Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Causes Bipolar?

This will be lengthy but worth spending a few minutes reading. I am tired a little down tonight and it has been a long day so please overlook any mistakes I made typing.

My friends, for a long time now I have been going to website after website, and depending which one you click on you will find different answers. I have mentioned many times bipolar is not something that is completely understood. The mind is so powerful, yet so complex, they have always and will after my lifetime continue to research and and to try to find answers. I was joking the other day that humans can design almost anything you can imagine, but a human mind cannot figure out a human mind. 

I want to start answer many of your questions, but I want to make a point here: You need to come to the realization that it is serious and it will continue to be a mystery to those in the scientific field as they continue to all try to come up with the exact answer as to what causes bipolar, and what is the exact treatment. This is critical if you, a friend, or love one has bipolar and why symptoms and treatment varies from patient to patient. No two people with bipolar will have the same symptoms and I assure you, no two people will be treated the same. It is impossible!

To emphasis on my point, this is an article from that I really think you should read. Pay attention to how many times the word "theories" and "studies suggests" comes up.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Basics
From Kimberly Read
Updated April 12, 2010 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board
~~~We have all asked this question at some time. I've heard explanations ranging from a shortage of lithium in the brain to dog bites in childhood. Obviously, there is a great deal of misinformation to be had.

To add to the confusion, scientific research continues to publish new information and theories. A 2000 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry reported "in those with bipolar disorder, two major areas of the brain contain 30 percent more cells that send signals to other brain cells." This report theorizes that "the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of over stimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder(1)."

But has anyone found the true cause of bipolar disorder? It would be wonderful to say that X or Y was the cause, but the answer is not that simple. Most scientists believe that mental illnesses are caused by a combination of several factors working together. In bipolar disorder, these factors are usually divided into biological and psychological causes. In plain English, the main reasons mental illness develops are physical (biological) and environmental.

Genetic Factors
When talking about biological causes, the first issue is whether bipolar disorder can be inherited. This question has been researched through multiple family, adoption and twin studies. In families of persons with bipolar disorder, first-degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) are more likely to have a mood disorder than the relatives of those who do not have bipolar disorder(3). Studies of twins indicate that if one twin has a mood disorder, an identical twin is about three times more likely than a fraternal twin to have a mood disorder as well(2).
In bipolar disorder specifically, the concordance rate (when both twins have the disorder) is 80 percent for identical twins, as compared to only 16 percent for fraternal twins(2). (Identical twins occur when one fertilized egg splits in two, so they share the same genetic material; fraternal twins come from separate fertilized eggs, so the mixtures of genetic material are different.) There is overwhelming evidence that bipolar disorder can be inherited and that there is a genetic vulnerability to developing the illness(2).

However, exactly what is inherited? The neurotransmitter system has received a great deal of attention as a possible cause of bipolar disorder. Researchers have known for decades that a link exists between neurotransmitters and mood disorders, because drugs which alter these transmitters also relieve mood disorders(4).
·        Some studies suggest that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause.
·        Other studies indicate that an imbalance of these substances is the problem, i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters(2).
·        Still other studies have found evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the issue(4).
In short, researchers are quite certain that the neurotransmitter system is at least part of the cause of bipolar disorder, but further research is still needed to define its exact role.

Stress Triggers
For mental, emotional and environmental issues, stressful life events are thought to be the main element in the development of bipolar disorder. These can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job, from the birth of a child to a move. It can be pretty much anything, but it cannot be precisely defined, since one person's stress may be another person's piece of cake.
With that in mind, research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. However, once the disorder is triggered and progresses, "it seems to develop a life of its own." Once the cycle begins, psychological and/or biological processes take over and keep the illness active(2).

Putting it all together
When we look for the cause of bipolar disorder, the best explanation according to the research available at this time is what is termed the "Diathesis-Stress Model." The word diathesis means, in simplified terms, a physical condition that make a person more than usually susceptible to certain diseases. Thus the Diathesis-Stress Model says that each person inherits certain physical vulnerabilities to problems that may or may not appear depending on what stresses occur in his or her life(4). Durand and Barlow define this model as a theory "that both an inherited tendency and specific stressful conditions are required to produce a disorder(2)."
