But most importantly, I will now forward listen to myself. I started to believe in me. I started to believe in my cognitive abilities surfacing and my instinct.

I knew I am no longer Bipolar Disorder. I am Me.

Simply put I began to circle around the idea of inflammation. I knew that illness meant imbalance and imbalance was often caused by inflammation. I also thought that inflammation is not only physical but psychological. I thought I would enforce a way of doing – a way of living – that is anti inflammatory.

When you are ready, the stars align. Without being esoteric, when you buy a red car you start seeing red cars all around you. When you brain focuses on a certain topic, you see it in plenitude.

I began to dig for links and for alternative remedies. I found that others – plenty of others- think the same. I hadn’t given alternative ways a serious thought before. Cancer healed by pure will and some plants? Yeah right!

I think that if you want to go alternative and drive off road, you cannot pick and chose. It has to be integral or better still systematic. Again that is me talking not science.

So it figures that turmeric or curcuma is a miracle drug that treats a wide range of problems relating to inflammation. It figures that I need to treat my candida problem that has been an integral part of my life for the past 10 plus years if I want to heal. Not one, not a single medical authority wanted to establish this link; as if I had several bodies or as if my organs were not related and living in the same ecosystem.

It figures there is a link. And yes, essential oils do work if taken long enough and right enough. It seems that the liver needs a proper cleanse to get rid of all the bad stuff we feed ourselves all the time. Otherwise healing would be in vain.

It figures that sugar and gluten can also be part of the problem, feeding regularly the inflammatory machine. The more you eat it, the more inflamed your body will be, and the more you will crave it. Funny, I consumed jar after jar of jam before my first hospitalization; a food that I truly dislike.

Activities are also inflammatory. Sitting hours in traffic jams is inflammatory. Dealing with negative people and draining meaningless tasks is inflammatory. Going for a walk is anti inflammatory and so is listening to music. Playing with the kids is anti inflammatory; trying to prove that I am right all the time is inflammatory. You get my point.

None of that would work alone. It is a system. A wholistic system that you create and you alone- it has to make sense to you.

The knowledge is there. I am no genius and you don’t have to be one.

We went through hell and back – all of us. Whether you lost a child, a limb, a job, or financial security. You are unhappy because you chose to define yourself as a problem. I Am The One without a Mother. I Am Bipolar Disorder. I am Divorce. I am Unemployment. I am Obesity.

While doing that we forget all the other things that we are, or aren’t! Yes you could be bipolar and it is sad, but you are so much more than that. And you are not so many other bad bad things.

The truth is there is always better; but mind you there is always worse.

So let us take a leap of faith and try to breath it out.

Say it out loud with me

I am not my illness, I am me.

I know this is not an ideal situation, but there is no such a thing.

I know I cannot control tomorrow, but thinking about it constantly won’t change a thing;

When I need help I will ask for it, but I am in charge of my existence;

I live for a reason; and that reason is to understand and free myself from suffering;

I am as happy today as I could ever be….

I beg you please to listen to yourself. Listen to your body. You are not the problem: You are the solution.

Bless

TBC

On hormones and bipolar disorder

Like a silent mantra I tell myself I am better. I tend not to think of the future in any upsetting way. I try to remember to breath and sense the air filling up my lungs, releasing magical oxygen that fights any little stress bubble there might be.

I focus on what is, what I have now, the moment. I don’t think in terms of ambitions or dreams or hopes. I make to do lists. Simple ones of course. I try to remain connected. I pick up my phone; actually I call my friends.

I am present with my children. I plan activities for them, and actively participate. I think about my whole family and remember how much they mean to me everyday. I enjoy my husband and always know that I am very lucky to be in love and to be loved by this amazing person.

Silently, like clouds gathering midday, I feel a change is coming. It is from within. I can tell that colors are not as vivid as they were a few moments ago. I repeat the mantra with hope knowing that everything shall pass. I resist seeing the faded colors and try to see them as bright as they were moments ago.

