Changing Bipolar Disorder: Through Forgiveness

by Carley Cooper  Link to this pic on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the fourth article in, what’s turned out to be, a series on Changing Bipolar Disorder. If you haven’t read the first three they are:

Journaling has given me the tools I need to gather important information. Healthy food and exercise have helped improve the physical part of me. Positive Thinking helped to make my mind healthy. However, being whole and healthy involves 3 aspects; body, mind, and soul. If any one of those is unhealthy, the whole package is flawed.

So What about the Soul?

Personally, I’m a strong Christian; but whatever your spiritual beliefs or practices, it directly affects your soul. Belief in a higher power helps us to realize that we are part of something larger. There is a place and a purpose for each one of us. No one is an accident; and we are each very loved by God. This kind of peace of mind can help mental health issues as much as medication, therapy, food, or exercise. Everyone longs to feel these things. It’s a basic human need.

Forgiveness is the Key

Forgiveness. Do you know the definition? I’m willing to bet that you believe you do. I know that because I believed it myself. The one biggest things that has helped my state of mind the most is letting go of all the burdens that I was carrying. To let go, means to forgive; others, God, and myself. It wasn’t until I learned how to forgive that I realized I didn’t truly know the definition to start with. The dictionary defines it as 1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve. 2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).

An Exercise in Letting Go

I figured out what forgiveness is all about during a counselling session. I was asked to write letters to each person (including myself) that I needed to forgive telling them that I forgive them and why. I didn’t send them. I didn’t need to in order to forgive. You see the most important point about forgiveness is that it’s a gift to yourself. It’s not something you do for the other person. Forgiving does not mean that you’re telling them what they did was OK. Nor does it mean that you suddenly have to go back to being best buds. What it means is that you are letting go, in your heart; the pain, anger, and frustration that the other person has caused you.

When I wrote the letters my counsellor had me rip them up stating out loud that “I forgive ____ for ____” as I ripped. Then I tossed them into the trash. At first I wasn’t sure that ripping up paper was really going to alter my whole life; but it did. The symbolism of throwing out the problem and the hurtful person released the pain from my heart. As such the confusion and other ugly pictures were let go from my mind. I no longer carried the pain or bad memories. Granted I didn’t actually forget, but the memories are no longer painful or haunt me. In some cases I had to continue to forgive over and over for a while, but eventually all was gone. I even forgave my abusers. I can think about those people now and what happened and I no longer feel anger, hurt or frustration. The bad dreams have stopped. I feel lighter and at peace.

The final steps are faith in God, and to talk to Him (or your higher power) on a daily basis. God loves you. He wants you to be at peace with Him, others, and yourself. He wants us to be happy. What greater treatment do we need to help BPD than to be at peace?

Please leave your comments in the space provided below. 
I would very much appreciate your feedback.  Thank you. 

Check out these other great options and join in the conversations...

Breaking the Window on Facebook

Carley Cooper on Twitter

First Breakdown

by Guest Author, Becca MooreLink to this pic on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I don’t remember all the details of that night or what inspired the events that were about to take place. I imagine my father and mother had gotten into some kind of tug of war match over me and it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. I can remember I had locked myself in my room. I wanted to be alone, but I was so full of rage over everything that was going on I couldn’t contain it any longer. I had my door locked, but my mom wasn’t going away so I blocked my bedroom door with the dressers I had in my room so I was sure she couldn’t get in. Where I had that strength come from I’ll never know. I was 13 years old and maybe 85 pounds.

I remember the screaming, I was screaming so loud, no coherent words, just screams of absolute rage. I thought about busting everything in my room and began throwing things. When things wouldn’t break, I began hitting the walls. I just kept hitting this one spot over and over and over again until finally my hand went through it.

As fast as it all started, it stopped and I flopped on my bed in exhaustion. Somehow my bed was away from the wall and right in the middle of the floor. Another thing I don’t remember doing in my fit of rage. I could hear my mom on the phone with someone and I thought maybe it was the cops, but she had called a family member for help to try to break into my room.

