Do YOU think bipolar disorder is a gift?

imgres

 

Sooooooo, my friends, I usually just post once a week, but I can’t help posting once more.

I’ve gotten into a relatively new habit of checking out the Word Press Freshly Pressed selections.

On Thursday I spotted this post in the line-up:

https://mybeautifulmachine.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/bipolar-as-unexpected-gift/

While I was genuinely glad that the topic of bipolar disorder attracted the attention of the WordPress editorial staff, I was also disappointed.

Why?

Because, because, because, because…(and I know some of you will disagree with me on this point, but I still love you!)

I can’t stomach calling bipolar disorder a gift.  My Dad had bipolar disorder, and he didn’t think it was a gift either!  

I guess when it comes to mental illness, my attitude of non-gratitude runs in the family!

(And I wonder why Oprah won’t return my phone calls about being interviewed on her

“Super Soul Sunday” show!!!)

images-1

 

I’ve read numerous bipolar-themed memoirs and articles over the past decade. I observed in those works that a sizable portion of the writers who felt their bipolar disorder to be a gift didn’t have children.  I couldn’t help but notice that the author of the Freshly Pressed blog piece doesn’t have children.  I feel that if asked, most children who have been adversely affected by their parent’s bipolar disorder would not consider the mental illness as a gift.  

Other people who consider their bipolar disorder to be a gift are profoundly helped by their belief.  Some of these “others” are my friends or acquaintances who I admire very much.  Please – I don’t mean to offend you.  We can agree to disagree on this matter.  I won’t write about it much more; as you can see, I’m getting it out of my system today.  To tell you the truth, I feel like a shit for not thinking the same way as you/them.

But back to the Freshly Pressed blog post!  I skimmed the “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” post’s comments so far, and I didn’t recognize a single soul from my beloved bipolar blogging community.  I was surprised about that!  I wanted to see what y’all thought.  I also noticed that not a single person to date has written to voice any disagreement with the premise that bipolar is a gift.  That gave me pause; I’ll write more about that later.

Take a look at the Freshly Pressed post.  

What do you think?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

XO,

Dyane

——————————————————————————————————————————

Wait!

Here’s a looong p.s. 

At first I felt so bummed out about the Freshly Pressed choice that I decided to write a letter to WordPress voicing my opinion.  I contacted the WordPress help forum to ask where I should send my email, and I wrote,   

To be honest, I was on the fence about even contacting WordPress, and I still am a bit hesitant. 🙂 However, I feel compelled to speak up in the hopes that I will be heard.”

The longtime WordPress volunteer, with whom I had positive, friendly correspondence in the past, surprised me with her caustic reply.  

She wrote, “Understood but do be prepared to note that some think mental illness is a gift and some think it is a curse.”

Really???   I’d never thunka that before! I thought. 

Just kidding!  

Her curt, patronizing reply made me think that maybe the WordPress folks, as much as I love WordPress, might not get where I was coming from. Meanwhile the uber-paranoid part of me feared they’d shut down my WordPress “dissenter” account!  I’d have to, gasp, go to the inferior Blogger!

I decided not to send it the “Happiness Engineer” after all.  I felt that my complaint sounded too much like sour grapes (well, I admit maybe I was just a bit envious, okay, okay!) and it ultimately my email wouldn’t make a difference.  Here are some excerpts from my email:  

“Dear G.,

I appreciate your finding the topic of bipolar disorder a worthy Freshly Pressed selection! As a blogger with bipolar disorder, I was excited to spot the word “bipolar” in Freshly Pressed. However, the complete title “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” made my heart sink.

Over the past few years there has been a media trend to sugarcoat bipolar disorder.  This was most recently displayed in the Huffington Post article “The Six Gifts of Mental Illness” and in numerous other articles.

I follow bipolar disorder in the media very closely.  I’m a longtime volunteer for the International Bipolar Foundation, a member of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, and my WordPress blog was nominated for a WEGO Health “Best in Show Blog”. I’m a mental health advocate with a focus upon mothers who have bipolar disorder. My father had bipolar disorder as well.

Recently I did an informal study of responses to two articles about bipolar disorder being considered a gift.  I noted that roughly 50% of those replies disagreed with that concept.

While I’m genuinely glad that the Freshly Pressed blogger has found bipolar to be a gift in his life, I feel his point of view places pressure on those WordPress bloggers who have mental illness and haven’t found it to be a gift. (And I’m one of them, obviously! : ) When I see Freshly Pressed titles equating bipolar as a gift, whether it’s expected or unexpected, I feel that it minimizes my condition.  Due to the total lack of any critical comments about his post so far, and the low statistics compared to other Freshly Pressed selections, I suspect that many people chose not to read his post after spotting the title. 

