Will I Pass on Bipolar Illness?

Please be advised that this post contains information that may trigger some persons’ reactions to nature versus nurture and bipolar illness or other psychiatric disorders.

” The available body of evidence suggests that environmental factors may either trigger or prevent the development of a psychiatric disorder. Moreover, there is some circumstantial evidence of an association between environmental factors and the clinical course of bipolar disorder.

Environmental factors, life events, and trauma in the course of …

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › articles › PMC7167807

The data about the nature versus nurture of bipolar illness is mixed. I have seen data that suggests a 10% likelihood of bipolar illness in offspring of people with bipolar condition. But I have also seen more promising statistics that show environmental factors are extremely important in the prevalence and/or the prevention of bipolar illness diagnosis for second generation folks.

My therapist is one of those people who believes more on the nurture side of things rather than the nature side of things.

I grew up in a household where my infant brother had died before I was born. My parents also divorced in large part because of this when I was about ten years old. I felt like the replacement child that could not prevent her parents’ break-up. It is also extremely likely that I had some sort of traumatic event in my childhood like sexual abuse from a neighbor. (There also was no clear history in my family of bipolar or mental illness.)

All in all, my therapist believes I have sheltered my child from any of these occurrences and the likelihood of her developing bipolar is very low. This is incredibly reassuring to me for all the obvious reasons.

I imagine there are folks out there who believe in the nature side of things. For me the nature theory is real in that it heightens the probability of the illness occurring but does not guarantee it.

Anyone care to comment on nature versus nurture and psychiatric diagnoses?

Brain Fog

I have been experiencing brain fog for the past few days. This includes memory issues, trouble holding a thought and trouble with concentration.

I have been googling about it and it sounds like brain fog can accompany bipolar which I have.

The brain fog started when I decided with my doctor to go down 25mg on my Clozapine – from 400mg to 375mg. I have since decided this can wait until stress surrounding my daughter’s finals and graduation dissipates.

Brain fog for me is very different from racing thoughts. Brain fog is difficulty finding a thought and hanging onto it, while racing thoughts are usually elevated and rapidly firing and usually occur with an elevated mood.

Have you ever experienced brain fog or racing thoughts? Do you find brain fog different from racing thoughts?

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US

May is Mental Health Awareness month at least in the US. What would you most like to see addressed with respect to mental illness in the next 5 years? Here’s my list:

  1. Find a way to describe people who are dangerous with an underlying mental condition as different from the bulk of people with mental illness who are generally not dangerous or are dangerous to ourselves. In other words, find a way to differentiate mass shooters from people in mental anguish who often suffer at their own expense rather than at others’. Find new and working vocabulary words to mark this distinction.
  2. Address mental illness stigma to where viable support may be readily given in the workplace, the place of worship, the neighborhood or within other community settings.
  3. Develop meds that don’t cause weight gain or other side effects like Type II Diabetes.
  4. Oh I am adding one – be sure first responders are trained to deal with mental illness particularly campus police as college is a time when many mental illnesses present. What’s your list?

OOOHHHH Final Exams!

My daughter is finishing up high school this month. You may have heard of the program — the International Baccalaureate or IB Diploma Program.

The program is insane – at least in my mind right now. It is testing kids on two sometimes three years of content. Most of these kids were out all of Sophomore and a good part of Junior Year due to COVID and still exams are marching on.

I find myself in a particularly strange spot. I should be providing undying support to my 18-year-old rather than getting her enmeshed in my anxiety. This is really hard for me as college years were the years I first experienced early signs of bipolar. So I worry about the same for her.

All in all, we have less than two weeks to go. So that is great! But it sure would be nice if the IB Diploma Program made some real concessions for studying and mastering content during a world-wide pandemic. I have reached out to the college counselor and he agrees it is an issue globally. So maybe they will give the kids a break?

Happy Mother’s Day to You!

This is a wish that you will have a wonderful Mother’s Day whether you are a mother or have a mother, either way.

Being a Mom is the the most difficult thing I have ever done and the most rewarding! I am soon to be an empty nester so will be experiencing all sorts of “letting go’s” from now until the fall and beyond.

If you are a Mom, I hope you can stop and give yourself credit for all the good you do in the world for your kids even when you’ve been dealt a rough hand and don’t always negotiate everything to a T. So self forgiveness is key.