So the bottom line, according to today's thinking, is that if you are manic depressive, you were born with the possibility of developing this disorder, and something in your life set it off. But scientists could refine that theory tomorrow. The one sure thing is, they won't give up looking for answers.~~~~~~
I have over 45 topics that I will cover but like I said this is where we should really start. This is why it is CRITICAL you seek help as soon as you even 'think' you have systems of Bipolar. As long as I have been under treatment, we (My Doctor and I) STILL have to have our regular visits to monitor my problems or success. Once we think we have it on tract, something will change. I believe this is the nature of the beast.
 CAUTION! If you were to read every thing there is on the subject from all the websites available, you would get more confused and depressed more than ever. My suggestion is that you go to a professional right away and let them come up with a program that fits your symptoms and the type of bipolar you are suffering with.
Your Friend.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Am Analyzing This Too Much....

I don't know if it's part of the symptoms or if it is just my nature, but I analyze everything. NOT just a little but I mean to death!

There is a movie called "Four Seasons" in which Alan Alda and Carol Burnette were husband and wife and they were in a little argument. She said to him:

"Do you know what your problem is? You analyze everything to death!"
"Do you know why?" he replied
"See!" she exclaimed, "You are even analyzing why you analyzing everything!"

Well, that sums up what has been my problem with not writting for awhile. Yes, I have had a couple bad days in a row that came unexpetdly and took ahwile to calm down, but friends, to be honest with you I feel I am under much more pressure now. It is MY own Fault! I am getting a lot of emails and notes on Face Book, and the group I administer on Face Book under this name, with so many people like myself needing, desperatly seeking help, answers and advise. Oh how I want to help you! If you knew what this is doing to me. I have so much to say that maybe might be of little help to you and I cannot do it in a page. I feel for you so much because what I have been reading, I know exactly where you are coming from! I have been there and still there now!

So what I have been doing is what some professional writters recommend and that is sitting down and trying to outline what I want to say next, in order of importance and what may help you the most. I am sorry, this will not work for me. I am not a professional writer. As I write this, I have several drafts waiting on me to finish, but I cannot yet. It just will not come out. I have hundreds of things I want to say to you, but my time is limited. More importantly, mentally I cannot write that much or that often.

I will go back the way I started in the begaining. I will come to the computer with an idea in my head, and I will see where it may lead from there. This may sound a little off the wall to you, but I have no control of what will come out in the end. Just like here now, unlike the usuall depression, this minute the opposite is happening: my mind is going 100 mph faster that I can type. Ideas and thoughts are coming from everywhere and they are long gone before I can type one line. Part of what I just wrote was not even in my plans. I can only control it to a point. Does any of this make any sence to you?

I do want to say one more thing before I finish this. Now that I know I have Bipolar I, as I reflect on my life, bipolar has been with me since I was a child. It would be safe to say that I have had, from one degree to another, bipolar for over 45 years now. I know what you go through. I wish i could instantly help you! I wish for you and myself there was a immediate cure. What others don't know even reflecting on the above makes us depressed in itself. 

Because you are here means so much to me. My best friend in the world is my wife. She always has and always will be. Other than that I have no friends. But, because we share something in common that is hard to understand, hard to treat, and hard to live with, I feel like I am developing a friendship. So, my friends, please hang in there, and I truly wish you easy roads ahead.

Your Friend,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

OK...It's Time To Get Serious!!!!!!!

Regarding last entry "You Must Read This" was posted because it was a perfect introduction to future posts that you will be reading. I thought the article was extremely interesting, but very, very sad. It was well written and from the heart of someone who lost a sweet and dear friend. It really touched me. I want to quote the first part again for you:

 " Every 16 minutes someone dies from their own hand. Suicide does not discriminate against age, sex, culture, religious beliefs, or economic standing. It is an "equal opportunity destroyer." It is a tragedy that need not happen."

There is no way for me to explain it better. Every 16 minutes? There is a co-worker who not long ago came to me and told me his teenage nephew went into his bedroom, put a gun to his head, "and blew his brains out." while his family was in the other room! He made a comment "what, please tell me what could be so bad in a teenager's life that he would want to die." He does not know my condition and certainly does not know that I am not a stranger to suicide. But do you want to know what really hit my gut and almost made me sick? Not the suicide, but his family in the other room heard the blast and they, no doubt, rushed into the room and saw the horrific site of what was left of their son's head! To me, it is enough to loose a child, but can you imagine how many years that image will stay in their minds, and how long it will hurt and torment them? FOREVER!

