• WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CHECKED IF YOU NEED TO STAY ON YOUR MEDICATION?

    I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2004 and I have had three manic episodes that have had me hospitalised. After the last time, in 2009, I was put on an anti-psychotic and I’ve remained on a dosage of 15mg for the past five years. When taking the drugs I noticed an increase in weight, a lack of emotional engagement and a decrease in my sex drive; and once I was on the drugs no doctor ever mentioned changing my medication, reducing the dose or coming off the pills all together.

    I decided this year that I would think about that – and maybe come off my anti-psychotics. So, I spoke to my doctor who agreed that over a course of six weeks I could reduce my medication by a certain amount every two weeks. My care-coordinator kept a very close eye on me, to make sure I didn’t begin to get high (because it’s the anti-psychotic that keep you down). I am pleased to say no signs of mania have occurred.

    Today is my first day without medication, other than Lithium. I feel elated in a positive, calm and controlled way. My feelings or emotions for want of a better word are now working properly. I can cry when I want to, laugh and engage with people once again. .....I feel I have lived in a blur for five years and now I have been set free. It is a wonderful feeling!

    It is important to remember that anti-psychotics have a place when treating mental illness, though how long you have to stay on the medication depends on the individual. It’s imperative that you speak to your doctor. Don’t feel that you have no options, especially if you’ve been on the same prescriptions for years. Have a frank discussion about how you feel about your meds and how you can work with your medication, rather than feeling that it controls you. Finally, don’t make decisions on your own; speak to friends, family, care co-ordinators and medics. Never come off medication unless you’re advised to do so.

    But think about this: Is it time for a change? If the answer is yes, then maybe you should make an appointment or begin a dialogue that can make it happen.

    Good luck.

    Lynn

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  • THE 100 DAY CHALLENGE – BIPOLAR FAT OR THIN?

    Bipolar can make you fat and unhappy and often it’s the medication that plays a big part in weight gain. I’ve put on nearly a stone a year since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’m now 16-stone; that’s hard for someone who used to be a size 10. So, this year I knew I had to do something about it.

    I spent the whole of January in depression, so when I started to see the light in February I decided to set myself a challenge. I wanted it to be something that would make a difference to the quality of my life. It had to be my weight.

    I’ve chosen the Lighter Life programme, which is based on 3 meals a day of sachets with all your nutrients in, and a milkshake plus two litres of water. You are restricted to just 600 calories a day! It’s intense.

    Before you start the programme you need to get permission from your doctor if you take anti psychotics, or drugs like lithium. This does NOT need to be a hurdle, just another challenge. I’ve signed up for 100 days and should lose three stone in three months...at least that’s the goal!

    Even though I’ve barely started, it’s already boosted my confidence. I feel in control of my weight AND my bipolar. Why should my illness make me fat? Well no more I say; enough is enough.

    If you’re overweight due to medication, why not try and find a solution for you? It’ll give you an enormous thrill just to be taking control. Having bipolar doesn’t mean you have to be fat, take the plunge today and join me with your own 100 day challenge. Find a diet that works for you and let’s get slim together.

    Good luck

    Lynn.

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  • Beating the Bipolar January Blues

    It’s true to say that you expect the highs and lows when you suffer from bipolar, but the January blues for a bipolar sufferer is such an understatement. For some it's weeks of struggling through the dark days and the turmoil of increasingly dark thoughts.

    Christmas and New Year is full of the expectation of meeting people, going out and celebrating and socialising on a big scale. This is not true for everyone of course, though for many including me it is.

    I now find myself in January and unlike many people I have started the year with no resolutions - no goals and for bipolar sufferers it's vital to set goals.

    I feel flat...I know I should have goals because they give me something to work towards and I always feel better with a structure in place. It would definitely make me feel better about myself and It does not help to hear other people speak about what they are going to achieve during the year.

    I find getting out of bed and having a shower - these are two big goals that I struggle with during January. I know I am in depression though thankfully able to work.

    The weather doesn’t help my state of mind, endless days of rain and wind. I long to see blue skies and the sun shining.