It works sometimes. The sky might meanwhile clear up, and things get back as sharp as they were. Sometimes it doesn’t though. The clouds keep on gathering and it gets darker. I remember to breath and try to send my magical oxygen around to stop these sad bubbles from forming. Sometimes it works…

When it doesn’t, I take my time. Nothing is eternal I repeat. Though I know that being active helps a lot in fighting depression, I give myself a break. I do as much as my body and my mind allow me. I don’t surrender. If a burst of energy comes, I get up and act.

Yet I also switch to energy saving mode. The mode I know best. It is what made me survive so far. I could stay still for hours, and sleep the day away. It upsets me because I feel I should know better. I remember the routine I need to follow everyday and stick to a minimum.

Like an hourglass, I feel precious particles are slipping away. Is it time passing that bothers me? Is it my lethargy building up? Is it my fear of what might be if this doesn’t change fast?

Yet, I try not to complicate things. Or do I not?

My psychiatrist told me that I should observe my cycle as it might be affecting my mood. I have been doing that and she is actually right. I had always thought of PMS as a mild passing condition that deserves no more attention than some chocolate and a hot water bottle.

I was wrong. My hormonal changes affect me big time. I don’t even know if that is PMS. I have noticed for a few cycles the following pattern. I would have a few days with a lot of energy and a decreased need for sleep. Then this would be followed by low energy and too much sleep. Mood wise, I would be up then totally down.

But now I know that these are the effects of my hormones. These almost drove me to suicide a few months ago. I had no idea they could be that powerful.

Come to think about it, it is not that strange. Hormones change us from children to adults. Without them we would not be able to reproduce, the human race as we know it would simply end. We wouldn’t even know if we are hungry or cold…

I decided to read a bit more on the subject to see if my theory is right. I remember clearly that before my illness I had suffered from severe bleeding for a few months – on and off; more on really. After a hormonal treatment, bleeding ceased and depression came in full blown.

After a basic search, that is what I found out. Hormones happen to be essential for transmitting chemical messages throughout the body. They circulate in our blood, going from one place to another. Like neurotransmitters – those chemical particles responsible for sending messages to and from our brain – hormones work closely with the hypothalamus a gland that is extremely important to our survival.

This little guy is a very powerful component of our brain. It works on so many functions but mostly its main job is to help the body achieve homeostasis- a balance where things are healthy and coordinated.

Guess what! The hypothalamus is big time related to Bodily Rhythms, and those are super responsible for setting off a bipolar episode. Our sleep cycle for one affects our mood and can be a major source of stress. Also what I learned is that the hypothalamus (with the help of hormones and neurotransmitters as well as the immune system) creates what is called Seasonal Rhythms; our reaction to the amount of daylight in each season. Many complain of having worsened depression symptoms as fall approaches; and many feel better for no logical reason as day becomes longer in spring and summer.

Both Social and Bodily Rhythms create for each individual what is called Social Rhythms. These are our routines that we build starting first thing in the morning, till we fall asleep at night. It also includes our interaction with people. How well we function socially that is.

So bipolarity is super complex. What sets off one episode varies greatly from one person to another. Biology plays a major part in all this and it is good to know that. If I could only talk to my hypothalamus; I would say Your Highness; would you be so kind to give me a break?

If only I could see my hypothalamus and all the little complex connections it receives and sends all day long, maybe I could find the faulty one and fix it.

I feel like my hypothalamus is a bomb and I need a squad to deactivate it. Pull the wrong fuse and Bam! Yes I heard this noise a time too many.

Perhaps I am not responsible for the dysfunction in my brain. I am responsible for how I choose to react to that dysfunction.

I called my psychiatrist today to make an appointment.

I will end my post with my favorite prayer; the serenity prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Bless

TBC

Talking out loud about your mental illness

A few weeks ago my daughter overheard a conversation about my blog. She wanted to know what a blog was, so I walked her through that. Then she wanted to know about my own blog.

“What do you write about Mama?”

It then hit me. My blog is public.

One day she might read it. I am not sure I am ready for this now. So, future me will deal with that.

With children, the rule of thumb is to answer “difficult” questions with as little information as possible. One question at a time. No need to draw a detailed account I thought, just the basics to answer to her curiosity.

So I told her my blog is about my experience. I started writing I said when I fell sick last year. I write about health, my health.