The above story came to mind as I read the next quote from the last post of the wife and mother who committed suicide:  "On the night she attempted her family was sitting around watching a movie on TV. She had a son and daughter in early adolescence and her husband. After watching the movie for a few minutes she quietly excused herself to go into the bathroom. She took as big of a handful of pills as she could get into her mouth. She came out and watched the movie for a few more minutes and then told her family what she did."

Oh, my! Her son, daughter and husband sitting there and she sat down and casually told them what she did? I wonder...did she tell them to let them know that life was finally unbearable, OR did she tell them the minute she took the pills with the hope that maybe she still had reservations and they could rush her down and save her?


What you MUST remember is this is NOT a 'cut and dry' illness where doctors have a standard remedy waiting for you in comparison as if you had a physical illness. There are NO two people alike. They will admit (or most will) that no one single thing that they can point a finger at that caused you to have bipolar or any mental illness (except for physical head injuries), and most will also admit that there are STILL theories as to exactly what happens inside the mind that causes one to develop Bipolar. The reason is there is no cure for this illness because the best scientist in the world cannot completely explain or understand the complexity of the mind. All they have is theories. How can someone from the outside, not having this problem make a comment that medicine is bad for anyone and all they need is therapy or someone to talk to? Give me a break! 

Using me as an example, what I know for a fact is of the millions of pages written on this subject, regardless what they might tell you, they cannot, and never will even come close to foretelling me exactly what I can expect at any given moment in my life. They cannot tell me if; when; or how severe the next mood swing or major attack will be. I may be (or appear to be) as normal as the next person one minute, and my life could be over the next. If that were to be the now tell me what happened or what I was thinking. See my point? 

I just had to get this out. I am NOT against doctors, I believe I have the best in the world and has, and is, helping me more than you will ever know! BUT...she will be the first to agree with the above!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm Still Here...

   I just wanted to stop by and let you all know I am still here. I am going through what you may call a little "bump in the road." I am also kind of at a cross roads of where to go from here. This is not because I don't know what to write but the problem is I have 4 different drafts in the works and and I am trying to decide which avanue to take. At this time in addition to the drafts I have many other topics I want to share with you and as I mentioned my mind is racing like crazy and I just cannot land on the ONE topic that should be next.

  Hang in there with me, I will be back soon. Ok? Thanks my friends. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where I was on September 11, 2001 (9/11)

Today all across this great country millions of Americans are reflecting what they were doing when our country was under attack by terrorist. Where were you and what was you doing the moment the news spread?
I remember all to well where I was. I was in a two room office in the downtown area of the small city where I live. Although the city is dwarfed by a major city across a river it is one of those towns that is built of character. Narrow streets downtown where buildings and business date back to the early 1900"s. There are many old stately churches all around the town, and looking back I remember now that all at once all the church bells were ringing non-stop.

I was alone on the second floor of the offices I leased. The main door downstairs that led to my office was locked so no one could come up from the street. Even the door that led to my office from the hallway was locked all morning. The phones that rang throughout the day went unanswered. Throughout the office all the lights were off. My emails that were waiting for me were sitting there unopened. Papers that came over on the fax machine were still there from the night before, not even touched. What was I doing?

I was curled up in a fetal position in the corner on a mat I placed because of the many hours I spent there; some working and some as a quiet haven where I could be alone. A blanket was over my shoulders. Sad, lonely music played on the stereo. I laid there thinking about my life, the mistakes I made, all the times I failed, how awful I was as a child how disappointing I was as a father, parent and provider. Whether any of this was actually true made no difference to me because in my mind it was true. My mind was telling me what's the use of going on because the future was going to be the same as the past. I was not thinking of the terrific supportive wife and children that I was so blessed with because that and God was the most positive thing in my life! I did not, just could not even if I wanted to, dwell on the positive, I fed on all the negative my mind could come up with.

If you could believe this, that was not even the darkest point in my life. It was several months to maybe a year before with the encouragement of my family, and me knowing that I needed help or the ultimate would happen that I walked into the doctors off and was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 (Manic Depression).

That was where I was on 9/11. Where were you and what were you doing?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Two Lives - One Mind

A professional blogger told me that I should write at least once per day. This blogger has over 10 different blogs and makes major bucks. Many other blogs I follow publish just about as often. Well, at the present time, I don't see any other blogs in my future and I did not start this for the money.

