ABC-TV launched a new program a few weeks ago called, “Black Box.” The series stars Kelly Reilly as Dr. Catherine Black, a neuroscientist who has Bipolar Disorder. It was how I found out about the show though that is burned into my memory. I was celebrating my 13th anniversary with my hubby at some hot springs. After some small talk, this girl started up about the show. A stranger in a pool started telling me my own life story, my deepest, darkest secrets as if it were the punch line to a joke, with a coy smirk on her face and a condescending tone in her voice. I felt paralyzed. She talked about mania and hypersexuality and how the fiancee didn’t really know her. It was like she had flipped through my autobiography which I will never write and had turned precisely to a horrible chapter in my life. This stranger could not have known that I had just reluctantly released my book: Med Free Bipolar, just two weeks prior, and was still not comfortable even telling the title to anyone. She could not have known that as she prattled on about this show, I felt like I had been stripped naked and could hardly hold back the tears that were choking me. I don’t know whether this show is a good thing or bad thing, a thing that will help people empathize or judge even more. I don’t know if it will help reduce stigma or make the problem worse, but I am curious as to what other people who suffer with bipolar think of the show. For me, it caused me tremendous grief at a time I should have experienced nothing but joy. I am med free bipolar, whole and healed. I finally watched the first two episodes tonight, and even though I am not sure what I think about the show, I do feel sorry for Dr. Black, that her only apparent options are a life of meds or a destroyed life unmedicated. There is another option, a natural remedy option, one that has allowed me to live med free and symptom free for eleven years. Perhaps they should make a show about someone who was “cured” from bipolar suffering, like the tens of thousands JUST LIKE me. It saddens me that they repeatedly said there is no cure…just not one that the masses can know about because the big pharm can’t profit from it. When I left the pool area, I cried in the shower and tried to explain to my husband why I had been hurt so by her simply retelling the plot of a TV show. It seems sometimes that no one can truly understand the pain that is this condition: not a character on a TV show, or an actor in a movie like Silver Linings Playbook, not ABC, not the viewers, not the reviewers, not the neurologists, psychiatrists, and especially not even myself.
Med Free Safety Net Plan:
Even a Med Free Bipolar should have a plan in place in case an episode were to rear its ugly head, although unlikely in my book. This is a treatment outline that you can go over with your support person, counselor, primary physician, or whomever you would like to be included if you were to ever have a serious episode or need of hospitalization. Just having this in place helps me feel like I know what we would do if I were to ever get sick again, however unlikely, and may make your family or physician more comfortable about you treating your bipolar naturally.
Some examples of things your plan might include:
What I do to treat my bipolar that works for me:
- Drink plenty of water and get adequate salt intake
- Take four (eight if having bipolar symptoms) capsules of EMPower™ Q96 every day
- Take my probiotics
- Take my fish oil/cod liver oil
- Take my Vitamin D spray
- Eat healthily and regularly
- Get regular sleep
Things that can upset my treatment or affect my moods:
- Monthly hormones
- Digestive issues
- Excessive stress
- Extreme schedule changes
- Inability to sleep, over excitement/racing thoughts
What does it looks like when you are well? When I am well I can…
- Attend work regularly
- Keep up with house/yard work
- Socialize and network
- Be optimistic and excited about the future
How does the illness present for you? When I am manic I…
- Have difficulty concentrating/can’t stick to one thing
- Have racing or sped-up thoughts
- Feel impatient, agitated, irritable, argumentative
- Want to buy things, spend money
When I am depressed I…
- Don’t want to get out of bed, or work, or see people
- Have thoughts that my family would be better off without me
- Have feelings of guilt without cause or an impending sense of doom
- Feel incredibly sad about everything or anything
- Am paranoid, anxious and negative
My early warning signs are…
When I need help I will…
If you see me having symptoms you can help me by…
It is time to see a doctor when…
I will accept medications for temporary intervention when…
It is time to take me to the hospital when…
The number for my doctor(s) is (are):
Medications that have not worked for me before are…
Medications that did work for me before are…
Natural remedies have gotten me well and kept me stable. Please allow me to continue them
A personal statement: “I would like to have the option to have my micronutrients and other supplements with me in the hospital. Taking them every day, especially while in the hospital, is my best chance at getting well alongside the medication. It is what has worked for me in the past. I will comply with medication to get well again. I understand that medications may be necessary to bring me through this crisis, and I will adhere to the treatment protocols for as long as it is deemed necessary.”
After making this safety net outline, my husband and I felt like what we were doing for our family with my treatment was the best option on so many levels, but it gave us a sense of empowerment to know that we were not helpless to this disease. We also had options, choices that we used to know nothing about. I hope that it is helpful to you, your loved one, or patient.