In hindsight, looking back on how I acted and how I would act in the future when stress got to be too much, that call should have been for an ambulance. My mom had known from the time I was about 6 or 7 years old I had a terrible time sleeping. I would go days without sleep and I was always hearing and seeing things that no one else saw. I was always filled with paranoia and anxiety. Although my mom may not have known what bipolar was, she absolutely had to know something was not right with me and she should have sought the kind of help for me that I am now seeking for two of my own children. I believe had she sought that help for me, living a life as a bipolar adult wouldn’t be so hard sometimes.

But my mom didn’t believe in mental illness, much like the rest of my family and for those that do believe, they believe it should be hidden. I can say this because not only when I was breaking down in rage at the age of 13 was my cry for help ignored, so was my success for writing a book and having an article written about me in the newspaper. My mom is long gone now, but not another single family member has called to wish me congrats on any of the accomplishments that have come from this book. It hurts and it hits hard sometimes, but I know I have my husband and my children’s support and that’s what truly matters!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Becca Moore is a 36 year old bipolar mom of 7 children, who authored the books "Moorestorms A Guide for the Bipolar Parent", "Moorestorms Bipolar Warning Signs" and releasing soon "Moorestorms The Storms of a Bipolar Marriage".  She is married to her high school sweetheart Dan, who helped her co-author her last book. As you can see writing is her passion, and she has run her own blog at Moorestorms for the past 3 years. Becca and her husband have lived in Pennsylvania with their 7 children their entire lives and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Please leave your comments in the space provided below. 
I would very much appreciate your feedback.  Thank you. 

Check out these other great options and join in the conversations...

Breaking the Window on Facebook

Carley Cooper on Twitter

Changing Bipolar Disorder: Through Positive Thinking

Link to this pic on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Carley Cooper 

This is the third article in, what’s turned out to be, a series on Changing Bipolar Disorder. If you haven’t read the first two they are:

Journaling has given me the tools I need to gather important information. Healthy food and exercise have helped improve the physical part of me. But what about my mind? Being whole and healthy involves 3 aspects; body, mind, and soul. If any one of those is unhealthy, the whole package is flawed.

Negative Thinking is Hurtful

Positive thinking is healthy for all aspects of our being. My past lead me to develop negative thinking patterns very early in my life. I didn’t know I was thinking negatively. When I realized that I needed to change my thinking patterns it felt like a massive sized task; and it was. I learned early on that thinking positive isn’t something that comes natural to everyone. Negative thinking not only hurts others around us, but it hurts ourselves as well, and it can have a huge impact on the progress of mental illness.

It Can Be Overcome!

In the beginning I got advice from others who said things like “just focus on the nice things.” However, it’s not that simple. That kind of advice ranks down there with telling a depressed person to “just snap out of it.” It just doesn’t work that way. If the ‘operating system’ that your brain functions on is negative, than first responses will be negative. To have basic instinct and first responses be positive reactions, thinking patterns have to be changed. Your brain’s ‘operating system’ has to be wiped out and new updated ‘software’ has to be installed. This takes work. A lot of work, time, and dedication, but I assure you it’s worth every minute.

When I first started out with the goal of changing my thinking patterns, I researched the topic and read anything I could get my hands on. The one thing that kept popping up was ‘Positive Affirmations.’ The more I read, the more fascinated I became. If you keep repeating things to yourself, eventually you start to believe them. Repeating positive statements become natural first-reactions if you tell yourself often enough.

Reprogramming is Difficult but Worth the Effort

I started with positive affirmations written on index cards. It didn’t take long and it started to work. Every morning I read through my stack. I also had a book of positive quotations, and made a point of reading several pages from it each day. Then, I surrounded myself with positive things and people. I stopped watching a lot of TV. I started hanging out with people who seem to be naturally happy most of the time. Now, several years later, I have people telling me all the time that they like how positive I am. I’m told that I am an inspiration. It’s wonderful to hear these things. Not only do they help keep me motivated to continue on this path, but I also know that my ‘reprogramming’ is working. As such, Bipolar Disorder in my brain is not disabling anymore. I am on the path of starting a new career. I’ve built a good life for myself that I like. I am productive. I’m capable of living alone, where as in the past I wasn’t. I needed someone to take care of me.