    I know the only way I am going to get out of this state is to get some structure back into my life. I am so much happier when I am working. I have decided to see my sister twice a week and go for walks to help stimulate my mind, continue working for KCC giving speeches and workshops on bipolar. I am also going to attend workshops for physical fitness.

    My mantra for this year will be ‘JUST DO IT’. One of the downsides of bipolar is spending time analysing everything you do in case it flares up the illness. I have decided to ‘live’ for today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

    Writing this blog has helped me realise that I have started to put goals in place and with the right structures I will survive January!!!!

    I hope you have the strength to get through too.

    Good luck

    Lynn

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  • New Year – New Approach to Bipolar

    It’s that time of the year when we all make resolutions....and generally break them a couple of weeks later! But why not make this year different? Take a fresh look at yourself and your Bipolar.

    I was diagnosed a decade ago, and it took me a long time to come to terms with my condition. I was in denial, I skipped my meds, my moods were unpredictable and I lurched from mania to depression.

    Now things are very different and I’ve been well for more than two years. Why? I made friends with bipolar. I have learnt to embrace it as a positive part of me. It gives me energy, vitality, drive, enthusiasm and creativity. But I also respect bipolar. I’ve taken time to research it, and think about the impact the condition has on my family.

    Here are some practical changes you can make to your New Year with bipolar:

    1. Get your medication right. If you’re not happy with your medication, arrange to see your doctor to discuss how you feel. Make some notes beforehand and perhaps take a family member with you for help and support

    2. Take your meds. It’s important to give you stability and keep you well. Believe me, you’ll feel so much better for it. Resist the temptation to skip them, even for a day.

    3. Discuss your key indicators with your family. This could be a tough one to go through with, but it’s sensible and will make a huge difference to you and your family in the long run.

    4. Write an advance care plan. This is a document that you give to your friends, family and social worker, so that if you find you are unwell and suddenly unable to communicate your wishes, you already have them written down. It’s vital to make a fast recovery if you do become unwell. ...I know because I’ve been hospitalised with and without an advance care plan. Read more about that in my book. Click here.

    5. Be honest with yourself. Living with bipolar is a tough journey but it’s so much easier if you don’t try to walk it on your own.

    Good luck

    Lynn

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  • LEARNING FROM OTHERS: MEETING ANOTHER BIPOLAR SUFFERER

    Today I was able to reach out to a newly diagnosed bipolar sufferer and say ‘you’re going to be ok.’ I meant it too.

    I was diagnosed 10-years-ago when I was 42 and it was a bombshell. I was in denial for a long time, but now I am able to embrace my condition and see the positives in my life.

    The person I met had just been diagnosed at the age of 53, and is in the depths of a low, coming down from mania. And although we were strangers, we were able to share stories of how the condition had affected our lives. We found, though our stories were different, there were many similarities. Both of us have had our confidence shattered and our self-esteem obliterated. And we’ve both piled on the pounds due to medication.

    We chatted for a long time, finding solace in each other’s company. We found that one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the loss of your identity, due to a manic episode or a depression. Often people want to redefine you as a person, once they find out you have Bipolar.

    It was interesting; I could give confidence to this person who I’d never met before, because I have suffered with bipolar for so long. Because she was newly diagnosed, she was in the early stages of coming to terms with the diagnosis. I explained that I had felt the same in the past, but over time I had learnt to make bipolar my friend and not my enemy.

    I was pleased that I could pass on the benefit of my experience. And it reminded me of the importance of finding like-minded people. They will help you redress the balance of your life; you will feel that you are not alone, and also learn new ways of dealing with the illness, which can help with confidence. In time, you can learn to live a fulfilling life once again.

    See how many like- minded people you meet on your journey.

    Good luck

    Lynn

    Lynnhodges6

    www.livingwithbipolrdisorder.co.uk

    lynn@upfrontltd.co.uk

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LIVING WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER

Strategies for Balance and Resilience

BY LYNN HODGES

| BIPOLAR DISORDER | LYNN HODGES | LIVING WITH BIPOLAR | LYNN HODGES | LYNN HODGES

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