I love WordPress, and I was hesitant to contact you, but this is a topic that’s very close to my heart.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your reading this, and I hope you’ll understand where I’m coming from.   There is an incredible array of WordPress bloggers with bipolar disorder.  For future Freshly Pressed choices I encourage you to check out Blahpolar Diaries, Kitt O’Malley, Stigmama, Bipolar1Blog, The Lithium Chronicles, and The Bipolar Mama.  I’m leaving out other ones I love, but that’s a great start!  Thank you once again for your time.

take care and all my best,

Dyane”

 

 

 

Back to Reality & Exercising for Bipolar Disorder

Dearest Bloggers, 

I’m back and I’m ready to dive into your blogs one again.  In the meantime, I wrote the following post last Monday while we were still in snowy Tahoe, waaaaaay back in the year 2014  – I hope you like it!  Happy Belated New Year! love, Dyane

Wintry Musings

 Happy New Year, everyone! I’m still stuck in the old year as I write this in the “Munchkin House” on a sunny, cold Monday morning.

 This is the view outside my window:DSCN0174It’s the Alpine Valley, California mountainside – Squaw Valley is just over the ridge…I’ve gazed at this view in the spring, summer and fall, and I love having seen it in all four seasons:

 

Last month while speaking with one of my favorite bloggers, my friend Kitt O’Malley. (www.kittomalley.com) I whined about how I wished there was a live support group in my area for those with mood disorders. I was in a unusually dejected state. I had just found out that one of my closest friends “Karen” was moving several hundred miles away from our town. While I knew we’d stay in touch, I still felt a void over her leaving.

Kitt reminded me that I do have a support group in front of my very eyes: the blogosphere! I didn’t need to pressure myself to create another support group. As some of you know, I’ve formed several mood disorder support groups over the years. Nothing “took” long-term as I relapsed with bipolar depression every time and the groups fizzled out. I realized Kitt was totally right in recognizing our virtual community of support, and that was more than enough for me for now. I’m incredibly grateful for her friendship and for your support.

I’ve written before about the affinity I feel with many of you, i.e. the diverse, amazing bloggers I follow regularly! I only know some of you by aliases, but ironically I feel closer to you than I do to a few of my relatives!

I’ve focused on subscribing to blogs written by those living with bipolar disorder. I also read a few about anxiety, and derealization/depersonalization. According to some well-meaning friends, my selecting mostly bipolar-related blogs implies that I’m “obsessive” about bipolar and that “I identify too much with the illness”. I disagree. I read some blogs that focus on recovery with bipolar as the primary theme, but every blog I follow helps me in one way or another.  The bottom line is that I’ve found my tribe, and I don’t associate an unhealthy obsession with this virtual network.

Speaking of networks…

It has been almost a whopping two weeks that I’ve been off Facebook, Twitter and the WordPress Reader.  While my Facebook and Twitter networks are filled with great people, I find them to be different experiences compared to following your blogs.  Blogs allow me glimpses into your souls.  It’s a more satisfying experience to read a post compared to a status update or tweet. Moreover, many of my Facebook and Twitter contacts don’t have bipolar disorder, and they can’t understand my challenges in living with it. That might explain while I was able to easily detach from Facebook and Twitter during this trip. I was very, VERY surprised to find that I didn’t miss Facebook and Twitter for the most part, because I’ve been heavily addicted to these forms of social media. Conversely, I have missed my daily hour of reading blogs on my WordPress Reader!  (You know that already!)  Sure, I have books to read and I love books, but I like to have my cake and eat it too. I want books and blogs!  😉

Where am I going with all this? I don’t know – I’m just blogsick, I guess!

Meanwhile, I’ve gone on daily thirty-minute walks in the Tahoe snow; today it was 16 degrees. (!!!!) I could have stayed indoors in front of a cozy fire, but I pushed myself to get outside because the psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan’s asserts that those thirty minutes of vigorous exercise a day will keep bipolar depression at bay.  

I’ve re-posted Dr. Alsuwaidan’s suggestions and link for those of you who didn’t see it in my last post.

It is beautiful to walk in the snow, but I prefer my elliptical and blasting the Pandora channel during my workout.

So by the time you read this message, we’ll be headed back home to my glorious internet connection. I look forward to catching up with your lives via the blogosphere, and as we start 2015 together I hope with all my heart that this is the bet year yet for each of us!!!