So she asked me again, like what? Then I said I write about mental health. I didn’t think she will understand. But she did. I was swept off my feet with what she said later. A lot of explaining has been done to her by my husband I thought. What a good job he had done.

She told me, oh so you write about how you feel so others who have the same problem know? I said yes, she kept on talking. So when you share your story they can know what worked and what did not? Yes love I said. That is great Mama, this is much better than just writing I take this medication and that medication. When you write how you feel it will be more useful for others.

I felt I was talking to a friend not my 9 year old daughter. She got it without lots of words. She sensed it. Those youtube DIY videos she loves to watch must have taught her something after all!

Yesterday, as I was checking my email, I found a message from someone who prefers to stay anonymous. He told me that he suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and depression in the past and that he read the blog. He raised a few important points on his experience that are common to mine.

He told me I am brave to talk about such a personal problem in the open. He said that for him and for many, it is not that easy to open up. I reflected on that and remembered the talk with my daughter. As I wrote back to him, it struck me that this is not courage at all. It is survival.

I didn’t do this blog for anything other than a deep need to be heard. I wanted to know if there was someone somewhere going through the same and feeling despair.

It happens that yes, I am not alone. You are not alone. We are all together in this. It does not matter what country you are from, what age you are, whether you are single or not, atheist or not, poor or not.

I discovered that I am read in so many different places like Greece, Austria, India, Australia, Egypt, Spain, France and many more.

This means that we all have our moments of doubts, we all go through tough moments, or witness loved ones goin through them.

When life is unbearable as my friend said in his message, the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know what it is to feel despair to tell you what to do. Come on, it cannot be that bad they would say. You have a lot of good things in your life despite (…). Think about people who lost everything. You are much better than that. Pull yourself up. Go for a walk, watch a movie or come out with us this weekend.

Not very helpful unfortunately. The mind of the depressed doesn’t work that way. Words of actions are the last thing we want to hear. We know it looks like everything is ok with our lives, that maybe our feelings are not justified. Yes that is part of why we feel so low. Sometimes we don’t even have a good reason whatsoever to feel depressed. It does not help. Depression defies logic. It is not maths. I wish…

So back to my first story.

No, I am not worried that one day my children will read this blog. Actually, when they are old enough and god knows when this will be, I will be happy to share with them what I went through. Ideally they will know that yes we can dive as low as it gets. We could recover, or find a balance, or worst of all we might linger on in despair. It is normal.

They might then look at others differently. They would perhaps judge less. They might offer the right soothing words to someone one day. They will understand that we are made of flesh and blood and that it is not shameful to be sick.

Don’t worry; you are not alone.

Bless

TBC

Recharging

I was reluctant to fly back home. I was worried about meeting family and friends.

I didn’t want to have to deal with pity. I didn’t want to answer questions. I didn’t want to remember who I was before I got sick, or know who I am now.

It was not easy in the beginning. I broke down because I was so ashamed of what had become. It was a feeling beyond me. I felt my failure and forgot all the progress I had made.

I was so tempted to end it all. I held on to the thought of how I would disappoint my loved ones if I do.

I shrank into a ball in bed, fighting my demons. My family and friends would come in one at a time to try and talk to me. I didn’t have words to say. I wanted to shut off the world. I hid behind my blankets to avoid seeing them- seeing me like this.

I asked for medication, I couldn’t do without. I got some tranquilizers, a benzodiazepine. I popped a few – nothing dangerous. I had to numb the pain. I wanted to get out on the other side – the good side.

I asked for an antidepressant. I am away from my doctor and didn’t want to call her. No energy to explain anything to anyone. I decided to take Prozac 20 mg as a preventive dose for further attacks. Just the thought of another one was enough to kill me.

As these things take time, not surprisingly I got another attack a week or so after. A few days before, I had started to feel the ups of hypomania; rapid thoughts, loss of sleep, increased self confidence. It was mild and honestly I enjoyed it. What a nice break from depression… but I worried about the crash after. The higher you go, the lower you will get.

One day shortly after I felt paralyzed when sitting on a small cliff by the beach a few meters away from my family.

I was trying to relax. It hit me as I was looking at the waves and the horizon. I was in harmony with the scenery and little by little I had to lie down. I could not sit anymore. So I did, and thought I should relax some more. A horrible fear of falling hit me. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t move a muscle, I couldn’t talk. I waited for it to pass, I do not know for how long.