Positive thinking has helped me greatly. Write affirmations down on index cards. Another idea that I have tried is to write them over photos on your computer. Then load those photos onto your smart phone. You can flip through the photos reading the positive statements each day no matter where you are; standing in line at the grocery store, riding the bus, waiting in the doctor’s office... anywhere you are and have a few minutes to spare, use it as ‘programming time.’ My doctor gave me a prescription once and written on it, instead of medication was “You can’t think yourself into a new way of acting. You have to act yourself into a new way of thinking.

Here are Some of my Favourite Positive Affirmations.

General:

  1. Today is a very happy day. I choose to rejoice
  2. I am confident
  3. I am beautiful inside and outside
  4. I am worthy of love
  5. I am a positive thinker
  6. I am happy
  7. I am free of anger and resentment
  8. I forgive (person’s name who you want to forgive) for (the offense that they did / said to you)
  9. For singles: I am fulfilled as a single woman / man
  10. I am at peace with my past
  11. I am sexy
  12. I love working out
  13. I am strong
  14. I am independent
  15. I was made for more
  16. It’s OK to say ‘No’ to others requests when I feel they are crossing my personal boundaries
  17. I am at peace with my past
  18. When socializing, I enjoy lots of conversation and I have lots of worthy stuff to contribute to the conversation
  19. I love working out
  20. I love living a healthy life style
  21. I have happy memories
  22. I am honest
  23. I am loyal
  24. I am at peace with those I love including those who love me in ways other than how I would like them to
  25. I am patient

Bipolar / Mental Health Specific:

  1. I am excited, happy, and anxious to go to work every day
  2. I will not make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions
  3. I am not Bipolar Disorder. I have Bipolar Disorder
  4. It’s Ok that I have Bipolar Disorder
  5. I have nothing to be embarrassed about
  6. I will share the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder because it helps to kill stigma
  7. When I am tempted I will either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation
  8. I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but rather to define the parameters of my freedom
  9. When I am considering compromise I will think past this moment and ask myself “How will I feel about this choice tomorrow morning?”
  10. No matter what happens I am fine

Spiritual:

  1. I know I can depend on God to save me
  2. God loves me just as I am
  3. I have overcome all my trials in life, and will continue to do so with God’s help
  4. I will keep my faith in God for all my needs and desires
  5. I am strong and I can get through anything with God’s help
  6. Jesus loves me
  7. God’s grace is enough
  8. Relax – God has a great plan for my life
  9. God does not waste anything
  10. God will not lead me to anything that I cannot get through

Please leave your comments in the space provided below. 
I would very much appreciate your feedback.  Thank you. 

Check out these other great options and join in the conversations...

Breaking the Window on Facebook

Carley Cooper on Twitter

Abuse Survivor: The Debra Johnson Story

Link to this pic on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Guest Author, Debra Johnson

Looking back at my life, I don’t remember a time I wasn’t abused in some way. From the young age of a year and a half I have suffered abuse in one way or another. As a baby I was beat with a baseball bat and suffered Cerebral Palsy as a result. Soon I began learning how to live using one hand.

Then when I was six or seven I again was abused; this time by my stepfather. This abuse lasted maybe 10 or so years before I stepped out of that into my next series of abusive relationships. But before that I had to battle daily abuses so horrifying I have been asked how I even survived it. All I can tell them is this; I trusted in the power and knowledge of Jesus Christ and knew He would not let me go through this ‘just because’.

It was through God’s power and strength I was able to endure such pain and abuse. In high school I remember very distinctly the need to write. I wanted to write a book so others would know they were not alone in the abuse they were suffering from - I too went through it. And because of the love my heavenly father had for me he carried me through those very tough and insolating years.

During those 10+ years every time I tried to cry out to someone and get help my mother - who knew about the abuse - would shut it down saying she would take care of it.

The first time was to a counsellor who when asked “why did I entice a 65 year old man” I told him exactly what was happening. When he told my mom that he would have to notify the authorities she said she would do that herself, he need not worry. She never did and the abuse continued.