Love,

Dyane

———————————————————————————————–

DYANE’S EXERCISE FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER RESOURCES

A powerful tool that’s helping prevent the onset of my bipolar depression is following the guidelines of my exercise hero, the psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan

For specific details about what to do and why to do it, please read Dr. Alsuwaidan’s brief blog article at – it will take you less than five minutes:

http://kuwaitmood.com/exercise-mood-part-iii-from-science-to-action/

I don’t want to sound like a cult member, but this brilliant psychiatrist’s advice, which he follows himself, can change your life for the better!   

I can’t help but lovingly encourage you to start doing 30 minutes a day of exercise, especially if you have bipolar disorder, per Dr. Alsuwaidan’s guidelines, i.e. vigorous, enough to make you break a sweat and not be able to carry on conversations with others. Is this easy?  No.  

Annoyed walk

Annoyed during my walk – I had just fallen on ice…

Is it worth the trouble? YES!!!!

If your depression is so bad that the very idea of exercise makes you want to hurl, please put this info. in the back of your head for when you start feeling a little better.   If you can try 5 “Alsuwaidan-style” minutes (again, please read Dr. Alsuwaidan’s blog post first about what to do/how to work out) and build up from five minutes to thirty minutes, I’ll send you a little surprise!

I beseech you to visit this link below to listen to Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan’s International Society for Bipolar Disorders-sponsored webinar. This is what profoundly affected me in terms of why I should exercise for bipolar.  It’s about eating chocolate to lose weight and gain muscle – just kidding!  I can’t stand listening to webinars, but this one is worth it! The second half is especially convincing as to why you should aim to work out for your mood – listen for his section about exercise as a “panacea” for bipolar disorder.   It’s fascinating, and convincing as hell!

“Exercise for the Neurological Treatment of Mood Disorders” webinar

http://www.isbd.org/education/webinar-series

Lastly, if you haven’t had a chance to read my December International Bipolar Foundation blog post about my different take on exercise and my professional fitness background you can find it here:

 http://www.ibpf.org/blog/different-take-exercise-and-why-i-want-you-join-me

A Temporary Farewell Video & Chocolate Nutrition Guidance

Photo on 2014-11-29 at 17.59 #2

Me on “Kitt Jr.”, my NordicTrack Elliptical – this is where I read your blog posts and

yeah, I need a lot of light to do that as I’m getting older…

Hello my wonderful friends!

I hope your week went well despite everyone being so stressed out with the holidays rapidly approaching.  

I’m preparing myself for sudden internet withdrawal “syndrome”. 😉  Beginning tomorrow I’m taking myself offline and it’s going to be hard.  While our three chickens will be lovingly cared for by friends at our home, we’re going to explore the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe…the very slopes where the extraordinary Shane McConkey used to ski. (To learn about my getting inspired by Shane’s incredible life in the documentary “McConkey” check out: https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/and-now-for-something-completely-different-mcconkey/ )

Shane’s wife Sherry teaches a Squaw Valley yoga class that’s supposed to be very special, so I may try it, even though I’m not a yoga aficionado.  Given that she created a remarkable foundation in Shane’s memory helping many worthy organizations, it would be an honor to meet her, let alone be taught yoga by her.

Today was a super-gloomy and rainy.  On a whim I made a silly video to share with my Facebook network.  I thought some of you might enjoy it as well.  It’s me being wacky; this is who I am when I’m not depressed or suicidal, and I’m glad to be able to write that.  I never forget for even a second how grateful I am to be in a better place, and I want the same for of you.  

To that end, my next post is going to be an in-depth discussion of exercise specifically for bipolar disorder because I’m still amazed that I came out of a recent, brief depression so quickly.  (I’ll try to make it interesting – I promise.) I credit my meds for helping me get out of that awful state, but my intuition tells me it’s also because of the exercise I’ve been doing.  Speaking of exercise, yesterday the International Bipolar Foundation posted my monthly blog which is about exercise & mood:

http://www.ibpf.org/blog/different-take-exercise-and-why-i-want-you-join-me

but ironically, I found out some groundbreaking, convincing information on Tuesday specifically about exercise and bipolar that I’m excited to share with you very soon.  As I already had turned in my post to IBPF, I asked them to amend it, but they haven’t done it yet.  So please stay tuned for my post about that.

In the meantime, I wish you a weekend in which you take time to treat yourself well.  

Much love to you!

Dyane

My wackadoodle video link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOco8pDj_P0&feature=youtu.be