My daughter saw me as she was swimming and I managed to wave to her. I asked her when she came up to tell my husband to come to me. He shielded me as I crawled away from the cliff when everything was swirling around me. I don’t know why this happened. I just hope it will be my last attack.

I will check in with my doctor once I am back about the drugs am taking.

Yet, despite all this, I am proud of this trip. I am proud I was able to break this wall of fear and to accept love and empathy.

I am proud of being loved and cared for. I am proud of receiving all these hugs and all this care. I still feel vulnerable and worry of breaking- of course there is no magic cure. But somehow I know the worst is over.

There are residues for sure. Yet for those who might have similar stories, reach out, find those who care for you. You might not want to, you might fear what they will say, you might worry about how they will see you… Don’t.

As much as mental illness is mysterious, as much as love is.

Love has a healing power, especially when it is unconditional. Don’t worry about facing the world. I was swept off my feet with care – literally. I had forgotten the power of living “in” a society versus the isolation I face when in Paris.

As much as I didn’t want to go on holidays because when depressed you couldn’t care less, as much as I knew I had to. I wanted to do that for my husband and for my children. They got so worn out that past year with so much pressure- mostly from me.

I put one foot in front of the other and did it. I was challenged to sit by the beach! Imagine that… I was challenged to see my children have ice cream! It was difficult to let go and enjoy islands and beaches and hotels and swimming pools… yes believe me when down no one cares about all that.

Yet magically the change of scenery worked. One at a time like a flower opening its petals, the family started to relax. It was probably contagious. I started to enjoy things instead of being lethargic. It took time, but it happened.

I cannot stress enough the importance of holidays. Needless to say it can be as simple as going to the park and enjoying the view, no need to travel miles to do that. I will personally try and keep this concept of having a break in our family routine. I urge you to do the same.

I will check in more frequently, and I will try to talk about this journey of mine, which I hope will end in recovery.

TBC

Bless

On being human – a month afterwards

Dear all, thank you for checking in. It has been over a month now that I have quit all psychotropic drugs.

I hate putting pictures of myself online. I need to do this. Here is me: one in ER while on a cocktail of drugs and one DRUG-FREE on a night out (with my husband cropped out of the selfie for his privacy)…

A picture worth a 1000 words
Midst depression & suicide, hooked up to machines at ER
A “person” taking a selfie...
Listening to Jazz with my husband – DRUG FREE

They scare you…

This is a rather long entry. I will be telling you about how the experience has been. I will also tell you at the end my two cents on my last psychiatric appointment. I will also refer to what I do to be able to manage my withdrawal after almost a couple of year on heavy drugs.

They sacre you…

Ever since this experiment spectrum of emotions, thoughts and physical sensations have been revealed to me ever since.

I am partially proud and relieved. I have this sensation of being in charge of who I am and once again responsible for my decisions and thoughts.

It is not an easy journey. A layer of artificial pain has been lifted away quite dramatically from my being. I discovered the traces of other pain beneath. It was thrilling to regain emotional and bodily sensations again. It is spectacular to be human and mostly to feel like one.

I find myself unable/unwilling to think or plan ahead. I try to live a minute at a time and not to complicate anything. Although I can achieve a wider range of feeling, I prefer to dwell on the surface.

They scare you…

I am prudent. I once read that bipolar patients are always waking on eggshells. I think it is also true for those who suffer from recurrent depression. I worry about the consequences of my feelings and try now to stay at the surface. I think that this is more than anything, a survival mechanism.

Bad dreams have been happening. They are too vivid for my liking. They are probably the most vivid I have had to memory. Why are they so scary? Because they are not based on fantasy. They surprise me as logical, and this is why all the while during the nightmares I think that I am actually loving those moments.

Tears are close by. Menial tasks requiring mental skills are tough for me. I need to concentrate with all my mind. Adios to multitasking. One thing at a time.

My weight is soaring. As big as a whale; as if I have eaten every problem I have ever thought about.

Together with my limited mental capacity, I feel short of who I am.

They scare you…

My 38th birthday is around the corner. I am worried about the forties, worried of turning 41 – the age at which my mother died.