So, some people would be abysmally disappointed if their soft book launch only had 1400 downloads, but I am extremely humbled. I expected 1,000% less! I launched the ARC (advanced reader copy) only thinking a few dozen people might see it, and instead it was downloaded internationally. So anyway, I still have a lot of work to do. A few stats that have been in my head aren’t cited properly yet (although 75 are), and there are numerous typos that are driving the editor in me crazy. With the age of digital publishing, you can launch a 90% completed rough draft and then respond to feedback instantly. It is an amazing era in publishing. If you have not read the book but want to, the ARC copy is a great way to be a part of the publishing process. If you want to be in the book, send me a story. If you want to be part of the editing, send me all the mistakes I have made. If you are a contributor, send me tips and ideas that have worked for you, they might make it in the book! If you want to just start on your healing journey, then do that. Love you even though I have not met you, pray for you and your hurting, and I pray for you the health I now enjoy. I am not where I want to be yet, and I will never stop learning and growing! Here is the link to get the book, and if you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry. You can go to amazon.com and get the free app on any device or computer. http://amzn.to/QhjijH Med Free Bipolar: Thrive Naturally using the Med Free Method(TM) by Aspen L. Morrow by Pottenger Press is now available on Kindle ONLY. Print book and formatted e-book available May 28th, 2014.
The out patient forced treatment bill passed…people can now be forcibly drugged in their own homes in every state in the country.
NY Times, 5 hours ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/health/mental-health-groups-split-on-bill-to-revamp-care.html?hpw&rref=health&_r=0
As if it is not bad enough that psychiatric patients have in the past been chained to walls, lobotomized, shocked, and now forced to ride in handcuffs and police escorts to the hospital, people can now be forcibly drugged in their own homes in every state in the country. The treatment of mental health patients has got to evolve. I usually do not get too involved in politics, rants, agendas or other tirades, but this infuriates me.
Canada denied my friend Autumn Stringam access to their micronutrient treatments because they were NOT approved bipolar medication, even though they effectively worked for thousands of patients. Autumn had to go all the way to Parliament to fight for her right to self-treat bipolar naturally. That could now happen in America as well.
I have been medication free with bipolar disorder type one, ADD, and anxiety for over ten years. I would NOT go back. It may be extreme to say that I would rather die than go back on psych meds, but that is how I feel at this moment. If I were to get sick enough to be hospitalized ever again, I would comply with the medications just long enough to get out of the crisis. After the emergency was over, I would work hard to return to my full mental health using the Med Free Method that I developed for myself and others over the years. However, if, when I got out, I were forced to take medications under court order, I do not think I would be able to stand it in comparison to the taste of normal living and health I have enjoyed for so many years. It would be a death sentence. It would kill my hopes, dreams, and kidneys. I want my civil rights protected. I want the choice to thrive naturally with bipolar, not have that choice taken from me in lieu of medicated stupor.
What tragedy befalls us. This is dangerous legislation.
A collection on Forced Treatment (which the UN appropriately calls torture): Coercion, subtle or otherwise, is the rule in psychiatric care…
People ask what the secret to med free success is: these few things can undo a litany of damage from many disorders. It is just part of my investigative research for 11 years to heal myself and my child: No meds, no doctors, just Thriving, Naturally. People say supplements are “meds” and cheating, but our planet is depleted of minerals and our food is too altered and nutritionally sparse from farming practices and the time it takes to reach us to be viable. We just can’t and don’t eat well enough to restore our depleted brains. A hungry brain acts out. Feed it enough and it actually quits acting crazy. These simple (exact, NO substitutions!) steps below can help upwards of 80% of all those diagnosed with Bipolar. Update on the Med Free Bipolar Book: Book is in editing and final design. Expected release: March or April 2014.
1. Q96 Brain supplement (more research than ANY med on the market: 25 independent tests to date, placebos also, and 16yrs of safety) medfree.q96sample.com (one week) or http://www.medfreechild.com (for one month supply).
2. High Quality probiotic (25-50 billion CFU or soil-based like Prescript assist or Primal Defense for Kids by Garden of Life, or QBiotics (www.medfreechild.com)).
3. Cod liver oil or Omegas (for Vit D and Omega) by Green Pastures (flavor of chocolate creme is HORRIBLE, so capsules are better if child can swallow them).
4. IF brave enough to commit to whole diet, this woman HEALED her son’s autism, and is the most brilliant expert in the world, but when you combine this with the above three things, over 80% can go on to live completely normal lives with NO docs, no Meds, and no disorder. http://www.gaps.me (Diet, book, and she has lectures online: Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride)
5. Inositol for anxiety, SPD, surround sound sensory. I have used it to stop panic attacks in 3 min.
6. If child has night terrors, bed wetting, etc, see above plus Vit B6 until pleasant dream recall is achieved.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder differs from Bipolar in that it is the newest diagnosis to come out in the DSM-IV used by doctors for diagnostic criteria. It may contain some of the following symptoms or may just look like someone who is lacking the ability to control emotions. It is going to be one of most-used diagnoses we see up and coming in children. But there is way more to it than just a spoiled child throwing temper tantrums, as it is important to understand that it is a neurobiological brain disorder (NBD)
Bipolar in a Box*: The diagnostic Criteria
*Please keep in mind that just because you know yourself, perhaps diagnosed with Bipolar I or II, or have a loved one or patient with bipolar, none of us can be put into a box or a stereo-type. You cannot assume that just because one person acts a certain way, that all people with bipolar act that way. Here are some generalities, but they may or may not apply to you or your loved one.