You see friends, there is no possible way I could write everyday. The last couple I wrote gave you an example of what I deal with and during these times it is difficult, or even impossible for me to write. Hang in there for a little bit and let me give you an example of what I dealt with last week and then I will show you how this will fit into the title of this post.

After coming off a major swing where my mind went totally uncontrollable and was processing information, thoughts and topics at such a rapid pace my mouth could not keep up. Most things that came out of my mouth did not make sense because it was always way behind the thoughts and then my I tried to catch up by changing the subject in mid sentence to play catch-up. As I mentioned, in very s l o w words my wife repeated "slow down." I cannot explain how this makes me so worn out. Unless you are Bipolar, it is hard for you to understand what I mean when I say "my mind gets so tired." During this time I wish it were a computer and I can either put it on "sleep' mode or shut it down "completely." After a few years of treatment, shutting down completely is not my desire anymore so I choose to put it on "sleep" mode which is accomplished by take a very special prescription sleep medicine my psychiatrist gives me just for this purpose that will let the mind sleep.

Last week was a very strange week for me. This used to happen almost every day consistently, but now maybe only a half a day once in a month or so. I did not feel any form of depression and without any other words to describe it I became so ticked off at every little, stupid thing that happened. I knew when my feet hit the floor in the morning it was going to be that kind of day. I dropped my pen on the floor and I got mad. Got ready for work and remembered that I did not brush my teeth and I got upset. I car did not turn on their turn signal and I became enraged. In the mornings when I enjoy 'my time' by myself with my coffee and a stranger walked up and proceeded to carry on a stupid conversation about something I did not give a hoot about ; like which high school baseball team will go all the way to the playoffs. Really though! I know he was being friendly and this normally would not bother me, but that day it ruined my whole day! Things like the above happened every single day Monday - Friday.

Now, this kind of sets up my topic today: My Two Lives-One Mind.

The website address for this blog is HTTP:// See, this is really what sums up my life day in and day out. Take any of the above days and look at what is happening in my mind and that is one life I have to deal with. Then, (and here's where it becomes extremely difficult to impossible) there is my other life where I have to, must do, and that is act as if there is nothing wrong when I am around anyone. Just imagine for a minute you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed so far anywhere in this blog and you run into someone you have not seen in a long time and you suddenly have to put on the other face and act like nothing is wrong and you are so happy to see them. Do you have any kind of clue, can you even come close to realize how hard that is?? Ok, lets take the day where I was in the darkest depression I had in a long time and I still had to go to work. I was in an office with 10 other people and answered the phone at least 70 times from employees and customers. You all know how you are supposed to handle critical customers that could make or break your company. Try doing that when you are about to cry, when you want to curl up in a ball in a pitch black room under all the covers and not want to even here a dog bark down the street! If you have never experienced anything close to this, oh! how I wish I could type this, and as you read it you would live just FIVE minutes of how that feels!

What a lot of people do not realize is there are different "levels" of Bipolar disorder. Level III is your basic once in a while depression. Level II is a lot worse and has many other symptoms, but where I am - Bipolar I and what some is classified as (Manic Depression) is the worst of all. As I wrote in the title "Symptoms" the list I mentioned was the most extensive symptoms I have researched. Most sites I researched basically agreed on the symptoms but would only cover a short version, while the other sites listed the ones the other did not. I told you of the 20 symptoms I at one time had 18. I also mentioned that site even fell short about 3 -4 other symptoms other sites listed and was brought up during my visits to the doctor. For a long time I lied about them to the doctor, but over time, being the kind of professional she is gave me the look that she knew the truth. I may not ever come out and mention these to you, I don't know if I can, but some ideas in my head that I am going to write about, if you listen carefully, you may come to your own conclusion.

Every day, no matter how small, there are several of these symptoms with me. Some may fade and just as fast another creeps in. I recognize them and wish they would go away. It effects my thoughts, my concentration, my actions and desires. I ask myself over and over "Why can't I be normal?"

So, I continue to live with what is going through my mind, and I continue to try my best and put on the other face when needed. What happens though is I try to avoid the situations where I have to use my other life. Then, if you can understand, I get depressed because I do not have many friends. It is an endless cycle and I get so tired of it.