I think of her a lot lately, with more understanding. Though my turmoil was partially due to my childhood with her and to her sudden death, my illness has taught me to see our relationship differently.

I understand her now more than ever. I feel for her suffering and instability. I cherish her ability to have taken care of me to her best; with her limited means. I don’t blame her anymore. I couldn’t have done better myself.

I hope for the years to come to be able to see my illness as tough-love; as a blessing in disguise.


They scare you…

A disturbing fact though remains.

I had gone to my latest appointment with my psychiatrist 10 days after quitting. She was of course against it. She said quitting suddenly has severe consequences. Depression of course was a runner up. I was also told that lithium won’t probably work again should I need it. Rebound is possible, no one knows when, how or for how long. It would be very dark I was warned.

Perhaps I could live with all that. Nothing she said was new until she told me something quite harsh.

They scare you…

Knowing that I write about mental illness, she told me that I should put a warning when speaking about going cold turkey. She said: ” Mothers who kill their children and then commit suicide do that because of depression”.

They scare you…

She left the sentence hanging in mid air; either to refer to potential readers who can harm themselves by listening to me. She could have also meant me; I was left to choose.

Besides being deeply offended and utterly shocked, I felt a lot of self doubt that I now regret. I dwell on this almost daily.

I say with utmost confidence – something I generally strongly lack – They scare you…

Bullshit; No one can pretend to know you better than yourself.

Bullshit; Stop stigmatizing mental health patients; you of all people should know how to weigh your words.

Bullshit; No! Our loved ones; for that fact my children are a red line that no one is allowed to cross.

Bullshit; no! Crying, anxiety attacks, binge eating/ drinking, nightmares, dark thoughts, are and were never ever directed to anyone else.

BULLSHIT!!! STOP!! I will not let your narrow single sided knowledge of an incredibly complex topic such as the human mind dictate how I should live my life.

I tell you my dear reader. I warn you like she asked me to do not to quit cold turkey. But I add to that; this road is not to be travelled unless under certain circumstances that are very complex.

You and you alone can decide how to live and what to do with your life. You alone will know when or when not to quit. You alone know down deep inside your motives for such a decision. And most important of all, you alone know if you are god forbid dangerous to yourself or worse to others.

Whatever you do, do not quit believing in yourself medication-free. Yet better, do not quit the hope for one second of being illness-free.

Without any conspiracy theories, let us not have the world of pharmaceutical companies tell us how to live or love our children!!

I do not deny that yes unfortunately such miseries do happen. Yet, millions of millions live and die without committing any of such acts and hopefully you and I are no different.

Should you decide to cut off or quit. I urge you besides doing it at the right time and weighing the benefits and the doubts as well as the consequences, TAKE SUPPLEMENTS.

I have a routine filled with micronutrients, vitamin D, omega 3, probiotics, and amino acids. I also use essential oils for withdrawal pains such as headache, back ache and insomnia. They help me a lot. All this is due to my dear husband. He has done incredible research on the topic and I do take all my supplements religiously. On most nights I sleep, and on most days I go out of the house.

Please I’d urge and beg you, if you are reading this before you go to your first doctor’s appointment because you are suffering, considering an alternative route. Do your own research, ask a loved one to do it for you. Just don’t start with antidepressants, mood regulators and benzodiazepines. You might just need iron and vitamin B complex instead. So take charge and do your homework. There is an alternative route – less travelled nowadays yes but real all the same.

No one will care when you have a zillion side effect but you.

I will be writing another follow up to let you know how things are progressing. Feel free to comment or ask questions…

Go sacre them with your humanity…

TBC

Depression hits again

I spent all day in bed today. The only thing I forced myself to do I to go for a jog; a mere 15 minutes.

When I was awake I smoked; I managed to finish a whole pack.

I am depressed, real down. I have nothing to do but wait for Prozac to kick in, which would be in a couple of weeks.

Even then, my hope of healing is minimal. I depend on Benzos and the one I am taking now – Rivotril- is barely reducing my anxiety.

I wake up at 4 AM everyday. Today I patiently waited till noon to get to bed again. I mostly listen to a cocktail of brainwaves. They put me to sleep. I want to induce an artificial coma, to wake up when these two weeks are over.

