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Posts Tagged ‘diet’

When you think like a designer, when you are willing to ask the questions, when you realize that life is always about designing something that has never existed before, then your life can sparkle in a way that you could never have imagined.

designing-your-life

It’s been six years since I last posted something here. Inertia is a BITCH!

Life has taken a lot of twists and turns since then. I finally moved away from Northern California (and that damned mechanical turkey) (see my Nov. 24, 2009 post “Giving Thanks for an Epiphany“) and relocated to the East Coast. I’ve also begun to experiment with pharmaceuticals again, which I am not happy about. But with all of the stress that comes along with moving, and aging, etc., I felt that it was time to reach out to some new doctors and see if there were any new pills worth popping in an effort to stop a downward spiral. Yes. And no.

For a few months I was on and off some medications I had tried before. Since I couldn’t remember what I had taken, how many milligrams, and in what combination with what, I let the doctor convince me to try things I had already tried, like Abilify and Wellbutrin. When there was no luck with those, he was convinced that I would see some relief with Latuda, a drug I had never tried before but which I was aware of thanks to Sunovion‘s unrelenting TV advertisements. Since it seemed to be working for everyone else, why not me? Well, I don’t think I took it long enough to find out. I had to stop it cold turkey because it was making me want to crawl out of my skin. There’s an actual term for that side-effect. It’s Akathisia, which is also something I was quite familiar with.

On to a new doctor. And here I am, starting my second week with Rexulti, and upping the dosage from 1mg to 2mg.

I’ve also been seeing a counselor/therapist of sorts who has been trying to get me to try things like DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). (He confessed last week that he didn’t think DBT would necessarily do me any good, but that having to adhere to the schedule might.) He also wondered, out loud, if perhaps my expectations were too high. “No,” I replied immediately. It wasn’t something I had to think about. “I’m trying to get from black to grey,” I said, “so, no, I don’t think my expectations are too high.”

Anyway, I’m at my desk writing again, so that’s something. And I feel it’s the only thing that keeps me sane, keeps me committed. The unexamined life is not worth living. But then neither is the over-examined life. But just by sitting at my computer THINKING about what works and what doesn’t, encourages me to keep trying. To re-establish all of those daily activities that have some impact, however small, on my mood-swings or depression; like eating right and exercising. And writing. So even if this new drug doesn’t work, I’m fairly certain it will be the last one I try, so I’m going to need something else to fall back on.

Be well, Marco

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Does Abilify Cause Weight Gain?: Weight gain is a common side effect of Abilify® (aripiprazole). In studies, the exact percentage of people that gained a significant amount of weight varied from study to study, but most studies consistently showed that people taking Abilify were more likely to gain weight than people taking a placebo (a “sugar pill” with no active ingredient).

For two and a half weeks I’ve been following the advice of Timothy Ferriss. He has after all practically guaranteed (money back?) that if I follow his plan I’ll be down to 8 percent body fat in just a few days. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, a little, but dammit, if I’m going to survive on a diet of lentils, kidney beans, tuna and eggs, I want results. And I want them NOW.

And doesn’t a plan for only four-hours a week of anything seem like the perfect fit for someone who’s bipolar and has ADD? In fact, it feels like it’s taken me four-hours just to write this much of the blog. Why are we so impatient? Honestly, I can handle all of the mood swings, the delirious highs and the bone crushing lows, but the boredom, the impatience, and the irritability makes me, well…crazy. Or is it the other way round?

The main reason for my frustration with Mr. Ferriss’ claims is that, not only have I not lost any weight or dropped any percentage points in body fat, I’ve actually GAINED weight and girth.

And then I had a realization. About the same time that I started the “diet” (eating plan, life style, or whatever he wants to call it,) I also started taking ABILIFY® (aripiprazole).

Now, anyone who’s read this blog before, knows full well that I don’t do drugs. Been there, done that. That was the whole purpose of this blog when it began: exploring living a bipolar life without pharmaceuticals.