The next time was when I went to my aunts for summer vacation. We were sitting in the kitchen when I summoned the courage to tell her what was happening. When she confronted my mother I was sent away to live with my father “because too many people were watching to see if she was going to act accordingly.” However living with my real dad did not last because my step dad threated to leave my mom I assume, because she came to get me and bring me back home.

When I got back home I was punished for telling our little secret. If my dad had been told the truth I most likely would not have returned to her. But because of his health he was just told we didn’t get along.

However all these years God was moving in and through my life letting me know He had a greater purpose for my life. As I look back it is evident by the amount of events and people he placed in my path as I grew up.

My grandmother, God rest her soul, was the first person he placed in my life. After my abuse as a baby she sat by my bed side praying God would bring me back to them. Day and night she sat holding my hand and praying. Finally one day while my mother was visiting I began to awaken. If God did not have a plan I would have died during that time. As I look back, the conclusion I can live with is God placed me here because I was stronger than others and would be able to deal with it – with his help of course.

The next person he placed in my life was in 3rd grade. This friend was the one who actually helped lead me to Jesus when she asked if I’d like to go to church with her and her family one Sunday afternoon.

From that moment on I began strengthening my faith as I learned scripture and prayed.

Finally at 21 I left home and into the arms of a man. To me he was my knight and shining armour. Unfortunately after we married his armour rusted and fell away as I was introduced to violence again. However it was not physical or sexual, but mental and emotional. During times in my marriage when I focused on other things besides God, He never stopped focusing on me. And again would show he was still with me by events and people he placed in my life. One day 15 years later I left. I left not so much because of the abuse but what I had wanted to do – commit suicide because I was not happy. However a solution soon presented itself and I was seeking refuge in the arms of a shelter.

Now after many years of struggling with abuse I know God has and had a plan for my life and I am here willing to accept that plan as I work to take one step closer to Him.

Thank you

Please leave your comments in the space provided below. 
I would very much appreciate your feedback.  Thank you. 

Check out these other great options and join in the conversations...

Breaking the Window on Facebook Carley Cooper on Twitter

 

Changing Bipolar Disorder: Through Food

by Carley Cooper 

Spinach Salad with Veggies & Chicken, and Green Tea

This is the second article in a series about Changing Bipolar Disorder.  The first was called “Changing Bipolar Disorder: Through Journaling”. 

Controlling our Bipolar Disorder is a full time job, even during the good times.  We have meds, psychotherapy, and other standard treatments.  However, have you considered food as a form of treatment?  I've discovered there are certain foods that help me keep the Bipolar roller coaster on the up side.

Here’s My Story in a Nutshell

It all started several years ago when I was in a period where I didn't want to take my meds (That's not the case anymore).  During this time I learned much about diet and exercise as a way to keep myself in check.  I had a goal of improving my mental health before it was too late.  I was on a downward spiral that was out of control and getting worse fast.  I believed that going natural was the only thing I could trust as being 'right'.  To me, 'natural' meant God's way, and I knew I couldn't go wrong following that route.  I started reading anything and everything I could get my hands on about healthy living.  I also started testing  myself with certain foods that I read are believed to help.  I was my own guinea pig for testing.

Some Foods Believed to Help Depression

The foods that I have found helped me are:

  • Green Tea (has a long list of benefits in general; green tea can be a blog on it’s own)
  • Pro-biotic Yogurt (helps keep me regular, which helps to improve my mood)
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Flax Seed
  • Flax Oil
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach (fresh; not canned or frozen).  I use it to make salads instead of lettuce.  It gives me a major energy boost when I eat it.
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Bananas (increases serotonin)
  • Chocolate – Dark, (increases serotonin) 70% or more Coco (avoid Milk-chocolate)
  • Nuts (in particular, Almonds and Walnuts)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (Raw with Mother). In the beginning, I tried actual organic apple cider vinegar mixed in water (a table spoon in a glass of water 3 – 4 times per day), but the vinegar after several months started to hurt my stomach, so  I switched to ACV capsules - extra strength, organic version.  For 4 years I was medication free because of these.  But you have to figure out the dosage that works for you.  I took 8 capsules each morning with breakfast. DO NOT quit your meds without consulting your doctor first.)
  • Whole Grain breads, pastas, and cereals