And if you have a Mom, I hope you are in a position to express gratitude knowing that your Mom (like mine and like me) is far, far from perfect. Again, forgiveness is key.

Let’s just be grateful for motherhood in all its best possible selves. Without it, the world would be an even crazier place to be.

When is anxiety at its worst?

This is just a quick discussion of any patterns that may exist in my experience of anxiety.

For some strange reason, my anxiety is at its worst when I first wake up and before I have had several cups of coffee – half caffeine and half decaf. It is not a great way to greet the day with full-on anxiety yet that is more often my pattern.

Since developing a walking routine with our new puppy, this morning anxiety has become more of a todo list upon waking which is a welcome change.

It also helps to read the 23rd Psalm outloud upon waking but I do not always do this and haven’t in a while. Perhaps I need to restart this practice.

Usually after my morning coffee my anxiety is still there but tolerable with PRNs.

If you experience anxiety is it ever at the beginning of your day? What are the patterns you see in your anxiety if any?

After several days of CBD oil

Again, this is not a post proposing use of CBD for anxiety or any other mental health condition. It is just my personal experience with using a small amount of CBD oil daily for the last several days. Please don’t consider this a product endorsement or a cure for any sort for mental illness. Please don’t make a change in your medical regimen without consulting a doctor first. Also please be sure if you do take CBD oil you are aware of dosing information. Consult packaging or a health professional for dosing.

I have to say there is some progress with my anxiety after taking CBD oil for a little less than a week. The anxiety does not disappear but it is more easily placed from the front burner to the back burner. This is significant for me as anxiety generally presents itself at the foremost of my thoughts and does not typically minimize itself through self-talk. The anxiety usually may become more manageable with a daily walk or yoga but it generally is difficult to move to the back burner even still. With a walk, the anxiety generally becomes somewhat more responsive to self-talk.

Being able to push the anxiety pot (no pun intended) to the back burner is relatively new to me. This means I am more able to entertain thoughts that are on the front burner. Typically those front-burner thoughts are more observations associated with positive thinking. In front-burnered thoughts, I am more likely to see my blessings and count my blessings. I am more able to see all the things I am grateful for but that I may overlook from time to time. Front-burnered thoughts are more intentional thoughts or thoughts over which I may have some control. Back-burnered thoughts are more automatic and I am less likely to have control over these – such as the anxiety.

Just a thought, it might be nice to talk to some folks who do not suffer from anxiety and ask them about whether front-burnered and back-burnered thoughts work this way for them. I have often thought that having a mental illness such as bipolar means my conscious thoughts are closer to my subconscious thoughts – that’s what makes these thoughts so difficult to manage. For most people it seems that intense fears or intense anxieties exist more at the subconscious level than on the conscious one and are therefore more easy to “silence” or to “manage” if they are not present at the forefront of consciousness.

To repeat in my experience with the CBD oil, the anxiety does not go away but it can be put in greater perspective once the worries move from a front burner spot to a back burner spot.

I will update this blog in another week or so to see if the back-burnering of anxiety-ridden thoughts is able to hold. Thanks for listening. Please share any stories of managing anxiety on CBD oil you may have.

I have started up with CBD oil again

This is not a product endorsement for CBD oil – only a recount of my experience. Please take this into consideration. Thank you.

I have started up with a low dosage of CBD oil again. I am still underwhelmed at the level of dosage information there is on packaging and in general available to consumers but I am trying to take the edge off my anxiety which is presenting with the end of my daughter’s high school career and the beginning of her college years. I have talked this through with my therapist at our last session and with my psychiatrist a year or two ago.

Does anyone have personal stories of CBD oil helping with anxiety? Other stories regarding CBD?

Happy Easter Everyone!

Hello all. I hope you are having a great Easter Sunday or whatever holiday you observe (or don’t observe)! Today I am focusing on being grateful. Even though I have persistent anxiety from my bipolar illness I have lots and lots to be thankful for: my daughter’s health, my daughter’s achievements in school, my husband’s companionship, my Mom’s relatively good health, our new puppy, a psyche doctor and therapist who I trust and consider in my support circle , constant help and support from my sister, and the list goes on….

Can you find it in your heart to be thankful for something today? Even if it as simple as that cup of morning coffee? I hope so.

Have a super day!