I am scared, I am numb, I eat motley carbs. It is raining outside. I want to sleep again.

TBC

A call for help…. I can’t beat Sunday

I thought with the new treatment I am following, that I will manage my feelings better on weekends.

It is unfortunate that nothing makes the weekend tolerable. Not my best friends coming for a surprise visit, not me going on a weekend with my family, not me getting help with another nanny specially for that, nothing works.

Please someone tell me if they feel the same like me. It is driving me insane and I have lost all ability to make myself feel better.

5 Ways to make your bipolar day pass without biting your nails

Today I am writing about one easy technique to shift your mind from facing racing thoughts, of even black ones. This worked well for me yesterday, and maybe it would work for you too.

Basically, I put my nice pjs (the ones that look like a training suit) and my nice coat on and hit the road. I had company, which had was great, but I could have done it alone to. So why is this would be good for you?

1- makes you get out of bed: Yet you do not need to take off your pjs if you planned it well the night before – don’t over do it. Getting out, I think is an essential tool for healing. First of all, you have to think about stupid things like crossing the street. You also despite your illness and foggy mind, start noticing people: a pair of purple shoes, a child with a dinosaur helmet, a woman with a chapka on her head…. (probably me)

Chapka hat, why not?

2- It gets your find an aim: I think a major problem I have is finding goals- no matter how small or useless – to fill up my day. I wake up and if you’d see my expression it is somewhere between a story dog and a toddler learning to walk. Well, I look weird and feel even stranger. I have say at least 12 hours to fill before the blissful sleeping pill is taken. So going out with your phone to find pictures that relate to your “illness” is great! It makes you feel important, like you are some artist on a mission for a new project they are taking on.

Bipolar is everywhere - credit of thought to dear father Ahmed Loutfy

3-It diverts your attention: Not to be confused with the previous point. When you focus on something, usually your brain forgets what it was thinking about the second before. I make this assumption even if your brain is completely coucou like mine. I have a rule of thumb, if it happens once, it can happen again. Guess what, while taking meaningless pictures across Paris with my father, I forgot being bipolar by totally being bipolar. Tricky right? I mean the importance of your state of mind is shifted to what your current state of mind can do. Hope you get it better now.

Nothing is perfect

4-You start taking hold of your destiny: Yes you are still crazy and your mood shifts from one minute to the other – I wonder how you are actually reading me now. Anyway, when you walk, you have to choose which way to go. You can keep going straight, yes true- but it is still a choice. Medication, psychotherapy sessions, visits to your psychiatric, you will do all this but with little to say. Taking this precious iPhone (fine you can take your Samsung either but not sure it would work as well) makes you the captain of the ship. The ship my friend is you.

Do you really want eggs?

5- Might be a useful exit in social situation: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to answer the famous “So, what do you do?” Or “What is your passion”? There, in their faces, you got your pictures, you are an artist. It is actually a bit more complex that this. I think taking pictures helps you shape your identity. Now, I would like to find one bipolar pal who doesn’t need this.

Define your identity by trying out things

4 reasons Why you should avoid going to CAC 6 in France

Yes I know I am sick as a dog, but if you read me out, you will understandably know why I hate this institution.

1- You might be refused help: I went with my own packed bag to the CAC* of the 6th arrondissement in Paris (emergency psychiatric center). I was seeking help, and mostly protection. I was refused by a psychiatric nurse CATHERINE – she told me to rely on my inner resources (smiley face) while I have suicidal thoughts )gesture with third finger and black dark pitch black ideas.

2- Mistreatment, under-treatment or non-treatment could be a nuisance: Next day, it started. I had my headphones on most all of the time to avoid any contact with the staff. I think it was the smartest thing I did. Next day, unfortunately there was still again no place at the private clinic to which I would be transferred to, so confrontation was a little less possible.

3- Spare yourself from unnecessary anger: Small things, like you cannot get access to your phone at 8:55 but at 9:00. That I have no visitation rights except for one hour. Small things like forcing you to take an ambulance to the other clinic while they have absolutely no right to do so. Small things that I could go home and have a proper shower (wearing same socks for two nights). Small things, like going home to pack my bags and kiss my children goodbye.