Other Ways to Help Your Mood

  • Eat foods that are slow to digest - Foods that are high in fibre such as beans, oats, brown rice, apples, and other fruits and vegetables are good examples.
  • High-fibre foods are also an important staple
  • Protein also helps to avoid blood sugar crashes - Some good sources of protein are chicken, fish, eggs, seeds and nuts, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and milk, tofu, and peanut butter. Ideally, you should combine protein and carbohydrates at every meal.
  • Often, it’s how we put foods together that makes a difference. Combining protein and carbohydrates can help slow digestion and help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
  • Avoid concentrated sources of simple sugars, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, jellies and jams, syrups, and candy bars.
  • Go for Fatty Acids - Omega-3s, the essential fatty acids found in walnuts, flaxseed; and cold water fish, such as salmon.
  • Limit Alcohol and Caffeine - alcohol is a depressant. Caffeine interrupts sleep cycles, which is important for good mood. If you drink caffeine, don’t stop abruptly as that might cause headaches and make you more irritable.
  • Take a B-vitamin Complex supplement – specifically; B vitamins, including B6, B12, and folic acid; which play a role in the production of brain chemicals that regulate mood. Good food sources for many B vitamins include shellfish, poultry, eggs, low-fat yogurt, and fortified breakfast cereals. Folic acid in particular is found mostly in leafy greens.
  • Take vitamin D - helps your brain produce mood-boosting chemicals - The best food sources of vitamin D are fortified dairy products.  (NOTE: Because Vitamin D and Calcium work together in the body, it is important you always take both together.)
  • Eating regularly is a key factor in boosting mood. Never let yourself get too hungry. Ideally, you should eat something healthy every four to five hours to keep your blood sugar stable.

The Bad Stuff

In addition to increasing the amount of these foods that I have in my daily diet, there are other things that I stay away from.  This helps, at least, as much as the healthy helpful foods.  They are:

  • White Flour
  • Processed foods (if it comes in a can, bag, or box; chances are you don't want it)
  • Too much sugar
  • Foods with a lot of sugars, alcohols, preservatives, or chemicals listed on the labels (If you can't pronounce the words, or don't know what it is... leave the product in the store.)

Trigger Foods

Finally., I found that certain food were in fact triggering bad episodes for me.  I call them 'Trigger Foods'.  My trigger foods could be different than yours.  You need to keep a detailed journal of what you eat and when, as well as a mood journal listing your physical symptoms as well.  Then compare the two.  For example, processed cheese slices cause me to go into a bad downward spiral starting about 20 minutes after I eat them.  It also causes severe 'Foggy Brain Syndrome' that will last for at least 24 hours. Other trigger foods cause me to go into a bad depression, sometimes even with a lot of crying.  By keeping the food and mood journals you can find patterns between your eating and your mood swings.  This will help you find your trigger foods. Once you find them, you will know what to avoid to keep bad episodes at a minimum.

My trigger foods are:

  • Artificial  Sweeteners (gives me severe Foggy Brain Syndrome, and often confusion)
  • Fat Free products (I know the world is preaching fat-free, but it doesn’t agree with me, so I avoid them)
  • Lactose (dropping dairy with lactose from my diet increased my energy levels by leaps and bounds)
  • Processed Cheese Slices (gives me depression, emotional outbursts, Foggy Brain Syndrome)
  • Carbonated Soft Drinks (same results as artificial sweeteners)
  • Other drinks made from crystals, such as Kool-aid (same results as artificial sweeteners and processed cheese)
  • Some red food-dyes (give me migraine headaches)

You can Do It Too!

These lists are very basic, and are just a jumping off point.  I hope this information can help you get started on your own healthy eating program that can be geared to help Bipolar Disorder.  Oh, and exercise regularly!  It helps so very much to increase your mood. 

Please share this post and leave your comments in the space provided below. 
I would very much appreciate your feedback.  Thank you. 

Check out these other great options and join in the conversations...

Breaking the Window on Facebook Carley Cooper on Twitter