Please read them only to gain a better understanding of the disorder, without judgment, and try to read it in light of the fact that this is a medical condition, not a moral or character flaw. The brain literally does have a mind of it’s own, and judging someone for reaching out for help in any way they can get it is like denying a diabetic insulin.
FORMAT IN A CHART: Symptoms differ from person to person but may include some or many of the following:
Bipolar Disorder I & II
• Periods of major depression interspersed with episodes of mania
• Bipolar I is a more severe form, with full manic episodes that may include hallucinations and delusions
• Bipolar II patients have more symptoms of depression and identification of mania may be delayed (often-times diagnosed with depression first)
• Onset is frequently in young adulthood
• Moods not usually related to external events
• Extremely silly, optimistic, euphoric, or irritable moods
• Volatile anger, aggression, agitation
• Inflated self-esteem, confidence, grandeur
• Decreased need or ability to sleep
• Bizarre, racing thoughts or ideas
• Rapid or excessive speech
• Lack of focus, easily distracted, or hyper focused
• Impulsive, risky behavior
• Excessive spending
• Promiscuity, hyper sexuality
• Substance Abuse
• Highly impaired ability to function
1. Flight of ideas, jumping from topic to topic
2. Filled with energy
3. Flooded with ideas
4. Driven, restless, and unable to keep still
5. Channels energy into wildly grand ambitions
6. Often works on little sleep
7. Feels brilliant, special, chosen, perhaps even destined to change the world
8. Can be euphoric
9. Easily irritated by minor obstacles
10. A risk taker
11. Overspends in both business and personal life
12. Acts out sexually- elevated sex drive
13. Sometimes acts impulsively with poor judgment and painful consequences
14. Fast talking, witty and gregarious
15. Confidence can make him/her charismatic and persuasive
16. Prone to make enemies and feels persecuted by those who don’t see vision and mission
Source: John Hopkins Symptoms & Remedies (New York: Medletter Association, 1999), 344; Current Medical Diagnoses & Treatment (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004), 1029; John D. Gartner, The Hypomanic Edge- The Link Between (a little) Craziness and (a lot of) Success in America (Simon & Schuster, 2011)
Do you feel like you completely understand Bipolar now? Unless you have been in the shoes of every bipolar individual, you can’t fully understand. It can be confusing, but imagine trying to live with it. When the brain cannot think and process properly, actions and behaviors are difficult if not impossible to control. This makes it difficult to differentiate between chosen behavior and the “disorder’s behavior”.
I am not saying that all actions and wrong choices that people with bipolar make should be blamed on the disorder, but most things would not have happened had the brain been properly nourished and balanced. An imbalanced, under-nourished brain will act out.
Mania can look like:
5. Picking pointless fights
6. Hypersensitivity (“Surround Sound” effect to stimuli like chip chewing, noises, crowds)
8. Lying/Story telling
9. Compulsive uncontrollable shoplifting/ Shopping sprees
11. Lack-of common sense/ Logical decision making
12. Won’t quit talking, pressured speech
13. Impetuous behavior
14. Doing things out a character (like a prudent person having one-night stands or partying)
15. Sudden changes in normal activities and behaviors
16. Brilliant creativity
Mania can feel like:
1. You can do anything, accomplish anything
2. Your heart is going to explode
3. Mind is racing ahead of you, won’t shut up or turn off
4. Many thoughts and ideas at once
5. A Ferris wheel that won’t stop
6. Like everyone else is in slow motion
7. Sounds and sensations are in your cells
8. Colors are more brilliant and beautiful
9. Ideas are brilliant and original
10. Anything is possible
11. You see red and can’t control what you do
13. Everything everyone does is stupid and annoying
14. No one understands you/ no one gets it
15. Every decision you make is right
16. Every decision you make is wrong
17. Choice, reason, and logic is completely taken away from you
18. You would run every friend or relationship off without meaning to
19. Just being in the moment without regard to consequences
I hope this helps give a better understanding. The best way I can describe how horrible of a disorder this is is like this:
Imagine if someone hijacked your body, took it for a joy-ride, and then returned it battered, bruised, beaten, and depressed. It is like being a run-away who was forced heroine and then became an addict without voluntarily taking the first hit. If you or a loved one have a brain disorder, it can be devastating for everyone involved. Understanding, forgiveness, and love are the best medicines available for this condition.