4- Food sucks: Just kidding, but unfortunately true!

Admission to CAC meant that I used my mind – a ruse – I managed to get admitted by waiting for the next shift of nurses to arrive, angels like FABIEN, MARTINE and BENJAMIN. They let me in, gave me something to sleep. I felt sad to be away again, but nothing weird – just the fact that I was not able to leave my husband and be away from home.

For a full review click here

*CAC: They are part of the 5 psychiatric institutions in Paris. They provide a hotline and psychiatric consultations. They welcome, treat, or offer short time hospitalization, but do not take charge of hospitalization without consent….Ils font partie de l’offre de soins des 5 établissements psychiatriques de Paris. Ils assurent une permanence téléphonique et des consultations psychiatriques. Ils accueillent, soignent, orientent ou hospitalisent pour une durée brève, mais ne prennent pas en charge les hospitalisations sans consentement.

The story of my insanity

Today I decided to share with you how it all started. I do not know why I feel the need to tell you this very personal story. I got a tattoo recently saying “Busco Me”, which is a Spanish title to a song that I absolutely love.

The song is totally bipolar, though my tattoo does not make sense in Spanish grammatically speaking, I chose the name of the song: I am searching for myself. I have been trying to avoid this subject while doing nothing else but soul searching for the last ten if not twenty years.

I have to talk to you about psychology to get to my the essence if my bipolarity, my insanity, my story. I chose to be a psychologist after the death of my mother at the age of 16. It was the only logical thing to do. Well, probably there were other logical things to do at the time. But for me to it was a calling.

My mother had psychiatric problems, if not at least psychological ones. She was a heavy drinker – an alcoholic. I was always ashamed of talking about this. It was my secret, our secret. I discovered recently that it is not the case. I cannot be hiding behind a thick curtain hoping to see the light. This was the reason I left psychology behind 10 years ago. I decided that the past is useless, the future is unknown and the now is what only matters.

Yes, this is a good mantra, yes it is indeed. But do not forget that the past that you have lived, makes the now you live. I had tried long and hard to escape rom this catch 22. Why I kept asking myself, why do I give so much importance to my childhood since my mother died 21 years ago? Please I am 37. I have a husband, 2 kids, travelled and lived in over 7 countries. I speak 4 languages, I have more diplomas than I will ever use.

I can pack and unpack a house in 24 hours almost on my own. I know how to change diapers, while having a glass of wine, talking on the phone, and making sure the food am cooking does not get burned. I help my husband make difficult decisions. I am a source of happiness for many people around me. I always encourage, always ask people to believe in themselves and that they are born for a reason, which might not be clear now, but surely will be. I am your typical cuddly dog, faithful, yet strong, playful yet with clear boundaries.

You get my point. I am polyvalente. I can do many things, and do them well. My husband says I must be German, though my only relationship with it is a goof friend of mine born on the same day as me. Why am I looking for the past? Why is it haunting me?

I will not tell you all at once, it will be too long. I want to keep you interested. It might turn out to a book this soul searching experiment. It might also be thrown to trash, but it wont be Eat, Love and Pray or whatever it was called. Sorry, not my type. Who cares anyways? The pleasure is in the journey not the destination. Do we need to argue this too?

TBC

Helpful resources in France:

Enfants -Adultes D’alcooliques: Dedicated to the topic. But it also has a few good specific articles in french about how to deal with certain situations.

Al-Anon/ Alateen France: Since the 50’s in the USA and early 60’s in France, this association helps families and friends of alcoholics. Good tip they have sessions in English and Spanish for families of alcoholics.

Information elsewhere:

Adult Children of Alcoholics: An association that is in the US helping the same population through different resources.

Children of Alcoholics: Very interesting resource speaking about how this specific population is at risk of addiction and offers pathways for prevention and treatment. They even have rehabilitation centers! Of course, you guesses well. This is indeed in the United States.

Feel free to add resources that you personally found useful yourself in the comment section….

Leaving the clinic today

Well, I’m quite excited about today. You see, today I leave behind 41 long days of hospitalization. I have been waiting for this day for so long, it seems almost a dream come true.