But here’s the thing: I reached a low point where I just needed something, anything. And vodka, while I’ve used it judiciously in the past, wasn’t going to cut it. At least not for the long term. Of all of the hundreds of medications I’ve tried over the years, Abilify was the only one that worked, albeit for a short period of time. So, while I was hesitant to begin ingesting toxic chemicals into my bloodstream once again, when you’re on the Titanic, and the water is rushing up to your chest, you grasp at anything that resembles a floatation device.

And so it occurred to me today that it was probably the medication that was keeping the weight on in spite of my dedication to the 4-Hour Body plan, right down to the blueberry pancakes smothered in maple syrup and the half-pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk on those glorious cheat days.

So here is the sad truth about being bipolar: You can’t win.

But don’t you think that with all of that running and running just to stay in place that I’d have lost at least one of those extra pounds?

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Undoing DepressionMost depressed people are perfectionists.  We feel that if we don’t do a job perfectly, our entire self-esteem is endangered.  Often this leads to procrastination.  The job is never really begun; outright failure is avoided, but the depressive knows he’s let himself down.  Then again, depressed people want to make themselves over from the ground up: we want to lose thirty pounds, run five miles a day, quit smoking and drinking, get our work completely reorganized, and have time for relaxation and meditation.  It seems like there is so much to do that we never start...”        We have to learn that attaining more limited, realistic goals is much more satisfying than building castles in the air.” “Undoing Depression; What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You,” by Richard O’Connor, Ph.D. 

I’m not naïve enough to think that observing thoughts alone (how, what, when we think) can manage depression/bipolar disorder. 

What we need more than anything is a foundation.  We need to create a sense of stability that exists for most people, but rarely for the bipolar person.  There is no consistency in our thinking, in our way of being in the world or the way we react or respond to it.  We are more often than not, out of control.  Or more accurately, we feel out of control.  No one can “control” their emotions, but for the majority, that’s not a problem.  For the majority, there is a sort of equilibrium to their moods, usually some sense of cause and effect, at least where extremes are concerned.  But for the person with bipolar disorder, we are often dealing with extremes that seem to be out of our control, unpredictable, random and irrespective of existing circumstances. 

But how does one build a foundation when, as Dr. O’Connor suggests, we want to do everything at once? 

Personally, I can’t think of just one step.  I’m a perfectionist.  I’m impatient.  I want to start an exercise program, design and implement a new diet/meal plan, revamp my budget, write down my goals and priorities (along with deliverables,) find a new job, start a support group, locate an acupuncturist, practice yoga at least five times a week, start meditating daily…. 

The list of things goes on and on.  And yes, I get so overwhelmed with what I want to accomplish that I never start anything.  Just doing one of those things never seems to be enough, and doing all of them, “perfectly,” well, of course, that’s just impossible. 

And then there’s the track record hanging over my head.  Every time I want snap myself out of a depression I fall into that same thought pattern.  The idea of it, the mere thought that I CAN recreate myself, sends me into a manic phase.  But then reality hits and I realize that it can’t all be done at once, not everything implemented by tomorrow.  And then I remember that I have been down this road before and failed, miserably.  Why bother? 

Because I must.  Because there are no alternatives. 

First commitment: No self-medicating.  No more drinking and no more Ben & Jerry’s.

Second Commitment:  Get to the gym.  Even if I only do ten minutes on the treadmill.

Third Commitment: Diet.  Start eating regularly.  I often skip meals and then binge on junk food.  The result being mood shifts induced by dips in blood sugar.  (Like I need help with my mood shifts?) 

That’s it.  That’s all I have to do.  I don’t need to plan out an exercise program in detail, working my upper body one day and lower the next.  I don’t need to have a weekly menu laid out and scheduled that incorporates the perfect balance of fat/carbs/protein for each and every meal.  I just need to do something.  To be proactive.  To shift my thought process from victim to steward.  And, more importantly, I am not to attach failure or success to any of the outcomes.  I just need to begin living life more consciously and to take more responsibility for my complicity with the impact of this disease.

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