Yet, I am afraid or rather apprehensive that today I leave the cocoon and safety of the hospital. I know I want nothing more than being with my family, with my husband, with my beautiful children, my ever so giving father and my loving mother in law.

My apprehension comes more from expectations outside. I need to get back to my role as a mother. My children miss me, but I miss them even more. I know that my husband is waiting for me patiently. I also know that my immediate family would like to have the house come back to normal, this was mainly my duty – I am a stay at home mother…

I also know that everyone understands my condition. They understand that now I am in a state of convalescence.

So since the last few entries that I posted on the blog, I like to leave you with some tips and tricks which I hope might be useful should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Here it goes…

Don’t get too comfortable in your hospital stay: I think from my experience you have to know that everything is temporary. Getting used to the safety of the clinic is not something that you should really get used to. What I mean is you always have to know that there is a real world waiting for you outside. This real world is where you will spend the rest of your days. Please know that no matter how long the hospitalization is you will eventually get around and you have to be ready. This is basically a primary psychological preparation.

Prepare your exit so that it easiest for everyone: Knowing that you’re not going to be at your full capacity once you are out makes expectations more real. You will need help. I am speaking as a mother of two beautiful children who require plenty of energy; energy that I do not have right now. Even if your budget is limited try to find help through family, maybe hiring a cleaner or a nanny, or maybe even relying on some good friends. Basic tasks could be haunting In the beginning, and I am certain that people around would be willing to land you a hand.

Continue seeing your therapists and psychiatrist: I cannot stress the importance of this. Professional support outside of the safety of the clinic is essential for your well-being. You will adjust your medication according to the development of your case. You also should make sure that your therapist is there for you, ensuring that you are on the road to healing.

Don’t pretend to be stronger than who you really are: We get carried away, thinking that we are better, thinking there could be no harm in taking more tasks than we should. Remember, one step at a time. Do not take more on your plate. You have a long way to heal even if it doesn’t look it to others.

If you are a parenttalk to your children love them though as a mom or dad you might not have your full energy yet: You would be amazed at what can children understand. Just by maybe saying that mom or dad are yes at home, they will help little by little and take care of you slowly but surely. Ask for their patience, more important and more efficient than melt downs. I cannot stress enough the importance of one day at a time.

Routine is your best friend: My doctors told me to try and keep a routine even though it could be difficult at the beginning. For example try to wake up early and have breakfast every day at the same time. Maybe we can go to the market, pick up the stuff that you would be eating the same day. I personally find that my muscles have weakened so much over the past months. Morning walks will keep you sane and will get you into an exercise routine slowly but surely.

You need to rest: Again my doctors told me that I need to rest everyday. Even talking too much can drain you. He recommended naps but not more than 45 minutes a day.

Be patient: Rome was not built in a day. Stay in tune with your body and don’t over do it. Little by little you will find your old self emerging; or better still your improved self coming to surprise you.

Take supplements: read about taking supplements because this is very important for your overall health. Read about the importance of vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals, they can benefit your wellbeing more than you can imagine.

Congratulate yourself: Yes, you made it! Give yourself a big pat on the back. Be grateful you made it. They wouldn’t have let you out if you were not ready. And remember, you did most of the work! Be proud for your achievements: )

TBC

Getting out of the closet

Getting out of the closet would make you think of sexual orientation. But many others have gotten out. Today, I will write about why I decided to link my blog to Instagram and Facebook.

I have been writing for a while now. I am documenting my journey fighting mental illness as a person, a woman, and as a mother. It has been rough mostly, but it taught me a lot. You might be surprised by some of the topics or posts that will be shared. The main purpose of this blog is to promote awareness of mental illness. I want to also tackle a broken system, where mentally ill people are seen as helpless beings with no choice of treatment or quality of life.

Although I am supposedly a clinical psychologist, please do not take this blog as as a place for “medical” advise. It is just a safe heaven for broken hearts. I hope that in our unity we will be able to free ourselves from the burden of depression, bipolarity, eating disorders, addiction, or else.

Thank you for respecting other points of views, and thank you for trying to understand what the other is saying. We shall not blame each other or use inappropriate words. We are builders – it is enough to fight our inner battle; we do not need a wall to fight on to.

Bless